User Manual

Software is real. For all indications we are otherwise given, computer sofware arises through the efforts of organisations and management, the orchestration of many hands typing, many neurons absorbing the productive energies of human metabolism, and many hours spent being tutored, or self-tutoring, in the arts of computation. Equally real, actual, and material are the effects of these algorithmic parcels, the labours of distribution and advertising, commerce and marketing and marketeering that help get software into the soiled hands and plebeian hard drives of “users”.

We were perhaps never more aware of the efforts and energies that go into software products and services than when these were things that were purchased in storefronts with window dressings, from vendors and salespeople with geo-tractable jobs. Early versions of these things were over-sized, mostly air-filled cardboard boxes, a physical-asynchronous interface between computer user and software producer. As capitalism liquidises itself, will we come to miss the earnestness of these anachronistic, over-the-counter purchases? For software and its distribution, the cycle of design, production, packaging, physical distribution and consummation has now almost entirely disappeared itself behind a curtain of “apps” and “app stores”. Almost.


WINDOWS is an invitational installation in the front window of the COMPUTER + SOFTWARE store in Basel. Moritz Greiner-Petter and Jamie Allen asked a set of 16 artists and friends to design a software box for our contemporary digital era. Participating artists include, alphabetically by first name: Aram Bartholl, Benoît Verjat, Bernhard Garnicnig, Ciara Phillips, Constant Dullaart, Evan Roth, Geraldine Juárez, Ishac Bertran, Jan Robert Leegte, Peter Moosgaard, Phillip Stearns, Pussykrew, Rosa Menkman, Sebastian Schmieg, Suzanne Treister, Windows93.

The exhibition opens on June 16th, 2017 and runs through the end of that month. An exhibition opening, performance and lecture are taking place on June 16th, in collaboration with Plattfon Stampa, a local record store that offers music and media that falls outside of the mainstream, online at

In 1984, the first software retail store opened in Basel, Switzerland. Now called “COMPUTER + SOFTWARE”, it has offered competent advice and high quality products for well over thirty years. Offering computer software and hardware, the shop also still offers hard-to-find accessories and legacy products, maintaining a product range that dates to the early days of personal computing culture. The location in the area of Basel that baseldeutsch renders us as Glaibasel, or “Little Basel”, is a living archive of disappearing cultures and artefacts of software production, software labour and the material exchange these require and allow. Online, COMPUTER + SOFTWARE maintains a spartan presence at

Boxes of Software

There was a time when bandwidth and a lineage of publishing practices meant that in order to purchase software, you went to a bookstore or an office supply shop. There, you would find a helpful clerk — a human being — who would attempt to match your verbally articulated needs with an appropriate application, software product. In ‘shopping around’ in this way, the user or consumer was connected, albeit indirectly, with the industry and labour that lies behind software. Software is distributed, but only via the activities of human beings, and the physical machines and energetic capital they make and activate. Someone makes all this stuff, all these applications, all these tools for reading, accounting, writing, emailing, authoring, tracking, creating.

As there are no longer disks or hardware to buy, sell, rent, borrow or exchange anymore — the meatspace of moving bodies and civic engagements in streets, houses, bars, street corners and public spaces finds less and less a part in the culture of software which floats “above it,” where we all, erroneously imagine ‘the cloud’ to reside. Artists like Microradio pioneer Tetsuo Kogawa, and his purposefully short-distance radio broadcast projects proved that technologies of distribution can indeed be used to bring people together. The software box is a similar locus — a boundary object that presences what is exchanged when people put their energies and ideas into the digital language of code. Like microradio is a good excuse for a radio party, software boxes are a good excuse for a software party. They are the demonstration-objects of a domesticated demo-scene, the everyday pedestrian packaging of personal computer clubs.

