“Palatnik’s device made us think about the artwork in terms of its livelihood, forcing us to consider its mortality and need for rest and repair.”
– MoMA’s Karen Grimson, on Abraham Palatnik’s Kinechromatic Apparatus S-14 (1958), exhibited as part of “Sur moderno: Journeys of Abstraction—The Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Gift,” in a tribute published following the artist’s passing
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“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”

“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.”

DOSSIER:
“Can we place myths about the growing body of artificial intelligence or algorithmic knowledge, in all its obfuscation and enchantment, in parallel to grand narratives of technology?”
– Nora N. Khan, sharing her first HOLO Annual editorial prompt, dealing with enchantment, mystification, and ways of partial knowing

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.

G
“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.

As part of the NEW NOW festival exhibition, Korean-British artist duo Kimchi and Chips launch 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.

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.

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.

“My Future is not a Dream,” a show presenting Cao Fei’s early works opens at Espace Louis Vuitton München. Dealing with the virtualization of place, labour, and leisure, selections include RMB CITY: A Second Life City Planning (2007, image), which depicts the collision of Chinese urban life with immaterial space, and Imbalance 257 (1999), which presciently imagined youth “subjugated by entertainment … disguising themselves as manga or videogame characters to play out a fictional life.”

“Complex systems seek equilibrium. When they are pushed too far out of one equilibrium state, they can flip suddenly into another.”
– Writer and Guardian columnist George Monbiot, on the dangers of climate tipping points. “Just as one continental plate might push beneath another in sudden fits and starts, our atmospheric systems will absorb the stress for a while, then suddenly shift,” he writes. “Yet, everywhere, the programs designed to avert it are linear, smooth, and gradual.”

MIT researchers announce a breakthrough in magnet technology that paves the way to green fusion power. “On Sep 5, a large high-temperature superconducting electromagnet was ramped up to a field strength of 20 tesla, the most powerful magnetic field ever created,” MIT News reports. The new magnet allows far better control of fusion plasma inside a much smaller reactor—a watershed moment for the technology. “None of us are trying to win trophies at this point,” notes MIT’s Maria Zuber. “We’re trying to keep the planet livable.”

“Despite its size, the project is only capable of removing less than one percent of the annual emissions of a single coal-fired power plant. That’s the same amount of greenhouse gas emitted by around 870 cars each year.”
Vice’s Audrey Carleton, on the world’s largest carbon capture facility, Orca, coming online in Iceland. Operated by the Swiss engineering startup Climeworks, the ‘direct air capture’ plant filters CO2 from the atmosphere and stores it deep underground.

Focusing on stewardship, eco-aesthetics, and inter-species communication, “gREen” opens at Munich’s Muffatwerk. Curated by Jens Hauser and featuring Adam Brown, Thomas Feuerstein, and Agnes Meyer-Brandis, the show is presented as a garden, foregrounding climate politics in the art-science space. Meyer-Brandis’ ONE TREE ID (2021, image) allows visitors to don a perfume synthesized from a tree’s unique Volatile Organic Compound signature and, once scented, engage in biochemical conversation with plants.

For the New York Times, James Gorman profiles a geneticist team led by Christopher B. Kaelin and their recent findings in cat coat pattern formation. An instance of reaction diffusion (formulated in Alan Turing’s 1952 paper “The Chemical Basis of Morphogenesis”), embryonic analysis of 200 kitten litters identified Dkk4, the gene that acts as an inhibitor to create “spots, stripes, and everything in between,” and how tissues lay the groundwork for those patterns—before hair or hair follicles appear.

“English is the sharpest of all instruments of control in a world where narratives are the building blocks of history and history is weaponized by hegemonic powers.”
– Translator Sophie Hughes on what is lost to the global anglophone publishing machine. “We need writing translated,” she writes, “Yet, in a world dominated by the English language and anglophone culture, translating into English increases the risk of original works being not just transformed, but traduced.”

Alex Schweder’s “The Sound and the Future” opens at Clifford Gallery in Hamilton, New York. Its name borrowed from its lone work, the exhibition offers a fun glimpse into Schweder’s world of “performnace architecture”—dynamic architectural and sculptural forms. Here, a made-to-order very Detroit installation, first shown at Wasserman Projects (2016, image) sways again; a homage to Motor City’s dance music genre, silvery nylon inflatables undulate, animated by blown air, to a slowed down techno soundtrack.

