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Newsticker, link list, time machine: HOLO.mg/stream logs emerging trajectories in art, science, technology, and culture––every day
December 2020
“It was a historical moment! It was like, what was happening in the French Revolution?”
Miltos Manetas, on cybersquatting the 2002 Whitney Biennial with a net art counter-show realised in Adobe Flash (on the snatched whitneybiennial.com domain) during Rhizome’s Flash Sunset telethon. Part of the organisation’s Flash preservation campaign, the live stream commemorated Adobe’s final day of Flash support by celebrating the software’s artistic legacy with selected guests.

Adobe ends support for Flash player. Launched by Macromedia in 1996, the software platform ushered in an era of animation and multimedia on the Web, enabling internet milestones like Joshua Davis’ Praystation (1999-2002), Pope.L’s distributing martin (2000-08), and Yael Kanarek’s World of Awe (2000-06, image). Now dead in the modern browser, Flash lives on through preservation and emulation efforts including Rhizome, Wick, and Internet Archive.

“I can’t even begin to fathom how liberating it would feel for my basic needs to be met without the obligations of [a day job on top of my art practice]. It would free up untold energy and time…”
– Digital artist and DEL resident Emmanuel Madan, in response to the tantalizing notion of a full-time art practice being his only job
David Medalla
Kinetic art pioneer and self-described “poet who celebrates physics” David Medalla dies in Manila at the age of 82. Best known for his “auto-creative” Cloud Canyons—a series of organic, shifting foam sculptures begun in the 1960s—the Filipino innovator also co-founded London’s influential Signals gallery in 1964 and the London Biennale in 1998.
“Undisturbed, and drawing with a soft pencil on greenish-colored, varnished paper, Ransonnet could use a tin box to send up to the surface his finished pictures, which he later painted over in oils: the first depictions of the seascape executed by an artist under the sea.”
The Public Domain Review writers, on the astonishing underwater landscapes 19th-century artist Eugen von Ransonnet-Villez sketched inside a diving bell

Drawing on insights from Brian Eno, Stephen Wolfram, and Melanie Mitchell—music, computer science, complexity studies—author and science journalist Siobhan Roberts considers the enduring influence of John Conway‘s game of life, in the aftermath of the mathematician’s recent passing. Sporting vertiginous fractal GIFs, and artwork by Kjetil Golid (image: Golid’s Crosshatch Automata), Roberts provides an introduction to cellular automata and artificial life, and gives (surprisingly generous) air time to the computational and generative art practices it inspired.

“I see the pretext of our exhibitions and other activities as centrifuges of scientific knowledge, allowing us to assemble otherwise unlikely constellations of specialists around urgent concerns.”
– Media artist and DISNOVATION.ORG collaborator Baruch Gottlieb, on how the collective “integrates the pure sciences on their own terms”

“Refocusing on the Medium: The Rise of East Asia Video Art” opens at OCAT Shanghai, featuring 25 iconic works by Nam June Paik, Ellen Pau, Yoko Ono, Park Hyunki (image: Untitled (TV & Stone), 1984), and other pioneers. “As a new technology and experimental artistic medium with distinct characteristics, video art arrived with no cultural traditions,” writes curator Kim Machan. The exhibition, she explains, looks at how artists from Japan, Korea, and China explored this “new global medium.”

“My images didn’t get lost, kidnapped, or turned around in the grimy back alleys of a digital network. They weren’t harassed and harangued by disruptive ecosystems.”
Nicolas Nova, researcher, educator, and amateur photographer, discussing the ‘unknown knowns’ in design by comparing his Nikon F to the camera phone in Near Future Laboratory’s latest Design Fiction newsletter

American media artist Kyle McDonald posts a lengthy rumination on his latest project Facework, “a game that imagines a world where face analysis is key to the latest gig economy app,” within the wider artistic and sociopolitical context of facial recognition. Citing works by Trevor Paglen, Sondra Perry, Paolo Cirio, and others, he traces the evolution of surveillance tech, and discusses the nuances of artistic work produced with them (image: Christian Möller’s 2003 installation Cheese).

A raftload of private Sackler family WhatsApp chats reveal the heirs of the Purdue Pharma fortune sought the help of artworld institutions in clearing the family’s tarnished name. Embroiled in a federal lawsuit that charged Purdue—maker of OxyContin, the pill that sparked America’s opioid crisis—with fraud and regulatory violations, family members suggested museums that had received hefty donations could provide “short positive statements” about their philanthropic efforts. Among those discussed were the American Museum of Natural History, the Dia Art Foundation, the Guggenheim, and MoMA (all in New York), as well as the Tate and the V&A (in London). In October, the Sacklers pleaded guilty and settled for an unprecedented $8.3B fine.

“There is no comparable asset to Bitcoin. You have another category, let’s call it ‘unicorns.’ I’d put Ethereum in there, it’s a unicorn like Airbnb or Uber, it’s big … it’s complicated and compelling, there are a lot of people enthusiastic about it.”
Microstrategy CEO Michael Saylor, explaining how Bitcoin is the perfect treasury asset whereas Ethereum and “the other 10,000 cryptocurrencies” are competing for space in the cultural imagination

In his Quanta guest column “How Claude Shannon Invented the Future,” Stanford Professor of Engineering David Tse relates how the American mathematician’s 1948 paper “A Mathematical Theory of Communication” birthed information theory. “Shannon’s genius lay in his observation that the key to communication is uncertainty,” writes Tse. His concept of the information ‘bit’ (short for binary digit) as the “basic unit of uncertainty” introduced probabilistic data modelling and signal processing, heralding the coming of the Information Age.

“The reality is that the art world is rife with wealthy corporate donors and philanthropists who make their millions, even billions, from work that many might consider morally or ethically fraught.”
Matthew Braga, on how patronage in the arts is often a Faustian bargain
Liz W. Faber
The Computer’s Voice
An analysis of computing and culture that asks ‘what is the significance of HAL having a male voice while Siri is female?,’ and other related questions of gender and embodiement
“Gnau, Dosher! gnau, Danser! gnau, Rancher und Victim! Ahn! Commack, ahn! Cupit, ahn! Dunder und Platonists.”
– Generative artist Kate Compton, tweeting proudly about the self-described ‘best thing she’s ever written with a computer,’ which uses phonetic similarity vectors to thoroughly discombobulate Clement Clarke Moore’s classic 1823 Christmas poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas

Zachęta National Gallery of Art curator Anna Maria Leśniewska and chief restorer Anna Olszewska demo a fully functional Senster (1970) during the online opening of Sapporo International Art Festival (SIAF). The 2018 reassembly of Edward Ihnatowicz’ long-lost robotic sculpture was scheduled to make its Asia debut at this year’s SIAF. Due to COVID-19, it remained in Warsaw and will show at Zachęta’s “Sculpture in Search of Place,” opening on Dec 28, instead.

“When failures are attributed to the underrepresentation of a marginalized population within a dataset, solutions are subsumed to a logic of accumulation.”
– American sociologist and Google researcher Alex Hanna and team, on the pernicious consequences of AI ethics discussions being hung up on having sufficient data. “According to this view, firms that already sit on massive caches of data and computing power—large tech companies and AI-centric startups—are the only ones that can make models more ‘fair,’” Hanna writes.
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