Wendy Liu on San Francisco’s Jarring Mix of Tents and Billionaires

“That’s never felt good to me, having to live in San Francisco and see the physical manifestation of capitalism’s inequality engine in geographical form. And today, with the pandemic and the economic crisis, the number of tents has exploded around here.”
Abolish Silicon Valley author Wendy Liu, on living in Big Tech’s ‘belly of the beast’ and routinely being confronted by the jarring mix of obscene wealth and extreme poverty

Ben Rubin & Brian House Sonify Deep History at Brooklyn Botanical Gardens

Artists Ben Rubin and Brian House’s “Terminal Moraine” opens at Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. Taking a meta-historical approach, its lone eponymous work models the local impact of the Laurentide ice sheet. Approximately 18,000 years ago, the 600 metre wall of ice flowed down the Hudson Valley and shaped the landscape—Rubin and House simulate the glacial retreat and forest growth that followed. In their sonification “cells expand and branch while crystalline structures gradually break apart,” helping listeners contemplate the deep time of history.

Facebook Congratulates Self for Stamping Out Troll Farm

“This is an ongoing pattern we have seen where we see threat actors continuing to try to use these techniques to manipulate public debates on our platforms, and off our platform.”
– Facebook Head of Security Policy Nathaniel Gleicher, commenting on the stamping out of a 128 Facebook and 146 Instagram account Albanian troll farm manipulating public opinion in/about Iran. A recent security report reveals the multi-year campaign “was tightly organized and linked to an exiled militant opposition group.”

[Triumphant Horns] for “Activating Captions,” an Online Exhibition Exploring Closed Captioning

“Activating Captions,” an online exhibition exploring the expressive potential of closed captioning launches. Curated by Christine Sun Kim and Niels Van Tomme for the ARGOS Centre for Audiovisual Arts in Brussels, it brings together Carolyn Lazard, Alison O’Daniel (image: The Tuba Thieves, 2013), Alex Dolores Salerno, and others to “highlight and undo [captioning’s] shortcomings and inadequacies” while raising related questions of equity and access.

I Am a Molocule of the Estroworld!

“I am a molocule of the Estroworld, a corporate conglomerate of the petrochemical, agricultural, and pharmaceutical industries.”
– Biohacker and artist Mary Maggic, introducing “Lab Work–Art of the Experiment,” the sixth of a Vera List Center for Art and Politics Zoom seminar series, in an icebreaker exercise where they invite participants to reimagine themselves as the products they consume

Holly Herndon on Best Practices for Nurturing a Healthy AI Collaborator

“The reason we use this metaphor of a baby is Spawn only has access to the information that we give her—we foster her with the data we feed her. We found this a way to not only talk about the importance of her daily diet, but the communal nature of raising a nascent intelligence.”
– Musician Holly Herndon on her AI collaborator Spawn, after describing the influence of George Lewis’s Voyager project during MIT’s Unfolding Intelligence symposium [quote edited]

Nick Montfort Curates a Dynamic Selection of Browser-Based “Generative Unfoldings”

Curated by Nick Montfort, “Generative Unfoldings,” an exhibition of 14 browser-based artworks launches. Augmenting MIT’s Unfolding Intelligence symposium, its generative works span vignettes on power relations and value (Behnaz Farahi, Maja Kalogera) to pure abstraction (Ágoston Nagy, Andy Wallace). Langauge looms large, as illustrated by Karen ann Donnachie & Andy Simionato’s This Indignant Page: The Politics of the Paratextual (image), which turns revered prose into colourful compositions.

The Problems NFTs Purport to Solve Were Never Really Problems

“The problems NFTs purport to solve (authentication, provenance, scarcity) were never really problems, and they potentially introduce entirely new problems.”
– Anonymous collector, quoted in an email announcing the And/Or Gallery online store. Future proof editions from A-list digital artists including JODI, Olia Lialina, and Brenna Murphy that only cost several thousand USD—quite the bargain, in this moment of intense speculation.

Jon Michael Corbett on Designing Indigenous Hardware (and Software)

Indigenous computational media artist Jon M. R. Corbett is the subject of a fascinating interview with Daniel Temkin at Esoteric.Codes. Corbett delves into the syntax and epistomology underpinning his Cree#, Ancestral Code, and Wisakecak coding languages, which all circumvent the eurocentric (and latin alphabet) origins of “not just programming, but computing technologies in general.” His ambitious extending beyond software, he also speaks to his alt-keyboard design—based on the Cree Star Chart (image).