Providing a powerful visual for what’s at stake at the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference, Irish artist John Gerrard’s latest simulation Flare (Oceania) 2021 debuts on a large-scale LED wall at the University of Glasgow South Facade. Created in response to a statement from Tongan artist and activist Uili Lousi, whose ancestral ocean is heating due to CO2 emissions elsewhere on the planet, Flare echoes Gerrard’s past software works that “fly the flag of our own self-destruction.”
Clemenger BBDO and University of Tasmania researchers announce the construction of Earth’s Black Box, a steel monolith filled with solar-powered tech for documenting the planetary crisis. “If the Earth does crash as a result of climate change, this indestructible recording device will be there for whoever’s left to learn from that,” states Clemenger BBDO’s Jim Curtis. Due for completion on the west coast of Tasmania in 2022, data collection has already begun.
Danja Vasiliev announces that Vending Private Network (2018), an artwork he created with fellow critical engineer Julian Oliver, was banned from display at Moscow’s soon-to-open Cryptography Museum. The installation sets up a virtual private network (VPN) as publicly funded infrastructure (taking cues from condom vending machines). A way around government censorship and surveillance, VPNs are deemed illegal by the Russian state, Vasiliev explains on Twitter.
Curated by Chris Clarke and Anaïs Nony, “Data Streams: Art, Algorithms and Artificial Intelligence,” opens at The Glucksman in Cork, Ireland. Featuring work from Benjamin Gaulon, Addie Wagenknecht, and Suzanne Treister (image: Post-Surveillance Art/NSA on Drugs, 2014) the show collects work from an eclectic mix of artists who explore lived experience after AI and data collection—practitioners who show “how these technologies are silently transforming our surroundings.”
The first-ever Binominale opens simultaneously at La Becque, Switzerland, and San Francisco’s Bass & Reiner gallery. A curatorial nod to 1960s conceptual art by the Swiss collective Fragmentin, the format tasked two artist pairs from the respective countries, Bertille Laguet & Sherwin Rio and Bruno Aeberli & Rhonda Holberton, to recreate each other’s work remotely. The stated goal: minimizing the ecological impact by removing transportation.
Wolf Lieser’s DAM Gallery, one of the longest running entirely dedicated to digital art, reopens in a new location in Berlin Charlottenburg with “Discoveries” of never-before-seen plotter drawings from the early oeuvre of genre pioneers Vera Molnar and Manfred Mohr. Recovered during recent visits to the artists’ studios, the exhibited works date back to the early 1970s and 80s. Also on view: a new software homage to Vera Molnar, created by fellow pioneer Frieder Nake.
“Terror Contagion” opens at Montréal’s MAC. Centre stage is Forensic Architecture’s Digital Violence: How the NSO Group Enables State Terror, which probes the Israeli technology firm behind Pegasus, malware used to monitor the calls, emails, texts, and sensor data of activists and dissidents worldwide. At MAC, these findings are presented in an immersive installation featuring data sonification by Brian Eno and narration by Edward Snowden, and complemented by Laura Poitras’ latest film, documenting the research.
“The Modern Exorcist,” an exhibition steeped in techno-animism, opens at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan. Ten interdisciplinary artists including Yin-Ju Chen, Kate Cooper, Cécile B. Evans, Sidsel Meineche Hansen, Pakui Hardware, and Po-Chih Huang (image: Chair, Sandpaper, Cockroach, Ocean, Seven, Termite and Banana, 2021) interpret posthumanist vantage points through virtual bodies and networked systems that link people to objects and other species. After all, “what is human?”
“With crypto we’ve decided to do the most American thing ever, to commoditize our rage at the financial system into a financial product. After all, we’re just temporarily embarrassed millionaires and the only problem with CDOs wasn’t the moral hazard, but that you didn’t have a piece of the action.”
“Taskoch pipon kona kah nipa muskoseya, nepin pesim eti pimachihew | Like the winter snow kills the grass, the summer sun revives it” opens at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery (RMG) in Oshawa, Canada. Curated by Missy LeBlanc, the show features Joi Arcand (image: ekawiya nepewisi, 2017), Susan Blight, Tsēmā Igharas, and four other artists working in languages representing the seven major geographic regions of the land now known as Canada, ”celebrating and centering Indigenous language revitalization.”
