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AI art and biohacks that ponder posthumanism, CGI fever dreams that (further) distort reality, software that speaks truth to power: HOLO explores critical creative practice that emerges between art, science, technology, and society—a space of radical imagination where new ideas and cultural paradigms are born. Join us for daily discoveries by becoming a HOLO Reader.
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The Archives (2014–2020)

Adding the content from HOLO’s past print editions—essays, artist profiles, illustrated fiction—online is currently in progress. Readers can expect to have access to the majority of HOLO’s archival pieces by the end of 2022.

Kickstarter Co-founder Yancey Strickler Shares Notes on Social DAO Friends with Benefits’ FWB Fest

“I found myself wondering whether this ratio of governance participants to members is similar to past social institutions like bowling leagues, rotary societies, 4-H clubs, and others.”
Kickstarter and Metalabel co-founder Yancey Strickler, reflecting on social DAO Friends with Benefits’ recent festival. Ruminating on what is new and familiar about DAOs he asks “is this how social institutions like this have always been run, with a 10:1 worker-to-participant ratio?” [quote edited]

The Joy of Screens

Wisdom: Vera Molnar on the Joy of Screens
“I belong to that generation where the first things I made with computers … there was no screen. If you can imagine that. You couldn’t see what you were doing. You would see [the results] the next day, or three days later, and then you’d say … that’s not what I wanted! When the screen appeared, it completely changed my life. It was like moving to Paris all over again, that’s how exciting it was…. I had this feeling that this was invented for me. This was an academic research institute, so people didn’t really care how the graphics looked, or what graphics even were, really. But that is all I cared about. I realized very quickly that the computer screen was the thing for me.”

Vera Molnar to Zsofi Valyi-Nagy (translated from Hungarian), Paris Dec 19, 2017

Zsofi Valyi-Nagy Enters Vera Molnar’s Alt Exhibitions Spaces, From Research Groups to Journals, to Self-Published Books

Art historian Zsofi Valyi-Nagy enters Vera Molnar’s “alternative exhibition spaces,” from research groups, to journals, to self-published books. By exploring ways of circulating her works and ideas outside of traditional art venues, the generative art luminary garnered an international, more open-minded audience. “I suggest we broaden this idea of showing work to sharing work,” Valyi-Nagy writes.

“Multiple Arrests Are Not Ruled Out” Says Dutch FIOD of Hunt for Tornado Cash Developers

“He is suspected of involvement in concealing criminal financial flows and facilitating money laundering through the mixing of cryptocurrencies through the decentralized Ethereum mixing service Tornado Cash. Multiple arrests are not ruled out.”
– Netherlands Fiscal Information and Investigation Service (FIOD), on the arrest of developer Alexey Pertsev. A go-to transaction anonymizer used by money launderers, Tornado Cash also has benign use cases; the arrest and deplatforming of its developers has some asking “is writing open source code illegal now?”

Alt Exhibition Spaces

Research: Alternative Exhibition Spaces

“Why only look at exhibition history as evidence of an artist showing their work? Instead, I suggest we broaden this idea of showing work to sharing work.”
Vera Molnar, Ni Queue ni Tête (Neither Tail nor Head) (2014), 15 x 15 cm (folded)

A collaborative project bringing together a visual work by Molnar, a composition and text by Jean-Yves Bosseur, and performance by Pascal Dubreuil. Edited and published by Couleurs Contemporaines and Bernard Chauveau. The work is housed in a custom-made portfolio box containing Molnar’s six meter long folded artwork, printed on 90-gram Acroprint Edizioni paper; a musical score partition booklet by Bosseur; and a CD of Dubreuil’s performance.
“Enter the alternative spaces in which Molnar’s work reached audiences: informal research groups, festivals, academic journals and conferences, art magazines, and self-published artist’s books.”
Vera Molnar,
Ni Queue ni tête
(mouse over)

The usual narrative around Vera Molnar’s work is that she didn’t exhibit her work until the mid-1970s, and even then, only sparingly. It is true that she didn’t focus on exhibiting and building relationships with galleries until the 1990s, especially after her husband passed away. Whether her husband was the reason why she didn’t exhibit much before this is up for debate, but let’s save that for another day. Instead, I want to ask a different question: why only look at exhibition history as evidence of an artist showing their work? In today’s research note, I suggest we broaden this idea of showing work to sharing work. In other words, what were the more informal contexts in which Molnar shared her images or her ideas? We are going to peek at some of the alternative spaces in which Molnar’s work reached audiences: informal research groups, festivals, academic journals and conferences, art magazines, and self-published artist’s books.

