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Newsticker, link list, time machine: HOLO.mg/stream logs emerging trajectories in art, science, technology, and culture––every day
February 2023
“The subdued blackness of the Apple II computer terminal—which has slowly given way to white-dominated monitors—is juxtaposed with the seeping, gooey asphalt, which seems to suggest that Blackness will not so easily be contained.”
– Writer Veronica Esposito, on American Artist’s Mother of All Demos III (2022), featured in the forthcoming group exhibition “Refigured” at the Whitney. The piece invokes Douglas Engelbard’s epochal 1968 presentation and has “the feel of an archetypical, Promethean moment when things changed forever.”
“It seems that forcing a neural network to ‘squeeze’ its thinking through a bottleneck of just a few neurons can improve the quality of the output. Why? We don’t really know. It just does.”
– TechScape columnist Alex Hearn, describing an idiosyncrasy of neural network design. Part of a (largely) jargon free ‘glossary of AI acronyms,’ Hearn breaks down the meaning of ubiquitous AI terminology (GAN, LLM, compute, fine tuning, etc.).

Seoul-based light artist and Kimchi and Chips Co-Founder Elliot Woods teases a new image—or “worlding”—system that renders “an imagined future out of the present day reality” using machine learning, optics, and electromechanics. In a nutshell: A matrix of opto-mechanical cells that “independently pick out features, colours, textures, aesthetics” paired with prisms creates a remix of features in its background. The new system, Woods notes, will premiere in Seoul later this year.

“It’s impossible to overstate the degree to which many big tech CEOs and venture capitalists are being radicalized by living within their own cultural and social bubble.”
– Entrepreneur and writer Anil Dash, on how many in Silicon Valley have embraced far right ideology. Deriding the trend as “VC QAnon,” he worries that future entrepreneurs will have to “rely on these newly-extremist figures for funding their companies or for business deals.”

Positioning the slaughterhouses as a space “where the boundary between human, animal, and machine is produced and reproduced,” Aria Dean’s “Abattoir, U.S.A.!” opens at The Renaissance Society in Chicago. In her new film of the same name (image), the American artist takes viewers through an empty CGI slaughterhouse, probing “modernism’s intimacy with death.” Accompanying it in the gallery are abattoir architectural motifs to unsettle visitors: rubber flooring, side walls, an aluminum door.


“Value Flows,” a pop-up show curated by the decentralized JPG community opens as part of NFT Paris. Artists including 0xDEAFBEEF, Kim Asendorf, Dmitri Cherniak, Simon Denny & Guile Twardowski, and Sarah Friend contribute works revealing the “on-chain transactions and mechanisms, or off-chain interactions between humans, that live at the core of every blockchain system.” Rippling with DIY energy, it juxtaposes ad-hoc pyramids of analogue displays (image) with the backdrop of a bustling trade show.

Saša Spačal’s solo exhibition “[UN]EARTHING” opens at Stadtgalerie Saarbrücken (DE), presenting works that trace the deep links between human biology and the soil. “Every time we breathe, we pull the world into our bodies,” the Slovenian artist and researcher writes about the planetary metabolic flows on view. The Meta_bolus bioreactor (2017, image), for example, invites visitors to sniff the seductive geosmin aroma emitted by Streptomyces bacteria which evokes “the memory of a forest after rain.”

“We could almost touch the data but we cannot see it. Like the billions of images made each day that no one will ever look at. Some of these unseen photographs are made by people, others by and for machines.”
– Critic Régine Debatty, on Eva & Franco Mattes’ Personal Photographs (2021-22) that are currently ‘on view’ at GAMeC, Bergamo (IT), as part of “A Leap into the Void.” Taken over the course of a month, the images—their data, rather—circulate via ethernet cables contained in colourful cable trays.

