Cory Arcangel, Century 21. Online version of the exhibition at Greene Naftali, New York, March 5 – April 17, 2021
FERAL ATLAS. The More-Than-Human Anthropocene. Curated and Edited by Anna L. Tsing, Jennifer Deger, Alder Keleman Saxena and Feifei Zhou, Stanford University Press 2021
Feral Atlas invites you to explore the ecological worlds created when nonhuman entities become tangled up with human infrastructure projects. Seventy-nine field reports from scientists, humanists, and artists show you how to recognize “feral” ecologies, that is, ecologies that have been encouraged by human-built infrastructures, but which have developed and spread beyond human control. These infrastructural effects, Feral Atlas argues, are the Anthropocene.
Playful, political, and insistently attuned to more-than-human histories, Feral Atlas does more than catalog sites of imperial and industrial ruin. Stretching conventional notions of maps and mapping, it draws on the relational potential of the digital to offer new ways of analyzing—and apprehending—the Anthropocene; while acknowledging danger, it demonstrates how in situ observation and transdisciplinary collaboration can cultivate vital forms of recognition and response to the urgent environmental challenges of our times.
Silvio Lorusso, The User Condition. Computer Agency and Behavior, 2020
“ogni cosiddetto “fatto”, se ne facciamo esperienza attraverso i media, soggiace alle regole dello storytelling. Ogni fatto che ci arriva attraverso i media è dunque “costruito”, che sia vero o meno. Poiché oggi del mondo facciamo solo in minima parte esperienza diretta, vedendolo e percependolo con i nostri organi di senso, mentre nella stragrande maggioranza dei casi ci arriva mediato da qualche forma di tecnologia (dalle notizie in TV alle storie degli amici su Instagram), non è necessario essere dei complottisti o degli gnostici per dire che il nostro mondo è sempre comunque “costruito”.
In secondo luogo credo che il ritorno delle mitologie gnostiche sia dovuto al carattere sempre più strano e implausibile della nostra realtà, nella quale capitano eventi tanto improbabili che è talvolta più facile credere alla fiction piuttosto che immaginare che tutto ciò stia succedendo davvero […] la realtà sembra meno plausibile dello storytelling attraverso cui ci viene raccontata, che è politicamente, socialmente e culturalmente “costruito”. Ci troviamo di fronte a un vero e proprio bias della conferma, a causa del quale realtà considerate troppo fuori dall’ordinario sono più difficili da considerare “vere” di un racconto della realtà che si adegua alle nostre aspettative anche se non ha più alcuna attinenza con il mondo reale.” Gianluca Didino, “La tana del bianconiglio: teorie del complotto e gnosticismo“, in L’indiscreto, 15 giugno 2020
Nicolas Nova & DISNOVATION.ORG (eds.), A Bestiary of Anthropocene, Onomatopee 2021
A BESTIARY OF THE ANTHROPOCENE seeks to capture this precise moment when the biosphere and technosphere merge and mesh into one new hybrid body. What happens when technologies and their unintended consequences become so ubiquitous that it is difficult to define what is “natural” or not? What does it mean to live in a hybrid environment made of organic and synthetic matter? What new specimens are currently populating our planet at the beginning of the 21st century?
True Fake: Troubling the Real in Artists’ Films. Programmed by Lukas Brasiskis for e-flux, from February 9 through April 20, 2021. With films and videos by Larry Achiampong and David Blandy, Peggy Ahwesh, Eric Baudelaire, Filipa César and Louis Henderson, Micaela Durand and Daniel Chew, Harun Farocki, Omer Fast, Johan Grimonprez, Louis Henderson, Chris Kennedy, Manu Luksch, Sara Magenheimer, Chris Marker, Jesse McLean, Alison Nguyen, Sondra Perry, Forensic Architecture and Praxis Films, Walid Raad, Hito Steyerl, and Peter Watkins.
Making and Breaking, Issue 02: The Post-Contemporary
Manuela Pedrón Nicolau and Jaime González Cela (curated by), The Great Conspiracy. A virtual exhibition on the internet’s hidden mechanisms, 2021
Zhang Ga (curated by), We=Link: Sideways, Chronus Art Center (CAC), Shanghai, November 21, 2020 – May 23, 2021
Michael Connor, Baoyang Chen and Taiyun Kim (curated by), World On A Wire, 2021. Online / offline exhibition
Anthropocene On Hold is a bilingual catalogue (English-Greek) created on the occasion of the online exhibition under the same title, organized by Polyeco Contemporary Art Initiative PCAI from May 14, 2020 to February 28, 2021 on PCAI’s YouTube Channel. The Anthropocene (/ænˈθrˈp.əˈsiˈn) was popularised as an environmental term in the dawn of the 21st century by Paul Crutzen, the Dutch Nobel laureate and pioneer on atmospheric chemistry; it constitutes a proposed geological epoch that starts with the beginning of the first important human impact on Earth’s geology and ecosystems, including climate change caused by human activity.