In cultures of contemporary creative production (‘digital art’ and ‘internet art’, as well as their ‘post-’ variants) our links to those that produce platforms and tools of creative production have largely been cleaved. Our ability to maintain an awareness, as artists and audiences, of the industrious individuals and environments which subtend the aesthetic and conceptual potentials of personal, digital, networked and mobile computation is subverted by the ‘one-click’ app download, and the instantaneous, continuous update. ‘Appification’, and with it the economics of ‘plat-forming’ bring about not only a fragmentation of labour and function, but also a flattening and homogenization of all production, artistic creativity included. The app icon as the ‘boiled down’ software box of today is one obvious sign of this harmonising aesthetic monoculture. Artistic interest in the ‘app’ as a reformatting of creative practice has been rendered explicit by projects such as The Imaginary App by Paul D. Miller and Svitlana Matviyenko. As well, post-digital and post-Internet art practices show active interest in the perfidy of materials as exhibition-oriented manifestations of online, digital and software ‘objects’. WINDOWS develops a design-historical connection to the precursors and productive industries of software. In creating comparative disjunctions between current and prior software ‘packaging,’ the product-object aspects of software are brought to the fore. Software, computing platforms, media communications are drawn out of the cloud, and back into the box.

The hours of work, and billions of clicks and keytaps, that go into the software that underlies digital culture is disappeared when the ‘product’ is obfuscated beneath a myriad of click-purchased, incremental updates, and service-signups. We no longer exchange capital for labour, we ‘sign up’ for a lifetime of potential associations and bank account seepage. The Adobe Creative Suite (a set of tools through which most art, design and media production flows inevitably seep these days) is no longer available as a single license, but requires subscription and membership — a forced buy-in to software development and update cycle, an ideology, that is as abstract as it is infinite. Meanwhile, behind this system lay an army of engineers and programmers, computer scientists, designers, developers and advertisers. This is to say nothing of the computers, servers and routers machines that also ‘labour’ to host and distribute these codebases, and with which we also now have life-long relations but very little conscious awareness or contact. The shopfront is a login screen, and the economies of digitality lay with the micro-payment and the auto-renewed bank withdrawal; a kind of anti-economy, where exchange itself disappears beneath a cloudy haze; nobody knows what they are working for, or paying for. We buy gas, and we purchase milk… but we “sign up” for software.

There have been many attempts, most cumbersome, to return the material to software systems and their use — from the ‘license dongle’ which for a brief period in the 1990s was what granted ‘keyed’ access to expensive software systems; to the numerous attempts by creative coders and digital designers to ‘render media physical,’ by printing out sound files and physically rendering and extruding film frames. In each of these cases, the physical world interrupts (either intentionally or unintentionally) what would otherwise (dis)appear as seamless economic flow. Fragments of functionality and liquid labour vascularise exchange into the unassailable mist of atomised capital.


WINDOWS is a project by Jamie Allen and Moritz Greiner-Petter.

Special thanks to Claudia Wenger (COMPUTER + SOFTWARE) and Michi Zaugg (Plattfon).

Funded by the Department of Culture Basel-City.

Supported by the Institute of Experimental Design and Media Cultures (IXDM) / Academy of Art and Design FHNW.

Aram Bartholl

Aram Bartholl's work creates an interplay between internet, culture and reality. How do our taken-for-granted communication channels influence us? Bartholl asks not just what humans are doing with media, but what media is doing with humans. Tensions between public and private, online and offline, techno-lust and everyday life are at the core of his work and his public interventions and installations, often entailing surprisingly physical manifestations of the digital world, challenge our concepts of reality and incorporeality. Bartholl has exhibited at MoMA Museum of Modern Art NY, the Pace Gallery NY and London's Hayward Gallery as well as conducting countless workshops, talks and performances internationally. Bartholl lives and works in Berlin.

Benoît Verjat

Benoît Verjat is a designer and researcher concerned with real time interactions. In various contexts and format including performance, debate, workshop, politics or scientific research how visual representation can be summon or created at the speech speed via situated instruments? For "demo" purpose he produces "alibis" — images meant to show the specificity of the instrument — who often refer to painting, history of representation and image making techniques.

