We Make Money Not Art

Syndicate content
Updated: 5 hours 20 min ago

Matter of Life. Growing new Bio Art & Design

Tue, 02/17/2015 - 09:20


FATBERG. Photo by Boudewijn Bollmann


Špela Petrič, Naval Gazing. Photo by Boudewijn Bollmann

A bio art exhibition is a rare occurrence. A good bioart exhibition -one that makes you marvel at the art, question the science, ponders upon where all this means for society- is even more extraordinary. So if you're in, near or not ridiculously far away from Eindhoven, do go and visit Matter of Life. Growing new Bio Art & Design at MU. There's only a couple of weeks left to see the show but if i were you, i'd try and pop by on the 1st of March for the Matter of Life closing party. The subtitle of the event is Food Phreaking which sounds exciting enough.

MU and guest curator William Myers have selected nine projects 'at the intersection of life sciences, art and design.' Three of them are the winning projects of the Bio Art & Design Award 2014 (previously Designers & Artists 4 Genomics Award), a competition for young artists and designers hoping to collaborate with research institutes in order to develop works that use biotechnology in critical and compelling ways. A couple more projects in the show are authored by artists who have worked with the competition in the past. But what matters more to me is that there is a good balance of speculative scenarios and very down-to-earth experiments in this exhibition. One moment you're dipping carrot sticks into a barbecue sauce made from 'supermarket mutants'. Next, you're wondering about the impact that commercial interests might have on natural selection.

Here's a quick overview of the works i haven't written about over the past few weeks. Starting with a work that took me by surprise:


Charlotte Jarvis, Et in Arcadia Ego. Photo by Boudewijn Bollmann


Charlotte Jarvis, Et in Arcadia Ego. Photo by Boudewijn Bollmann

Charlotte Jarvis is collaborating with Prof. Hans Cleavers and Dr Jarno Drost at the Hubrecht Institute to grow her own cancer tumour outside her body.

Jarvis first has to undertake a rectoscopy. The colon tissue collected will be grown in vitro and then submitted to a series of mutations that will make it cancerous.

The project is about being able to look at cancer as we would look at other parts of ourselves. I am interested in actually seeing cancer 'in the flesh' - in making tangible something that is usually discussed in metaphors and in doing this exploring (evaluating?) the function of these metaphors when faced with the actual material.

ET IN ARCADIA EGO also echoes one of Jarvis' previous works ERGO SUM in which she used stem cell technology to create a kind of 'back-up' self. While ERGO SUM explored how personalised medicine might enable us to extend our lives, the new work is using similar technology to explore the mechanisms of mortality.

The sample will also be used in professor Hans Clevers' scientific research to study how cancer occurs in the body. The cells are of particular interest to him as they are the first he will have access to coming from a healthy patient sample.


Heather Dewey-Hagborg, Invisible. Photo by Boudewijn Bollmann


Heather Dewey-Hagborg, Invisible


Invisible at MU. Photo by Boudewijn Bollmann

Heather Dewey-Hagborg, Invisible

Heather Dewey-Hagborg's most famous work, Stranger Visions, made her realize that genetic surveillance is a real threat. "It just struck me that we were having a national dialogue about electronic surveillance, but this form of biological surveillance isn't being discussed," she told The Verge.

Invisble, which she is showing as part of Matter of Life, claims to be the answer to any fear of DNA profiling we might have. Citizens eager to avoid DNA surveillance can either buy the Invisible sprays or follow the recipe and make their own. To become genetically untraceable, you need to first spray Erase to any surface where you might have left some DNA evidence. You then follow with Replace, a spray containing a blend of genes that will 'confuse' any remaining trace of DNA.


Špela Petrič, Naval Gazing. Photo by Boudewijn Bollmann


Špela Petrič, Naval Gazing

Špela Petrič worked with the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research to build a windmill-like structure that serves as a habitat for sea life. Once released into the North Sea, the tetrahedron form would gently drift in unpredictable path, collecting sea plants, bivalves and other small creatures along the way. At some point though, the weight of the organisms accumulated will sink the whole colony.