“(the pandemic) has slowed things down and people come face-to-face with themselves and it’s scary. People are going nuts and they’re looking for any entertainment or any kind of thing to escape just being by themselves and thinking about things. And we’re all sorta like that. It’s really tough to be on your own. Because it causes something to happen. Things slow down and you find yourself with yourself. But I think something really good is gonna come on the other side of this pandemic and all the changes that are going on. A good time is coming for us all.” Ross Simonini, ‘Daydreaming Is So Important To Me’: How David Lynch Fishes For Ideas, in Art Review, 05 January 2021
“Far more high-tech than anything we have seen during previous disasters, the future that is being rushed into being as the bodies still pile up treats our past weeks of physical isolation not as a painful necessity to save lives, but as a living laboratory for a permanent — and highly profitable — no-touch future.” Naomi Klein, Screen New Deal, in The Intercept, May 8, 2020
““the Critical Zone cannot be escaped, cannot be judged from a distance.” There is no planetary view from without, only a variety of partial ones while enmeshed within.
This is why the arts play such an important role across this book. Aesthetics render these complex co-dependencies across different scales sensible and apprehensible. They are a vital tool in helping those floating in space become “terrestrial”—the third key concept structuring the book along with Gaia and critical zones. The terrestrial designates a kind of emergent possibility in which awareness of Gaia and the political combine, beyond the current disjunction between the world many humans live in (one of property rights, globalized consumptions, hard borders, and so on) and the finite and fragile world they live from.” Sam Solnick, Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel (Eds.), Critical Zones, in Art Agenda, December 21, 2020
Travess Smalley, Painting Software, 2020
Tomás Saraceno & Erik Morse, “Art in the Aerocene”, in Art Agenda, November 25, 2020
Nye Thompson & UBERMORGEN, UNINVITED, 2020
An invisible networked super-organism oscillates between anxiety, lust, and horror. Described by the artists as ‘a radically new creature looking at the world and nothing makes sense,’ the synthetic organism apprehends the universe through millions of hallucinogenic virally abused (CCTV) sensors.
Thompson & UBERMORGEN’s life-form continually evolves by using human and machine learning. It defines its own existence and distributed agency through undergoing fear, instability, aggression, and vulnerability. UNINVITED can be experienced as a horror film, an online experience (web), and an installation (currently in the UK and Romania).
“How can we rethink the conditions for a political imaginary capable of structural transformation and justice for human and nonhuman alike? What is at the heart of current debates on the human? What political imaginaries have enabled the current wave of xenophobic and neo-colonial dehumanisation? How can the arts respond to what may be termed a crisis in humanity?” Parse Journal, Issue 12, Autumn 2020
Rosemary Lee, Machine Learning and Notions of the Image, PHD Thesis, University of Copenhagen 2020
Lev Manovich, “Computer vision, human senses, and language of art”, AI & SOCIETY, November 22, 2020.
Danielle Baskin, Goodbye.domains, 2020. A graveyard for good domains you let expire
The peer-reviewed book series CDSMS edited by Christian Fuchs publishes books that critically study the role of the Internet and digital and social media in society. Titles analyze how power structures, digital capitalism, ideology and social struggles shape and are shaped by digital and social media. They use and develop critical theory discussing the political relevance and implications of studied topics. The series is a theoretical forum for Internet and social media research for books using methods and theories that challenge digital positivism; it also seeks to explore digital media ethics grounded in critical social theories and philosophy.
Sebastian Schmieg, Is it time we called it “laborious intelligence”?, in KULTURTECHNIKEN 4.0, October 2020,
Rene G. Cepeda, A Manual for the Display of Interactive New Media Art, 2020
Sam Gaskin, “China’s Post-Intranet Artists Get Personal”, in Ocula, April 27, 2019
Constant Dullaart: This Unjust Mirror, exhibition, Fries Museum, Leeuwarden (NL), October 10, 2020 – February 14, 2021
“DANAE is a digital art network. We exist to expose and elevate computer-generated art and place it in historical context. We believe in fostering creativity, showcasing talent, and promoting the exchange of ideas. We work to connect artists, curators, institutions, avid collectors, and young collectors-to-be. We are a community.” More info
The Anne and Michael Spalter Digital Art Collection (Spalter Digital), is one of the world’s largest private collections of early computer art, comprising over 750 works from the second half of the twentieth century. Spalter Digital, which focuses on plotter drawings but includes other 2D media as well as sculpture and 16mm film, is home to major and iconic examples from key artists in the field.
