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“The court jester often says things people need to hear, from angles no one else would think of. Those in power listen for amusement and crazy insight.”
– Sci-fi author Kim Stanley Robinson, on his imagined role and capacity to speak truth to power when he attends the upcoming “combination diplomacy, trade show, and circus” COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow

A team of machine learning researchers including Ferenc Huszár, Sofia Ira Ktena, and Conor O’Brien publish findings that Twitter’s algorithmically ranked home timeline amps up the visibility of right-wing content when compared to the reverse chronological timeline. Analysis of 2020 tweets from America, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, and the UK revealed that in six out of seven of those countries elected officials on the political right received more amplification than those on the left, and that right-leaning news organizations were also amplified. “We hope that by sharing this analysis, we can help spark a productive conversation with the broader research community,” write Twitter’s Rumman Chowdhury and Luca Belli.

“By now, AI is as ambient as the internet itself. In the words of the computer scientist Andrew Ng, artificial intelligence is ‘the new electricity.’”
– Author and journalist Sue Halpern, on the prevalence—and human cost—of artificial intelligence. “AI has been used to monitor farmers’ fields, compute credit scores, kill an Iranian nuclear scientist, grade papers, fill prescriptions, diagnose various kinds of cancers, write newspaper articles, buy and sell stocks, and decide which actors to cast in big-budget films in order to maximize the return on investment,” Halpern writes.

New Orleans news nonprofit The Lens releases “Neighborhoods Watched: The Rise of Urban Mass Surveillance,” a five-part series on the city’s rapidly growing surveillance apparatus. In obtaining and reviewing thousands of city documents, Michael Isaac Stein, Caroline Sinders, and Winnie Yoe demonstrate how a $40 million public safety plan created a “sprawling, decentralized and constantly changing patchwork of tools” maintained by various departments, agencies, private nonprofits, and law enforcement with little oversight.

DOSSIER:
“As we struggle to disentangle ourselves from predictive regimes and algorithmic nudging, we need to tackle what prediction means, and has meant, for control and computation.”
HOLO Annual editor Nora N. Khan, on the prompt “powerhouse thinkers” like Leigh Alexander, Mimi Ọnụọha, Suzanne Treister, and Jackie Wang were asked to respond to in the forthcoming issue’s second chapter, Myths of Prediction Over Time
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OUT NOW:
Superflux
The Intersection
A sci-fi short (screenplay by Tim Maughan) that takes the climate crisis and disinformation as a jumping off point, extrapolating a “co-operative future” where our relationship with technology—each other—has been rebuilt from the ground up
“The problem with planetary-scale computation is with scale itself. It fails to reckon with what we might call the deep time of facts.”
Peter Polack, designer and UCLA PhD candidate, critiquing Benjamin Bratton’s The Revenge of the Real (2021). Rather than suffering from “impractical applications, ideological criticisms, and a lack of recursive models,” Polack argues that Bratton’s planetary-scale computation doesn’t account for the “historical heterogeneity of facts, their capacity to change unpredictably, and their variations across geographical and cultural contexts.”
“Boston Dynamics, the best-known manufacturer of quadrupedal robots, has a strict policy agains weaponizing its machines. Other manufacturers, it seems, aren’t so picky.”
The Verge’s senior reporter James Vincent, on U.S. firm Ghost Robotics putting guns on robot dogs

“Offshore finance pierces reality,” French artist collective RYBN reflects on their Offshore Tours (2018-20) in a Palm editorial. Over two years, the artists mapped 785,000 leaked addresses tied to offshore activity. “Behind each photographed facade hides a hot spot, a gap in the urban landscape connected to elsewhere, a true crossing point to offshore space,” they write. “These addresses are deserted at the very moment of their unveiling, the tracking of offshore finance thus turns into ghost hunting.”

DOSSIER:
“Making the ‘decision-making process’ of a predator drone more ‘legible’ to the general public seems a fatuous achievement. Even more so if it is an explanation in service of a capitalist state or state capital, and we know how that works.”
HOLO Annual editor Nora N. Khan, discussing explainable AI and explainability to what end with research partner Peli Grietzer

Extending out of Oli Sorenson’s visual cataloguing of the technological artifacts and compromised landscapes of our current era, “Diamond edition: Panorama of the Anthropocene” opens at Montréal’s ELEKTRA Gallery. For the show, Sorenson adapts material from the his ongoing painting and inkjet series about the perennial clash between production and nature (image: Oil extraction detail, 2020) rendered in the style of “Minecraft’s landscapes and Peter Halley’s geometries,” and (re)presents it on angled digital displays.

“The only thing we can make now is ourselves; day after day, again and again. To sculpt one’s own individuality has ballooned into an endless task. To post every day, to express yourself creatively, to have opinions on the churning discourse.”
Spike’s New York Editor Dean Kissick, on the cult of celebrity and the cult of self. In his latest “The Downward Spiral” column, he asks: “Are we human, or are we content?”
OUT NOW:
DING #4
Themed “Correspondence from the Edges” and edited by Katherine Waters & Julia Kloiber, the new edition of the “magazine about the internet and things” presents “perspectives of marginalisation, queerness, and repression” by Kyriaki Goni, Jac sm Kee, Camila Nobrega, Pedro Oliveira, Xiaowei Wang, and others
“The algorithm estimates Hito’s gender, it says she is 57% female and 42% male. Which begs the question: what would 100% female be? Whether that’s Barbie, Grace Jones, or Angela Merkel—who knows?”
– Trevor Paglen on Machine-Readable Hito (2017), which tasked facial analysis algorithms with guessing Hito Steyerl’s age, gender, and emotional state across hundreds of photos. In dialogue for SJMA’s “Artists in Conversation” series, the duo discuss representation, truth, and power relations.