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Updated: Feb 24, 2020

There is absolutely nothing like visiting a place, to get a sense of it. That is both the beauty and the tragedy of Venice – it is cheaper to go now than it ever has been. I watch, no, I can’t avoid watching, the tourists - up to 60,000 per day I am told, against a resident population of the lagoon city of 90,000. The millions of photos taken every year are in effect a digitization of Venice. At the Biennale artist Hito Steyerl has been digitizing and using artificial intelligence to create an interactive virtual Venice, past and present. Seyerl’s objects of interest and art-making are very contemporary concerns – the media, or media more generally, how technology is changing the human relationship to each other and to the world, and within that the global circulation of images. We all know Venice, don’t we? Yes but, usually only through Seyerl’s objects of concern.

Earlier in the year, in Bologna, Pauline and I went to see a virtual Vivaldi exhibition - a digital construction, with a few props, some film, very scripted music, but nothing tangibly of Vivaldi and his physical presence – no original music scores, no instruments, no Venice. Venice was the digitised backdrop to a digital concoction – pleasant, interesting, lightweight with little in the way of music. The crumbling of Venice is a tragedy that it is impossible to grasp – beyond the buildings, it is impossible to know what you don’t know, and what is being lost here. However great the technology platform is, unless it is digital, it doesn’t exist. So a lot of Venice does not exist in the 'real world' of the digital

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