“For all the things that we could use it for—astronomy, earth sciences, climate research—the fact that we have chosen to deploy planetary-scale computation for the modelling and prediction of consumer behaviour is one of the world-historical misuses of a technology.”
– Theorist, author, and educator Benjamin Bratton, in coversation with Politics Theory Other podcast host Alex Doherty [quote edited]
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“Boston Dynamics, the best-known manufacturer of quadrupedal robots, has a strict policy agains weaponizing its machines. Other manufacturers, it seems, aren’t so picky.”
The Verge’s senior reporter James Vincent, on US firm Ghost Robotics putting guns on robot dogs

“Offshore finance pierces reality,” French artist collective RYBN reflects on their Offshore Tours (2018-20) in a Palm editorial. Over two years, the artists mapped 785,000 leaked addresses tied to offshore activity. “Behind each photographed facade hides a hot spot, a gap in the urban landscape connected to elsewhere, a true crossing point to offshore space,” they write. “These addresses are deserted at the very moment of their unveiling, the tracking of offshore finance thus turns into ghost hunting.”

DOSSIER:
“Making the ‘decision-making process’ of a predator drone more ‘legible’ to the general public seems a fatuous achievement. Even more so if it is an explanation in service of a capitalist state or state capital, and we know how that works.”
HOLO Annual editor Nora N. Khan, discussing explainable AI and explainability to what end with research partner Peli Grietzer

Extending out of Oli Sorenson’s visual cataloguing of the technological artifacts and compromised landscapes of our current era, “Diamond edition: Panorama of the Anthropocene” opens at Montréal’s ELEKTRA Gallery. For the show, Sorenson adapts material from the his ongoing painting and inkjet series about the perennial clash between production and nature (image: Oil extraction detail, 2020) rendered in the style of “Minecraft’s landscapes and Peter Halley’s geometries,” and (re)presents it on angled digital displays.

“The only thing we can make now is ourselves; day after day, again and again. To sculpt one’s own individuality has ballooned into an endless task. To post every day, to express yourself creatively, to have opinions on the churning discourse.”
Spike’s New York Editor Dean Kissick, on the cult of celebrity and the cult of self. In his latest “The Downward Spiral” column, he asks: “Are we human, or are we content?”
L
OUT NOW:
DING #4
Themed “Correspondence from the Edges” and edited by Katherine Waters & Julia Kloiber, the new edition of the “magazine about the Internet and things” presents “perspectives of marginalisation, queerness, and repression” by Kyriaki Goni, Jac sm Kee, Camila Nobrega, Pedro Oliveira, Xiaowei Wang, and others
“The algorithm estimates Hito’s gender, it says she is 57% female and 42% male. Which begs the question: what would 100% female be? Whether that’s Barbie, Grace Jones, or Angela Merkel—who knows?”
– Trevor Paglen on Machine-Readable Hito (2017), which tasked facial analysis algorithms with guessing Hito Steyerl’s age, gender, and emotional state across hundreds of photos. In dialogue for SJMA’s “Artists in Conversation” series, the duo discuss representation, truth, and power relations.
“Hard to imagine how this could be faster or more cost-effective than humans. It just looks like a performance to scare increasingly organized gig workers.”
– Indie game developer Paolo Pedercini aka Molleindustria, on Kiwibot’s semi-autonomous delivery robots taking over his Pittsburgh neighbourhood. “It [the robot] performs well on the rough sidewalks but it randomly stationed on a curb cut for five minutes, blocking the ramp and confusing drivers—do they even have right of way?”

The culmination of a three-year inquiry into “the extractive gaze of European institutions and policies” with a focus on “how resource management shapes and gives corporeality to geopolitics,” artist duo FRAUD (Audrey Samson & Francisco Gallardo) launches the EURO⁠—VISION platform. A growing resource and archive, the site reveals the links between international relations, trade, economic policy, and border security through the lens of Critical Raw Materials (CRMs) such as phosphate, fish(eries), sand, and carbon.

“No one would have been able to feed multiple TV monitors in real time with visual data from an affordable computer system. We used VHS tapes and cheap Panasonic video mixers. Everything was pre-rendered at that time and it took ages to do.”
– Musician and artist Robert Henke, on a scene in the new Netflix miniseries The Billion Dollar Code. “Clubs in Berlin did not look like this,” Henke squirms. “And whoever wrote the dialog has neither a clue of 1990s club culture nor any technological background. Cringe.”

