Hito Steyerl’s Power Plants is a multimedia installation, consisting of three video sculptures—scaffolding structures with mounted LED screens and LED running text lines. The first iteration was created specifically for the Serpentine Galleries, London, as part of the artist’s 2019 solo exhibition. During the exhibition, visitors could activate the work using an Augmented Reality (AR) mobile application, scanning specifically designed signage and prompting an interactive text animation on their mobile devices’ screens.
The LED screens on scaffolding show looped animations of flowers and plants growing and morphing. These images were generated by neural networks – computer systems modeled on the human brain and nervous system, the key technology behind the Artificial Intelligence. The artist has used this Artificial Intelligence to create a series of ‘predicted’ plants that are located precisely 0,04 seconds in the future. The installation design can be seen as a ruderal garden: plants flourishing out of imagined waste ground, perhaps in the wake of human disruption or destruction, with each plant having ecological, medicinal or political powers.
Power Plants exemplifies Steyerl’s long-standing interest in the automated systems of image reproduction and distribution, and their ramifications for political systems of representation.