In 1967, a year before she first accessed the electronic computer with the help of Pierre Barbaud, the Molnars co-founded the group Art et informatique (Art and computing) at l’Institut d’esthétique et des sciences de l’art (Institute for aesthetics and the science of art) at the Sorbonne in Paris, where François Molnar worked as a researcher. The group mainly consisted of music composers, including Barbaud and Janine Charbonnier, but also included poets like Jacques Mayer, who wrote in the parameter-driven Oulipo style made famous by novelist George Perec. Vera Molnar was the only painter in the group; in fact, despite their near-identical names, Art et Informatique would have little contact with the Groupe Art et Informatique de Vincennes (GAIV), formed at the University of Vincennes across town in 1969. As Molnar recalls, the Sorbonne group met weekly to discuss their works-in-progress and the more theoretical stakes of computing for the field of aesthetics. As these conversations gained momentum, the members of Art et informatique shared their work with broader audiences at events like the SIGMA festival in Bordeaux, which showcased contemporary intersections of art and science. While François Molnar had already participated in the first edition of SIGMA in 1965, co-organized by Michel Philippot (the composer who inspired Vera Molnar’s ‘machine imaginaire’) and Abraham Moles (who developed the field of ‘information aesthetics’ in France), Vera Molnar did not formally participate in the festival until 1973, when the festival was titled “Art et ordinateur” (Art and computer). Here, she gave a talk titled “L’Oeil qui pense (The thinking eye),” which she borrowed from the notebooks of Paul Klee. She also designed the festival posters as well as the catalogue for the exhibition “Contact,” in which her computer plotter drawings were shown alongside computer graphics made by Herbert W. Franke, Kenneth Knowlton, Manfred Mohr, Frieder Nake, and the GAIV artists, among many others.

“In response to her 1975 Leonardo text ‘Toward Aesthetic Guidelines for Paintings with the Aid of a Computer,’ Molnar received quite a bit of fan mail. She replied by mailing out photocopies of her artists’ books.”
Vera Molnar (left) and François Molnar (right) with Jacques Chaban-Delmas, then mayor of Bordeaux, at the first SIGMA festival in Bordeaux, 1965 (Molnar archives, used with permission of Vera Molnar)
(1) Vera Molnar, Cover for Computer Graphics and Art, Vol. 2, No. 1 (Feb 1977; Molnar archives)

(2) Vera Molnar’s article in Leonardo, Vol. 8, No. 3 (1975: 185-189) (Molnar archives)

(3) Vera Molnar’s work reproduced in Abraham Moles’ book Art et ordinateur (Casterman, 1971), likely the earliest circulation of Molnar’s images in print. Note that the image reproduced (left) is not a plotter drawing, but a collage based on a computer-generated image.
Vera Molnar’s artist book Ni Queue ni Tête (Neither Tail nor Head) (2014) on view at Beall Center (table)
Conferences, journals,
artists’ books
(mouse over)

