“To be truly countercultural in a time of tech hegemony, one has to, above all, betray the platform which may come in the form of betraying or divesting from your public online self.”
– Cultural critic Caroline Busta, on the (seeming) invisibility of counterculture within the platform economy

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“When one of our clients manages to sell their first work or discover that their work in another medium is financially viable after years of stress and confusion, that motivates us to keep going.”
– Writer and Researcher Evan Kleekamp, on the most rewarding moments in helping artists professionalize—career development, grantwriting and strategy support—within their consultancy NOR Research Studio

After months of lockdown, Basel’s HeK reopens with “Shaping the Invisible World – Digital Cartography as an Instrument of Knowledge.” Curated by Boris Magrini and Christine Schranz, the show unfolds “spectacular panoramas and virtual scenarios” that reveal how digital technologies affect our understanding of the world. Works by James Bridle, Lukács & Broersen (image: Forest on Location, 2018), Trevor Paglen, and Fei Jun, for example, subvert contemporary cartographic practices to ask pressing questions about privacy, authorship, economic interests, and data aggregation.

Whitney Phillips & Ryan M. Milner
You Are Here
A post-truth roadmap for navigating the strange terrain of “polarized speech, conspiracy theories, and our polluted media landscape.”

In the latest instalment of Whitney Museum’s “Sunrise/Sunset” series of website interventions, LaTurbo Avedon’s Morning Mirror / Evening Mirror takes over whitney.org for 30 seconds twice a day. Avedon, who only works as a digital avatar, created fourteen videos depicting digital flythroughs of a 3D apartment within the frame of a virtual mirror overlay. “The mirror functions as both a surface for reflection and a window into a different world,” writes the artist, “showing nature flourishing across living rooms as well as green screens and stage lights consuming the home studio.”

“In times of pandemics, NFTs and cryptocurrencies are as much about buying certainty as they are about buying assets. They allow you to be hopeful about the future while being pessimistic about the present.”
Addie Wagenknecht, artist and researcher, on the psychology of the current crypto art craze. “It’s a new energy, but largely the same people,” she tells host Hrag Vartanian. “They disrupt flawed systems only to recreate them in the virtual space.”

It’s refreshing to read commentary outside the “this will catch on/fizzle out” VR binary, or that dotes on headset sales figures, so this survey by Filippo Lorenzin is appreciated. For Hyperallergic, the Italian curator provides a very Italian reading of the pre-history of the medium: relative to linear perspective. Bypassing William Gibson and more or less igoring Palmer Luckey, Lorenzin goes way back—Brunelleschi 15th century back—connecting VR to “a point of no return for Western art” and later 360-degree paintings in considering the production and consumption of 3D space.

February 2021
Rebecca Morgan Frank
Oh You Robot Saints!
A poetry volume that “sings the lines between machines and the divine” by elegizing a menagerie of early automata including octobots, an eighteenth-century digesting duck, medieval mechanical virgins, and robot priests
“People don’t associate softness with programming languages and I think that the p5.js community and the language itself actually shows that that kind of [love ethic] is possible.”
Dorothy R. Santos, Executive Director for the Processing Foundation, in conversation with Lauren Lee McCarthy, Moira Turner, and Cassie Tarakajian on how programming languages can foster care and nurturing

With the help of an ultra-precise X-ray microscope, a German-Polish research team successfully recorded the world’s first video of a space-time crystal. An enigmatic state of matter confirmed to exist only recently, this micrometer-sized specimen was created using magnon quasiparticles at room temperature—another first. The video reveals the atomic oscillations known as ‘ticking’ associated with time crystals as their structures repeat in space and time. “We were able to show that such crystals are much more robust and widespread than first thought,” states Pawel Gruszecki of the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poland. “The potential for communication, radar, or imaging technology is huge,” adds Joachim Gräfe of the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Germany.

“These new marketplaces are fatally flawed. The leveraging of an artist or artwork into a speculative investment scheme is underpinned by neoliberal techno-politics.”
– Artist Alice Bucknell, on the problematic legacy driving crypto art, in a sweeping survey feat. Memo Akten, Geert Lovink, Beth Jochim, Chloe Diamond, Jason Bailey, and others

Post-Zoom, post-Twitch, ‘share screen’ has ushered in a new visual regime. Picking up on this, curator Domenico Quaranta has launched “Studio Visit,” where “the desktop studio is shown off as the real space where an artist’s practice manifests,” baring its “files, tabs, programs” while the artist works away, their routine on display. Developed for the Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève’s digital platform 5th floor, the first video features gonzo CGI artist Lu Yang, with future ‘visits’ planned to the desktops of Petra Cortright, Oliver Laric, Eva & Franco Mattes, and others.

“It’s not that the music they make will sound ‘more Western,’ but it is forced into an unnatural rigidity. The music stops being in tune with itself. A lot of the culture will be gone.”
Khyam Allami, multi-instrumentalist musician, researcher, and founder of Nawa Recordings, on the colonial legacy of MIDI-based music software and how Apotome and Leimma—free software he introduced at CTM Festival—can help break tuning hegemony

Curated by sci-fi author and OG cyberpunk Bruce Sterling, Turin-based Share Festival launches “Born to Be Online,” a ‘best of’ Share Prize-winning projects exhibited over the years. Among Sterling’s twelve picks are Paolo Cirio & UBERMORGEN’s Amazon Noir (2006, image), Lia’s Proximity of Needs (2008), Lauren Lee McCarthy’s Follower (2016) and Milad Tangshir’s VR Free (2019), all exploring different aspects of the Internet age. “With this summary of fifteen years of our involvement in net.art, we at Share Festival are bracing ourselves for what comes next.”