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Newsticker, link list, time machine: HOLO.mg/stream logs emerging trajectories in art, science, technology, and culture––every day
November 2020
“Every human in the supply chain—from crane drivers up to the captain of the ship I was on—was constantly receiving instructions from unseen, distant, management algorithms.”
Tim Maughan, on the invisible networks that control container ships—and the world—in the first entry to his new column aptly titled No One’s Driving

Google AI offshoot DeepMind announces a major breakthrough in solving what biologists call the “protein folding problem”—determining a protein’s 3D shape from its amino-acid sequence. Considered one of the field’s grand challenges due to myriad possible configurations, DeepMind’s AI system AlphaFold has demonstrated it can predict protein structures with high accuracy, vastly outperforming other more laborious, costly techniques. “It’s a game-changer,” says Andrei Lupas, an evolutionary biologist at the Max Planck Institute in Tübingen, Germany. “This will change medicine. It will change research. It will change bioengineering. It will change everything.”

“He knew as little as I did about how to make the computer draw. But he trusted me, his student. Throughout my academic career, I tried to follow Prof. Knödel’s example—trusting students rather than mistrusting them. Isn’t this what teaching is all about?”
Frieder Nake, on the 1963 assignment that got him into making computer art—writing software for the University of Stuttgart’s brand-new drawing machine, the Zuse Z64 Graphomat [quote edited]
The New Normal
Emerging from a 3-year research program initiated by Moscow’s Strelka Institute, editors Benjamin H. Bratton, Nicolay Boyadjiev, Nick Axel, and a host of collaborators consider the impact of planetary-scale computation on urban futures.
“I… can’t vacuum… because US-East-1 is down.”
– LinkedIn information security officer Geoff Belknap, tweeting about how an Amazon Web Services outage temporarily ‘bricked’ his Roomba

A recent paper by amateur astronomer and YouTuber Alberto Caballero identifies a possible source of the Wow! signal, the curious cosmic radio blitz recorded in 1977 that expedited the search for extraterrestrial intelligence and puzzles experts to this day. Looking for “sun-like stars that might host an exoplanet capable of supporting intelligent life” in the signal’s celestial region, Caballero scanned ESA’s 1.3 billion star-strong Gaia database and found a potential match: “This candidate source, which is named 2MASS 19281982-2640123, therefore becomes an ideal target to conduct observations in the search for potentially habitable exoplanets.”

“I believe this is definitely by John.”
David Zwirner, gallerist of American Minimalist John McCracken (1934-2011), on the mysterious monolith discovered in remote southern Utah. McCracken was best known for his plinth-like reflective sculptures that he frequently likened to something that an alien visitor might leave behind on earth.
Precarity Lab
Authored by a network of scholars and activists at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor—the Precarity Lab—this multigraph analyzes the role of digital technology in multiplying insecurity, vulnerability, and social and cultural exclusion.
“We started out as a bunch of artists looking at the impact of ‘digital’ on expression and collaboration … and now we’re asking if art can have any impact on the digital society we live in.”
– Author Douglas Rushkoff, encapsulating how times have changed from the late 1980s and early ’90s for the ICT meets the Arts event organized by the Netherlands’ Baltan Laboratories
Algorithmic production has the potential to “free overworked and underpaid artists to pursue the aspects of their art that are most enjoyable, creative, or personally fulfilling.” Beyond the expected skepticism, Matthew Braga considers the nuances of automation, and draws on recent projects by writer Robin Sloan and musician Holly Herndon to illustrate how it might aid and augment beleaguered and spread-too-thin creatives.
“Like all technologies, light reflects larger expressions of power, carving up an architecture of visibility that shapes how lives are led at night, providing shelter for some and harmful exposure for others.”
Lauren Collee, on the politics of public lighting—from the street lanterns of 17th century Paris to the networked lampposts of the smart city
“…as familiarity with coding increases, more people will use that skill to produce music or art. There are people who say ‘I spend all day behind a computer; the last thing I want to do after work is look at a computer again,’ but for me, the computer is not a burden but more like water. I don’t think I’m alone in that regard.”
– Electronic musician Renick Bell, on the burgeoning livecoding and generative art scenes
“For me, personally, there’s no separation between my activities as a citizen and my activities as an artist.”
Keeley Haftner, on her decision to make waste a driving force in her material-focused practice, during “Sustainable Approaches to Making,” a panel organized by Toronto’s InterAccess
Quaranta & Janša (eds)
Editors Domenico Quaranta and Janez Janša join a host of contributors including !Mediengruppe Bitnik, Felix Stalder, and Silvio Lorusso in schematizing our current regime of 24/7 work, exploitation, and self-valorization.

Ahead of the sunsetting of Adobe Flash on Dec 31, the Internet Archive announces the preservation of Flash content—SWF files—through emulation. First introduced by Macromedia in 1996, the software was vital for dynamizing the early Web. “From roughly 2000 to 2005, Flash was the top of the heap for a generation of artists, animators, and small studios,” writes archivist Jason Scott, warning that a big part of Internet history is now “in true danger of sinking beneath the sea.” To run Flash files without the discontinued player, the non-profit digital library incorporated Ruffle, an in-development emulator, into the site. Thus far, more than 1,000 Flash classics have been ‘resurrected.’

The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) announces the decommission of the Arecibo Observatory after another snapped cable had caused further damages to its iconic radio dish. The decision was made when several independent engineering companies assessed that the telescope structure is “in danger of a catastrophic failure” and recommended controlled demolition “as soon as pragmatically possible.” Gutted by the news, scientists around the world flood social media with #WhatAreciboMeansToMe posts.

“If the surface internet is like Art Basel, then the darknet would be your artist-run space in a dirty basement in Bushwick.”
– Artist Franco Mattes, on “Time Out of Joint,” an online exhibition he and partner Eva curated on the darknet—“a remote location at the ‘periphery’ of the Internet”—as part of the 2020 Yerevan Biennial. The show features new works by, among others, Joshua Citarella, Clusterduck, David Horvitz, Vladan Joler, and Amalia Ulman and will run through Jan 2021.
“We’ve always worked in this way where we treat sound and image as if they’re the same thing—they’re a material we work with—and bringing them together yields a very sculptural process.”
Semiconductor’s Ruth Jarman in conversation with Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts Creative Director Lauara McDermott, speaking to her and partner Joe Gerhardt‘s ongoing exploration of scientific data through visceral audiovisual works [quote edited]
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