Klowden Mann is proud to present our first solo exhibition of work by UK-based artist Heath Bunting, The Status Project. Exhibited extensively internationally, this will be the first time that the net.art co-founder’s project—which began in 2004—has been shown in Los Angeles.
The Status Project is a collection of maps and guidebooks of “the system”, which Bunting also refers to as “the machine”. These maps illustrate the way in which “hierarchy is only possible through horizontal separation and vertical integration”.
The machine is defined in part by Bunting as the societal mechanisms that attempt to understand and disrupt human social systems. This is most overtly seen in corporate and government surveillance and mapping of individual behaviors on the Internet, but also evidenced by any social contract whereby privacy is traded for goods or services—drivers license, credit card, store membership. Bunting holds these mechanisms of identity surveillance in opposition to his and others’ work who attempt to “understand and disrupt the machine”, penetrating the global system in order to allow individuals increased mobility within the daily practices that are required to function within society.
Bunting breaks The Status Project into three layers: human being, Natural person (an objectified human being), and Artificial person (generally objectified collectives of natural person(s)). Among the maps and portraits include “a terrorist background map of influence”, “an electorally registered natural person colour map of influence”, “homeless background map of influence”, “a natural person user of a mobile telephone black and white map of influence”, “able to provide human being skin colour map of influence”, “a natural person registered as dead map of influence”. The works demonstrate the ways in which identity is mutable—the result of a negotiation between individuals, organizations, institutions, documentation, possessions, and actions.
Heath Bunting emerged from the 1980’s committed to building open/democratic communication systems and social contexts, and has since exhibited his work on penetrating the institutional structures of the internet in the UK, Spain, Japan, Norway, Chile, Turkey, the US, Croatia, Czech Republic, and Latvia, among others, including the Venice Bienalle, Documenta, and the Tate Modern.
Bunting is a co-founder of both net.art and sport-art movements. He is banned for life from entering the USA for his anti genetic and border crossing work. He has had multiple works of art censored and permanently deleted (including all copies and backups) by the UK security services. He has had an artwork exploded by an Army bomb disposal team from Hereford and is prevented from talking about this in public. He has been detained, arrested multiple times and classified as a terrorist by UK security services for his art projects. He is subject to constant global state and corporate hostile interventions. He is denied full access to the internet and is almost constantly unemployed as a result of being politically blacklisted.
In an environment where the UK Ministry of Defence can publicly state that their primary global adversary is the non-state individual artist, he now produces his art projects securely and in secret. He has been approached by both state and corporate security organizations on several occasions, but mostly declined these offers of work, especially when it involved the assassination of social justice activists. His main work, The Status Project, involves using artificial intelligence to search for artificial life in societal systems. Aside from this, he is currently training artists in security and survival techniques so they can out-live organized crime networks in the forest during the final crisis.