A phoenix rising from literal ashes, the 34th Bienal de São Paulo kicks off. As described in an e-flux announcement, its curators were inspired in resilience beyond COVID-19: a 2018 fire that burnt Museu Nacional in Rio de Janeiro to the ground. Drawing on an artifact pulled from the museum’s ruins completely intact, the 2 metric ton Santa Luzia iron meteorite has become a de facto biennale mascot, and it sits prominently at the entrace to the flagship exhibition “Though it’s dark, still I sing.”

“I really see Larva Labs as having defined the form—they made the Citizen Kane. But they made it three or four years ago and there hasn’t been a project that’s pushed the state of the art since.”
– Pseudonymous NFT collector 4156, tipping his hat to Larva Labs and citing Cryptopunks (2017) as the precedent for his recent Nouns DAO project, which rethinks the governance, economy, and duration mechanics of on-chain avatar communities

Canadian software artist Sarah Friend hatches her latest blockchain-based social experiment called Lifeforms, a series of NFT-based entities that, “like any living thing, need regular care in order to thrive.” If not given away within 90 days of receiving it, a lifeforms will die and no longer appear in wallets. The first batch is currently in foster care at Kunstverein Hamburg as part of the “Proof of Stake” group exhibition. “After this, these lifeforms will continue their perilous journey through many hands.”

“There is a cultural shift that acknowledges that hyperspecialization—the trend towards narrower fields of expertise—is not going to answer all of our urgent questions. We know we need better understanding between specialisations, too.”
– Artist and environmental activist Kat Austen, on the emergence of interdisciplinary practice “as a means of creating otherwise inaccessible knowledge” needed to affect people’s decision and policy making

Art in America Assistant Editor Emily Watlington considers Los Angeles artist Alison O’Daniel’s latest installation. For “I Felt People Dancing,” the hard-of-hearing artist engaged Kunsthalle Osnabrück (a former monastary) by inviting two local Deaf residents to map its acoustics. Of the resulting reverberation symbols on the venue’s carpet, Watlington writes they “capture the absurd chaos of the building’s acoustics … the feeling of being hard of hearing in a world chock full of incomprehensible sounds.”

OUT NOW:
Flash Art #336
Titled “Ultra Bodies Ultra Species,” this special issue chronicles the recent turn to the nonhuman and the posthuman in the arts, with insight from Mónica Bello, Pan Daijing, Pakui Hardware, and others
August 2021
“Someone wrote the worst crypto-bot and I’m taking advantage of it. Am I a bad person?”
– Artist Josef Luis Pelz, announcing a bot exploit. The bot in question purchased any NFT he swapped on Hic Et Nunc—so he gamed the whale for 2,379 Tezos ($12K USD).
“Data pointed to online interactions largely mirroring offline behaviour, with people predisposed to aggressive, status-seeking behaviour just as unpleasant in person as behind a veil of online anonymity.”
– Writer Tom McKay, on a new study of online toxicity published in the American Political Science Review. Analysing representative surveys and behavioral studies, Aarhus University researchers were able to debunk the “mismatch hypothesis”—the common assumption that Internet anonymity encourages hostility.

A media art trail of “dreams and utopias” curated by Vesela Stanoeva and Alain Bieber, “Welcome to Paradise” opens at NRW Forum, Düsseldorf. Across the 1,200 square-meter exhibition architecture, visitors will encounter works by over 20 international artists including A.A Murakami, Martin Backes, Sandrine Deumier, Noriyuki Suzuki, and Paola Pinna that explore new forms of spirituality, digital rituals, and physicality in the virtual. “At the end of the journey, paradise awaits—or does it?”

“Hour One doesn’t ask for any particular skills. You just need to be willing to hand over the rights to your face.”
Will Douglas Heaven, MIT Technology Review’s senior editor for AI, on the Israeli-American startup that uses people’s likenesses to create AI-voiced characters that then appear in marketing and educational videos for organizations around the world. “Anyone can apply to become a character,” writes Heaven. “Like a modeling agency, Hour One filters through applicants, selecting those it wants on its books.”
OUT NOW:
Timothy Morton
All Art is Ecological
A playful exploration of the strangeness of living in an age of mass extinction, that shows that emotions and experience are the basis for a deep philosophical engagement with ecology
“What really got me thinking about this is the pandemic and how unprepared the world was. There was no protocol to deal with it effectively, and it’s the same with internet resilience.”
– Computer scientist Sangeetha Abdu Jyothi, on her recent paper “Solar Superstorms: Planning for an Internet Apocalypse” that shows continent-connecting undersea cables being particularly at risk. “Our infrastructure is not prepared for a large-scale solar event,” explains Abdu Jyothi. “We have very limited understanding of what the extent of the damage would be.”

