On the chance that you’ll be headed through the midwest this week, I want to invite you to the opening of Buildering: Misbehaving the City at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati this Friday. The exhibition features a new performance work commissioned from Knifeandfork, my partnership with Sue Huang. In Arrangement for Building we have a chamber orchestra repeatedly perform Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition – the musicians are in sync temporally (via a network of Raspbery Pi computers) but are spatially distributed throughout the Zaha Hadid-designed building, playing in both the galleries and more interesting spaces like the elevator and the machine room. I’m excited to experience the result. We’re taking an experimental approach to documentation, and hopefully we’ll get that up soon if you won’t be able to stop by…
I am very excited to be teaching an experimental EPSCOR/NSF-funded course at RISD this semester, along with the ecological designer Bryan Quinn. It’s called Ecocentric Practices:
Marine ducks travel great distances, inhabit multiple ecosystems, and are susceptible to a variety of human-related threats that have likely led to recent and drastic population decline in many species. Working closely with wildlife biologists, emerging technology, and data sets, studio participants will explore alternative methods to communicate ecocentric themes related to marine duck populations through studio work, field observation/study in coastal Rhode Island, and interaction with a diverse group of artists, designers, and scientists.
This studio is open to all mediums and no technical experience is required. However, we will spend time with geospatial systems (such as GIS) and open source tools such as Python and Processing. Theoretical grounding will be provided through readings of key texts in ecology, geography, data visualization, media theory, philosophy, illustration, and a survey of the wide range of artistic and design practices engaged with the biosphere. Students will also utilize to-be-determined hardware capable of collecting scientific data.
Students will work in a workshop-type environment that leverages individual interests. Student projects will encourage public dialogue about marine ducks. Student work will be compiled for a public exhibition at the end of the course.
These photos come from our first field trip, observing ducks on Bold Point and at Sachuest with Peter Paton of URI.
If, as Bifo says, “The idea that the future will be better than the present is not a natural idea, but the imaginary effect of the peculiarity of the bourgeois production model” and yet we have watched the horizon of the future crumble into the network, as (smart) dust, a layer that receives impressions but no deeper, then, (like the songs by YACHT) Utopia and Dystopia are now one, and the old bourgeois production model is over. It has been superseded by consumption on the level of gesture, to ‘like’, to tweet, to vibrate, co-mimesis between body and image, data and action, through reflexivity and recursion. Network protocols have become means of social control. By whom? A central authority? Or by the mass of impassioned churn itself? Is it or is it not self-regulating, a ‘natural’ order like geese optimized in a V for flight? Though I would like to consider myself a cybernetician, I think that self-regulation is also a dream, one of a global capitalism in denial of global climate change. To abandon the future now is dangerous. The present without a future is called feudalism. Material force, consciously strategized or not, undergirds protocological relationships, and it remains political. The body remains at stake, though there are many ways of conceiving of a body. My work has been about exaggerated couplings for the purpose of recognizing networks (e/a)ffects. They are documentary design fictions. They are systems, not objects, that implicate different bodies in relationships where control is subtley present, ambivalent, and mediated by code. It is my body, re-performing its own data exhaust, owning (or haunted) by its encoding. It is an architectural or geographic community, reading and writing its space, but this time fragmented and folded by network conduits. It is an ecosystem in which there are no natural materials, only natural processes, animal technology. But recognition is unsatisfying, I’m still caught. I think I need a new new aesthetic, that eschews hybrid spaces for new wholes. Can we have a new, critical futurism? Like how George Clinton and Kraftwerk, stuck in an elevator together, were forced to communicate via a synthesizer, transmogrifying the space ‘race’, we’re stuck in a gallery with a coyote, an atomic clock, 6 bitcoins and a vinyl lathe. Is it enough to calm the enraged Ohmu? Bring it out and into time, for it is, I believe, a aesthetic of rhythm through which the tomb that is the data center can once again spill into the horizon. If space and time have collapsed, it’s because we’re intent on reifying little diamonds to bury in the desert, like squirrels content to die suspended in either the pleasure or fear of their cache. Let’s abandon the desire for an apocalypse, it already happened. Show me a tempo, not the frenetic arrhythmia of Marinetti’s sex/death machine, but a pulse of true love.
