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.

society of the query #2

The society of the query conference (Amsterdam) has sadly come to an end. It was a truly great event! Thanks to Geert Lovink, René König & Miriam Rasch for having made it happen! For all of you who missed the exciting discussions on the Google domination, search beyond borders (China, India etc.), artistic projects, search in context, the dark side of Google, or the filter bubble: there’s quite some material circulating online, e.g. abstracts to all sessions & talks, blog posts of all talks, links to alternative search engines, loads of pictures, and, finally, there should be videos of all talks coming up soon, so stay tuned! & here they are!

I was in the Google domination session btw together with Dirk Lewandowski, Siva Vaidhyanathan, and René König (moderator); talking about big search and its alternatives, which was fun :)

Society of the Query #2

photo credits: society of the query (Martin Risseeuw)

book review online

My book review “Media Archaeology. Approaches, Applications, and Implications” (eds. Erkki Huhtamo and Jussi Parikka) has been published by the journal Information, Communication & Society (see below). Thanks to David Beer for the really quick publication process! It was fun!

Please let me know if you can’t access the journal!

Book review “media archaeology”

I’m happy to announce that my review of the book “Media Archaeology. Approaches, Applications, and Implications“, edited by Errki Huhtamo & Jussi Parikka, will be published in a forthcoming issue of Information, Communication & Society! It is my first book review and it was really fun writing it. Given that I thought a humanities scholar would have been a better fit at first sight, the book turned out to be really relevant for social scientists/ Internet researchers. It’s a good read for everyone interested in “new” media and their “old” predecessors. So stay tuned!

Out of Control – What the Web Knows about You

Yesterday I’ve attended the opening of the new Ars Electronica exhibition “Out of Control”. According to its website the exhibition aims at “demonstrating what exactly is being captured in conjunction with telecommunications data retention and all the interesting information about us that online services like Facebook and Google just happen to be amassing. Exhibition visitors will also find out what steps they can take to protect their privacy.” Concretely, visitors were presented with a range of installations, visualizations and talks about digital data, “user profiles”, privacy and techniques of digital self defense. Information to all these works could be found online.

I particularly liked the piece Surveillance Awareness Database (SAD) by the Technical University Vienna. It’s a website that allows users to upload photos and coordinates of surveillance cameras to create a digital map showing all surveillance cameras in the region. Further, the piece Handytracking was quite cool. Malte Spitz, a member of the German Green Pary and an opponent of the data retention law, forced T-Mobile to release all data stored about him from August 2009 to February 2010. The result is an impressive graphic that provides “highly detailed information about where Malte Spitz was, when and how long he was there, how often he called someone or was called by others, how many SMSs he wrote and how much time he spent online. Combined with his Tweets and blog entries, this data coalesces into a comprehensive picture of what Malte Spitz was up to.” You may watch the animated image on the Website.

Moreover, the pieces Faceless, Face to Facebook and the, by now well known, initiative Europe vs. Facebook are worth mentioning. Manu Luksch used surveillance cameras to produce a movie. The filming was done by surveillance cameras in London. Right after all the scenes were captured the artist claimed her right to obtain all footage in which she appeared. For the piece Face to Facebook Paolo Cirio and Alessandro Ludovico “harvested a million Facebook profiles, filtered them with facial recognition software, and then grouped them according to similarities of the data as well as the faces. Finally, the profiles reordered in this way were displayed on a dating site the duo set up, and the profiled individuals were introduced to each other via e-mail.” Finally, Max Schrems presented his Europe vs. Facebook project on a really huge screen. The law student asked Facebook to send him all his data the company holds. Thereafter he filed a number of complaints with the Irish Data Protection Commission since Facebook is running an Irish Company to benefit from tax advantages. If you’re interested in how far Max and his colleagues got so far check their really informative website.

Since my new project Glocal Search is concerned with search engines, data protection and related issues as well I got in touch with Christoph Kremer, one of the heads of Ars Electronica Center. This morning we had a very nice discussion and decided that we – me and my colleagues from ITA – will present selected projects concerned with technology and society as part of the AEC fall program. I’m very excited about this outcome and I’m already looking forward to this event. Thanks Ars Electronica for some inspiring hours in the past few days! I’ll definitely return..

(Credits for all images: Ars Electronica)

goodtosee #7: art & aesthetics online

Today I’d like to share two tumblr blogs with you. The first one is “the threshold of the visible” by Fliegender. This is a huge & great collection of artistic images ranging from the fields of architecture, classical and concept art, history, war, new media and computing, such as the one showing Alan Turing (see below) – just to feature one of the truly amazing, often historic images.

Henrik Olesen, Some Illustrations to the Life of Alan Turing (A virtual system, capable of simulating the behaviour of any other machine, even, and including itself), 2008. via Fliegender & We Find Wilderness

The second one is curated by my HUMlab colleague Mike Frangos, who collects videos on his blog “Social Media Aesthetics“. The assemblage includes interesting pieces such as Robot Flâneur, an explorer for Google Street View, Larry Lessig on Scientific Publishing, the Kristoffer West Johnson-animated video “Berlin Wall”, MACHFELD’s M1+1 performances, the Cults with footage from Anna (Pierre Koralnik, 1967, below), and many more. Mike has also started a collection of “Beckett on Youtube” here. I hope you enjoy rummaging through these rich art collections as much as I do!

Cults – Abducted from George Tanasie on Vimeo.

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).

International Streaming Project @ machfeld | studio – vienna

LE DISQUE by Frederic Acquaviva



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!