“a=tF²,” a solo show by Igor Štromajer, “the Pavarotti of HTML,” opens at Berlin’s panke.gallery. Drawing on the artist’s favoured tropes and aesthetics, ranging from CGA graphics to toolbar mandalas, the show juxtaposes knowledge work’s ephemera with the austerity of the white cube. On Instagram, in advance of the opening, Štromajer has teased work-in-progress, his strategically cropped previews revealing “dirty, radical, minimal” assemblages of e-junk and toy robots (image), and an adorable pint-sized workstation.

“Temperature check on late-stage capitalism: you can buy NFTs of AI-generated descriptions of imaginary girlfriends.”
– Journalist Elise Thomas, pointing to an Open Sea crypto art listing that captures the current moment

With “Natural Sovereignty,” a solo show opening at Capri’s MiBACT Certosa museum, Italian artist and activist Paolo Cirio offers a “utopian vision of climate justice.” Building on his conceptual framework of a ‘climate crime tribunal’ that combines the legal concept of environmental personhood with the Right of Nature theory, Cirio presents evidence, plaintiffs, and sentence in the form of informational visuals featuring scientific and economic data, legal documents, and biological studies.

“We stamp a coin with the face of a dead president and it’s worth as much as we say it is because that’s what the law says. It’s something I can teach to a seven-year old and it has the benefit of being true.”
– Financial regulation scholar Rohan Grey, noting that the only thing stopping America from minting a $1 trillion coin to solve its imminent debt ceiling crisis is a lack of imagination. “It’s no more silly that judges wearing robes.”
“The NFT market is increasingly reframing ‘digital art’ to mean image making in popular usage. This is a cultural setback, of about 50 years.”
Julian Oliver, media artist and ‘critical engineer,’ on how the crypto boom flattens the perception of computational art practice. “‘Digital art’ began as an image making practice, then in ’80s, ’90s, and noughts came to encompass a far broader and exciting diversity of practices, methods, and materials,” Oliver writes on Twitter. “Now, with the NFT market, it’s come full circle to refer to image making again.”

Currently setting up several major exhibitions all across Europe, Turkish-American media artist Refik Anadol shares a (stunning) glimpse of installing Alkazar Dream: AI Cinema at a yet undisclosed location in Istanbul. Los Angeles-based Anadol is renowned for his rich data-driven architectural projections, large-scale media facades, and immersive experiences. Alkazar Dream: AI Cinema will feature ‘machine hallucinations’ of an AI trained on 150 historic movies and is set to open on October 29th.

“Post-Capital: Art and the Economics of the Digital Age” opens at Mudam Luxembourg. Exploring the paradox that capitalism is ”both dependent upon and threatened by technological progress,” the show includes polemical works by Simon Denny, Oliver Laric, Martine Syms, and others. Strongly signalling the capital-collides-with-lifeworld aesthetic is Cao Fei’s Asia One (2018, image), a film about a burgeoning romance between two young workers in a gigantic logistics warehouse, set against a backdrop of automation.

“Atkins adapts the term corpsing … his examples are when a vinyl record jumps or a streaming movie buffers. To corpse a medium is to expose its materiality, even to underscore its mortality, and in this moment the real might poke through.”
– Critic Hal Foster, on the simulated bodies and ‘dead’ media in The Worm (2021), the centrepiece of Ed Atkins’ recent show at New York’s New Museum

EIGENHEIM gallery launches an edition box dedicated to digital art. Curated by medienkunstverein (mkv), “Digital Art Collection” features 30 international artists including LaTurbo Avedon, Jeremy Bailey, Lauren Lee McCarthy, and Zach Liebermann, who “deal with the effects of the (post)digital age on our everyday life, our culture and our society.” Each artwork is represented by an NFC-chipped wooden cuboid that activates the respective piece on an enclosed tablet. Box and works are now on view at EIGENHEIM Berlin.

“The participants are bureaucrats who live in the machine endlessly dragged along by conveyor belts, chutes, and pneumatic tubes from the time of birth to the time of death.”
Hito Steyerl, Department of Decentralization, and GPT-3, describing La Ville-Machine Habitée, one of “Twenty-One Art Worlds: A Game Map,” a choose your own adventure journey through various corners of the contemporary art world—both vital and obsolete

“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 21-century capitalism.

