Jon Rafman | Poetics of Encryption | KW Institute for Contemporary Art

Poetics of Encryption



October 27 - October 28, 2023


Contemporary life plays out amid a profusion of technical systems whose inner workings are obscure—if not locked. There is no master key. And yet, this encrypted world must be borne, somehow. How does this register in culture? What moods, symbols, or narrative frames capture the aesthetics and politics of exclusion, occlusion, secrecy, and speculation concerning technology’s inside?


This conference at the historic silent movie venue Theater im Delphi explores the dark side of tech, bringing together artists and eminent media theorists for two days of lectures, performances, and screenings. Covering topics ranging from algorithmic governance to hallucination, artificial life, art, and (digital) afterlives, the presentations unfold counter-narratives to Big Tech’s claims regarding a new culture of transparency and openness—showcasing, instead, a poetics of encryption.


This gathering builds upon Nadim Samman’s recent book Poetics of Encryption: Art and the Technocene which surveys an imaginative landscape marked by Black Sites, Black Boxes, and Black Holes. These terms indicate how technical systems capture users; how they work in stealth; and how they distort cultural space-time.


Participants include Ramon Amaro, Orit Halpern, Nora N. Khan, Andrea Khôra, Most Dismal Swamp, Özgün Eylül İşcen, Bernard Dionysius Geoghegan, Lorem, Trevor Paglen, Jon Rafman, and Ala Roushan.


Throughout these live presentations, the theater hosts an eighteen-channel listening station by Flipping the Coin, a Berlin-based dub-plate label for artist’s music.


For further information, please visit the website:

October 27, 2023
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