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Newsticker, link list, time machine: HOLO.mg/stream logs emerging trajectories in art, science, technology, and culture––every day
January 2022
“The WWW was not designed, rather implemented ad hoc. There are no versions. Its story is one of the initial gift and promise of free and open access to knowledge and culture, and the power and money people that have since sought to control, steer, surveil and exploit that gift.”
– Media artist and critical engineer Julian Oliver, pushing back on the framing of (and hype around) Web 3.0

After its 2020 premiere at K21 in Düsseldorf, Hito Steyerl’s retrospective “I Will Survive” opens at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. The show offers an expansive overview of the German artist and filmmaker’s oeuvre, from the early documentary works to the more recent CGI video installations (image: Social Sim, 2020). “Her work has always had a clairvoyant and penetrating understanding of society,” curator Karen Archey writes about Steyerl’s importance. “She disrupts the status quo as the bedrock of her practice.”

“EMPATHIE,” an exhibition of Scenocosme’s interactive works from the last decade, opens at Musée de Vence in France. Whimsical interfaces by the artist duo on display include musical plants, resonant stones, wood veneer instruments, and other experiments in haptics, materials, and audiovisual abstraction. Also featured is Metamorphy (2013, image), where viewers manipulate a veil-like surface, shaping the flow of organic and liquid forms.

“When we started, CLIP already had an idea of who I am. It’s hard to exist online without being swept up into a training set.”
– American composer, musician, and sound artist Holly Herndon, on creating her recent NFT collection of self-portraits, CLASSIFIED, that were assembled feeding OpenAI’s neural network CLIP a series of custom prompts. “Artificial intelligence is inherently communal,” says Herndon, “and we’ve all contributed to it through participating in humanity.”

“Kazuo Umezz the Great Art Exhibition,” opens at Tokyo City View. For his career celebration, the manga legend has painted a sequel to his classic Watashi wa Shingo (1982-6) and artist duo exonemo pay tribute; their array of 12 screens mimic the form of panels, displaying infinite randomized scenes “that Shingo would have seen in the comic.” Fittingly, the installation sits in front of a view of the Tokyo Tower, an important site in the comic’s narrative.

Brigitte Kowanz
Austrian light art pioneer Brigitte Kowanz dies at 64 in Vienna. Known for her fluorescent light sculptures and immersive spaces, the 2009 Grand Austrian State Prize winner and Transmedia Art Professor exhibited internationally (e.g. Venice Biennale) and regularly incorporated codified language into her work.
“A 1,000 times increase in power is needed over our current collective compute capacity to power the metaverse—which could grow its carbon footprint even further.”
– Tech journalist Kyle Wiggers, surveying the feasability and potential impact of a fully realized digital future. In a recent editorial, for example, Intel’s Raja Koduri pours cold water on Ready Player One and Snow Crash fever dreams: “Our computing, storage and networking infrastructure today is simply not enough to enable this vision.”
“Making more items in the crypto space ‘soulbound’ can be one path toward an alternative, where NFTs can represent much more of who you are and not just what you can afford.”
– Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin, proposing a richer type of NFT: one that ties non-transferable credentials or accomplishments to a particular identity, versus simply serving as fodder for trading and speculation
Zach Blas
Unknown Ideals
A monograph and collected writings, encapsulating more than a decade of research on digital technology and culture by the American artist and filmmaker
“In the real world, DAOs have hit two major problems. The first is that coding is hard, and the second is that most things you would actually want to do in the world today still don’t exist on the blockchain.”
– TechScape columnist Alex Hearn, on DAOs’ stumbling blocks. While cynical (“they are a perfect vehicle for newly minted millionaires … to throw their influence into the real world”), Hearn concedes decentralized autonomous organizations will capture the public imagination in the coming months.

“Siren: Composers of the Sea” opens at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), offering a “true meeting of intelligences—humpback whale, human, and artificial.” Created by composer Annie Lewandowski, digital artist Kyle McDonald, and set designer Amy Rubin, the immersive sound installation celebrates the beauty and conservation legacy of the 1970 multi-platinum record Songs of the Humpback Whale, that demonstrated the species’ elaborate vocalizations for the first time.

“You are meant to be a good little Homo economicus and behave in accordance with profit maximization.”
– Blockchain artist Rhea Myers, on the idealized behaviour of decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) members. Speaking at the Haus Der Kunst Radical Friends summit, she notes things don’t always go according to plan: “humans don’t always have the best information to make decisions with.”

“Radical Curiosity: In the Orbit of Buckminster Fuller” opens at Singapore’s ArtScience Museum. A reconsideration of the American architect’s legacy, it assesses his designs, which include the Dymaxion car and geodesic domes (image), in a moment of rising tides and strained infrastructure. Fuller’s focus on interdependence and systems let him “foresee the world’s problems and establish priorities,” note curators Rosa Pera and José Luis de Vicente.

“Transatlantic Visions,” an exhibition showcasing Juliette Lusven’s doctoral research on internet infrastructure, opens at Montréal’s ELEKTRA gallery. Its single installation Sonder (le monde) (2022, image) presents a visualization of the undersea cables that span the Atlantic Ocean and real-time geographic data, fusing topographic and satellite views with “microscopic captures of technological residues, sediments, and microfossils from the ocean floor.”

“And, like some kind of bear after a bad-trip hibernation, tech art crawled out of its cave wearing a ‘Have Fun Being Poor’ t-shirt and forgetting the last ten years entirely.”
– Canadian data artist Jer Thorp, on how NFT mania validates his 2018 critique of artistic complicity in hyper-capitalist schemes. “The worst people in the world are constructing the least equitable, most destructive futures and their ideas and politics are being validated and advanced by artists,” laments Thorp.

“Digital Combines” opens at Honor Fraser gallery in LA. Named after her proposed term for a new genre that joins a tangible object with its virtual equivalent, American artist Claudia Hart invited eight friends including Gretta Louw, LoVid, Sara Ludy, and Daniel Temkin (image: Right-Triangular Dither 1, 68% Grey, 2021) to explore binding materials with NFTs. The token’s instructional metadata, developed with specialist Regina Harsanyi, “is a poetic proposition that represents a profound ontological shift in our cultural imagination.”

Artist collective Keiken’s immersive installation Player of Cosmic Realms (2022) opens at Aspex Portsmouth (UK), inviting visitors to “test-drive alternative futures” with two works that harness computer simulation, wearable tech, and installation. The Life Game is an interactive CGI film series that explores gamification, digital assets, and “finding oneself” in the metaverse; while the abdomenal orbs of Bet(a) Bodies “stimulate empathy and a physical simulation of the experience of pregnancy.”

“I’m just terrified of the idea that people are giving us all these compliments because they don’t want to miss out on this NFT thing, when in reality they’re just looking at it from a business perspective.”
Art Blocks founder Erick Calderon (aka Snowfro), on questioning motives during the fine art world’s (gold) rush into the NFT space
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