Toy Philosophy, Reza Negarestani’s blog
“Thanks to his ignorance and moral abjection, Donald Trump represents the true soul of America, the unmovable soul of a population formed by a never-ending sequence of exploitation, oppression, bullying, invasions, and abominable crimes. Nothing but this. There isn’t an alternative America, as many thought in the 1960s and ’70s. There are millions of women and men, mostly nonwhite, who have suffered from American violence, and especially at a certain point in the ’60s and ’70s, fought to reform America to become more human. They failed, because there is no way to reform a nation of bigots and killers.” Franco “Bifo” Berardi, The American Abyss, in e-flux Journal #111, September 2020,
Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2020, selected by Alexandre da Cunha, Anthea Hamilton and Linder
“Art in its new contemporary form is about as relevant as some arcane forms of rock music would have seemed to a punk. The idea of teaching it without the ability to truly dedicate time to the super-subjective potential of any artist now seems laughable and impossible. Contemporary art becomes another historical style with a specific history for study – alongside Rococo and Fauvism.” Liam Gillick and J.J. Charlesworth, “Is This the End of Contemporary Art As We Know It?“, in Art Review, 29 September 2020
“the internet and specifically social media, became an essential way for me to explore inclinations that I otherwise would not have an outlet for.” Juliana Huxtable, quoted in Legacy Russell, “Glitch Throws Shade“, Art Agenda, September 22, 2020
WEIRD SENSATION FEELS GOOD. An exhibition about ASMR (ArkDes, Stockholm, 8 April – 1 November 2020)
ASMR is a term that describes a physical sensation: euphoria or deep calm, sometimes a tingling in the body. In recent years an online audience of millions has grown, dedicated to watching the work of designers and content creators who try to trigger this feeling in their viewers. This is the first museum exhibition dedicated to this feeling and the emerging field of creativity that has grown up around it.
Petzel is pleased to present Downloadable, an online exhibition that offers works available for free and unlimited download, contributed by Petzel artists. The show explores ideas of looking, ownership, and originality as art experiences have been forced into the digital realm.
Xin Wang & Lu Yang, “Digital Reincarnations”, in Art Agenda, October 19, 2020
Human Brains is a program of exhibitions, debates and publishing activities centered on the brain, produced by Fondazione Prada, that will take place from November 2020 to November 2022.
Bret Schneider, “Notes on Dream Journal”, in Caesura, October 26, 2020
Timur Si-Qin, “Heaven is Sick”, excerpt. Essay, coming in 2021
“This time has been many, many things, but in terms of making art, it’s been a moment at which there’s been a huge change in the way that images mean things. Some small examples of that might be: suddenly an aeroplane in the sky takes on a different meaning; suddenly a handle of a gas pump takes on a different meaning; suddenly a runner speeding past you means something different. There’s a massive change in your relationship to the world around you, in terms of what kinds of associations you have, and in the meanings that you ascribe to different things and different kinds of images.” In En Liang, “Trevor Paglen: How COVID-19 Changed the Way We See the World”, in Art Review, 10 September 2020
“Non potete tornare a una vita normale, perché quella che in passato chiamavate “vita normale” non può esistere durante un cambiamento di paradigma, perché anche se le cose sembrano sempre le stesse, non lo sono più. Anche le parole che paiono pronunciate nello stesso modo hanno cambiato senso. Il problema è che nessuno sa quale sarà il nuovo significato.”
“La deriva del migrante verso il nulla è un modello politico migliore di quello del cittadino europeo o nordamericano che vuole semplicemente tornare a casa. Il terrore e il desiderio che animano l’esilio sono più vicini alla mutazione necessaria per affrontare il tunnel in cui ci siamo collettivamente ficcati.”
Paul B. Preciado, “Tornate, sbrigatevi. Ma per andare dove?”, in Internazionale, 21 settembre 2020
“Nature is a badly malfunctioning concept. You can tell because it can mean anything. Nature can mean everything. Nature can mean some things. For example, some sexual acts are defined as natural, others as unnatural. But if Nature is everything, there can be no “unnatural.” If, however, this is true, then Nature has no teeth. There is nothing to bite if everything is your own mouth.” Timothy Morton 2020
CARTHA is a curated platform that focuses on sharing different forms of critical thinking regarding architecture and society. Through opinions, experiences and works, it aspires to map out the contemporary architectural landscape.
