Prologue / Lior Zalmanson

Translation: Mor Ilan

This edition of Maarav is concurrent with the opening of the Print Screen Festival, focusing this year on the delicate seam between creation and imitation, creativity and duplicity, and between “make” and “fake”. Dozens of artists, scientists, designers, filmmakers, and technology experts from Israel and abroad will take part.

Conception of the festival and the magazine edition both began with the word fabrication –

By definition, fabrication is the mass production of new products. This process, until recently solely carried out by factories, is now executed in homes and studios using 3D printers and electronic kits, such as Arduino or Raspberry Pi, enabling the manufacture of robots at a record-low cost. Concurrently, fabrication also symbolizes another form of production, one of half-truths and forgeries, acts of deception and trickery. In the digital mediation so typical of our times, where content is created by the masses and virally transferred by them within seconds, production has become a tool of the people and they now take active part in creating the illusion and the shift to the online fake news.

In this edition, you can find a wealth of articles where the diverse aspects of digital fiction and fabrication are examined. Eran Hadas’ article deals in the reality created by use of machine learning algorithms. He raises the question regarding the fictitious nature of this reality. In a world where most of our images are generated and mediated to us by computer systems, is this truly the only reality that counts?

The article by Mushon Zer-Aviv accompanies the works he presents in the festival exhibition, focusing on disrupted advertisement algorithms of mega-companies, such as Google and Facebook. Mushon collaborated with NYU researchers to create a bot that clicks on every ad appearing on any given page, in effect establishing a smoke screen that disguises the “true” identity of the user. Is fakery the only avenue left to us in a world of mass surveillance?

Joshua Simon’s article also deals in the inherent flaws of the digital revolution. Simon, curator of the festival’s “In the Liquid” exhibition, depicts a parallel narrative that begins with the fall of the Berlin Wall, a progression whereby the digital revolution and its array of inventions have failed to help us realize our dreams. Quite the reverse – the revolution has plunged us into a false reality, a tangible dream that holds our bodies paralyzed and occupies our brains with images we do not understand as we continue to be exploited by huge conglomerates.

Finally, Shalev Moran, curator of video games in the Print Screen Festival, presents an article that examines the presence of “assets”, generally a reference to any graphic or audio element in a game. For example, the clouds that appear in the background of the Super Mario game are an asset of the game owned by Nintendo. In the list of Moran’s cited examples, artists choose to employ an approach similar to that of 20th century modernist readymade method, pushing these ostensibly banal assets to the forefront of the work. This results in a game that favors the mass production experience, critiques the copyrights of giant companies, and celebrates the simulated environment of computer game worlds and the limitless multitude of functions they can provide.