September 2021
“Chadslayer, Normie Slicer, Anprim Talon, Snowflake Skorcher, Soyboy Shredder—the weapons’ names echo the rage found in incel forums, far-right chats, black bloc groups, the manosphere and other rancid circles.”
– Art blogger Régine Debatty, surveying the ceramic arsenal that accompanies Theo Triantafyllidis’ software simulation Radicalization Pipeline currently at view at the Greek-American artist’s eponymous solo show at NOVO gallery, Milan

Curated by British artist Bob Bicknell-Knight, “Algorithmic Bias” opens at [Senne], Brussels, featuring works by 13 international artists, including Zach Blas, Heather Dewey-Hagborg, Ben Grosser, JODI, and Lynn Hershman Leeson, that critique computational systems of control. Among the new works included is one of Bicknell-Knight’s own: Second Variety imagines a Boston-Dynamics-inspired four-legged automaton unearthed in a distant future “by a society that has forgotten its original purpose.”

“Our memories, our tastes, our life knowledge, might owe just as much to embodied cells and tissues using the same molecular mechanisms for memory as the brain itself. The mind, I conclude, is fluid and adaptable, embodied but not enskulled.”
Thomas R. Verny, Canadian psychiatrist, writer, and academic, parsing research that suggests memory persists outside the brain
“For the first time, I publicly stated my desire to take testosterone—not to become a man but to leave the body I currently exist in.”
– Biohacker Mary Maggic, reflecting on the recent “Writing Letters to Extraterrestrials” symposium in Berlin, an “extraordinary event that opened my eyes to the alienness all around me, embodied in my flesh, my city, my child.”
“I love NFT Twitter because it’s half 20-tweet threads about how blockchains will be the Medicis of a new artistic renaissance and half guys trying to convince you to spend $10,000 on stuff called, like, Darryl’s Deformed Donkeys.”
– Technology writer and New York Times columnist Kevin Roose, on how the cryptoart craze plays out on social media

Miffed about the meager fee offered for the reproduction of two of his banknote works, Danish artist Jens Haaning pocketed the 534,000 kroner ($84,000) lent by the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art in Aalborg (DK), and delivered two empty frames entitled Take the Money and Run. “The work is that I have taken their money,” Haaning said in an interview. “It’s not theft. It is a breach of contract, and breach of contract is part of the work.” The frames are now on view as part of “Work it Out,” the museum’s ongoing show about art and labour.

“We were thinking about infrastructure, specifically: the railroad as one of the past, and the possible implications of augmented reality as another in the future.”
– Artist Cat Blumke, speaking to Reality Crossing, a work on rail, empire, and speculative real estate in Canada. Produced with Jonathan Carrol, the piece is part of InterAccess’ all-AR exhibition “Geofenced,” curated by Karie Liao.
“The art world seems preoccupied with bringing culture to the blockchain. But it already is a culture, and it’s fascinating, fast-moving, and inclusive. In many ways, the NFT space has succeeded where more traditional institutions have failed.”
– Artist and musician Holly Herndon, during an Art Basel panel discussion on NFTs. “I’m obsessed with the weird culture that’s coming out of this space,” says Herndon. “It has its own language, and understanding of aesthetics—and some of it is beautiful.”

A spatial collage of film and fabric, Metahaven’s “Passphrases” opens at State of Concept Athens—the first solo show of the Dutch avantgarde film-and-design collective in Greece. Featured alongside a newly commissioned installation of their films Chaos Theory (2021) and Hometown (2018), both part of a trilogy that begun with Information Skies (2016), are textile works from the series Arrows (2020) and—a premiere—Blossoms and Secrets (2021), “embodying texture, dreams, and film stills.”

“Trying out never explaining blockchain again, and instead only giving deranged answers like, ‘extremely shitty global computer’ or ‘the biggest clock ever built.’”
– Software artist and crypto pundit Sarah Friend, on the current moment of max hype and max confusion

“What if an exhibition had an energy budget? How would it affect its design, organization, management, and activation?” With 16/2017, Spanish artist Joana Moll forces Barcelona’s Arts Santa Mònica Center to cut its energy usage by 50% during the “Exposar · No exposar-se · Exposar-se · No exposar” exhibition. Named after a failed policy to half the region’s CO2 emissions by 2030, 16/2017 prescribes weekly meetings to monitor the energy budget and negotiate corrective measures with management, artists, and the public.

