algorithmic imaginaries & algorithmic regimes

csm_AlgoVis_LupeWelt_01_13c333205fMy new research project “Algorithmic Imaginaries. Visions & values in the shaping of search engines” is online (on the ITA Website)! :) Thanks to Thomas Bayer for his help!

paintby_blck_ju-sm-150x150Further, the short videos on “Algorithmic Regimes” by Felix Stalder & Konrad Becker (World-Information Institute) are online too! The project is called Painted by Numbers, which is a great name I think! All  videos are focusing on algorithmic logics and culture/ politics/ regulation etc. It’s really a great compilation of people and statements on algorithmic power in contemporary society. The videos will be assembled as video installations in art exhibitions. You can watch all of them here.

goodtosee #3: african (media) art & online projects

I just came back from a truly amazing travel through South Africa and Mozambique (see also fotos below). Even though my talk at the Witwatersrand University did not work out in the end (be aware: an African YES should not necessarily be taken at face value..) I stumbled across a range of interesting people and projects. Travelling with Machfeld – Sabine Maier and Michael Mastrototaro – and their experiences and friends helped in this respect:

Marcus Neustetter and Stephen Hobbs showed us the newly emerging district “Arts on Main” in Johannesburg. It’s a lively area with a gallery, the Goethe institute, restaurants and a hotel, where each room has been designed by a different artist reflecting different time periods.

Further, we visited the “Bag Factory” where Machfeld used to work as part of their artist in residence program (check out the Bag Factory’s website if you’re an artist interested in staying at Joburg for a while!). That’s how they present themselves:

“One of Joburg’s leading visual arts organizations, the Bag Factory has been alive and kicking since 1991, when the space was set up to provide studios for artists – mainly black artists, who at that stage, had very little access to networks and resources in order to build their careers.”

One of these black artists is the photographer Raymond Marlowe, who just recently had his solo exhibition “Narciso Road, Eldorado Park” telling stories from life in Soweto, one of the biggest Townships of Johannesburg. I’m still very happy that Raymond took us to his house and showed us around in his home town!!

Machfeld in Raymond’s garden & Township shopping:

Travelling to the amazing beaches in Mozambique we stopped by in Maputo to visit the Austrian musician and photographer Werner Puntigam. While Maputo itself seems to be pretty fucked up we had a great time and met some cool young artists. Especially Joao Paulo Queha made a huge impression on me: As part of the artists’ collective Nucleo de Arte he makes beautiful sculptures out of weapons.

Since the end of Mozambique’s sixteen-year civil war, more than 72,000 weapons and explosives have been collected from the country’s landscape. During the past few years, the artists’ collective Nucleo de Arte turned machine guns, landmines and hand weapons into beautiful sculptures, sometimes fragile and elegant, sometimes big and robust such as the “tree of life” on the right side (photo credits: Nucleo de Arte & Inspiring Cities).

Finally, I would like to refer to a really nice ICT project in Zimbabwe: Tonga.Online. On their website you could read that “the project derives its domain name, Mulonga (meaning River), from the local Tonga language.

The name reflects the history and needs of the Tonga people. On one level, the Zambezi River, also known as Mulonga, has become a symbol that tells a modern story of the development of massive but unshared technology – the construction of Kariba Dam on Tonga homeland. Mulonga constantly revokes memories of how the Tonga people were displaced, nearly 50 years ago, to make way for the building of this dam. On another level, the constant flow of the Zambezi is a symbol of continuity which, today, represents the needs of the Tonga people both to communicate amongst themselves and with others, and to preserve and develop their rich cultural heritage. The Tonga.Online Project seeks to establish and expand communication infrastructure with and amongst the Tonga by joining them with modern information and communication technology (ICT).”

Travelling through the countryside in Mozambique made me understand why projects such as Tonga.Online are really important. While some parts of Africa – especially big cities such as Joburg and Maputo are well connected – other parts of Africa are still widely offline (having trouble to keep up the electricity in supermarkets and to fulfill the basic needs of its poor population).

SWAMP: studies of work atmosphere and mass production

SWAMP (studies of work atmosphere and mass production) is an art label that creates entertaining, yet critical art works, which I highly recommend to check out on their website! That is how they describe themselves:

SWAMP is the collaborative effort of artists Douglas Easterly and Matt Kenyon. Their work focuses on critical themes addressing the effects of global corporate operations, mass media and communication, military-industrial complexes, and general meditations on the liminal area between life and artificial life. SWAMP has been making work in this vein since 1999 using a wide range of media, including custom software, electronics, mechanical devices, and often times working with living organisms. Easterly is a Senior Lecturer and Programme Director of Digital Media Design at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. Kenyon is an Assistant Professor in the School of Visual Arts at Penn State University in the United States.

Amongst their wide range of works I particulaly like “coke is it”. This piece questions coke’s marketing strategies with the help of the roboter c3 that destructs itself by drinking coke. Enjoy!

Coke is it from matt kenyon on Vimeo.

Other brilliant works are the “tardigotchi” or the “improvised empathetic device”, which helps to raise awareness to the death and violence occuring in Iraq by creating direct physical pain from the reported events of killed American soldiers.

Thanks Lisa Swanstrom for having introduced me to this great art and for having organized a super interesting Skype interview with Matt Kenyon in the HUMlab!