The Fall, a site-specific installation by Susan Philipsz, opens at Amsterdam’s Oude Kerk. Building on the former church’s acoustics and legacy, the Scottish artist has derived a ‘sonic tribute’ to composer and organist Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, who was buried on site in the 17th century. Philipsz’ installation adds her voice to Sweelinck’s music, and suspends organ pipe forms in space, creating “descending scale sounds, which swell and evoke a sense of collapse, fragmentation, and absence.”
A critical reading of our entangled technological and social systems, “Reasonable Doubt” opens at V2_ Lab for the Unstable Media in Rotterdam. Curators Vincent van Velsen and V2’s Florian Weigl assemble works by Paolo Cirio, Sami Hammana, Femke Herregraven, Hannah Dawn Henderson, Yazan Khalili (image: Medusa, 2020), Anna Ridler and others that reveal these systems’ harsh reality—algorithmic bias, corporate surveillance—and their capacity for subersive adaptation.
“CAMP After Media Promises,” the 7th Nam June Paik Art Center Prize Winner’s Exhibition opens in Gyeonggi-do, South Korea. To celebrate their recognition CAMP’s Shaina Anand, Ashok Sukumaran, and Sanjay Bhangar present Moving Panorama (2021, image), an urban megamix spanning eight screens and five acts. Drawing on CCTV footage from their native Mumbai, Manchester, Jerusalem, and Kabul, the installation ”redefines the categories of observer, subject, network, database, image, and sequence.”
NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) launches aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. An experiment in planetary self-defense, in fall 2022 the rocket will reach the Didymos asteroid system, impact its moonlet altering the asteroid’s motion—and the results will be observed from afar. ”This test will help prove out one viable way to protect our planet from a hazardous asteroid, should one be discovered that is headed toward Earth,” states NASA’s Bill Nelson.
“Given that MoMA’s 1977 acquisition of Kubota’s Nude Descending a Staircase was their first of a video sculpture, it seems ironic that they waited so long to give her such a modest tribute. That ‘Liquid Reality’ is the artist’s first US solo exhibition in 25 years only adds to this sad testament.”
Themed “Machine Does Not Give Change,” the seventh Device_art festival for art, robotics, and new technologies opens Zagreb’s Museum of Contemporary Art. Curated by KONTEJNER in collaboration with Germany’s ZKM, this edition showcases evocative machines by 18 artists including Alex Brajković, Christina Kubisch, Carolin Liebl & Nikolas Schmid-Pfähler (image: RE:PLACES), Troika, and Kata Mijatović, bringing together “the German and Croatian ‘device art’ scene.”
“There’s much more self-reflection and embrace of doubt in this issue than I’m used to seeing in the art, science, and technology discourse space. Contributors reflect on what systems they are unwillingly contributing to, regardless of their criticality.”
Adam Basanta’s mixed media installation “Possible Futures” opens at Maison des Arts de Laval in Laval, Quebec, confronting viewers with three “oblique thought-experiments” comprised of discarded domestic objects, biological and artificial ecosystems, and techno-cultural artifacts. Future balanced (Chesterfield), for example, combines a discarded sofa with a miniature, fully-functioning, aquaponic farm. It’s a living sculpture that makes “tentative proposals and uneasy predictions.”
Infiltrating Ender Gallery’s Minecraft server with his generative image systems, American artist Travess Smalley turns the in-game exhibition space into “a surreal reading experience” via a custom texture pack. Developed during his residency, “Change Language Resource Pack” replaces all images and textures with randomly generated language, resulting in “a concrete poem, that turns the familiar Minecraft world into an abstract, austere, and newly dangerous place (be careful identifying lava!).”
In an attempt to become the “Singapore of Latin America,” President Nayib Bukele announces El Salvador will bootstrap an entire city around Bitcoin’s economic prospects. Building on the country’s recent recognition of the leading cryptocurrency as legal tender, the so-called “Bitcoin city” will be located along the Gulf of Fonseca near the base of Conchagua volcano, the geothermal energy of which will be harnessed to power the city and an industrial-scale Bitcoin mining operation. Honouring the libertarian ethos that is common amongst Bitcoin-boosters “the city will have no income, property, capital gains, or payroll taxes.”
Laura Splan’s Rhapsody for an Expanded Biotechnological Apparatus takes over an elevator of the Tang Museum in Saratoga Springs, NY, as part of the museum’s Elevator Music Series. The tactile sound installation “reenvisions the elevator as a biological cell and its visitors as proteins.” Sitting on a rug made from the fiber of laboratory llamas (used to produce antibodies for human drugs) they are invited to “consider the invisible” while listening to a sonic tour of a biotech laboratory.
