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Newsticker, link list, time machine: HOLO.mg/stream logs emerging trajectories in art, science, technology, and culture––every day
July 2020

A follow-up to her recent monograph, Video/Art: The First 50 Years, Barbara London has launched a podcast. Under the cheeky banner of Barbara London Calling, the trailblazing curator’s planned an itinerary of twelve conversations with leading digital and intermedia artists including Samson Young, Rachel Rosin, and Didem Pekün.

“2020: Where everybody is looking at everybody else and nobody is looking at each other.”
Anab Jain, designer and futurist filmmaker, shedding “#zoomtears” on Twitter

Scientists are currently embroiled in a debate about whether trees have the potential to be immortal or not. Countering the optimism of a study published earlier this year that conducted genetic analysis of robust 600-year-old ginkos, biologist Sergi Munné-Bosch argues there are limits to the regeneration of plant physiology. He also underscores a temporal conundrum: how do scientists that measure their lifespan in decades rigorously study subjects that can live for centuries and even millenia?

“I ate a slime mold species called the Physarum polycephalum, thinking of it as a form of AI, allowing its hive-like behavior to ‘program’ me.”
– Finnish artist Jenna Sutela, describing her 2016 performance Many-Headed Reading to science historian and Synthetic: How Life Got Made (2017) author Sophia Roosth. “I wanted to highlight how we’re interwoven with microbes and machines alike,” Sutela explains. “Though we may have created machines, they’re also taking on a life of their own.”
“[Institutions need] to be accountable for the choices they make, rather than doing what has been done in the past, which is this old guard, boys’ club, banding together, not examining what their responsibilities are to their audience, and to the community they serve.”
– Curator Cheryl Sim, on the impact of recent #metoo revelations on Quebec arts and culture
“The closest human thing to the way GPT-3 writes I can imagine is Kathy Acker. She was like an idiosyncratic version that generated texts out of her own language corpus without reference to meaning or intention.”
– Theorist McKenzie Wark, offering a fresh take on OpenAI’s new language model by invoking experimental literature

Looted, the latest instalment of the Whitney Museum’s ongoing Sunrise/Sunset project to “disrupt, replace, or engage with the museum website as an information environment” has launched. American Artists‘s twice-daily 30 second website intervention ‘boards up’ images of Whitney Museum holdings, simultaneously critiquing the indifference of the American retail sector to anti-Black racism and the ubiquity of cultural plunder in museum collections.

Ben Grosser aptly describes The Endless Doomscroller as “an endless stream of doom, without all the specifics.” His latest web-based creation distills the post-pandemic experience of scanning headlines and social feeds down to a vertical column of dire existential assessments.

Apple announces updates to its code terminology that remove non-inclusive and insensitive language across its developer ecosystem. “Developer APIs with exclusionary terms will be deprecated as we introduce replacements across internal codebases, public APIs, and open-source projects, such as WebKit and Swift,” the company states. Instead of references to blacklist and whitelist, for example, Apple will implement more neutral language like allow list and deny list.

Jeremy Walker
More Heat than Life
Untangling the mutual histories of ecology, economics, and energy, Walker reveals how the ecological sciences have moved from a position of critical collision with mainstream economics in the 1970s, to one of collusion with the project of permanent growth.
“There is a hunger for the generative thinking that artists can supply, I think that interest comes from a general breakdown in trust for our world leaders.”
– Eyebeam Executive Director Roderick Schrock, on the Rapid Response for a Better Digital Future initiative, which supports 30 artists prototyping solutions to pressing social issues

Zürich’s Kate Vass Galerie opens “The Game of Life,” an online exhibition in tribute to the late mathematician John Horton Conway. Curator Jason Bailey invited four generative artists, Jared S Tarbell, Alexander Reben, Kjetil Golid, and Manolo Gamboa Naon, to interpret Conway’s titular cellular automata experiments from the 1970s. “I love when simple rules become really complex,” Naon writes about layering several automata for his contribution (image). “I feel that they even explain the world in a very reduced way.”

An output of the British Council’s TransLocal Cooperation initiatve, Probiotic Rituals is a resource for learning about and engaging with the soil underfoot. Initially shown IRL at London’s Furtherfield in an exhibition that (re)launched online today, designer Ioana Mann’s research on the microbiome is presented as a website that prompts actions—rituals—for participants to learn about, communicate with, and tend to their microscopic neighbours.

“There’s a LIDAR scanner on the right side, most likely to help scan your surrounding environment to help overlay 3D images in a realistic manner, but so far no cameras.”
– Sci-fi writer Tim Maughan, sardonically quoting Popular Mechanics’ report “Everything We Know About Apple’s Smart Glasses”

Serpentine R&D Platform, in collaboration with the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London, launches the Creative AI Lab database “to aggregate tools and resources for artists, engineers, curators & researchers interested in incorporating machine learning and other forms of artificial intelligence into their practice.” One of the launch highlights is a list of 65 essential tools, contributed by creative AI curator and researcher Luba Elliott.

Iconic English music collective Massive Attack teases new EP Eutopic featuring AI-generated artwork by German machine learning virtuoso Mario Klingemann.

“This is the story of the eccentric but charismatic commune leader John P Allen [and] the rebellious young billionaire Ed Bass, who offered to put some of his family oil money at Allen’s disposal to realise one of his most cherished visions: building a gigantic biodome-style enclosed ecosystem.”
– Film critic Peter Bradshaw, summarizing Spaceship Earth, Matt Wolf’s documentary on the (failed) 1991 experiment that quarantined eight individuals inside Biosphere 2, a replica of Earth’s ecosystem

MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) permanently pulls its highly cited 80 Million Tiny Images dataset, after researchers found offensive content and labelling. Scraped from Google Images in 2008, the photo library was created for training computer vision systems in advanced object-detection techniques. “It is clear that we should have manually screened [the images],” CSAIL’s Antonio Torralba told The Register. “For this, we sincerely apologize.”

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