“Mr. Williams knew that he had not committed the crime in question. What he could not have known … is that his case may be the first known account of an American being wrongfully arrested based on a flawed match from a facial recognition algorithm.“
Kashmir Hill, revisiting the (unprecedented) circumstances that lead to the arrest of Robert Julian-Borchak Williams by the Detroit Police Department in 2018
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Curated by Alice Russotti, Meg Webster’s ”Wave” opens at the Upper Gallery at The Arts Center on Governors Island in New York. Beyond classic environmental studies spanning sound and video like Nearest Virgin Forest (1987) and Waterfall (1996), the solo show includes new pieces (re)engaging foundational Webster motifs including Moss Mound (building on the 1986 work Moss Bed, image), and Pollinating Garden, for which viewers must trek 1 km southwest to a GrowNYC site to take in a durational piece—a plot recently seeded by the artist.

Most recently shown at “METAMORPHOSIS” at Hyundai Motor Studio Seoul last year, Matthew Biederman’s Serial Mutations (z-axis) v04 (2019) opens at Montreal’s ELEKTRA Gallery. Emerging from the vein of Biederman’s work that pushes at the limits of geometry and perception, it deploys the Necker cube optical illusion as the basis of an indeterminate shifting field that reconfigures itself ad infinitum, outside of perspectival space. Installed in ELEKTRA Gallery’s window vitrine, the animation will be displayed through June 19.

“You just can’t make decisions without identifying who you and who your mentors are, not necessarily elders, but people who are already doing what you’re doing in a good way, and then you can begin to identify need.”
– DEL Resident Suzanne Kite, on how her Artist’s Almanac project to compile resources for marginalized artists was, first and foremost, a process of consultation

Sam Durant’s Untitled (drone) goes up at the High Line Plinth, a space for public art in Manhattan’s iconic rail-line park. Sitting atop a 25-foot pole, the life-sized fibreglass sculpture of a Predator drone appears to hover over 10th Avenue, “reminding the public that drones and surveillance are a tragic and pervasive presence in the daily lives of many living outside—and within—the United States,” says Durant. The piece is the second Plinth commission selected from over 50 submissions in 2016. It will be on view through August 2022.

“We aren’t used to thinking about these systems in terms of the environmental costs. But saying, ‘Hey, Alexa, order me some toilet rolls,’ invokes into being this chain of extraction, which goes all around the planet.”
– AI researcher Kate Crawford, on the very real materiality of AI. “It is made from natural resources,“ she tells interviewer Zoë Corbyn. “We’ve got a long way to go before this is green technology.”
Caroline Sinders
Architectures of Violence
A collection of essays, interviews, and projects by the artist and researcher exploring how digital platforms inflict harm—from YouTube’s algorithms to Gamergate
“A lot of it deals with the calculations of harm—of researching it, experiencing it, and archiving it. It’s unpacking how we navigate digital pain, trauma, and harassment—from the perspective of those that receive it and those that make it legible to larger power structures.”
– Artist and researcher Caroline Sinders, on Architectures of Violence, the book that expands upon her eponymous exhibition at Telematic Media Arts, San Francisco

Work produced during the Toronto-based South Asian Visual Arts Centre’s (SAVAC) ADA-DADA Residency is shared online. Spanning CGI, videogames, and fiction, pieces by CAM Collective, Vishal Kumararswamy, Lingxian Wu, and others are accessible via the RPG-esque gather.town platform. Overarching themes include migration, alienation, and exploitation, with Hiba Ali’s The Real Love Memo V.2 (image) generating anti-Amazon critiques in response to an infamous Jeff Bezos memo.

Investigating notions of play and gamification in contemporary image-making, “How to Win at Photography” opens at Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland. Featuring 40 artistic positions including Cory Arcangel, Aram Bartholl, John Yuyi (image), Akihiko Taniguchi, and Ai Weiwei, the assemblage of multimedia artworks and vernacular images questions the very function of photography today. “Are we playing with the camera or is the camera playing us? Who is playing along? And can this game be won?”

“Vive le cinéma! Art & Film” opens at Filmmuseum, Amsterdam. A celebration of the venue’s 75th anniversary, the show assembles work by filmmakers from five continents including Lucrecia Martel (Argentina), and Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese (Lesotho), and Jia Zhangke (China). Beyond the expected projections of film, it includes several instances of space-as-film—a light–colour study by Netherlands-based video installation duo Leopold Emmen (image), and an architecture-scale film reel that the viewer steps into, by Mexican director Carlos Reygadas.

