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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 Annual Collector’s Edition

Every year, HOLO issues a special collector’s edition that captures the calendar year in print. Collectors receive it automatically with free shipping in the first quarter of the following year. E.g. if you join before 10/10/2022 you will receive the collector’s edition in early 2023.

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 content in mid-2023.

AI Anarchies Fellows Counter Extractive Logic and Algorithmic Violence at Akademie der Künste Berlin

“Broken Machines & Wild Imaginings” opens at Akademie der Künste, Berlin, concluding JUNGE AKADEMIE’s AI Anarchies fellowship program with an evocative exhibition. Ten fellows including Sarah Ciston, Petja Ivanova, Sahej Rahal, SONDER, Aarti Sunder, and Natasha Tontey present new works that counter extractivist logic, algorithmic violence, and techno-solutionism. In Rahal’s video installation Anhad (2023, image), for example, an audio-reactive AI program interacts with the cacophony of the outside world—and falters.

Émile P. Torres Critiques Elitist AI Safety Open Letter

“Extinction would directly affect the elite, which is why they care about mitigating risks. ‘Sub-extinction’ risks from AI that harm marginalized peoples don’t get signatures like this.”
– Journalist and philosopher Émile P. Torres, on the Center for AI Safety (CAIS) open letter signed by prominent international thinkers. “If AGI kills everyone, then marginalized groups lose along with everyone else,” Torres argues on Twitter. “If resources are poured into preventing hypothetical AGI dystopias, marginalized groups ALSO lose, because they’ll continue to be ignored.” [quote edited]

Interaction Designer Bjørn Karmann Creates Camera that ‘Captures’ Images with Location Data and AI

Danish interaction designer Bjørn Karmann premieres Paragraphica (2023), a camera that ‘captures’ images with location data (address, weather, time of day, etc.) and AI. Three dials control the data and Stable Diffusion parameters while the viewfinder displays a real-time text description of the place you’re at. Upon pressing the trigger, the AI will generate a ‘photo’ from that prompt. The project exists both as a physical, star-nosed mole-inspired prototype and a virtual camera for you to try.

AI Poses Extinction Risk, Industry Leaders Warn in Open Letter

“Mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks, such as pandemics and nuclear war.”
– 350+ AI executives, researchers, and engineers from, for example, OpenAI, Google DeepMind, and Anthropic, in a one-sentence open letter released by the Center for AI Safety (CAIS). The brevity of the statement—a “coming-out” for some industry leaders who thus far had only expressed concerns in private—was to unite experts who might disagree on specifics, CAIS director Dan Hendrycks tells the New York Times.

Casey Reas Describes Two Decades of Processing Development as “Fixing the Airplane While Flying It”

“We’ve been fixing the airplane while flying it for twenty years now—we’re really trying to make it more sustainable for the people involved.”
– Processing co-founder Casey Reas, summarizing two decades of open source software development. In conversation with kenconsumer, Reas and Raphaël de Courville reflect on the state of generative art, why NFTs took off during the pandemic, and recent Processing Foundation initiatives.

Cory Doctorow Sounds Off About How the Best Sci-Fi Foregrounds Human Agency

“History is not on rails—it’s got a steering wheel. And we can grab it, and we can yank it.”
– Writer Cory Doctorow, praising sci-fi that shows “human agency matters,” and the march of progress does not lead to pre-ordained outcomes. In a broad conversation about capitalism and technology, the Canadian thinker explains how scams and cryptography intersect in Red Team Blues (2023), his first novel in a new series about a legendary forensic accountant.

The Cultural Nervous System

Whether art, theatre, music, or film—festivals are vital nodes in the cultural nervous system. It’s where new ideas are first injected into the discourse; where they travel, mutate, and multiply, before they seep into the wider public consciousness. For the devoted audience, festivals are pilgrimages that rejuvenate the soul and reaffirm one’s love for art and music. For those that make them happen, festivals are a way of life—and a constant struggle.

Keeping cultural infrastructure not only intact but vibrant, requires more than keeping pace with trends, audience expectations, and shifting norms. Beyond perennial concerns like programming, funding, and the role of the festival in the ever-changing cultural landscape, there are existential questions about virtuality and sustainability raised by the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis. How can festival makers simultaneously build resilience, expand accessibility and inclusion, while minimizing the environmental footprint of cultural production? And what would a future festival that overcomes these challenges even look like?