It was in these liminal spaces between art and science that Vera Molnar’s work first reached an international audience beyond the Sorbonne computer lab. Throughout the 1970s, her images circulated in American periodicals including Computers and Automation, (later renamed Computers and People) and Computer Graphics. These black-and-white reproductions were flanked by technical specs––what machines she used to make them––as well as short anecdotes from the artist. Molnar also penned longer articles for journals, perhaps the most widely distributed being the Franco-American journal Leonardo, edited by artist/engineer Frank Malina, which was published in English and thus had a wide Anglo-American readership. In response to her 1975 text “Toward Aesthetic Guidelines for Paintings with the Aid of a Computer,” Molnar received quite a bit of fan mail. She replied by mailing out photocopies of her livrimages, her artists’ books, including Love-Story and Out of Square (both 1974), which she referred to in English as “computer picture books,” until she ran out. Molnar self-published her early livrimages, cutting and pasting their accordion folds by hand, only later collaborating with printmakers and publishers (mostly notably Bernard Chauveau) to make higher-quality artist’s books, two of which are included in the Beall exhibition (Ni Queue ni tête, 2014 and Six millions sept cent soixante-cinq mille deux cent une Sainte-Victoire, 2012).

“Alternative modes of ‘exhibiting’ might have done things for Molnar that showing in traditional art venues couldn’t have: they brought her work to an international, more open-minded audience.”

I don’t mean to suggest that giving an artist’s talk at an academic conference, or publishing computer graphics in a specialist journal, are the same as gaining art-world recognition. Of course, these are quite different kinds of achievements. However, I want to suggest that these alternative modes of ‘exhibiting’ might have done things for Molnar’s work that exhibiting in traditional art venues couldn’t have. For one, they brought her work to an international audience, one that was perhaps more open-minded than the traditional museum-goer when it came to determining what counts as art and what doesn’t. Moreover, by printing her words alongside reproductions of her work, these print publications in particular worked to level the hierarchy between the artist’s theory and practice, placing them on equal footing. On the one hand, we could say Molnar had to be her own critic in the absence of art-world attention. But on the other hand, this gave her an advantage, as these venues provided more space for context and the artist’s own voice, allowing her to direct her own narrative.

(1) For more on Molnar’s Livrimages, see Vincent Baby’s text “Les Livrimages” (1999, in French)

Inspired by Mycology and Web3 the 2022 ARKO Art & Tech Festival Chronicles “The Fable of Net in Earth”

“The Fable of Net in Earth,” the 2022 ARKO Art & Tech Festival kicks off in Seoul. Inspired by decentralization (mycology, Web3), it brings together Morehshin Allahyari, SunJeong Hwang, and Young Joo Lee, and others. Featured works include Eobchaecoin (2022), Nahee Kim’s unabashedly ponzi cryptocurrency (it will be very profitable in 2082), and De Anima (2018-21, image), Clara Jo’s film probing humanity’s relationship with nature, that draws on footage from Kenya, Myanmar, and France.

Ohan Breiding Gushes about How Astrida Neimanis’ “Bodies of Water” Has Influenced Their Work

“Bodies are made up of this substance, which existed before bodies existed. Your water is the same as mine inside, but we’re very different people. Skin both links us to the outside world and separates us from it.”
– Artist Ohan Breiding, explaining the ‘hydrocommons.’ Part of a feature where artists recommend key texts that have influenced their work, Breiding heartily plugs Astrida Neimanis’ Bodies of Water: Posthuman Feminist Phenomenology (2019).

Kyriaki Goni Weaves Counter-Narratives to Colonial Cosmologies and Space Expansionism

Kyriaki Goni is a Greek artist based in Athens. She holds a BA in Fine Arts, an MA in Digital Arts, and a BA and MSc in Social and Cultural Anthropology. Manifesting through websites, drawing, videos, sound, and text, her practice explores the political, affective and environmental aspects of technology. Her installations build alternative ecosystems and shared experiences by connecting the local with the planetary, the fictional with the scientific. Recent solo and group shows include exhibitions at Aksioma, Ars Electronica, Gherdeina Biennale, Onassis Stegi, Shanghai Biennale, and Transmediale. Photo: Thanos Danilof


Alexander Scholz

What just happened? From June 3rd to July 17th, Kyriaki Goni premiered a new multimedia installation, The Future Light Cone, at the 2nd Warsaw Biennale. Commissioned especially for the exhibition by Biennale curators Galas-Kosil, Bartosz Frąckowiak, and Paweł Wodziński, Goni stages six large-scale tapestries alongside drawings, video, and a rare metal object that imagine more-than-human cosmologies.