“We are living in a new era, one of complete connectivity, where screen space has become seemingly equal to the physical landscape. This surreal shift in evolution brings us into uncharted waters, a new frontier, one for which we are not fully prepared.” Doug Aitken, 2020
“If consumer products have ‘planned obsolescence,’ digital art created with the ‘latest’ technology has its own ‘built-in obsolescence.’ […] did I waste my whole life in the wrong field? It is very exciting to be at the “cutting edge”, but the price you pay is heavy. After 30 years in this field, there are very few artworks I can show to my students without feeling embarrassed. While I remember why there were so important to us at the moment they were made, their low-resolution visuals and broken links can’t inspire students. The same is often true for the “content” of digital art. It’s about “issues,” “impact of X on Y”, “critique of A”, “a parody of B”, “community of C” and so on. It’s almost never about our real everyday life and our humanity. Feelings. Passions. Looking at the world. Looking inside yourself. Falling in love. Breaking up. Questioning yourself. Searching for love, meaning, less alienated life.” Lev Manovich, My Anti-Digital Art Manifesto, September 13, 2020
Tanya Basu, “The internet of protest is being built on single-page websites”, in Technology Review, August 27, 2020
“no matter how optimistic we are about the future of technology, it is rooted in cybernetics, the interaction between technology and human beings. On one hand, technology serves human beings; on the other, it controls human behavior. Communication and control are inextricably linked, and that’s essentially political […] Technology brings order, progress and equal rights; it also fosters new chaos and restrictions. It has the power to destroy us.” In Noor Brara, “‘Communication and Control Are Inextricably Linked’: Artist Cao Fei on How Technology Both Serves and Suppresses Humanity”, in Artnet News, August 18, 2020
“The mechanisms of censorship are often insidious and come today, for example, shrouded in the language of kindness, compassion and the pain of the other. Censorship is frequently pre-emptively internalised – we do not always need platforms to punish us when we say the ‘wrong’ thing; sometimes we know in advance what it is we should or should not say. But art, like life, is often very difficult: It is not up to others to tell us how we should interpret either. We can, and should, trust ourselves (and each other) to deal with the potentially devastating aspects of both.” Nina Power, “How Cancel Culture Made Us Forget the Art of Interpretation“, in Art Review, July 30, 2020
“In the age of social media, users are ‘paying’ (with) attention. A cancellation can reach a critical mass within hours. And this is the unpredictable part. Although users may wish to ‘delete’ evil characters in protest, this is simply not possible within the entertainment industry’s logic. America loves a comeback. And, in the digital age, your past can come back to haunt you anytime. At the moment it is uncertain which logic will win – social media or traditional publishing?” Geert Lovink, “Delete your profile, not people. Comment on cancel culture“, in Eurozine, 4 August 2020
“Internet Ugly, although not the only core aesthetic of the internet, is the one that best defines the internet against all other media. It is certainly the core aesthetic of memetic internet content. The ugliness of the amateur internet doesn’t destroy its credibility because it’s a byproduct of the medium’s advantages (speed and lack of gatekeepers), and even its visual accidents are prized by its most avid users and creators. As opposed to media like TV or print, where the amateurish is marginalized and audience attention centers on mainstream blockbusters, the internet is built to give outsized attention to the amateurish, the accidental, and the surprise hit. Creators with no traditional skill or talent often become online celebrities for their work, and creators with skill or talent often suppress their abilities or manufacture amateurish conditions to better achieve the Internet Ugly aesthetic. But as we’ll see, such work isn’t simple cooption but a creative choice accepted and celebrated by the online audience – so long as it still retains a certain authenticity.” Nick Douglas, “It’s Supposed to Look Like Shit: The Internet Ugly Aesthetic“, in Journal of Visual Culture, December 16, 2014
Future Art Ecosystems (FAE) offers strategic insights to practitioners and organisations across art, science, technology and policy. The inaugural briefing is on Art x Advanced Technologies. FAE is produced by the Serpentine Galleries’ R&D Platform ⬀ and Rival Strategy.
“In the hope of invigorating artistic creation of digital futures at this moment of systemic collapse, we chose 30 daring challengers and transformers, and they will carve out a path towards a more humane vision for the future.” Eyebeam, New York 2020
“the zany more specifically evokes the performance of affective labor—the production of affects and relationships—as it comes to increasingly trouble the very distinction between work and play. This explains why this ludic aesthetic has a noticeably unfun or stressed-out layer to it. Contemporary zaniness is not just an aesthetic about play but about work, and also about precarity, which is why the threat of injury is always hovering about it.” Adam Jasper and Sianne Ngai, “OUR AESTHETIC CATEGORIES: AN INTERVIEW WITH SIANNE NGAI. The cute, the interesting, and the zany“, in Cabinet Magazine, Fall 2011
“Cuteness is a way of aestheticizing powerlessness. It hinges on a sentimental attitude toward the diminutive and/or weak, which is why cute objects—formally simple or noncomplex, and deeply associated with the infantile, the feminine, and the unthreatening—get even cuter when perceived as injured or disabled. So there’s a sadistic side to this tender emotion […] The prototypically cute object is the child’s toy or stuffed animal.” Adam Jasper and Sianne Ngai, “OUR AESTHETIC CATEGORIES: AN INTERVIEW WITH SIANNE NGAI. The cute, the interesting, and the zany“, in Cabinet Magazine, Fall 2011
“Since 2016, Bernard talked often about dreams, and the necessity of dreaming. Industrial capitalism destroys dreams; it produces only consumerism, through the manipulation of attention […] All technologies are primarily dreams, but dreams can also become nightmares — meaning pharmacological.” Yuk Hui, “The Wind Rises: In Memory of Bernard“, in Urbanomic, August 8, 2020
The Julia Stoschek Collection is making its collection of over 860 works by 282 artists available online for free and without any restrictions. As one of the largest private collections of time-based media art in the world, the Julia Stoschek Collection strives to advance the consistent democratization of this art form.