“How can festival makers simultaneously build resilience, expand accessibility and inclusion, while minimizing the environmental footprint of cultural production?”

This much is clear: None of these questions can be answered by one isolated festival. That’s why Future Festivals, a MITACS-funded research project between MUTEK and Concordia University, assembled a task-force of festival makers from Canada, Germany, and Mexico to collaboratively imagine how their work might evolve in the years and decades ahead. Under the helm of curator and cultural researcher Maurice Jones, representatives from MUTEK (Montreal, CA), imagineNATIVE (Toronto, CA), Mois Multi (Quebec City, CA), MUTEK Mexico (Mexico City, MX), New Forms (Vancouver, CA), NEW NOW (Essen, DE), and Send+Receive (Winnipeg, CA) will put their heads together to explore what forms festivals can take in the years ahead. The selection is no accident: these organizations can draw on distinct curatorial agendas, communities, geographies, and in many cases decades of institutional memory. It’s not a closed group either: if you and your organization are interested in joining the project, then please get in touch!

Over the next 18 months, starting with NEW NOW in Essen (June 1-4), each participating festival will host a Future Festivals Lab that gathers the group and selected experts around a key challenge. The goal: deeply analyze shared problems and prototype solutions—from immediate, easy to implement measures to more ambitious, long-term proposals.

“Over the next 18 months, we’ll analyze shared problems and prototype solutions—from immediate, easy to implement measures to more ambitious, long-term proposals.”

HOLO will file reports from these sessions in what we call the Future Festivals Field Guide, an expanding companion dossier that follows the project from start to finish. As embedded journalists, we will document the group’s progress, share key findings and outcomes, and bring important guest voices into the conversation. But the scope of the Future Festivals Field Guide goes beyond coverage and commentary: Together with N O R M A L S, a Berlin-based design fiction collective and trusted HOLO collaborator, we will build on the ideas produced in each lab session and ‘act them out’ in speculative scenes—mockups of a future festival—for you to explore.

Needless to say, we at HOLO have a vested interest in the future of the festival circuit and the wider cultural landscape around it that we consider ourselves very much a part of. We look forward to not only reporting from the frontlines of that future, but to actively help shape and contribute to it. Stay tuned!

Liam Young’s Venice Biennale Docu-Fiction Celebrates the New Technological Sublime of Planetary-Scale Carbon Sequestration

Australian architect and filmmaker Liam Young premieres a new docu-fiction installation, The Great Endeavor (2023), at this year’s Venice Biennale. The piece offers glimpses of a longer forthcoming film that approaches planetary-scale carbon sequestration with radical optimism. Young and consulting scientist Holly Jean Buck turn humanity’s largest engineering project into an infrastructural imaginary, “chronicling the coordinated action to decolonise the atmosphere in our last great act of planetary transformation.”

Carla Gannis’ “WWWunderkammer” Decolonizes the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art

Carla Gannis’ solo exhibition “wwwunderkammer” opens at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art (HICA) in Charleston (US), aiming to decolonize the wunderkammer and, by extension, the museum. A real-world manifestation of her ongoing social VR project (2019–), the show invites visitors to explore a series of ‘chambers,’ each focusing on a different aspect of life in the internet age. In line with the American transmedia artist’s penchant for illusionism, the gallery uses AR to obfuscate what’s real and what’s not.

Generative AI Follows Current Matrix of Inequality, Tech Scholar Meredith Whittaker Says

“ChatGPT is an advertisement for Microsoft. It’s an advertisement for studio heads, the military, and others who might want to actually license this technology via Microsoft’s cloud services.”
– Signal Foundation president and AI Now Institute co-founder Meredith Whittaker, on the strategy behind releasing generative AI to the public. “It costs billions of dollars to create and maintain these systems head-to-tail,” Whittaker says. “There isn’t a business model in simply making ChatGPT available for everyone equally. The technology is going to follow the current matrix of inequality.”