Q: A central theme of the work is the rise of expansionist, colonial rhetoric around (private) space exploration. What does this shift in language say about where power is concentrating, and why do narratives about other worlds matter for how we relate to our own?
A: In July 2020, when NASA astronauts first used a SpaceX craft to get to the International Space Station, the Trump White House’s Twitter account cheered Americans as those “who pursued our Manifest Destiny into the stars.” I remember reading this and cringing: there’s a direct line between these words and the westward expansion of white settlers into Indigenous lands in the 19th century that had such dramatic consequences for the native population. Space exploration narratives are rife with problematic language, especially since major tech companies got involved. Words like colonizing, pioneering, and frontier perpetuate the same old patriarchal, anthropocentric imaginaries that brought harm to the planet and so many people. It’s a language of conquest and entitlement: after extracting everything we could from the Earth’s crust, asteroids and other planets become targets.

Narratives about other worlds and near futures matter because they influence how we perceive, act upon, and engage the present. Space exploration may seem like far-off fiction, but the infrastructures built, resources extracted, and words used in its service are very real and so are the impacts on marginalized people. The SpaceX facilities in South Texas, for example, operate in the middle of a major wildlife habitat and close to several racialized, low-income communities. Residents report pollution, shattered windows due to rocket launches, and falling space debris but are ignored. SpaceX has plans to develop the entire area under the new name ‘Starbase’ and treats the land as terra nullius—a problematic legal term for ‘territory without a master’—by erasing local histories and buying people off.
“Space exploration narratives are rife with problematic language. Words like colonizing, pioneering, and frontier perpetuate the same old anthropocentric imaginaries that brought harm to the planet and so many people.”
Q: The installation’s centrepiece comprises six ornate tapestries depicting Martian landscapes, as captured by the cameras of NASA’s Perseverance rover. Tapestries, of course, have told stories throughout history and, as a medium, invoke questions about materiality, truth, and human labour. What drew you to this form of textile art, and what was the process of its making?
A: It wasn’t my intention to produce tapestries, initially; the idea formed during my early research and experimentation. For this work, I spent countless hours looking at images of Martian landscapes on the NASA website, reading the rovers’ Twitter feeds, and listening to sound recordings of the Martian wind. This immersion into the landscapes of another world inspired a strong desire to create something tangible and tactile. Textiles are this ancient, intimate, and slow form of telling stories and passing knowledge—for this project, the medium made total sense to me.

In addition to their long history as religious, illustrative, and decorative objects textiles also carry a notion of femininity. Introducing gender into a conversation dominated by privileged white men is my way of invoking ideas of care and resilience, which to me are crucial considerations for any journey or exploration, be it out in space or here on Earth. As Donna Haraway put it: instead of taming that which we seek to understand, we “must learn to converse” with it.
Martian Landscape I (2022), tapestry, 200 x 140 cm

Main motif: rover tracks captured by NASA’s Curiosity rover on Sol 538
Q: Following traditional tapestry patterns, you framed each landscape with geometric designs, figurative motives, and short texts. What can you tell us about their significance and the relationships woven into these compositions?
A: I designed a basic grid for all six tapestries that, while seemingly decorative, allowed me to contextualize the landscapes with tools, technologies, and narrative fragments related to the rover missions. There are camera calibration patterns, colour calibration tools, and inscriptions from the rovers’ hulls and wheels. I also used mission-relevant scientific imagery such as depictions of Mars’ moons Phobos and Deimos, as well as visualizations of the different stages of terraforming the red planet, a common trope in conversations around space expansionism.

The top of each tapestry features a text fragment referring to human hubris—our perceived entitlement to objectify everything around us. They are drawn from articles, news headlines, and tweets I read during my research. The texts are echoed visually at the bottom, with imagery directly linked to colonial extraction practices.

