Our lives are taking place in the digital sphere to an increasingly greater extent. How does this development influence our manner of thinking, feeling, loving? Through mantras such as ‘less fiction, more flow’, a widespread tendency toward efficiency in the corporate world has penetrated into our personal lives and relations and given it a monetary and contractual character. Language itself also reflects this tendency: it is becoming streamlined and standardized through all sorts of ‘templates’. How does that change the way in which we express ourselves? And is it possible to escape it?
Which brings us to the famous “I would prefer not to” statement offered by Bartleby, a clerk in one of Herman Melville’s stories. Bartleby’s obstinate standard reply appeals to us because it has such an unsettling effect. It does not affirm, and yet it is not a pure refusal. He makes the system in which he is expected to function impossible.
The character Bartlebabe is a 2020 version of Bartleby, without her being aware of it herself per se. She is a collection of online content that becomes vexed, takes on monstrous features when she is released into analogue reality.
In this third collaboration between Nathan Ooms and Anna Franziska Jäger, the latter flirts with ready-made language and situations as a contemporary Bartlebabe; she uses them, but also turns them inside out. A preview can be seen at Love at first Sight#5, premiere in CAMPO in 2021.