Bernhard Garnicnig

Bernhard Garnicnig currently works on building emancipatory institutional and corporate surfaces as structures of aesthetic collaboration and political agency and on earnest attempts at making paradoxical things work to see what happens. He is the current Very Artistic Director of the Palais des Beaux Arts Wien, a historic site for futuristic art; he co-founded continent., a journal and publishing collective for thinking through media and the Bregenz Biennale, a festival for ephemeral public art in the town he was born. He is the director of Supergood, a lifestyle brand and catering service that exists in the ambiguous space between product and performance.

Ciara Phillips

Ciara Phillips uses printmaking and other forms of making – photography and textiles - as a way to instigate discussion around current social and political concerns. Her artworks combine the bold graphic language of printed forms of public address (such as informational posters and billboards) with more intimate visual imagery including photographs of her friends at work, and objects that surround her. Phillips often creates context-specific installations that foreground exhibition spaces as places for collaborative thinking and working. In her ongoing project Workshop (2010 – ) she transforms galleries into a spaces of simultaneous production and display which she invites others (artists, designers, community groups, children) to collaborate with her in making new artworks. Phillips has exhibited widely internationally and in 2014 she was nominated for the UK's Turner Prize.

Constant Dullaart

Constant Dullaart‘s (NL, 1979) practice reflects on the broad cultural and social effects of communication and image processing technologies, from performatively distributing artificial social capital on social media to completing a staff-pick Kickstarter campaign for a hardware start-up called Dulltech™. His work includes websites, performances, routers, installations, startups, armies, and manipulated found images, frequently juxtaposing or consolidating technically dichotomized presentation realms.

Recent solo exhibitions include Synthesising the Preferred Inputs, Future Gallery, Berlin; Deep Epoch, Upstream Gallery, Amsterdam; The Possibility of an Army, Kunsthalle Schirn, Frankfurt; Jennifer in Paradise, Futura, Prague; The Censored Internet, Aksioma, Ljubljana (2015); Stringendo, Vanishing Mediators at Carroll / Fletcher, London; Brave New Panderers, XPO gallery, Paris (2014); Jennifer in Paradise, Future Gallery, Berlin; Jennifer in Paradise, Import Projects, Berlin (2013) and Onomatopoeia, Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, Salt Lake City (2012). Group exhibitions include Then They Form Us, MCA, Santa Barbara; When I Give, I Give Myself, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam; Algorithmic Rubbish, Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam (2015); Casting a Wide net, Postmasters, NYC, USA; Online/Offline/Encoding Everyday Life, Transmediale, Berlin (2014); Online Mythologies, Polytechnic Museum, Moscow; Genius without talent, de Appel, Amsterdam (2012); A Painting Show, Autocenter, Berlin (2011). Dullaart has curated several exhibitions and lectured at universities and academies throughout Europe, most currently at the Werkplaats Typografie. Recently he has been awarded the Prix Net-Art 2015.

Evan Roth

Evan Roth is an artist based in Paris whose practice visualizes and archives typically unseen aspects of rapidly changing communication technologies. Through a range of media from sculpture to websites, the work addresses the personal and cultural effects surrounding these changes and the role of individual agency within the media landscape. Roth’s work has been exhibited at the Tate, Whitechapel Gallery and is the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art NYC.

Geraldine Juárez

Geraldine Juárez (MX, 1977) is an artist working with stories, histories and contexts about media technologies and its related technics and economics.

Recent group exhibitions include ‘University of Disaster’, Bosnia and Herzegovina Pavillion, Venice; ‘Situations/ Placeholder’, Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland; ‘Works for Radio’, Cinemateket, Copenhagen, Denmark; ‘Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema & Art, 1905-2016’, Whitney Museum of American, New York, USA.

Her writing has been published in The Radiated Book (Constant,2016), Intercalations 3: Reverse Hallucinations from the Archipielago (K.Verlag, 2017) and Scapegoat, Journal for Architecture, Landscape and Political Economy (2017).