“Within the carefully tended landscape of the mother of all biennials, the role geopolitical conflict plays in ‘living together’ is generally avoided. It seems it is easier to envision a utopian future than come to terms with the dystopias we inhabit.”
– Writer and curator Barbara Casavecchia, on the misguided optimism of the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale, “whose model is still based on a geography of nation states”

Built to give seven of his kinetic light works a permanent home, Christopher Bauder’s 1,000 square meter exhibition space DARK MATTER opens in Berlin. The career-spanning selection also includes Inverse, a choreography of 169 black spheres set against white light (image) the German artist created specifically for this space. “The artworks which have travelled the world over the last 20 years are now coming together in one exhibition in Berlin,” Bauder writes. “Never before have I had the opportunity to show so many of my installations in one place.”

”The Fed is basically Dogecoining the U.S. dollar. There’s a benefit to scarcity that Dogecoiners don’t get—nor does the Fed.”
– U.S. congressperson Warren Davidson, speaking at Bitcoin 2021 in Miami, referring to daily creation of 10,000 new units of the ‘started as a joke but now we seem to be stuck with it’ meme coin Doge. While ostensibly a partisan dig at Joe Biden’s economic stimulus intended to score points with the assembled crypto boosters, Davidson’s comments underscore the deep strangeness of any framing of economic scarcity or value at the moment.

A team of researchers led by material scientist Yoel Fink, have developed a digital fiber that can “sense, memorize, learn, and infer.” Moving beyond previous analogue fibres, it encodes discrete bits of information—the prototype (shirt) can store a “767-kilobit full-color short movie file and a 0.48 megabyte music file.” It also tracks the body temperature of its wearer, and extrapolates what actitivies they are engaged in with high accuracy, bringing us one step closer to future ‘smart’ clothing that monitors health and vital signs.

“Instead of the actual colours of its leaves and flowers, a different palette is used, alluding to techniques of camouflage, as they are deployed today for refuting any recording by tracking systems of algorithmic surveillance.”
Kyriaki Goni, on the AR portrait of an “invisible plant” she created for Data Garden (2020). Micromeria acropolitana, a mint endemic to the Acropolis in Athens, was presumed extinct for nearly a century before its rediscovery in 2006.

Hailed as a “landmark digital media auction” of 28 screen-based works, Sotheby’s opens “Natively Digital: A Curated NFT Sale.” Working with crypto artist Robert Alice, the American fine art trader prides itself in bringing together emerging crypto artists such as Larva Labs and XCOPY as well as old genre masters like Addie Wagenknecht, Casey Reas, Simon Denny, Anna Ridler, and Ryoji Ikeda (A Single Number That Has 10,000,086 Digits, image crop). The 28 works are on display at Sotheby’s galleries in New York City through auction end on June 10.

“What is in and what is out? Is the architecture of a commercial gallery a factor in your reception of its exhibition? Are the protestors in the museum’s lobby? What if the security guards have prevented the protestors from entering, but their chants filter in through a window?”
– The Art Agenda editorial team, in an incisive short text that cites quantum physics and a bronze sculpture of a cat to provoke readers to evaluate their measures of where the reading of an artwork starts and ends

Hijacking the media’s engagement economy for climate action, Tega Brain and Sam Lavigne launch Synthetic Messenger, a botnet boost for climate news. Commissioned by Eindhoven’s STRP Festival, the botnet artificially inflates the value of articles on climate change with advertisement clicks. It’s a “second-order climate engineering scheme” that manipulates the algorithmic systems that shape narratives, state the artists. “What if media itself were a form of climate engineering, a space where narrative becomes ecology?”

May 2021
“I had almost given up thinking anyone would see my physical and digital sculptures on equal footing. But right now, the digital ones are more important, and after twenty years of seeing digital art sidelined, I find that exciting and very welcome!”
Auriea Harvey, on how NFTs have energized her artistic practice. “They’re an opportunity to say something in a louder way,” she tells Charlotte Kent. “Now that people are looking and listening, I want to do something with that attention.”

While researching the CO2 footprint of the Ethereum (ETH) cryptocurrency chain, media artist Kyle McDonald discovered ‘graffiti’ early miners left in ETH blocks using the “extraData” field. “One miner operating in 2016 decided to tell a story: one word per block, over 2.5 months,” McDonald writes on Twitter. “Maybe one of the slowest monologues ever” was mined over 129 blocks for 648 ETH and had a happy ending: “it looks like they cashed out early this year, for around half a million USD.”