“Call me a Gen-X’er, but I’m troubled by artwashing as a means of distancing from bigger issues, like the lack of governmental regulation of consolidation, racist AI, tunnel-effects of social media, etc. I’m almost nostalgic for days when banks bought art for lobbies.”
Eyebeam Executive Director Roderick Schrock, on why he turned down an invitation to participate in a Big Tech roundtable on “the role of artist communities in promoting corporate culture through creative place-making”

The most extensive installation of Rafaël Rozendaal’s websites series and the Dutch-Brazillian artist’s first solo exhibition in the UK, “Permanent Distraction” opens at Site Gallery, Sheffield. Existing and newly produced websites are shown as twelve, floor to ceiling projections, filling the space with abstract colour, movement and gesture. The show “forces us to confront the slippage between our physical and digital realities,” writes the gallery, “bringing bodies physically into the space of the internet.”

Drawing on Suzanne Simard’s Finding the Mother Tree, writer Claire L. Evans makes a case for reimagining the web’s central metaphor as a forest. Teasing out the famed Canadian ecologist’s findings gleaned from a life in forestry, Evans uses the symbiotic tendencies of ‘Mother’ trees, mycorrhizal fungi, and birch trees, to map alternate readings of the web. Big Tech has “privileged high-value crops—viral content, controversy, and clickbait—over a healthier ecosystem of people, opinions, and perspectives,” she writes, likening platform capitalism to clear cutting—short term profit at the ecosystem’s expense. While the diagnosis is grim, Evans ends optimistically, calling for “Mother nodes,” resilient sites of nurturing and collective memory.

“I wanted to see what human-generated randomness looks like,” writes Jonathan Chomko of his NFT project Proof of Work. Extending out his previous prompt-driven choreography, the Montréal artist created software for collecting random values from “small-scale“ gestures: typing random characters on a keyboard. Experiments with scale and colour yielded a pixellated visual language and, post-NFT drop, he notes the labourious process “records a minimum viable artwork, the hand of the artist visible in the digital image.”

“Far from being triumphantly automated, an autotelic system lays bare its vulnerable workings through fragments of machines left to care for nomadic organs.”
Ingrid Luquet-Gad, on Lithuanian artist duo Pakui Hardware’s recent body of sculptural works that delves into remote healthcare technologies and services “with an almost uncannily timely relevance.” The art critic and writer notes that “as ambiguous as a process without a subject intrinsically is, robotic and digitalized care is similarly so in its outcomes for humanity.”
OUT NOW:
Paradigm #1
Coming in hot from the world of fashion and trendspotting, Paradigm is a new short-run periodical about aesthetics and culture
DOSSIER:
“How have we ‘half-known’ and ‘half-understood’ the appearance of new intelligence, human-like or not, throughout history? What ways of partial knowing do we exercise all the time?”
Nora N. Khan, on the questions driving the first chapter of the HOLO Annual, featuring contributions by Huw Lemmey, Elvia Wilk, Nicholas Whittaker, and Thomas Brett

Agnes Scherer’s “The Notebook Simulations,” supersizes the laptop, rendering its mythos in paint (not pixels)

“Time Holds All the Answers,” a survey of Postcommodity’s work opens at Remai Modern in Saskatoon, Canada. Duo Cristóbal Martínez and Kade L. Twist have long “injected Indigenous knowledge systems into the museum,” challenging its hermeticism and, here, Let Us Pray For the Water Between Us (2020, image) transforms an 8,300 L hazmat storage container into a drum with a motorized mallet sounding interior rhythms, reverberating calls for “respect, accountability, and transparency” in water stewardship.

“The lifespan of bitcoin mining devices remains limited to just 1.29 years. As a result, we estimate that the whole bitcoin network currently cycles through 30.7 metric kilotons of equipment per year.”
– Researchers Alex de Vries and Christian Stoll, on the cryptocurrency’s growing e-waste problem. In their study, published in the journal “Resources, Conservation and Recycling,” they show that, on average, bitcoin generates 272 g of e-waste per transaction. “That’s the weight of two iPhone 12 minis.”

