Manu Luksch is an intermedia artist and filmmaker who interrogates conceptions of progress and scrutinises the effects of network technologies on social relations, urban space, and political structures. Her works have ended up everywhere from street protests in Hong Kong to the collection of the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Her practice and process are atypical and bold, and sometimes carry serious risks such as getting cold and wet (KAYAK LIBRE – a kayak taxi service along urban canals, which doubled as a vehicle for research and discussion on the future of transport), giggling uncontrollably (BLUESKY BLUEPRINT – an urban planning bureau led by young children whose ages weren’t publicly revealed), and an uncontrollable yearning for sci-fi (SMART CITY ABC -‘a word a week’ twitter feed tο decode a territory that has produced a specialist vocabulary, in order to promote acessibility to the debate).
Her seminal speculative fiction film FACELESS (2002–07), compiled from surveillance recordings recovered under data protection legislation, treats CCTV images as ‘legal readymades’, and derives its scenario from these legal properties. DREAMS REWIRED (2015, Luksch/Reinhart/Tode), her second collaboration with Tilda Swinton as voice artist, draws on over 200 films from the 1890s to the 1930s to explore current hopes and fears relating to hyper-connectivity. This questioning of the archive extends to its contemporary use in prediction: her forthcoming film investigates data analytics and the (cognitive) Internet of Things.
DREAMS REWIRED traces the desires and anxieties of today’s hyper-connected world back more than a hundred years, when telephone, film and television were new. As revolutionary then as contemporary social media is today, early electric media sparked a fervent utopianism in the public imagination – promising total communication, the annihilation of distance, an end to war. But then, too, there were fears over the erosion of privacy, security, morality. Using rare (and often unseen) archival material from nearly 200 films to articulate the present, DREAMS REWIRED reveals a history of hopes to share, and betrayals to avoid.