15:00, Thu 16th June 2022 at Sook Space, Grafton Centre, Cambridge
17:00, Thu 16th June 2022 at Sook Space, Grafton Centre, Cambridge
13:00, Fri 17th June 2022 at Sook Space, Grafton Centre, Cambridge
18:00, Fri 17th June 2022 at Sook Space, Grafton Centre, Cambridge
Easter Week 7
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We have everything you want. Are you prepared to pay the price?
Technology offers us the world - but what does it take in return?
What are the terms of the bargain?
The Faust Shop, an immersive experience embedded in an “everyday street,” asks these and related questions. Step into our pop-up shop and you’ll be offered an encounter with a magical space that moves you: the only question is, where to? How does digital space influence us? Should you accept this offer? We make such decisions in our everyday engagements with technology: we routinely click, accept, and agree. The Faust Shop creates a theatrical experience of sensuous delight that suggests that you might just want to think again.
In Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s version of the legend, Faust does not form a pact – rather, he makes a bet: namely, that if he is ever satisfied by shallow pleasures or by a sense of having achieved his full potential, the devil may destroy him. The Faust Shop explores this Faustian bet in a digitalized world. It gives participants the opportunity to re-consider if you are satisfied with the sensuous pleasures of digital mediation. Depending on your choice, you either get the chance to buy back your digital soul created from the data harvested while you are interacting with The Faust Shop; or, you renew the bet and keep your digital twin.
In the Faust Shop performance, participants’ relationship with digital technologies will be framed through a Faustian pact, made as this phrase implies, with a power that the bargainer recognizes as evil or amoral. Such pacts are naturally self-defeating for the person who makes them, mainly because what is handed over is more valuable than what is obtained.
Our work uses Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s version of the Faust legend as a cautionary tale for our interactions with digital technologies. Our work is particularly interested in less well-known aspects of Goethe’s tragedy, such as Faust’s New Lands project, where he reclaims land from the sea and colonizes it. Faust’s ‘new borders’ relate to the ways in which our sense of space is changing in the wake of the Covid-19 Pandemic and persuasive computation.
Faust’s New Lands resonate with the current expansion of the everyday into digital space. Even though his land winning project begins as a venture for the common good it is based on ‘partial confiscation and goods gained by war’ (Keim: 2008, 246). Faust eventually banishes an elderly native couple from the land. His colonization project is deeply rooted in exploitation and raises critical questions about acquisition and (re-)settlement; questions which seem pertinent as we are moving into hybrid spaces. Who is included and who is excluded? How do we produce knowledge in the New Lands of hybrid space?