“A suggestive allegory for how personal memories, past lives, and documentation intersect on the plane of individual psychology, Gysin’s The Last Museum could not have anticipated the spatial and temporal bardo that is the World Wide Web.”
– Curator Nadim Samman, on how cult author and artist Brion Gysin’s semi-fictional 1985 memoir inspired his eponymous online exhibition at KW Digital

A vision of a post-anthropocentric kinship future, Superflux’s immersive installation Invocation for Hope premieres at the Vienna Museum of Applied Arts as part of the Biennale for Change. Set to an original soundscape by Cosmo Sheldrake, the London-based speculative design studio charts a path through a burnt forest destroyed by wildfire so that visitors may experience its restoration as they walk towards the centre. Here, a pool invites reflection, “as part of the planet, not masters of it.”

“There’s a kinship with some of my collaborative art projects, where users inhabit these extremely technical and often quite sterile, even hostile, environments like a phone interface. ‘Push 1 if X, push 2 if Y, push 3 if Z’—one of the most hated technological inventions of our age.”
– DEL Resident Emmanuel Madan, on the dialpad interface at the heart of Artwork_local404, a speculative union for artists

Featuring three new browser-based works by Mary Maggic (Estroworld Now: Quarantine Edition, image), Luiza Prado de O. Martins, and Sissel Marie Tonn, “Toxicity’s Reach” launches as part of AND 2021. Channelling the history of industrial pollution of the River Mersey in Liverpool—this year’s home of the nomadic festival—the Dani Admiss-curated online exhibition asks how “contaminants of emerging concern (CECs)” such as microplastics, fertilizers, and pharmaceuticals in our waterways affect us biologically, socially, and ideologically.

SAMSUNG MEANS REBIRTH premieres, as part of the 11th Seoul Mediacity Biennale. Squarely focused on South Korea’s most prominent technology multinational, Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries’ seven-episode video series offers an unflinching look at Samsung’s fervent corporate ethos and poses related questions of labour and value. In the first episode “The Executive,” tales of obedience and overreach are spelled out in big punchy typography—bleak narratives of corporatized death and devotion, synchronized with a jazzy score.

“They use memes and laser eyes and are hooked on the inevitability of their vindication; this curiously masculine trait of just believing that if you can convince yourself that something is real, everyone else will believe you, and many men my age do.”
Tobias Revell, on encountering “crypto theologians” on Twitter, “a slightly less bad version of 4chan trolls but legitimised because they’ve read James C. Scott and get invited to speak at tech conferences.”

International researchers have compiled an atlas of microorganisms residing in subways (or mass transit) in major urban centres. Building on enthusiasm for geneticist Christopher Mason’s 2015 research on microbes in New York City’s subway system, this study dispatched teams of scientists and volunteers to swab turnstiles, railings, ticket kiosks, and benches inside transit stations and subway cars in 60 cities. Their findings, published in Cell, include the discovery of 10,000 previously unidentified species of viruses and bacteria.

“Our stories, especially our deep stories, are the algorithms that instruct us how to be in the world.”
Stephanie Dinkins, on Secret Garden, her immersive web experience that premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. The culmination of residency with Nokia Bell Labs Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.), Dinkins’ floral estate invites visitors to explore oral histories spanning generations of Black women. Contemplating this and other Dinkins works, writer Alex Estorick concludes “her ultimate achievement is to defeat epistemic violence by envisioning deep understanding.”

Seoul-based artist duo Kimchi and Chips transforms a pedestrian bridge in Gwanmyeong, Gyeonggi-do province, South Korea, into a dynamic op-art display by adding a kinetic light artwork as a permanent outdoor fixture. Optical Rail features a more than 11-meter-wide band of backlit monochromatic patterns that are distorted by a motorised array of Acrylic lenses. As the array moves across the patterns, the lenses “decode a layer of time stored in static images, rendering a duet between the motion-ful and the motionless.”

Christian Stiegler
The 360° Gaze
Reconsidering notions of immersion in media, in light of developments including binge-watching, rabbit holing, rabid fandom, and ‘extended’ reality
“Thousands of Berliners had waited in line to see the Neues Museum reopen to the public but Egyptians had waited almost a century for her return.”
– Historian Sarah E. Bond, on the century-plus saga of cultural plunder that began with the excavation and depatriation of the Nefertiti bust in 1912. In an article that starts as a chronicle of cultural colonialism, Bond uses Nora Al-Badri and Jan Nikolai Nelle’s 2015 3D-scan of the bust to raise broader questions of heritage and sovereignty.