Franco “Bifo” Berardi, Marco Bertoni, Lydia Lunch, Bobby Gillespie, Wrong Ninna Nanna, 2020
The most amazing collection of net-based art worldwide is undergoing a process of redesign. Documentation here
“The subjects of the neoliberal technical-patriarchal societies that Covid-19 is in the midst of creating do not have skin; they are untouchable; they do not have hands. They do not exchange physical goods, nor do they pay with money. They are digital consumers equipped with credit cards. They do not have lips or tongues. They do not speak directly; they leave a voice mail. They do not gather together and they do not collectivize. They are radically un-dividual. They do not have faces; they have masks. In order to exist, their organic bodies are hidden behind an indefinite series of semio-technical mediations, an array of cybernetic prostheses that work like digital masks: email addresses, Facebook, Instagram, Zoom, and Skype accounts. They are not physical agents but rather tele-producers; they are codes, pixels, bank accounts, doors without names, addresses to which Amazon can send its orders.” Paul B. Preciado, “Learning from the virus“, in Artforum, May – June 2020
Paola Manfrin, Maurizio Cattelan, Permanent Food Tumblr Blog, 2013 – ongoing
Paola Manfrin, Interview Match, 2010 – ongoing
LIKELIKE, The Online Museum of Multiplayer Art, 2020
Amanda Lear, Ars Amanda, 1989
Ed Atkins, Performance Capture, 2015 – ongoing. An unfinished, unending work in progress. Video with sound, 1hr40
Valerio Mattioli, Glitch Mixtape, 2020
Dennis Cooper, Zac’s Coral Reef, 2018
Danielle Baskin and Max Hawkins, Quarantine Chat, 2020
Karras et al. and Nvidia, This Person Does Not Exist, 2019
Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier e Edward Burtynsky, Anthropocene, 2019
These Pics Are Composed Of As Many Pixels As There Are Animals Still Alive In These Species, in Design You Trust, September 28, 2019
“Right now, the nature of how we communicate means that we are always in some ways speaking to a mass audience. You’re no longer working on one level, but with an amorphous group of people who are algorithmically oriented to like or dislike something. That is why, on the one hand, performance and media are relevant today.” Terence Trouillot, “‘We Are Always Speaking to a Mass Audience’: MoMA Curator Thomas Lax on the Advantages—and Challenges—of Art in the Digital Age”, in Artnet News, May 21, 2019.
Caterina Barbieri, Ecstatic Computation, 2019
“Is there a way out from this end? Yes, of course: it is you, the unpredictable.” in Franco Berardi Bifo, “Game Over”, e-flux journal, issue 100,
“The key to all of this is the preservation of the experiential integrity of the work. The work can be perfect technology-wise, but if the other aspects of its presentation are not paid close attention to and strictly adhered to, the work loses its power and integrity. The display of any artwork is always a process of translation—it is being shown at a different time to that of its making, and in a different place and moment in history and art history. The key is how to identify the experiential integrity of the work, which we do when we first bring it into the collection, and then to ensure that it is that experiential integrity is kept intact. How this plays out varies according to the work in question, and has to be approached on a strict case by case basis.” In Artspace Editors, “Obsolescence in New Media: On Conservation and Concept with Whitney Curator Chrissie Iles”, in Artspace, April 11, 2019
“È una sorta di “libertà da aeroporto”: in aeroporto forse ci sentiamo liberi, ma non possiamo fare altro che seguire file e linee ben definite, dal check in al controllo di sicurezza, alla porta di imbarco. Così accade nella città: la progressiva espansione delle tecnologie che rendono più facile la vita, diminuisce la nostra libertà. In qualche modo riduce anche la nostra necessità di elaborare e di risolvere problemi, come fosse uno step precedente all’avvento dell’intelligenza artificiale in cui rinunciamo a una parte del nostro potere di prendere decisioni.” In Giulia Ronchi, “Come sarà la Biennale di Shenzhen 2019. La parola al direttore Fabio Cavallucci”, in Artribune, February 27, 2019
Roberto Fassone, a study of invisible skeletons in future ideas, 2019
“we are all compost, not posthuman”. Donna Haraway, “Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene: Making Kin”, in Environmental Humanities, vol. 6, 2015, pp. 159-165.
