Danja Vasiliev

(1978) is a Russian-born media artist, critical engineer and educator who works extensively in the field of computer technology, focusing on critical examination of the internet, personal data, and the intricacies of networked systems. His practice spans a wide range of activities including creating artworks, conducting workshops, and participating in public interventions that challenge the norms of digital culture and technology.

Vasiliev's approach is characterized by a hacker's perspective, where hacking is seen not just as a set of technical skills but as a philosophical stance towards technology and its impact on society. He often employs irony and subversion to highlight the absurdities and contradictions within digital and networked environments. His work is deeply rooted in the exploration of cybernetics, digital security, and the politics of technology, aiming to demystify and critique the power structures embedded in the digital world.

One of the key themes in Vasiliev's work is the concept of "critical engineering" a term he co-defined in The Critical Engineering Manifesto. This manifesto outlines a framework for understanding and engaging with technology critically, proposing that engineers and artists should not only use technology as a tool but also critically examine its role, function, and impact on society. The manifesto encourages the interrogation of technology to reveal its biases, assumptions, and potential implications for privacy, security, and autonomy.

Vasiliev's projects often involve the creative misuse of technology to reveal its vulnerabilities and to question the control mechanisms inherent in digital systems. For example, he has created works that manipulate network infrastructure to expose how personal data is collected, stored, and utilized, thereby critiquing surveillance capitalism and the commodification of personal information.

In addition to his solo projects, Vasiliev collaborates with other artists and technologists on various initiatives. He is a co-founder of the Critical Engineering Working Group homed at Studio Weise7 in Berlin, which organizes workshops, exhibitions, and interventions aimed at fostering a deeper public understanding of the critical role of engineering in society. Through these collaborative efforts, Vasiliev seeks to engage a broader audience in discussions about the ethical, political, and social dimensions of technology.

Overall, Danja Vasiliev's practice is a provocative and insightful examination of the digital world, offering a critical lens through which to view the increasingly technologized society. His work challenges us to consider the implications of our reliance on digital technologies and to rethink our relationship with the networked systems that shape contemporary life.

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