Atmospheric Carbon Removal is Humanity’s Ultimate Challenge, Liam Young Says About Forthcoming Film

“This is our generation’s moon landing, a mobilization of workers and resources on a planetary scale that would only be possible through international cooperation to an extent never achieved.”
– Australian architect and filmmaker Liam Young, on humanity meeting the ultimate challenge of atmospheric carbon sequestration in his and consulting scientist Holly Jean Buck’s forthcoming docu-fiction The Great Endeavor (2023)

Blank, Raw, Illegible: Museum Puts 259 Dysfunctional Artist Books on Display

With an impressive 259 pieces on display, the Leopold-Hoesch-Museum survey “Blank. Raw. Illegible… Artists’ Books as Statements (1960-2022)” in Düren (DE) celebrates the corruption of the printed page. Curator Moritz Küng assembles “hermetic, dysfunctional, and mysterious” exploits by Irma Blank, Olafur Eliasson, Dora Garcia, Olaf Nicolai, Ilan Manouach, David C. Stairs (image: Boundless, 1983), and many others that refuse legibility and create meaning with the absence of content instead.

Influencer Goes into Hiding over Intense Backlash to Her Chatbot Doppelganger

“A lot of people have just been kind of really mad at the existence of this. They think that it’s the end of humanity.”
– Influencer Caryn Marjorie, on the backlash to CarynAI, a GPT-4 chatbot trained on her YouTube footage. “I wanted to cure loneliness in my fan base,” Marjorie says of her motivations. While thousands have signed up for the $1 per minute ‘virtual girlfriend’ Telegram bot through Forever Voices, threats forced her to hire security and go into hiding.

Seoul MMCA Surveys how the Grammar of Videogames has yielded “Game Society”

“Game Society,” an exhibition that explores “how the grammar and aesthetics of video games have influenced contemporary art and visual culture,” opens at Seoul’s Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA). Artists including Cory Arcangel & Paper Rad, Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley, Harun Farocki, and Lawrence Lek contribute 30 game-based works. Notably, LuYang presents 10 works, in a dedicated room full of arcade cabinets, adorned with murals featuring her signature demented characters (image).

Trevor Paglen Tells World “You’ve Just Been Fucked by PSYOPS”

An exhibition for the post-truth era, Trevor Paglen’s “You’ve Just Been Fucked by PSYOPS” opens at Pace New York. In it, the American artist charts the “enduring effects of military and CIA influence operations on American culture” through several new works. These include an unknown orbital object photo series, and Because Physical Wounds Heal… (2022, image right), a mixed media—steel, bullets, resin—sculpture that mythologizes the iconography, sloganeering, and abject horror of U.S. psychological warfare.

Canadian Wildfires Signal Global Shift, Expert Says

“Fire isn’t going away. We’re going to be burning for this entire century. We’re going through a global regime change and a whole bunch of things are going to catch on fire, and catch on fire again.”
John Vaillant, American-Canadian writer and author of Fire Weather (2023), discussing the wildfires currently raging in Alberta, Canada, as a sign of things to come. “This is a global shift,” he notes. “It’s an epochal shift, and we happen to be alive for it.”

Universe’s Only Constant Translated into Immersive Experiences at Copenhagen Contemporary

Copenhagen Contemporary opens “Yet, It Moves!,” a city-wide exhibition of art-science encounters that explore the universe’s only constant: movement. Eleven artists including Cecilia Bengolea, Ryoji Ikeda, Black Quantum Futurism, Jakob Kudsk Steensen (image: Tongues of Verglas, 2023), and Jenna Sutela worked with leading researchers through Arts at CERN, ModLab, DARK, and the IMC to express phenomena like black holes, star formation, and gravitational waves as 3D animations, VR, AR, sound, and immersive installations.

600 Artists Sign Open Letter Decrying Palantir Sponsorship of “Dimensions: Digital art since 1859”

“If, like Palantir, your hands appear dirty or at least your image seems tarnished, one redeeming way to attract public attention would be to sponsor an art exhibition. The principle, epitomized by the gas company Gazprom or the pharmaceutical company Sackler, is also known as ‘Art Washing.’”
– Five artists (and 600 additional signatories), in an open letter chastising the Leipzig exhibition “Dimensions: Digital art since 1859” for accepting sponsorship from unscrupulous American surveillance software contractor Palantir
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