“NOw/here,” an exhibition foregrounding two new large format material study series by Gian Maria Tosatti, opens at Milan’s Pirelli HangarBicocca. In the first, the Italian artist presents rust and gold encrusted iron panels, using oxidation to “restore a sense of the passing of time” while evoking the gold leaf of Byzantine mosaics (image left: Portraits, 2023); the second, is austere fields composed in graphite and charcoal, which “move from the real to the imaginative dimension” (right: NOw/here, 2023).

“The future’s gonna be weirder than anyone can imagine,” Turkish AI artist Memo Akten writes about the effect TikTok’s newly released Teenage Filter has on people. “It makes you look young,” he demonstrates in an uncanny reaction video, “and now TikTok is full of middle-aged folks trying come to terms with this, trying to understand where their life went.” Facing your younger self can be “quite emotional,” says Akten and provides dozens of examples in a (now viral) Twitter thread.

“Eisenhower spent the next eight years in office. But in terms of influence over culture, the computer was arguably the night’s biggest winner.”
– Artist and Forbes critic-at-large Jonathon Keats, revisiting the moment when UNIVAC I, the first general-purpose electronic digital computer, correctly predicted the outcome of the 1952 U.S. presidential election. Assuming the mainframe must be hallucinating Eisenhower’s landslide victory, the programmers underreported UNIVAC’s findings. “When the machine was vindicated—missing the final tally by just four electoral votes—the UNIVAC’s operators confessed their lies.”
“Even though © doesn’t provide for any protection against biometric use, it does prohibit the redistribution of the image file. CC allows it. Ideal for packaging files into datasets.”
– Software artist Adam Harvey, warning about the use of Creative Commons licenses. Photos of people shared with the latter “can be freely redistributed in biometric AI and machine learning databases with virtually no legal recourse,” writes Harvey, referencing his 2022 research for the Open Future think tank’s AI_Commons project.
Peter Weibel (ed)
Discussing the works over 60 contributing artists and institutions, Weibel anthologizes the ZKM Karlsruhe’s 2021-22 “BioMedia” research exhibition that surveyed “The Age of Media with Life-like Behavior”
“It feels so prescient today because it captures the moment we became completely overwhelmed by information.”
– Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth curator Allison Hearst, discussing Gretchen Bender’s 1987 video installation Total Recall—the first work “I’ll Be Your Mirror: Art and the Digital Screen” visitors encounter. “It’s a complete assault of the senses,” she adds, describing the din produced by its 24 stacked TVs and multiple projections.
Alison Hearst (ed)
I’ll Be Your Mirror
The catalogue for the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth’s survey of 50 years of screen-based art, works by Petra Cortright, Cao Fei, Nam June Paik, Lillian Schwartz, Hito Steyerl (and dozens more) are framed by Hearst and writers Omar Kholeif and Tina Rivers Ryan.
“Semi-autonomous weapons, like loitering munitions that track and detonate themselves on targets, require a ‘human in the loop.’ They can recommend actions but require their operators to initiate them.”
– Human rights researcher James Dawes, describing how most drones deployed in the Russia-Ukraine war are still overseen by a human. Fearing that’s about to change, activists warn that imminent autonomous weapons “erode meaningful human control over what happens on the battlefield” and will inevitably kill civilians.

An intervention into the fabled novel Moby-Dick, “Of Whales” opens at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid. American artist and MacArthur fellow Wu Tsang flips Herman Melville’s 19th century script, presenting a video installation that renders the novel’s unseen ocean depths from the White Whale’s perspective (image). A postcolonial and anti-extractivist reframing, instead of dread and death, Melville’s antagonist now offers visitors an “oceanscape-cosmos for respite, contemplation, and provocation.”

“Creators will gradually stop maintaining and perfecting their existing collections, and instead be forced to focus on always dropping new things.”
– Conceptual artist Harm van den Dorpel, explaining the dramatic impact (leading NFT marketplace) OpenSea’s decision to make artist royalties optional would have on creators. “I used to employ multiple programmers to maintain projects on a daily basis,” he adds, describing how that vital income stream funded the ongoing preservation of his NFT projects.
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