Each composition weaves together stories of our past, present, and possible future. At the centre of Martian Landscape I, for example, is an image the Curiosity rover captured of its own tracks on Martian soil. Embedded in the frame of camera calibration patterns, is a depiction of a geodesic dome (often used to present ideal settlement structures in games and films), an illustration from Colonel Frank Triplett’s 1895 Conquering the Wilderness, and a citation from Donna Haraway’s 1988 feminist essay “Situated Knowledges,” where she writes about science, vision, and the gaze.
Situated Knowledges

Featuring sounds and images recorded by NASA’s Perseverance rover, Kyriaki Goni’s video poem Signal from Mars (2022, 05:28 min) imagines an alien message. The work draws on Donna Haraway’s 1988 essay “Situation Knowledges,” in which the American ecofeminist argues that what is known, and how it is known, reflects the situation and perspective of the knower (historically male, white, heterosexual, human). Goni removes the bias built into the rover instruments and, instead, gives voice to Mars’ landscape, its rocks, and ancient ocean to engage future human visitors—us—in conversation. “Are you coming to tame?” the red planet asks, wary of our intentions. “Are you coming in peace?”

Q: The tapestries are presented together with a video poem (featuring imagery and sound recordings from Mars’ surface), a series of crude diagrammatic drawings, and a suspended Tungsten cube (a rare metal used in rocket nozzles that crypto enthusiasts are weirdly enamoured with). How do these pieces figure into the larger narrative of the work?
A: In my installations, I craft larger narratives from smaller parts or perspectives, if you will. The viewer is invited to follow the non-linear narrative threads and put the pieces together. With The Future Light Cone, it felt like the Martian wind and landscapes, the rovers, the rare metal, and myself were collaborating in weaving the stories presented in this installation. The video poem, for example, draws on a signal captured by the Perseverance rover, supposedly transmitted by the Martian landscape and wind. In the piece, landscape and wind become protagonists addressing future human visitors. They share the ancient history of the planet’s waters and sediments, and ask about our intentions. The 12 drawings are a collection of notes, feelings, thoughts, and facts that I gathered while making this work. The Tungsten cube serves as a tangible sample of the precious resources mined not only for space exploration, but seemingly immaterial innovations from data clouds to cryptocurrencies. The cube hangs from the ceiling, to be touched and lifted by the viewer, as a reminder that our stories are intertwined with geological processes, and that there’s a weight to everything we—as a species—do.
“Textiles carry a notion of femininity. Introducing gender into a conversation dominated by privileged white men invokes ideas of care and resilience, which to me are crucial considerations for any form of exploration.”
Q: In astrophysics, the ‘future light cone’ defines the unfolding possibility space, i.e. the region of spacetime that is theoretically accessible to us. In referencing it, your work suggests an inflection point: Rather than perpetuating anthropocentric ideologies, what writings, philosophies, and knowledge systems should we look for guidance to as humanity ventures into space?
A: I became interested in the ‘future light cone’ because it is a popular reference in long-termism, an ideology embraced (and funded) by tech billionaires including the main players in the space race. Long-termism celebrates ‘space expansionism’ and emphasizes the need to ‘colonize our future light cone’ in order to ‘escape the existential risks on Earth.’ According to its proponents, humanity’s future light cone contains infinite exploitable resources just waiting to be harnessed. They argue: don’t worry about the destruction of this planet; there are other worlds out there for us to mine.

By citing the ‘future light cone,’ I’m drawing attention to the need to shift focus back to the here and now. Instead of perpetuating anthropocentric practices, and exporting them to other worlds, we should, perhaps, tune into Indigenous and deeply local knowledge systems that have a tradition of acknowledging, respecting, and caring for human and non-human life. For example, traditional fire management techniques from forest communities might teach us valuable lessons as weather conditions worsen and wildfires, once again, rage across the globe.
What Just Happened?

In this serial interview format, HOLO checks in with artists, designers, curators, and researchers to get the lowdown on a timely topic—be it a new project, exhibition, or current event that ‘just happened.’

What else ‘just happened?’