Geraldine lives and works in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Ishac Bertran

Ishac Bertran is a designer and artist from Barcelona, currently living in New York. His work revolves around the relationship between people and technology. In recent years he has combined freelance work for clients with self-driven projects. As an interaction designer, he specializes in envisioning and prototyping future scenarios that often involve emerging technologies. He enjoys looking toward the future as well as learning from the past to better understand our culture. Through art he investigates the aesthetics of nature, physics and more recently, computation. He finds beauty in complex systems that are driven by simple principles.

Jamie Allen

Jamie Allen is a Canadian researcher, artist, designer and teacher, interested in what technologies teach us about who we are as individuals, cultures and societies. He likes to make things with his head and hands, and has worked as an electronics engineer, a polymer chemist and a museum designer in NYC. He lectures, publishes and exhibits worldwide. He lives in Europe, works on art and technology projects, writes a bit, and tries to engage himself with and create prefigurative institutions which that are generous and collaborative, acknowledging that friendship, passion and love are central to artistic, research and knowledge practices. His PhD (summa cum laude) was supervised by Siegfried Zielinski and Avital Ronell. He is Senior Researcher at the Critical Media Lab in Basel, Switzerland.

Jan Robert Leegte

Jan Robert Leegte (born 1973, The Netherlands) started working as an artist on the Internet in 1997. In 2002, he shifted his main focus to implementing digital materials in the context of the physical gallery space, aiming to bridge the online art world with the gallery art world, making prints, sculpture, installations and projections, connecting to historical movements like land art, minimalism and conceptualism. As an artist Leegte explores the position of the new materials put forward by the (networked) computer. Photoshop selection marquees, scrollbars, Google Maps, code and software are dissected for their sculptural properties.

His work has been exhibited internationally (Lux, Whitechapel Gallery, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam). He is currently represented by Upstream Gallery Amsterdam.

Jan Robert Leegte lives and works in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Moritz Greiner-Petter

Moritz Greiner-Petter is designer and researcher with a background in visual communication and digital media design. He is junior researcher at the Institute of Experimental Design and Media Cultures (IXDM) Basel and PhD candidate at the Institute for Cultural Studies at Humboldt University Berlin. As a researcher and practitioner he is exploring the media aesthetics and epistemes of information technologies through design practice. His work takes the form of speculative artifacts and interactive prototypes, experimental publishing formats as well as writing.

Peter Moosgaard

Peter Moosgaard lives and works in Vienna, Austria. Graduated in Digital Arts (MA) in 2012, he first studied Philosophy and Linguistics, and later Visual Media at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, Class Prof. Peter Weibel. He is a member of the international activist group WochenKlausur since 2007 and co-founded the experimental TRAUMAWIEN publishing in 2010. Moosgaard worked as a journalist, janitor, teacher and dj. He has had exhibitions and performances in Istanbul, Stockholm, Athens, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Munich, Brussels, Basel and many more. Currently he is a PhD Candidate at the Academy of Fine Arts in Austria and his research focuses on Cargo Cults and Shanzahi as global, postdigital strategies.

Phillip Stearns

Phillip David Stearns (USA, 1982) holds a MFA from Cal Arts in Music Composition and Integrated Media (2007) and a BS from University of Colorado @ Denver in Music Industry Studies: Sound Recording (2005). His work is centered on the use of electronic technologies and electronic media to explore dynamic relationships between ideas and material as mobilized within complex and interconnected societies. Deconstruction, reconfiguration, and extension are key methodologies and techniques employed in the production of works that range from audio visual performances, electronic sculptures, light and sound installation, digital textiles, and other oddities both digital and material.


Pussykrew is an interdisciplinary duo of Tikul and mi$ gogo.

Their creative practices range from multimedia installations, 3D imagery, videoclips and audio-visual performance, to DIY electronics and sculpture design.

Pussykrew is originally from Poland, developed globally via Ireland, UK, Berlin, Brussels, Shanghai and online environment.