“The cameras know too much. All cameras capture information about the world—in the past, it was recorded by chemicals interacting with photons, and by definition, a photograph was one exposure, short or long, of a sensor to light. Now, under the hood, phone cameras pull information from multiple image inputs into one picture output, along with drawing on neural networks trained to understand the scenes they’re being pointed at. Using this other information as well as an individual exposure, the computer synthesizes the final image, ever more automatically and invisibly. […] Deepfakes are one way of melting reality; another is changing the simple phone photograph from a decent approximation of the reality we see with our eyes to something much different. It is ubiquitous and low temperature, but no less effective.” Alexis C. Madrigal, “No, You Don’t Really Look Like That. A guide to the new reality-melting technology in your phone’s camera’, in The Atlantic, December 18, 2018
“Art comes out of weird, contradictory forces. I make art for myself, and there’s a small group of people—mostly other artists—that I hope I’m in dialogue with. At the same time, without an audience, it’s annihilated. But I can’t let myself go there, because what people think about the work is potentially so important that if I worry about it, I’ll get too distracted to do anything. I need a degree of distance to maintain focus. Sometimes that distance is just a story you tell yourself, but stories are useful, too. It goes deep quickly, doesn’t it? Maybe I should get back to you after ten years of therapy. Honestly, I’m just grateful that a lot of other people appreciate what I do.” Taylor Dafoe, ‘People Often Get Hung Up on the Search for Meaning’: Artist Seth Price on Why Viewers Don’t Get His Work, in Artnet News, December 17, 2018
“Artists who fetishize the medium, whatever that medium, they’re just generally not good artists. A good artist, a real artist, will reflect on the implications of a technological revolution like AI and they’ll use it to show certain implications on our subjectivity […] Art has only a little bit to do with creating innovative forms or imagining new patterns. Art is rather a kind of empirical philosophy. It’s like doing philosophy through practical means.” Naomi Rea, “Super-Curator Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev Talks About Hito Steyerl’s Latest Work and Why AI Is Actually ‘Artificial Stupidity’”, in Artnet News, November 26, 2018
“In Germany, an opinion poll found that 24 percent of young people expressed the desire to become an artist. I don’t think that suddenly a quarter of all Germans want to be painters or sculptors. Rather, art might seem to be the only way to live a life for yourself in the global economy, as opposed to the dominant so-called service economy in which we work, not for each other but for someone else’s profit. This desire to live otherwise lies behind the worldwide surge in participatory media, from YouTube channels to Snapchatting, and performance. […] In visual activist projects, there is an alternative visual vocabulary emerging. It is collective and collaborative, containing archiving, networking, researching, and mapping among other tools, all in the service of a vision of making change. […] In 1990, we could use visual culture to criticize and counter the way that we were depicted in art, film, and mass media. Today, we can actively use visual culture to create new self-images, new ways to see and be seen, and new ways to see the world. That is visual activism.”
“The role that I’m playing is more of a curator than anything else. The first thing I do is curate the data that the network is going to study, and once the network is trained I also curate the output data, deciding which outputs I am going to keep and whether I want to tweak the training sets so that the network learns something different. So all of the work that I do is really through curation.” Seth Thompson, “The Artist, The Curator, and the Neural Net: A Conversation with Robbie Barrat”, in Paprika!, November 8, 2018.
“Ideology’s ultimate trick has always been to present itself as objective truth, to present historical conditions as eternal, and to present political formations as natural. Because image operations function on an invisible plane and are not dependent on a human seeing-subject (and are therefore not as obviously ideological as giant paintings of Napoleon) they are harder to recognize for what they are: immensely powerful levers of social regulation that serve specific race and class interests while presenting themselves as objective.
