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Newsticker, link list, time machine: HOLO.mg/stream logs emerging trajectories in art, science, technology, and culture––every day
“People should know that it isn’t just Meta—at every social media firm there are workers who have been brutalized and exploited. But today I feel bold, seeing so many of us resolve to make change. The companies should listen—but if they won’t, we’ll make them.”
– TikTok moderator turned labour organizer James Oyange, heralding the newly-formed African Content Moderators Union. Spurned by widespread PTSD and wages as low as $1.50 USD an hour, Oyange promises to challenge ByteDance, Meta, OpenAI, and other tech companies that offshore content moderation to Africa.

Utrecht’s IMPAKT Centre for Media Culture opens “Out of Office,” a group exhibition that takes on exploitative productivity. “In the modern workplace, doing nothing, not showing up, or gestures of mutual support become acts of resistance,” writes curator Marijn Bril about how the contributing artists Alina Lupu, Sam Meech, Adrian Melis, Mario Santamaría, Total Refusal, and others counter efficiency and optimization. Case in point: Santamaría’s sleepy auto-reply to Bril’s exhibition invitation (image).

“I’m always trying to destabilize not only the perception of whether something is made by hand or machine but also destabilize how we assign value once we know.”
– American artist Laura Splan, on her commitment to a hands-on process of computation. “I very much insist that anything I do on the computer is done ‘by hand,’ whether writing code, unfolding proteins, or manipulating vector waveforms with a stylus pen,” she tells writer Anna Mikaela Ekstrand.

“This Current Between Us,” an installation and performance program, opens at the Neo Faliro Steam Power Plant in Piraeus, Greece. Artists including Nikos Alexiou, Hypercomf, and Miriam Simun contribute works exploring energy and production in response to the decommissioned site. The latter’s performance Do Not Break Out of Prior Range (image), for example, draws on a blender, lightbulb, and power cord—and Simun announcing “this isn’t just a milkshake, it’s a crucial north-south energy bridge” into a microphone.

In his ongoing pursuit of automating his artistic practice, Swedish artist Jonas Lund turned to AI to self-replicate into an army. Feeding a respective text prompt to OpenAI’s DALL-E 2, a sea of Lunds emerged, making art on laptops in signature blue shirts and hats. “Me and my 50+ clones working in the studio on the next master piece,” he writes on Twitter as concerns over AI-powered image generators impacting artists negatively become ever louder.

In the first of six performances, Kerry Guinan’s The Red Thread links six industrial sewing machines at Dublin’s The Complex with six counterparts at a garment factory in Bangalore, India. “The kinetic installation appears to be self-operating, but there are puppeteers in hiding,” the Irish artist notes about the workers over 8,000 kilometers away. By eliminating that distance, she hopes to “make visceral the extraordinary scale, and underlying humanity, of the globalised economy.”

“People are going to be doing their regular work, that’s what’s being recorded and reproduced … every time there’s movement, you know, it’s kind of mirrored in Ireland.”
– Irish artist Kerry Guinan and Deepa Chikarmane, factory director of Pret Interpret Clothing, about how Guinan’s exhibition “The Red Thread” will link six sewing machines in Bangalore, India, with respective counterparts at Dublin’s The Complex from May 4th to 10th

“Robota,” a show featuring Matthew Angelo Harrison’s encasements of auto industry ephemera and African sculptures in sold resin blocks, opens at the MIT List Visual Arts Center in Cambridge. A Detroit native who worked as a clay modeller for Ford, Harrison “attends to the devaluation of human labour” by freeze-framing UAW strike ephemera and hardhats, headlights (image: Seer: Lay Bare, 2020), and African sculptures in vitrine-like forms.

“Industry norms frustrate me. One, is that If you come from a place like Hollywood, you are the one creating the value or the IP, and if you come from a place like the Philippines you are the back office—where the work gets executed after the ideas are formed.”
Yield Guild Games co-founder Gabby Dizon, who sees ‘play to earn’ gaming as a way to economically and creatively empower the Global South, describing legacy thinking he hopes will fade into oblivion [quote edited]
“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.

“Work Upside Down,” a group exhibition exploring labour, opens at the Cluj Cultural Center in Cluj, Romania, as part of the Cluj Future of Work program. Curated by Time’s Up, Corina Bucea, and Rarița Zbranca, the show presents 13 newly commissioned works by, among others, Blajin, Mihaela Drăgan, Ioana Păun & Flavia Giurgiu, Polina Kanis, and Cristina Vasilescu & Bob Bicknell-Knight. The latter’s 24-minute CGI film Pickers (image) concerns Amazon Fulfilment Centres, abusive workspaces, and the 24/7 churn of 21st-century capitalism.

“The glint in Cyberpunk 2077, then, is not simply a lighting effect but an opportunity to relish the sheer quantity of unseen micro-temporal computations, supply chains, research, and labor required to produce it.”
Hank Gerba, on the elusive gleam reflecting off so many surfaces in ads—and in videogames
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.
“This is a particularly dangerous message to send during a pandemic, when chilling worker speech about health and safety practices could literally be a matter of life and death.”
– New York Attorney General Letitia James, outlining how Amazon may have broken state whistleblower laws for firing a warehouse worker who organized a protest at a Staten Island distribution hub
“Artists are busy! They are working multiple jobs, side hustles, coordinating festivals, labs, writing research papers, applying for residencies, driving Uber. Meaning they have less time to work on solving these problems than being oppressed by them. They need our help!”
– Canadian software artist Jeremy Bailey, on facilitating Artengine’s Digital Economies Lab kick-off workshop

A dozen artists, designers, and cultural producers including Suzanne Kite, Tim Maughan, and Kofi Oduro converge in Ottawa to kick off Artengine‘s Digital Economies Lab (DEL). At the weekend workshop, hosted by Jeremy Bailey, invited participants begin their “year-long exploration of the wonders and anguish of making art and culture in the twenty-first century.” The goal: prototyping more sustainable, resilient, and equitable financial futures for creatives.

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