A physical articulation of invisible data flows, Mario Santamaría’s Unfixed Infrastructures and Rabbit Holes (2020) opens at Aksioma, Ljubljana. The Spanish media artist programmed a “rabbit hole” network to cycle signals through different geolocations, seeking the maximum possible route allowed by network protocols. The delay—a measure of the materiality of digital time—is visualised by two screens video-streaming a Foucault pendulum, one connected to the gallery WiFi, the other to the “rabbit hole” network.
“Unmanned aircraft were seen as popular because U.S. soldiers didn’t have to go to the battlefield. But what about the casualties in the countries that were attacked by our drones?“ American artist Sam Durant asks in a wide-ranging interview about his new public artwork Untitled (drone). “The idea was to bring this conversation home to America.” Originally conceived in 2016, Durant’s life-sized fiberglass sculpture of a Predator drone will be installed atop a 25-foot-tall pole on New York’s High Line in May.
A collaboration between sound designer Yuri Suzuki and musical artist and composer Miyu Hosoi, Crowd Cloud is unveiled at Haneda Airport, Japan. The site-specific installation distils the vowels of the Japanese language, sung by Hosoi, creating a unique composition that emanates from a choir of dozens of standing horns that converse with each other like people. Crowd Cloud is part of the Paola Antonelli-curated “Culture Gate” exhibition that sees artists offer fresh interpretations of Japan’s diverse culture in airports across the country.
I am thrilled to join HOLO as the Editorial Lead for this year’s Annual. I’m Nora; I’m an editor, writer, critic, teacher, and curator. For ten years on, I’ve been editing and writing about the cultural impacts of technology, with a focus on developing what Sara Watson describes as “constructive technological criticism.” My hope has always been to expand the terms of what writing about and through technological and mediated culture can be. I’m particularly excited to join the thoughtful team at HOLO in producing the Annual to continue such work.
In working with, writing about, and teaching artists, technologists, and all in between, I keep returning to the importance of carefully weighing the language we use about technology. Right there—that “we”—is a bad tic that’s entered my own writing, influenced by years of reading technological criticism and essays that posit a “We” of our collective relationship to techne. As we are flooded cognitively by algorithmically-generated and human-generated discourse, I am especially interested in tracking, noting, the ways criticality is abraded by not just platforms, but also by the frameworks and terms of critique on offer. Even as critical analyses of the stakes of “new and emerging technologies” have become more common, sought out, and lauded as very necessary, there is ever the language of magic and enchantment entering alongside, almost hand in hand with developments in AI and machine learning.
Myths unfold in real-time alongside critical ‘reveals,’ unveilings, and clarifications. Binaries around understanding or misunderstanding proliferate. Cultural gaps between the humanities and the sciences expand even as artists and interdisciplinary practitioners work to collapse them. Many examples of extreme computational power increasingly claim space outside of, or beyond, language, critique, and historical understandings of power, sovereignty, and narrative. In this year’s Annual, we’ll engage with the new responsibilities that critics, theorists, programmers, technologists, and artists have to make sense of the mess, to cut through the confusion and obfuscation ever unfolding around computation. In the process, maybe we’ll even find ways to not say “the intersection of art and technology,” and revel instead in all the ways that technology has always drawn on artistic research, and artistic production has been technological or systematic.
The process of thinking through should take place in public, and is made more rich by being in public. Over the next few months, I hope to share the thinking and conversations around the development of the Annual as a print publication and archive, along with emerging experiments, works, and framings. I will talk through these tensions, between legibility and obfuscation, right here on the blog. We’ll talk about the debates and questions driving the issue, and how they’re being explored on the editorial and research side. I want you to be witness to the process of developing the frame and core themes for this year’s Annual, and to that end, I hope to be in conversation with you, and hear your thoughts. Please feel free to e-mail me here at email@example.com about anything that sparks your interest in these posts.
Next up on the blog: an announcement of our Research Partner. The Research Partner is a vital part of the development of our theme: they are a sounding board and challenge. I will share reflections on my conversations with them, and further down the line, the invited artists, scholars, thinkers who will appear in the issue. Whether we will be talking through predictive methods and histories of algorithms, or broader cultural myths of the role of technology and creative practice, this blog will be a form of representing process in public, of making the collaborative process of producing a magazine—so often hidden in the back alleys, in shadows—fully legible. I’m delighted to share the process with you. Let’s begin.
With “Take Me to Another World,” the first-ever Charlotte Johannesson retrospective opens at Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid. Named after a computer graphic the Swedish artist created in the 1980s, the survey traces 60 years of Johannesson’s image-making between craft and technology. A textile artist who turned to computer programming (in 1978, the autodidact swapped her loom for an Apple II Plus), Johannesson’s political tapestries are inwoven with 1960s counterculture, punk, and feminism.