How Not To Be Seen. A Fucking Didactic Educational .Mov File is a video installation work by German artist Hito Steyerl in 2013, showcasing five teachings via a sarcastic yet humorous online education video. It proposes some bizarre ways to be invisible, so that people could have space to picture how we could work around the cameras and sights of people. Further, it reduces to a unit smaller than 1 pixel hidden in the crack of images, or hidden beyond the dominating system rules.
A simple question in the age of digital network yet worthy of contemplation is proposed in Hito’s work: do people still have the power or ability to hide in a total transparent era that is recorded and easily shared, and that if we still owns the right to choose at will? A set of white squares repeatedly that appears throughout the film is a resolution target formerly employed by the US military set up in the dessert of California to calibrate the surveillance cameras. This obsolete technology has been discarded in the sands. Nevertheless, the surveillance in the real world never ceases nor disappears, while some are just replaced by a more updated and precise technology. Surrounding this old resolution target, the educational video inexplicitly explain the different ways to be invisible, taunting and responding to the omnipresence of social media and surveillance technology in the digital era, the surreal scenes of the online world, and the manipulations of powers in the background of the Internet.
In the production of the artwork, Hito employed various methods to express her thinking on the images in the age of information today. From the duplication, dismantling, collage, reassembling, regeneration, circulation, and even streaming of online images in the works, we could pick up image records from the social media and surveillance technology since the mid-20th century to date. The authentic figures and sets are mixed with the computer generated ones in the frames, whereas the rapid-changing raw image product manifests different levels of reality and the technological advancement over the decades. The border of reality and reproduced reality expose the production life experience of their own as the work progresses, while delivering the intended meaning underneath in form.