GIF extract form Hito Steyerl, How Not To Be Seen. A Fucking Didactic Educational .MOV File , 2013. HD video file, single screen, 14min.
How Not to be Seen: A Fucking Didactic Educational .MOV File is the title of Hito Steyerl's new work, included in the Venice Biennale exhibition Il Palazzo Enciclopedico. (It is installed at the far back corner of the Giardino delle Vergini behind the Arsenale; to reach it, Steyerl joked, one must swim two canals and climb a wall).
The video is partly inspired by the photo calibration targets in the California desert, which look like giant pixels in the ground. As described by the Center for Land Use Interpretation, these targets were used in the age of analog aerial photography to test the resolution of airborne cameras, like a kind of optometrist's chart for the ancestors of drones.
Three Tri-bar targets at Cuddeback Lak. Photo: CLUI.
Partly shot on location at one of these disused targets, How Not to be Seen begins as an instructional video informing viewers how to remain invisible in an age of image proliferation. Various possible strategies are outlined. One suggestion is to camouflage oneself (to demonstrate, Steyerl smears green paint on her face and is chroma-keyed into invisibility). Another suggested tactic is to be smaller than the size of a pixel. For this demonstration, several people appear on camera wearing pixel-like boxes on their heads. Wearing a box on one's head may seem unpleasant, but in Steyerl's video it seems quite fun, imbued with some of the techno-human spirit of Bauhaus theater costumes.
After these tactics are outlined, the film crew making this educational video also disappears. In their absence, happy low-resolution pixels take over the production. Digital rendering ghosts dance in the desert landscape as The Three ...