The invisible world of images isn’t simply an alternative taxonomy of visuality. It is an active, cunning, exercise of power, one ideally suited to molecular police and market operations–one designed to insert its tendrils into ever-smaller slices of everyday life. […] Machine-machine systems are extraordinary intimate instruments of power that operate through an aesthetics and ideology of objectivity, but the categories they employ are designed to reify the forms of power that those systems are set up to serve.” Trevor Paglen, “Invisible Images (Your Pictures Are Looking at You)”, in The New Inquiry, December 8, 2016
“Neural networks cannot invent their own classes; they’re only able to relate images they ingest to images that they’ve been trained on. And their training sets reveal the historical, geographical, racial, and socio-economic positions of their trainers. […] engineers at Google decided to deactivate the “gorilla” class after it became clear that its algorithms trained on predominantly white faces and tended to classify African Americans as apes.” Trevor Paglen, “Invisible Images (Your Pictures Are Looking at You)”, in The New Inquiry, December 8, 2016
“[…] something completely different happens when you share a picture on Facebook than when you bore your neighbors with projected slide shows. When you put an image on Facebook or other social media, you’re feeding an array of immensely powerful artificial intelligence systems information about how to identify people and how to recognize places and objects, habits and preferences, race, class, and gender identifications, economic statuses, and much more.
Regardless of whether a human subject actually sees any of the 2 billion photographs uploaded daily to Facebook-controlled platforms, the photographs on social media are scrutinized by neural networks with a degree of attention that would make even the most steadfast art historian blush.” Trevor Paglen, “Invisible Images (Your Pictures Are Looking at You)”, in The New Inquiry, December 8, 2016
“What’s truly revolutionary about the advent of digital images is the fact that they are fundamentally machine-readable: they can only be seen by humans in special circumstances and for short periods of time. A photograph shot on a phone creates a machine-readable file that does not reflect light in such a way as to be perceptible to a human eye. A secondary application, like a software-based photo viewer paired with a liquid crystal display and backlight may create something that a human can look at, but the image only appears to human eyes temporarily before reverting back to its immaterial machine form when the phone is put away or the display is turned off. However, the image doesn’t need to be turned into human-readable form in order for a machine to do something with it. […] The fact that digital images are fundamentally machine-readable regardless of a human subject has enormous implications. It allows for the automation of vision on an enormous scale and, along with it, the exercise of power on dramatically larger and smaller scales than have ever been possible.” Trevor Paglen, “Invisible Images (Your Pictures Are Looking at You)”, in The New Inquiry, December 8, 2016
“over the last decade or so, something dramatic has happened. Visual culture has changed form. It has become detached from human eyes and has largely become invisible. Human visual culture has become a special case of vision, an exception to the rule. The overwhelming majority of images are now made by machines for other machines, with humans rarely in the loop. The advent of machine-to-machine seeing has been barely noticed at large, and poorly understood by those of us who’ve begun to notice the tectonic shift invisibly taking place before our very eyes.” Trevor Paglen, “Invisible Images (Your Pictures Are Looking at You)”, in The New Inquiry, December 8, 2016
“A coder in an optical fiber research facility in New Jersey told me, “It can sometimes be really depressing to come to work every day knowing that all of what we do is largely to create an ever more satisfying porn experience in the $29.95-per-month price range.”” Douglas Coupland, “What if There’s No Next Big Thing?”, in e-flux journal, issue 74, June 2016
“The problem is not to recover our “lost” identity, to free our imprisoned nature, our deepest truth; but instead, the problem is to move towards something radically Other. The center, then, seems still to be found in Marx’s phrase: man produces man … For me, what must be produced is not man identical to himself, exactly as nature would have designed him or according to his essence; on the contrary, we must produce something that doesn’t yet exist and about which we cannot know how and what it will be.” Michel Foucault, Remarks On Marx (New York: Semiotext(e), 1991), 121.
“We live in a moment of profound cultural deceleration. The first two decades of the current century have so far been marked by an extraordinary sense of inertia, repetition, and retrospection […] Tune the radio to the station playing the most contemporary music, and you will not encounter anything that you couldn’t have heard in the 1990s. Jameson’s claim that postmodernism was the cultural logic of late capitalism now stands as an ominous portent of the (non)future of capitalist cultural production: both politically and aesthetically, it seems that we can now only expect more of the same, forever.” Mark Fisher, “A social and psychic revolution of almost inconceivable magnitude”: Popular Culture’s Interrupted Accelerationist Dreams, in e-flux journal, issue 46, June 2013
“These exhibitions are full of iPads, computers, screens and simulations. Though most contemporary art exhibitions include digital aspects, from projections to touchscreens, certain tropes have emerged from the networked exhibition, including maps, data visualizations using live data from the web, and clocks. The richness of screen-based work marks a turn in approaches to new media art, from viewers complaining that they work in front of a computer all day, and do not want to see art on it in their free time, to a growing habit of consuming media — Netflix, YouTube — onscreen. What was always at stake in the presentation of new media was differing levels of familiarity with technology among the audience members. That is no longer the issue, but now approaches diverge in relation to the values and effect of these media.” Orit Gat, “Between Delight and Discomfort”, in Flash Art International, Issue 306, January – February 2016
