A Video Store After the End of the World: The Great Netfix

June 05 – July 03, 2024

Borough Road Gallery, London South Bank University

Set up as a media re-distribution unit, The Great Netfix, an exhibition by A Video Store After the End of the World (Kristoffer Gansing & Linda Hilfling Ritasdatter), unfolds as a performative installation that works to reform relations between labour, automation and ownership.

The Great Netfix will consist of a low-tech media infrastructure that allows for the extraction of streaming media onto VHS. Exploiting how the contents of digital media platforms are not endless, the exhibition aims to discuss how the streaming economy is materially entangled and based on an economy of artificially created scarcity. In contrast, The Great Netfix “unclouds” online audiovisual media in a performance of the labour of automation and as a material speculation on alternatives to the algorithmic cloud. Consisting of a media front-end and a labour back-end, in The Great Netfix, VHS tapes are used to host the extracted media streams. During the course of the exhibition period, a stack of VHS data packages is built up, which can be picked up by visitors who then become the future custodians of A Video Store After the End of the World, interconnected through a VHS distribution network.

The Great Netfix is supported by the Danish Arts Foundation and The Swedish Research Council and is organised in collaboration with the Centre for the Study of the Networked Image (CSNI) at LSBU, The Digital Culture Unit at Goldsmiths, University of London, and the research group Critical Infrastructures and Image Politics (CIIP) at Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton.

The servers are down. The Streaming has stopped. The cloud is gone.
Welcome to a Video Store After the End of the World.

A Video Store After the End of the World was first installed in Copenhagen as part of the Trans★Feminist Digital Depletion Strike on the 8th of March 2023 which brought together a transnational network of organisations, collectives and individuals in protest against cloud-based computing and its extractive logic. The video store and its VHS medium here became a backdrop for a conversation about how we can collectively imagine new, more sustainable and local ways of sharing knowledge, art and culture than through the energy-intensive cloud-based networks we rely on today. Due to its slow biodegradation process, VHS has the potential to outlive digital servers and humanity too. By referring to the end of the world, the project does not suggest a coming apocalypse, but a hopeful living in or in spite of what Anna Tsing has called “capitalist ruins” that are already very much here.

The initial video store collected more than 2000 used video tapes for home recording, some of which have been used to create mix-tapes on counter-cloud practices. In a next phase, the collection is now being mobilised to create a distributed model of A Video Store After the End of the World.

For more information on the project and its past activities visit https://vhs.data.coop/