“Data Refraction_Digital Orchestra,” a solo show by Jung Seung opens at Seoul’s Alternative Space LOOP. Centring the media artist’s preoccupation with digital traces, it includes three new works: a sonification of plant growth, a robot animated by related data, and a performance of a dancer in a “wearable robot” beamed into a digital environment (image: Scattered Scream-harness, 2021). Collectively they “redefine life through the coevolution between human senses and machines,” notes curator Sun Mi Lee.
Bringing together works from Michel de Broin, Justine Emard (image: Soul Shift, 2018) Ryoichi Kurokawa, Lu Yang, and 11 other artists and collectives, the 5th International Digital Art Biennial (BIAN) opens at Arsenal Contemporary Art Montréal. Co-curated by Alain Thibault and DooEun Choi, this edition heavily emphasizes the complementary aesthetics (and visions of futurity) linking Quebec- and Asia-based artists, while ruminating on post-pandemic (I-Ching-inspired) metamorphosis.
Lauren Lee McCarthy’s latest interactive performance Womb Walk premieres as part of her Surrogate installation at IDFA DocLab, the Amsterdam documentary film festival’s new media program. As the American artist strolls the city wearing a prosthetic belly (image), participants ‘become’ McCarthy’s baby. “You control my movements by triggering small internal kicks to the sides of my belly directing me when to turn,” she writes on Instagram. “Together, we navigate the city, with imagined baby as interface.”
Assembling a ‘who’s who’ of artists that pioneered the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning in their practice, the group exhibition “Code of Arms” opens at London’s Gazelli Art House. The show follows the evolution of the genre through a mix of early plotter drawings by Vera Molnar, Manfred Mohr, Frieder Nake, and Georg Nees, and later, more contemporary computational works by Harold Cohen, Mario Klingemann, and Lynn Hershman Leeson.
“SHE KEEPS ME DAMN ALIVE,” an exhibition by Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley opens at London’s arebyte. Subverting the language of the first-person shooter, the game asks players—armed with a hot pink firearm—to NOT shoot Black Trans people, and then witness the results of their (in)action. Inverting the standard logic of the shooter genre where violence and mayhem are a means to an end, the installation creates a space to “capture, preserve and archive Black Trans existence” and reflect on personal responsibility.
The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in Dearborn, Michigan, announces the acquisition of the Lillian F. Schwartz collection. Comprising films and videos, 2D artwork and sculptures, personal papers, and computer hardware, the material documents the “expansive and inquisitive mindset” of the Bell Labs veteran. Born in 1927, Schwartz was “present at the birth of digital art” and pioneered “computer-based work at a time when artists had to defend it as a viable medium.”
Mary Bauermeister (*1934), whose experimental practice helped shape the Fluxus movement, is announced the first recipient of a new art prize issued by the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The award honours Bauermeister’s legacy of drawings, paintings, and mixed-media installations that explore entanglements in science, music, and mathematics. “She has always worked transdisciplinary long before this became a category,” said Hendrik Wüst, the state’s Minister President.
Part of the London-based collective’s ongoing eco-fiction project Untertage where salt emerges as an agent of cultural evolution, Troika’s No Sound of Water opens at Arte Abierto, Mexico City. Taking the form of a towering salt waterfall that is juxtapozed with Troika’s Terminal Beach (2020), the installation channels “the extractive technologies that have contributed to the planet’s transformation.” Over time, salt crystals spill across the exhibition space, and into people’s pants, lungs, and lunches.
A new installation conceived for (and inspired by) the Tadas Ivanauskas Zoological Museum in Kaunas, Lithuania, artist duo Pakui Hardware’s Skewed Taxonomy opens as part of this year’s Kaunas Biennial. The sculptures, hybrid creatures made of wasp nests, stainless steel skeletons, glass body parts, and textiles, are integrated into the museum’s insect section and invite viewers to speculate on life “born from human activities merging with the evolution of the natural world.”
“The ‘discontinuation’ of a major marketplace today pushed all my buttons. The URLs for a half-million artworks were destroyed; livelihoods of ~10,000 artists were damaged; the energy and optimism of a creative community was diminished; and the guy who did it left town with $1M.”
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