Curated by Hashim Sarkis, dean of MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning, the 17th Venice Biennale of Architecture opens, asking “How Will We Live Together?” Among the 112 participants are Ani Liu (A. I. Toys), Dani Ploeger (A Space War Monument), Pinar Yoldas (Hollow Ocean), and Superflux (Refuge for Resurgence), offering evocative visions of planetary restoration. “At this moment, we are tired of dystopias,” Sarkis told Architectural Record. “We were looking for signs of hope and optimism, and we found a lot of it.”

“A raven is seated on a high perch next to a mushroom; a rat has a wasp and a fox as neighbours. Each setting at the table has been carefully tailored to fit its occupant—a walnut on a slice of bread for one, a chunk of tasty wood for another.”
Josie Thaddeus-Johns, on Superflux’s Refuge for Resurgence installation at this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale. The dinner table “at the end of the world” imagines a multi-species meeting after the current era of human domination.

Hundred Rabbits reveals uxn, an 8-bit virtual computer and new forever home of their eccentric software; a (truly) back to basics approach, it shifts from dependency to “longtermism.” Building on work with 6502 assembly (of NES fame), uxn—new tools built by the duo—is lightweight enough to run on NintendoDS or Rasperry Pi. “Most software is designed to run on disposable electronics and near impossible to maintain, we decided to not participate in this race to the bottom,” they summarize.

“Historians of hegemonic U.S. ideologies, from Frederick Douglass to Cedric Robinson, can help us see how the growth imperative is bolstered by racialized theories of human evolution, of capitalism as economy, and of imperialism.”
– Environmental anthropologist Valerie Olson, on the origins of modern economic dogma and the alternative imaginaries it will take to dislodge them
Slanted #37
Artificial Intelligence
An extensive survey of how AI and machine learning are changing art, design, and society at large, featuring the work of Jon McCormack, Sofia Crespo, Douglas Coupland, and many others
“Sadly, Christie’s missed the huge opportunity to get this right. However one feels about NFTs, Warhol’s Amiga images are a unique discovery. In their haste to take advantage of the NFT hype, they neglected to do the basic research that these works deserved.”
Golan Levin, chiding the auction house for ignoring the “material conditions” of Andy Warhol’s 1985 Amiga works by selling “altered, 2nd generation near-copies” as NFTs

Bringing together artists Sidsel Meineche Hansen, Rachel Rose, and Jisun Kim, “Host Modded” opens at Seoul’s Art Sonje Center. The trio draw on an eclectic mix of source material including a 3D model of Keanu Reeves (Hansen), Philip Johnson’s iconic Glass House (Rose), and AIBO the robotic dog (Kim) while exploring notions of space and embodiement. In aggregate the works ask “whether advancements in technology have modded us into people who perceive in disparate ways,” writes curator Hyo Gyoung Jeon.

“I wish people knew that I am not just a random ice ball. I am actually a beautiful planet.”
– Pluto, articulating mild insecurities as formulated by Language Model for Dialogue Applications (LaMDA), Google’s new conversation AI, which spoke ‘as’ the dwarf planet during a public demo

Satellite imagery of Gaza is conspicuously low quality compared to other dense cities. For the BBC, Christopher Giles and Jack Goodman detail why this lack of hi-res up-to-date images matters, and how the blurry state of Google and Apple’s satellite photography impedes journalists and human rights activists from keeping tabs on Israeli violence against architecture and infrastructure. “I see no reason why commercial imagery of this area should continue to be deliberately degraded,” comments investigator Nick Waters.

“Light festivals have become popular venues for promoting light art, but in most cases the audience is being misled. Light shows don’t obtain aesthetic, intellectual, or cultural value simply because the tag ‘art’ is assigned to them!”
– 100+ artists including fuse*, HC Gilje, Refik Anadol, and TUNDRA in the first-ever Light Art Manifesto. Released on the International Day of Light, it calls for better curation and more acknowledgment of the genre’s pioneers. [quote edited]

“The Paradox of Stillness: Art, Object, and Performance” opens at Minneapolis’ Walker Art Center. Curators Vincenzo de Bellis and Jadine Collingwood mine the gap between ”still life and the living picture” through works by 60 artists active over a half century—from Joan Jonas to Jordan Wolfson. The strangeness of Haegue Yang’s Sonic Intermediates (2020, image) captures the lines blurred within the show—interactive, ‘viewers’ turn its eccentric forms, sounding metallic tones and textures.