“All the “images,” whether moving or still, that appear in the new archives are variants of digital information. Technically, they are not images at all, but rendered results of computation. […] A modern camera still makes a shutter sound when you press the button, but the mirror that used to move, making that noise, is no longer there. The digital camera references the analog film camera without being the same. In many cases, what we can “see” in the image, we could never see with our own eyes. What we see in the photograph is a computation, itself created by “tiling” different images that were further processed to generate color and contrast. It is a way to see the world enabled by machines.” Nicholas Mirzoeff, How to See the World. An Introduction to Images, from Self-portraits to Selfies, Maps to Movies, and More, Basic Books, New York 2016
“the exhibition does not only present certain images to our gaze, but also demonstrates the technology of presenting, the apparatus and structure of framing, and the mode in which our gaze is determined, oriented, and manipulated by this technology. When we visit an exhibition, we do not only look at the exhibited images and objects, but also reflect on the spatial and temporal relationships between them—the hierarchies, curatorial choices, and strategies that produced the exhibition, and so forth. The exhibition exhibits itself before it exhibits anything else. It exhibits its own technology and its own ideology. In fact, the framing is nothing but an amalgamation of technology and ideology.” Boris Groys, “Curating in the Post-Internet Age”, in e-flux Journal, issue #94 – October 2018
“[…] contemporary art does not have a narrow, elitist view, but, on the contrary, a broader, universalist perspective that can irritate local audiences. It is often the same kind of irritation that migration provokes today in Europe. Here we are confronted with the same phenomenon: the broader, internationalist attitude is experienced by local audiences as elitist—even if the migrants themselves are far from belonging to any kind of elite.” Boris Groys, “Curating in the Post-Internet Age”, in e-flux Journal, issue #94 – October 2018
“[…] conservation is done by removing artifacts from the cultural tempest they originated in and putting them into a safe place. The problem is that this approach doesn’t scale – sorry for using this technical term. I won’t argue that a privileged, careful handling of certain artifacts deemed of high importance or representative value is the wrong way; actually, this approach is the most narrative. But practiced too rigidly it doesn’t do digital culture any justice. Firstly because there simply are no resources to do this with a large amount of artifacts, and secondly because many artifacts can only blossom in their environment, in concert or contrast with a vernacular web, commercial services and so forth.” Trevor Owens, “Digital Culture is Mass Culture”: An interview with Digital Conservator Dragan Espenschied, in The Signal, March 24, 2014
“I believe that developing criteria of relevance and even selecting what artifacts are allowed into archives poses a problem of scale. The wise choice might be not trying to solve this problem, but to work on techniques for capturing artifacts as a whole – without trying to define significant properties, what the “core” of an artifact might be, or making too many assumptions about the future use of the artifact. The fewer choices are made during archiving, the more choices are open later, when the artifact will be accessed.” Trevor Owens, “Digital Culture is Mass Culture”: An interview with Digital Conservator Dragan Espenschied, in The Signal, March 24, 2014
“We don’t think of anything we are conserving as a thing or a stable entity. Internet and network-based art is the most extreme type of artifact that you might want to archive, because many websites or projects that happen on the web have blurry borders. So you can’t quite define an objecthood. Some are changing all the time, so you can’t nail down a definitive version of the artwork.” in Maximilíano Durón, “A Net Art Pioneer Evolves With the Digital Age: Rhizome Turns 20”, in Artnews, 09/01/16
“Ephemerality is often pictured as a force of nature, like a building destroyed by wind and water. But nothing digital is a law of nature, it is all completely made up. So ephemerality is more or less an excuse for accepting that you don’t have control over anything.” Dragan Espenschied and Heather Corcoran, “Performing Digital Culture,” in Omar Kholeif, Emily Butler, and Seamus McCormack (eds.), Electronic Superhighway: From Experiments in Art and Technology to Art After the Internet, London, Whitechapel Gallery, 2016, p. 218.
“I’ve seen a number of internet shows, and I never leave feeling that they contribute to a growing body of knowledge about art and technology. Each one ends in the same place where it started: some hazy notion of the internet’s importance. […] While a historical show reconstructs connections among artists, the thematic show removes works from their original contexts so that it may create a new one for them, which makes the format particularly ill-suited for meaningfully representing how artists use the internet. The internet show puts viewers in the position of a user encountering works at random, rather than providing them with an understanding of how artists have engaged in conversations about the use of various tools, platforms, and concepts.” Brian Droitcour, “Broken Links: The Internet Show”, in Art in America, September 1, 2018
“It is the assumption of this book that a work of art is a gift, not a commodity. Or, to state the modern case with more precision, that works of art exist simultaneously in two “economies,” a market economy and a gift economy. Only one of these is essential, however: a work of art can survive without the market, but where there is no gift there is no art.” Lewis Hyde, The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property, Vintage Books, 1983