Alexander Scholz

Alex is a Berlin-based writer, artistic director, and cultural worker. As the founder and creative director of HOLO, he helps produce and disseminate knowledge on disciplinary interstices, artistic research, and cultural transformations in the digital age. Over the years, he curated exhibitions, conferences, and educational programmes for organizations and festivals including A.C.C. (KR), Mapping (CH), MUTEK (CA), and NODE Forum for Digital Arts (DE).

This Sweltering Summer UPS Opts for In-Truck Surveillance over Air Conditioning

American logistics company UPS begins installing in-truck surveillance cameras. This summer drivers are reporting back-of-truck cargo area temperatures of 49° C, and in a move that made workers bristle, UPS rolled out Lytx telemetry cameras (image), which track GPS and monitor for “behaviours associated with collisions”—not air conditioning. “Whatever its capabilities, the mere presence of the camera has stoked fear and paranoia among my coworkers,” writes driver Matt Leichenger.

“Patricia Piccinini: We Are Connected” Morphs Contemporary Biopolitics at ArtScience Museum

A retrospective collecting 40 works by the Australian artist, “Patricia Piccinini: We Are Connected” opens at Singapore’s ArtScience Museum. Showcasing her unsettling sculptures and installations that morph contemporary biopolitics towards the grotesque, the show features works including The Bond (2016, image centre) and The Field (2018, image), which, respectively, depict a mother cradling a human-ish fleshy creature, and a (wildly) genetically modified crop.

Cybercrime Journalist Geoff White: ‘North Korea Grooms Next Generation of Hackers’

“From an early age they are trying to spot mathematically talented kids in school. They groom those kids—put them in computer classes—and when those kids show promise they get sent to elite universities.”
– Cybercrime journalist Geoff White, on the state-managed recruiting pipeline for Lazarus Group, the elite North Korean hacker squad. “From there [elite universities] the really gifted computer kids will either go into the nuclear research program … or computer hacking.”

Data Centers Ill-Prepared for Climate Crisis, Expert Says

“It wasn’t that long ago that we were designing cooling systems for a peak outdoor temperature of 32 degrees. They’re now over 8 degrees higher than they were ever designed for.”
– Jon Healy, of the UK data center consultancy Keysource, on how data centers are ill-prepared for the climate crisis. Healy argues that it’ll require substantial retrofitting—bigger chiller machines, bigger condensers, implementing evaporative cooling—to keep the planet’s collective knowledge online.

Molecular Geneticists Create World’s First Synthetic Embryos

Researchers create the world’s first synthetic embryos—no sperm, eggs, or fertilization required. Molecular Geneticist Jacob Hanna and his team accomplished the feat by reprogramming stem cells from mice back to a naïve state, and simulating a placenta’s blood and oxygen requirements with a nutrient solution; the cells self-assembled into embryo-like structures with an intestinal tract, a proto-brain, and a heart. “Our next challenge is to understand how stem cells know what to do,” says Hanna.

Plicnik-Collective Residency at Künstlerhaus Dortmund Yields Unknown “N∰menon”

N∰menon, an installation by Melle Nieling and Amelie Mckee opens at Künstlerhaus Dortmund. Produced during a Plicnik-Collective summer residency at the German venue, it consists of a series of apparatuses intended to draw attention to the lack of a user. Drawing on video interviews that describe a mysterious event with spiritual and economic resonance, the spartan scene stokes “feelings of paranoid threat, in which the unknown opens the imagination.”

Raquel Meyers’ “Techno-Rubble” an Anthropocene Souvenir for the Future

Concluding her PlatteForum residency, Raquel Meyers’ solo exhibition “Concrete Redundancy” opens at the Denver urban art laboratory. Meyers, a Spanish artist known for her work with obsolete technologies, organizes artifacts created with typewriters, teletext, and fax machines into “techno-rubble”—a tribute to Denver7’s soon-to-be-demolished brutalist landmark. “Concrete Redundancy is a tool for the struggle,” the exhibition text states, “an Anthropocene souvenir for the future.”

$40 USD