Marking the 37th birthday of Mark Zuckerberg, The Wrong kicks off a four-week long 24/7 stream of Ben Grosser’s ORDER OF MAGNITUDE (2019), a 47-minute supercut of every time the Facebook CEO said the words “more,” “grow,” or metrics such as “one billion” between 2004 and 2019. The piece premiered as part of arebyte On Screen and “acts as a lens on what Mark cares about, how he thinks, and what he hopes to attain.” Now you can now subject yourself to 750 minutes of it—it’s “more more than ever before.”

“I really don’t know what’s behind these videos and reports, and I relish that. In this case, that is my bias: I enjoy the spaciousness of mystery.”
– Journalist Ezra Klein, on the recent wave of declassified videos showing unidentified flying objects that senior military officials admit they can’t explain. “Even if you think all discussion of aliens is ridiculous, it’s fun to let the mind roam over the implications.”

Hailing from the future, Mapping Festival “2051” returns to Geneva with “deviant art and electronics.” Over the course of ten days, works by Frederik de Wilde, Anne Horel, Jonghong Park, 1024 Architecture, Cie Ultra and others are exhibited and performed across the city. Robert Seidel, for example, is set to project his light work Tempest onto lake Geneva’s iconic water fountain while onshore, Ted Häring’s totemic sound sculpture ANTNA (image) imitates the “disturbing majesty” of cellular 4G/5G antennas.

“To consider the history of computing through the lens of computer pain is to center bodies, users, and actions over and above hardware, software, and inventors.”
– Scholar Laine Nooney, following the “tide of bodily dysfunction that none of us opted into” all the way to the beginning of the information age. “That pain in your neck, the numbness in your fingers, has a history far more widespread and impactful than any individual computer or computing innovator.”

Sarah Friend launches Off, an NFT project that is artist edition, artwork, and multiplayer game all at once. 255 collectables, each the exact pixel dimension of various computer, smartphone, and tablet screens, contain both a public and a secret image. Hidden across all secret images is an encrypted essay and its key. With a majority of key shards required to decrypt the hidden sentences, the essay is revealed only if enough collectors are willing to share their images. “Will you choose to cooperate or defect?”

“That would be the one thing I’d love to leave the audience with: this idea that to be a true anticapitalist you appropriate the means of production. That’s what I’ve always pursued—and queer it, if you can.”
– “Famous New Media Artist” Jeremy Bailey, in conversation with Artengine’s Ryan Stec in the first of a series of Digital Economy Lab ‘exit interviews’

Songs of the Humpback Whale made waves in the 1970s, shaping new age culture and the environmental movement. For e-flux, Alaina Claire Feldman offers a definitive history—delving into the album’s cold war origins (surveillance for Russian submarines) and its artifice (assembled in an editing suite). Framing whales as “barometers of the traffic and health of our oceans,” she describes the “minor listening” we do, in reconstructing the ocean’s soundscape for human consumption.

“What if, instead of focusing on production capacity and economic growth, we started to take attempts to measure internal transformation more seriously? One result might be that more countries adopt universal healthcare, free education, and a higher minimum wage.”
– Writer and critic Chloe Stead, challenging our obsession with external growth and the notion that happiness can be measured in GDP

A trail of early and recent cryptoart laid out by curator Kenny Schachter, “Breadcrumbs: Art in the Age of NFTism” opens at Cologne’s Galerie Nagel Draxler. Works by 16 artists including Rhea Myers, Kevin Abosch, Anna Ridler, and Sarah Friend are presented in an eccentric installation—photos, paintings, objects, and screens are augmented with written commentary—and soon as NFTs. “The show will put to rest two demonstrably false assumptions: that this is a fad, and/or not art,” writes Schachter.

“Nakajima said he doesn’t know how long he’ll keep Soya alive. But he said he’s grateful for the way she helped him feel: carefree, adventurous, seen.”
– Reporters Drew Harwell and Shiori Okazaki, about 50-year-old Japanese man Yasuo Nakajima, who transformed himself into the young female biker Soya no Sohi using FaceApp. When Nakajima came clean in March, his myriad Twitter followers liked him even more.

Digital art pioneer Manfred Mohr celebrates the 50th anniversary of his solo show “Computer Graphics: Une Esthétique Programmée,” that opened at ARC Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris, on May 11, 1971. “I showed around 25 computer generated pen plotter drawings and demonstrated the use of a flat-bed plotter,” Mohr reminisces in his newsletter. “Thanks to the incredible foresight of Pierre Gaudibert, founder and director of ARC, this show became the first one-person show of digital art in a museum.”

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