Collaborating with microbiologists at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna (AT), bioartists Anna Dumitriu and Alex May premiere Fermenting Futures at the 15th International Congress on Yeasts. The work explores a Pichia pastoris yeast that Dumitriu and May CRISPR-modified to simultaneously capture carbon and output lactic acid for the creation of biodegradable plastic. The project aims to highlight the potential of yeast—“the workhorse of biotechnology”—and is scheduled for several major exhibitions in 2022.

DOSSIER:
“How do artists, designers, novelists, and theorists ‘record’ within their practice? HOLO invited eight multidisciplinary luminaries to share their research methods, data practice, central software, and information diet.”
– Hosted by Claire L. Evans, HOLO’s MUTEK Recorder is capturing this year’s MUTEK Forum with selected guests. Meet the multidisciplinary luminaries that will join our daily broadcast sessions Aug 24–Sep 02.

“Overground Resistance” opens at MuseumsQuartier Wien’s Q21 exhibition space. Part of Oliver Ressler’s climate justice advocacy, the show includes Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination, Metabolic Studio, and Rachel Schragis. While many exhibitions tackle climate change, this is the first to “focus directly” on activism, the organizers note. Participants Tools for Action’s inflatable shields (image: Red Line Barricade, COP21 protest, 2015), for example, are emblematic of the aesthetics of direct action.

Following a recent rumination on peripheral devices, software designer and researcher Andrew Lovett-Barron weighs in on emergent interaction paradigms for VR. Backing away from his initial skepticism towards the medium, he uses Valve’s Half-Life: Alyx (perhaps the gold standard in VR gaming thus far) to think through the state of nuanced interactions and design constraints. Most metaverse cheerleading skips over the fact that our current interaction paradigms will not facilitate the ‘total immersion’ being promised; taking cues from a colour grading tool and a biomechanical keypad, Lovett-Barron thinks through what “functional immersion,” an immersion as situated in purpose-built hardware as HD graphics, could look and feel like for users.

“There will be programmable electronic canvases. If you wanted to show your paintings in Iceland or the Republic of the Congo, you would just mail your program card. The card would be inserted and the canvas would light up from behind.”
– Media art icon Nam June Paik, on ‘next century’ visual art in “Random Access Information,” a March 25, 1980, MoMA lecture and subsequent Artforum piece that was just republished online

Commissioned for the NRW Forum AR Biennale in Düsseldorf (DE), Lauren Lee McCarthy’s I’m Glad You Asked takes over the museum grounds. One of 19 digital sculptures to be explored outdoors via phone or tablet, McCarthy augments the park’s social landscape by virtually labelling various benches with phrases such as “These seats are reserved for people who have a lot of questions.” People who identify may sit down, inevitably mixing—and chatting—with unaware visitors. “Do you have a lot of questions, too?”

“This camera that you can see on my mask here, is called the Sony Portapak. It was the first consumer video camera.”
– ‘Famous new media artist’ Jeremy Bailey, in an artist talk at Berlin’s panke.gallery, linking the origins of video art with present day computer vision while ‘wearing’ his slide deck on an AR mask

Drawing on recent works by Canadian artists Colton Hash and Freya Olafson, artist and writer Stacy Cann dives into digital materiality for Luma Quarterly. Focusing on how the former represents environmental positionality in installation, and how the latter warps embodiement in XR (image: VR Commodity Manifesto, 2019), Cann considers how her case studies problematize the digital, confound viewer expectations, and “give us separation from the subject to consider how we act ethically towards the other, even when they are not human.”

“Leaving your mark can also be acting responsibly and making contributions to our environment which have not necessarily got great big signatures written all over them.”
– British architect David Chipperfield, on his firm’s 6-year renovation of the Ludwig Mies van der Rohe-designed Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin (due to reopen on Aug 22). “We live in a society that is obsessed with the new,” he tells Chloe Stead. “I think the next stage of our civilization is going to be defined as much by us knowing how to protect things while we develop.”