Facebook uses face recognition software to identify its users in photos. This works via a ‘template’ of your facial features that is created from your profile images. These features — the distance between your eyes, the symmetry of your mouth — generally do not change over time. Unlike a photograph, which captures some ephemeral expression of who you are at a particular moment, a face recognition template forever remains your portrait. It is all possible photos, taken and untaken, by which you, or someone else, might document your life.
These templates are Facebook’s proprietary data. For a brief period in 2013, users could access their template using the “Download a copy of your Facebook data” option in the settings (it is no longer included in the download). The information is unusable in its raw form without knowing the specifics of Facebook’s algorithm. But as an irrevocable corporate byproduct, the future implications of such data remain unclear.
Eternal Portraits is a series of printed and framed face recognition template data from our friends and ourselves.
This city becomes audible when we become quiet. It’s inhabited by the small creatures, the slow creatures, the imperfect ones, both biological and mechanical, that we depend on, but which we have forgotten.
I’m premiering a new work, a collaboration with Jason Rabie involving digital prints of Facebook face recognition data (will post documentation soon)…
Franklin Street Works presents Neuromast: Certain Uncertainty and Contemporary Art. The group exhibition explores “emergence,” the theory that says unforeseeable results happen when a system reaches a certain level of complexity. The show’s title is inspired by a very specific emergent phenomenon, “neuromast,” which is the sensory organ that allows fish to effectively behave in unison against the threat of predators. Neuromast features sculpture, videos, text-based works, photographs and more by contemporary artists, writers and theorists interested in theories of emergence. Exhibiting artists are: Kari Altmann, Christian Bök and Micah Lexier, Ingrid Burrington, Kaye Cain-Nielsen, Mircea Cantor, hint.fm, David Horvitz, Brian House and Jason Rabie, Juliana Huxtable, Thilde Jensen, Carolyn Lazard, M. M. Mantua, Preemptive Media, Robert Spahr, Elizabeth Stephens and Annie Sprinkle’s Sexecology collaboration, and The Waterwhispers Ilse.
The exhibition is curated by Taliesin Gilkes-Bower and Terri C Smith and is on view from December 12, 2013 through February 23, 2014. It will open with a free, public reception on Thursday December 12 from 5:00 – 8:00 pm. Franklin Street Works is located at 41 Franklin Street, Stamford, Connecticut.
UNDER THE INFLUENCE: curated by Janet Shih and Chihao Yo
OPENING: October 31st, 2013 6pm-8pm
(HALLOWEEN! Costumes welcome)
RUNS: November 1 - December 11
In the GELMAN GALLERY, Chace Center, 2nd Floor
20 North Main Street Providence, Rhode Island.
Featuring YOUR FRIENDS:
Dillon Froelich, Dan Cho, Hala Khoursheed, Stef Liu
Hyo Jin Yoo
Nupur Mathur, Gefeng Wang, Jennifer Vincent
Data are produced by sampling into discrete and countable things a world which is continuous, multiple, and ultimately more nuanced than any possible representation. To sample is to essentialize in some way. It is to turn what is temporal and contingent into something static, categorical, and unchanging.
Thus to sample the world into data both adds something and takes something away. Erasure: we lose the play in phenomena, the multiplicity, the ambiguity and ambivalence. Excess: who has performed the sampling, with what technology, what are the schemata, how and where is it represented and stored, and how is this data been imparted validity? How much is it worth? There is no datum, only the dataset.
Data always speaks of an institution, it is given authority by the discourse of Science or of Industry. It is this that separates data from language — whereas the intersubjective concepts with which we grasp the world are constantly changing but can be changed by no one in particular, data is a private language we take on institutional faith and/or training.
Further, that which is countable is a special class of concept — it is also that which is computable, parsed and calculated. Machine interpretation is second-order interpretation via code. Where do we go from here?
At a certain point, numbers begin to flow again. Colliding schemata become qualitative — surrounded by data, we cannot help but de-sample, intuit, visceralize. Let’s play with that visceralization.