March 25, 2016 - Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt - Constant Dullaart: The Possibility of an Army
March 25, 2016

Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt

Constant Dullaart, The Possibility of an Army, 2015/16. © Constant Dullaart.

Constant Dullaart
The Possibility of an Army

Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt
60311 Frankfurt am Main
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Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt presents the résumé of Constant Dullaart’s online performance. Over the past four months the Dutch artist Constant Dullaart has been developing the performance The Possibility of an Army for the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt. The performance took place on the social network Facebook. Its illustrated résumé now features on the project’s website.

Dullaart’s work The Possibility of an Army has critically explored the concept of digital identity, which has strongly gained in importance through the daily use of social networks. The starting point of Dullaart’s performance is the fact that interaction on social media is based on the communication between virtual identities and that online networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest offer each user the possibility to establish an ideal character and furnish it with the desired attributes. In recent years digital identities have become the currency of multinational enterprises, and the like button has established itself as a cornerstone of a new economy of attention that has also taken hold of the art world. Next to profiles of real people we find countless artificially concocted identities which their authors and buyers use to increase popularity, spread opinions, and shift moods. The existence of these fictitious profiles questions the principle of quantifying social interactions, which is misread as a measure for cultural values even by journalists and critics.

In his project Dullaart used the names of the original Hessian mercenaries who were paid by the English to fight in the American Revolution and created thousands of artificial profiles on Facebook, forming a "fake" army to stand up in the war against the current American social media revolution. The research entailed the use of software packages like Facedominator, Friendbomber and Massplanner hosted on remote servers through thousands of proxies and registering accounts on phone numbers bought in bulk in multiple countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Philippines. Moreover, the artist conducted Skype conversations with people contacted through black hat websites like Blackhatworld about PayPal payments, and money being transferred to Pakistan often getting blocked due to suspected terrorism financing; using credit card and gift card constructions with multiple PayPal accounts often helped.

With an entire industry of fake identities working against Facebook security measures the project called to engage the quantification of social capital as a conflict, while discussing the value of online identity and the hidden labor in the sharing economy. Due to extended press coverage (Guardian, Hyperallergic, BBC, Vice Motherboard, and many more) about 70% of the first regiment of Hessian Facebook identities have been discovered and blocked. About 10% of the casualties have now been brought back to life. With new identities being crafted in Pakistan and the Philippines as we speak, Dullaart’s research on the value of artificial identities can be accessed on the project’s website.

In his text “Declaration," published in the Schirn magazine, Dullaart has initiated a critical discussion by addressing a number of issues: “How do we end the unbridled use of this false validation system in journalism? How can we make clear that follower counts, views or likes are not and will never be a trustworthy measure of social commitment as long as financial incentive is in place to manipulate these counts?” Accompanying the performance the Schirn magazine has focused on the subject of identity, which has been discussed by prominent academics and authors such as Byung Chul-Han, Robert Sakrowski, Katie Ellis, Clare Sullivan, and others.

Director: Max Hollein
Coordination: Fabian Famulok
Press contact: Pamela Rohde (Head of Press/Public Relations):
T (+49 69) 29 98 82 153 / F (+49 69) 29 98 82 240 / presse [​at​]
Press material: (texts, images, and films for download under PRESS)

Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt
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The Possibility of an Army
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