In an interview conducted in the wake of her current solo show, “Twisted,” at New York’s New Museum, American media artist Lynn Hershman Leeson reflects on five decades of interrogating emerging technologies. Known for making poignant statements about surveillance, bioengineering, and AI (image: Seduction of a Cyborg, 1994), Leeson notes that “every single advancement in technology had its base in warfare. There’s an inherent strand in the DNA of these inventions that leads them to assault. We have to cure that.”

“It’s probably not a coincidence that three of the largest social networks in the world all announced a raft of child-safety features in the summer of 2021. So what could have prompted the changes?”
– Technology Editor Alex Hearn, noting a string of changes to how Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok engage young users (e.g. the latter will no longer send push notifications to teens after 9 or 10pm) just as the UK begins enforcing the Age-Appropriate Design Code of Practice, guidelines spun out of the EU’s GDPR data protection law
OUT NOW:
Ruben Pater
CAPS LOCK
A rigorous examination of the inextricable links between graphic design and capitalism that details how “design is locked in a system of exploitation and profit, a cycle that fosters inequality and the depletion of natural resources”
“I’m stunned that they forced the removal of our ‘solidarity with Palestine’ statement which forms part of our exhibition. That they did so following the pressure from a lobbying group known to platform the extreme-right settler movement in Israel is an affront to human rights, in Palestine and elsewhere.”
Forensic Architecture’s Eyal Weizman, on the group’s decision to (temporarily) close “Cloud Studies” at Manchester’s Whitworth gallery

“Spirits Roaming on the Earth,” the first major survey show of American artist Jacolby Satterwhite opens at Pittsburgh’s Miller ICA. Providing a chronology of the artist’s signature fusion of world building, mythology, and Queer theory, and interpretations of his Mother’s drawings, in mixed-media works spanning installation to VR and CGI (image: Black Luncheon, 2020), Satterwhite “transforms existential uncertainty into a generative engine of resilience, reinvention, and celebration.”

“You want to be able to manage the risk you’re taking on. You don’t want to have one hundred percent of your net worth invested in the profile picture project of the week—it’s not a tenable position to be in.”
– Pseudonymous cryptocurrency pundit DCinvΞstor, unironically advising NFT buyers against putting tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars into post-CryptoPunks collectible avatar projects, in the current overheating market that has been christened “JPEG Summer”

“Error & Power” opens at Artcore Gallery, Derby (UK), presenting the output of Naho Matsuda and Neale Willis’ residency. For nearly a year, the two artists explored “spaces of chance” and “the potential for mistakes and errors to shape their work,” writes curator Aisling Ward. Matsuda’s Blue Girl, for example, reimagines the ‘learning test’ of Stanley Milgram’s Obedience Experiment, while Willis’ placement of .JPG and Untitled computer equipment (image) manifests symbols of cybernetic serendipity.

“I’m surrounded by emojis and eyeball wallpaper, tiny caricatures of our collective human experience, and I am told that every single one of my emotions is, or already has been, for sale. I am not in control. Still, I am complicit.”
Saira Ansari, on the Shumon Basar, Douglas Coupland, and Hans Ulrich Obrist-curated “Age of You” exhibition at Jameel Arts Centre, Dubai. “The show hints at being democratic with fear and rage,“ Ansari observes in her ambivalent review. “It’s successful with the former, lax with the latter.”

Showcasing artists including Chim↑Pom, Hasan Elahi, and Eisa Jocson, “Adorable Big Brother: On Never Being Able to be Alone Again” opens at the ACC in Gwangju (KR). Ambivalent in tone, the exhibition explores surveillance “from production to consumption, control to exclusion.” Zheng Mahler’s 3D animation The Master Algorithm (2019), for example, sardonically embodies China’s technocratic AI arms race and social credit system as Qiu Hao, a virtual figure that “mutates, grows and disappears into clouds of data.”

“I don’t want Liyla to be relevant anymore. I want this game to be a part of history, not a part of the present time.”
– Palestinian software engineer Rasheed Abueideh, on the timeliness of Liyla and the Shadows of War, his 2016 videogame about a father’s (futile) attempts to protect his daughter during the 2014 bombings of the Gaza Strip. “In this game, even if you think that you have a choice, you don’t,” he says. “You’re powerless and weak. I wanted the players to get a glimpse of that feeling.”

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