Check Out 2/4 | Part of Transmediale and CTM Vorspiel 2017
Installations, Performance | 7-10pm, 23 January, 2018
CHECK OUT event series organised by Anja Henckel (Co-Director Import Projects). Over four evenings, happenings will reflect on contemporary authorship and authority. Installations, performances, discussions and a workshop will explore themes and puns such as Platform Capitalism vs. Sharing Economy, Mediation vs. Meditation, Self-Checkout vs. Obsession, Terror vs. Revolution.

Over the course of 4 events during one week 5 artist will eventually join forces to create an immersive CHECK OUT

For the second installment of Check Out Dani Ploeger will present his lecture performance ‘Schreckschusswaffe’ (blank gun), which will present video documentation and artwork that emerged from several journeys he made across Europe over the past year to examine the recent (re-)militarization of civilian spaces in the context of omnipresent digital culture.

Since 2015, heavily armed police officers and soldiers have been conspicuously deployed on the streets of Western European metropoles, while a news media have increasingly featured volunteer militias equipped with Soviet-era weapons who are training for – and participating in – conventional war scenarios in Central Europe. Meanwhile, experiences of the public spaces in which these developments take place are highly determined by advanced (mobile) consumer technologies. Starting from his own ambiguous relationship to firearms, which is driven by a paradoxical combination of childhood fascinations and critical theory, ‘Schreckschusswaffe’ connects cultural criticism with subversive technologies and gunfire.
Dani Ploeger (NL), Violent Artefacts, installation and films

Through a collection of three pieces, Dani Ploeger examines ways in which firearms and other means of ‘low-tech’ violence persist amidst contemporary obsessions with data surveillance, cybercrime, and high-tech warfare. An advertising plane flying over historical buildings pulls a banner with the text ‘terror/revolution’; a 16mm film shows the artist in a warzone alongside soldiers who alternatingly fire Kalashnikovs and play with their smart devices; an online order delivery from a shop for ‘Adventure Equipment’ awaits unpacking.

»Since the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s, digital surveillance and state-of-the-art military technologies have played an increasing role in the perception of warfare and the experience of security for citizens across Europe1. From the introduction of the smart bomb and the stealth fighter jet during the first Gulf War, to the deployment of Predator drones and the exponential spread of CCTV surveillance over the last decade, the perceived role of digital technologies in warfare and domestic security has been on par with the increasing integration of consumer technologies in people’s everyday lives. At the same time, the presence and media representation of firearms in public space in Europe by state organs as well as terrorist factions declined in most places between the mid-1990s and the early 2010s2.

However, in recent years, people’s willingness to rely on high-tech solutions to provide public security has declined in large parts of society, both as a means of ‘just’ warfare abroad (e.g. drones and smart bombs)3 and to adequately protect public space at home (CCTV surveillance, big data analysis)4. Heavily armed police officers and soldiers have returned to the streets of Brussels, Paris and London, while news media have increasingly featured volunteer militias equipped with Soviet-era weapons who are training for – and participating in – conventional war scenarios in Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic states5. Meanwhile, consumer electronics have now become integrated in almost all areas of life. Moreover, state-of-the-art computer games feature increasingly realistic representations of armed violence, and consumer-grade VR technologies have been introduced in military training, as well as army recruitment in civilian society6.

This recent development in the role of firearms in digital culture raises several issues. Firstly, the renewed acceptance of firearms as a symbol of power and strength in public space may reinforce traditional concepts of physical strength that are linked to problematic, risk-promoting expressions of masculinity.7 Secondly, the revival of firearms and the coinciding decline in confidence in high-tech security suggests the emergence of new forms of techno-critical sentiments in society. This is both a challenge and an opportunity to develop new approaches in the representation of technologies in relation to violence in the context of education and scholarship, as well as news media. Thirdly, the current willingness among policy makers to deploy armed personnel on the streets may well be counterproductive and lead to increased public anxiety8. The backgrounds and implications of firearm practices in relation to digital culture need to be unpacked in order to facilitate timely, reflective responses to these policies, which presently often seem driven by ‘common-sense’ and impulsive-thought rather than careful analysis.«

Dani Ploeger, 2018

1 Kalder, M., 2012. New and Old Wars. Cambridge: Polity Press.
2 Peter Chalk discusses the decline of terrorist factions using firearms, such as RAF and IRA in Chalk, P.,1996. West European Terrorism in the 1990s. In: West European Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism. Palgrave Macmillan, London.
3 Kennedy, G., 2013. Drones: Legitimacy and Anti-Americanism. Parameters, 43(4), pp. 25-28.
4 Briggs, P., Churchill, E., Levine, M., Nicholson, J., Pritchard, G. W., Olivier, P., 2016. Everyday Surveillance. In: Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI EA ‘16). New York: ACM.
5, 2017. Eyeing Russia nervously, Poles enrol in volunteer militias. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Sep. 2017].
6 VISUALISE, 2017. British Army VR recruitment experience. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Sep. 2017]; Parkin, S., 2015. How VR is training the perfect soldier. [online] Wareable. Available at: [Accessed 26 Sep. 2017].
7 SEESAC, 2016. Gender and SALW in South East Europe. Belgrade: SEESAC. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Sep. 2017].
8 Cf. commentary of sociologist Frank Furedi in: Lee, C., 2016. Up in arms over police with guns. [online] BBC News. Available at: [Accessed 26 Sep. 2017].
Dani Ploeger (NL) combines performance, video, computer programming, and electronics hacking to investigate and subvert techno-consumer culture. Re-purposing, mis-using, and, at times, destroying everyday devices, his work exposes those aspects of digital culture that seem banal and are taken for granted as objects of both physical beauty and political power.
Saturday, 20 Jan, 19.00 CHECK OUT 1/4
Discussion, Installations, films, performances by Aram Bartholl (artist), Sophia Graefe (media culture scholar), Anja Henckel (Co-Director Import Projects) and Dani Ploeger (artist)

Tuesday, 23 Jan, 19.00 CHECK OUT 2/4
Lecture performance ‘Schreckschusswaffe’ (blank gun) by Dani Ploeger

Thursday, 25 Jan, 19.00 CHECK OUT 3/4
Workshop 'Got a few minutes?' by Aram Bartholl

Saturday, 27 Jan, 21.00 - midnight CHECK OUT 4/4
'Frenchkiss with Enya', a performance by Curver Thoroddsen and installation & performance 'Saunatorium' by Alanna Lawley, Installations and films by Aram Bartholl and Dani Ploeger