A survey of the Argentinian artist’s inquiries into breath, spirit, and regeneration, Tomás Saraceno’s solo exhibition “We Do Not All Breathe the Same Air” opens at Neugerriemschneider in Berlin. A highlight is Saraceno’s newest installation, Particular Matter(s), that illuminates microscopic air particles “like millions of suspended galaxies” with a beam of light. Noteworthy: the exhibition is powered by renewables and opening hours shift with daylight to conserve energy.

“I couldn’t meet any students for almost three semesters. However, it would have been no problem for me as a director to shoot commercials or reality TV. How is system relevance defined here? Not to mention culture?”
– Artist, filmmaker, and university professor Hito Steyerl, declining one of Germany’s most prestigious civilian honours, the Federal Cross of Merit. In a letter published in the German weekly Die Zeit, Steyerl decried the government’s’ uneven response to the pandemic, which she cast as confusing, “half-baked and unendless.”

As part of the NEW NOW festival exhibition, Korean-British artist duo Kimchi and Chips launches Another Moon into the skies over Zeche Zollverein, a former coal mine turned World Heritage Site and cultural park in Essen, Germany. Through Oct 3, a ring of 40 solar-powered laser projectors captures sunlight during the day and casts it back into the sky at night. Where the beams meet, a ghostly sphere—another moon—appears. In development for over six years, the installation celebrates the end of coal.

“Yet function is rarely an obvious impediment in wearable tech. Wristwatches only tell time, and sunglasses only tell the world you’re awesome. In some ways not doing too much was the point of Glass.”
– Opinion columnist Farhad Manjoo, reminiscing about the simplicity of Google Glass in a hyperbolic (but amusing) rumination on the looming age of VR, AR, and “face computing”

Curated by Karie Liao, “Geofenced” opens at (and around) Toronto’s InterAccess. Presented on the artist-run centre’s steps, at a local parkette, microbrewery, and other sites, the show features AR works by Cat Bluemke & Jonathan Carroll, Scott Benesiinaabandan, Jenn E Norton, and Adrienne Matheuszik. The latter’s Proxima-B (2021, image) superimposes scenes from an “extraplanetary resort … free from the troubles of the earth” in the InterAccess gallery, at a nearby parking pad, and on a billboard.

OUT NOW:
Stanislaw Lem
The Truth and Other Stories
A collection of twelve short stories from the late Polish sci-fi writer Stanislaw Lem, nine of which have never been published in English before

Twitter user and Blockchain sleuth Zuwu shares an incriminating paper trail revealing a senior employee of the NFT platform OpenSea has been engaging in insider trading. In a Twitter thread they list a number of suspicious transactions from wallets connected to OpenSea Head of Product Nate Chastain—indicating purchases of NFT projects right before they were featured on the site’s homepage, and then corresponding sales when the price spiked. While unscrupulous NFT collectors engage in a range of dubious practices including scalping, bribing miners, and gas wars, this is the first instances of a major NFT platform employee being caught red-handed.

“The work is also significant for raising the question of whether it is a representation of a flag or an actual flag.”
– Creative computing scholar Nick Montfort, on Flag, “a Commodore 64 BASIC v2 poem for Jasper Johns,” coded as tribute to the artist’s iconic painting

Huidi Xiang’s “How to Be an Artist in Minecraft” opens at Ender Gallery. A sculptor who became obsessed with the routine (and implicit labour) of Animal Crossing during the pandemic, Xiang’s Ender residency culminates with the presentation of a spreadsheet of every act she performed in Minecraft over a three-month period. Building construction, skin customization, tutorial creation, every minute of her residency—and for those that can’t visit in-game, note the complete log on the artist’s website.

DOSSIER:
“Transcribing, translating, and free-associating live—there was no time to sit with our thoughts. We were forced to reflect as we went, in God mode, getting it all down for posterity. A syndrome I called documentia.”
– MUTEK Recorder Lead Claire L. Evans, reflecting on the breakneck speed of HOLO’s two-week publishing sprint to document the 2021 MUTEK Forum

Marjolijn Dijkman’s solo exhibition “Electrify Everything” opens at NOME Gallery, Berlin, bringing together three interrelated bodies of work that ruminate on the history of electricity and the environmental impact of modern energy storage. The photo series Earthing Discharge (2019-21, image), for example, is made with a high voltage electro-photography technique in which the Dutch artist uses a discharge plate made from a tin-coated sheet, the same material as used in touch screen devices.

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