Pussykrew explores post-human concepts, corporeal aesthetics, urban landscapes and fluid identities with their synthetic-organic notions, constantly searching for liminal states within the digital realm.

Pussykrew is creating gender-bending visual journeys, filtered through carnal data mesh, liquid dysphoria and 3D fantasy shuffle. Pussykrew pieces are known for their multi-sensory purposes and physical affection.

Pussykrew works are being presented in various contexts - at digital arts and film festivals, independent art spaces, renown institutions, club environments, as well as commercial events, tech fairs and galleries.

Pussykrew have worked with Boiler Room / x House of Vans, Converse, Hugo, Mini, WARP Records and performed live visuals for numerous international music artists (such as Angel Haze, Kelela, Evian Christ, Kode9, Nguzunguzu.. )

Pussykrew loves dynamic surroundings, interactive spaces, discoveries and future scenarios.

Rosa Menkman

Rosa Menkman is a Dutch artist, curator and researcher, focusing on noise artifacts that result from accidents in both analogue and digital media (such as glitch, encoding and feedback artifacts). She believes that these artifacts can facilitate an important insight into the otherwise obscure alchemy of standardization via resolutions. This process of imposing efficiency, order and functionality does not just involve the creation of protocols and solutions, but also entails black-boxed, obfuscated compromises and alternative possibilities that are in danger of staying forever unseen or even forgotten.

In 2011 Menkman wrote the Glitch Moment/um, a book on the exploitation and popularization of glitch artifacts (published by the Institute of Network Cultures), co-facilitated the GLI.TC/H festivals in both Chicago and Amsterdam and curated the Aesthetics symposium of Transmediale 2012. Since 2012 Menkman has been curating exhibitions that intend to illuminate the different ecologies of glitch (filtering failure, glitch genealogies, glitch moment/ums and Tactical ᴳlitches - the latter one together w/ Nick Briz). In 2015 Menkman started the institutions for Resolution Disputes [iRD], during her solo show at Transfer Gallery New York. The iRD are institutions dedicated to researching the interests of anti-utopic, lost and unseen or simply "too good to be implemented" resolutions.

Sebastian Schmieg

Sebastian Schmieg examines the ways networked technologies shape online and offline realities, in artworks that range from shredded hard-drives from a Google datacenter to crowd-sourced versions of popular self-help books using Amazon's Kindle. His output encompasses websites, videos, interface performances, lectures, online interventions, print-on-demand books or neural networks. His artistic practice currently revolves around digital labor, optimization and the amalgamation of humans and software. Previously his work has been exhibited at The Photographers’ Gallery, London, UK; Transmediale, Berlin, Germany; Art Center Nabi, Seoul, South Korea; and Bitforms Gallery, New York, USA. Sebastian Schmieg lives and works in Berlin.

Suzanne Treister

Suzanne Treister (b.1958 London UK) studied at St Martin's School of Art, London (1978-1981) and Chelsea College of Art and Design, London (1981-1982) based in London having lived in Australia, New York and Berlin. Initially recognized in the 1980s as a painter, she became a pioneer in the digital/new media/web based field from the beginning of the 1990s, making work about emerging technologies, developing fictional worlds and international collaborative organisations. Utilising various media, including video, the internet, interactive technologies, photography, drawing and watercolour, Treister has evolved a large body of work which engages with eccentric narratives and unconventional bodies of research to reveal structures that bind power, identity and knowledge. Often spanning several years, her projects comprise fantastic reinterpretations of given taxonomies and histories that examine the existence of covert, unseen forces at work in the world, whether corporate, military or paranormal.


Windows93 is run by Jankenpopp and Zombectro.


16–30 June 2017

In the shop window of

Klybeckstrasse 76
CH-4057 Basel

Facebook event


16 June 2017, 7PM

PLATTFON Record Store

Feldbergstrasse 48
CH-4057 Basel

With a lecture by Peter Moosgaard & Jamie Allen and a performance by Phillip Stearns.