The research, design and building of this work in the context of a research institute investigating aquaculture also challenges us with a question the artist poses "can the human fathom an investment into structures and processes that are non-utilitarian for the human?"

Naval Gazing was one of the winning projects of the BioArt & Design award. I think it was by far the strongest of the three. Unexpected, strangely alluring and challenging the audience to think differently about our relationship to nature.


Studio PSK, The Economics of Evolution: The Perfect Pigeon. Photo by Boudewijn Bollmann


Studio PSK, The Economics of Evolution: The Perfect Pigeon. Photo by Boudewijn Bollmann


Studio PSK, The Economics of Evolution: The Perfect Pigeon. Photo by Boudewijn Bollmann


Studio PSK, The Economics of Evolution: The Perfect Pigeon. Photo by Boudewijn Bollmann


The Economics of Evolution: The Perfect Pigeon

The use of homing pigeons as messengers can be traced to thousands of years ago. Ancient Romans used them to spread news within their Empire. And the Greeks sent pigeons to communicate the results of the Olympic Games to other cities. Studio PSK, another winner of the Bio Art & Design Award, teamed up with the Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Studies at the University of Groningen to explore how economic pressures might one day shape the species' genetics, replacing thus natural selection. In PSK scenario, the bird becomes a tamper-proof biological courier used by biotech companies to protect their intellectual property.

Increasing competition between the Biotech and Pharma giants has sparked the 'Cold War' of the drug industry, with Genetic theft and piracy costing the industry billions, pressurising companies to take ever more inventive steps to protect their intellectual property.

In order to protect the most sensitive data from falling into the hands of competitors, Genicom Lifesciences, one of the smaller enterprises based in Hyderabad's Genome Valley, is using pigeons as a kind of 'offline data transfer' in an attempt to securely deliver genetic data to its research partner Nayat Pharma.




Julia Kaisinger and Katharina Unger, Fungi Mutarium - (Growing Food From Toxic Waste). Photo by Boudewijn Bollmann




Julia Kaisinger and Katharina Unger, Fungi Mutarium - (Growing Food From Toxic Waste). Photo by Boudewijn Bollmann




Julia Kaisinger and Katharina Unger, Fungi Mutarium - (Growing Food From Toxic Waste). Photo by Boudewijn Bollmann



As the title of their work suggests, Julia Kaisinger and Katharina Unger have explored how to grow food from toxic plastic waste. The process involves fungi. The result in the plate is even more discouraging than anything i might have imagined.


Opening night with talks at MU. Photo by Boudewijn Bollmann

Also part of the exhibition: Cobalt 60 Sauce, a barbecue sauce made from 'supermarket mutants' and FATBERG: Building An Island of Fat and A Simple Line. A zebra finch ponders upon abstraction.

Matter of Life. Growing new Bio Art & Design is at MU in Eindhoven until 1 March 2015.

Categories: New Media News

A 'mild kind of activism.' Interview with Karl Philips

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 10:09


Scenography for 'Medée / Vivez comme vous voulez' (performance with Naomi Velissariou)

Karl Philips is a Belgian (h)activist, performance and conceptual artist. I discovered his work a couple of years ago when i visited the exhibition Mind the System, Find the Gap at Z33 in Hasselt (BE.) But i really took the time to click around his portfolio when my favourite blog selected him for its watchlist.

Philips casts a critical but always witty glance at society, paying particular attention to cracks in consumerism, town planning, advertising, and turning upside-down their logic. He is also one of those artists who understand that, to have any impact, activist art is best deployed in the street, not just inside the white walls of a museum or gallery.

Some of his projects involve hacking a street lantern to provide passersby and local inhabitants with free wifi and power, dressing like a train seat to cross Belgium by train, screening movies streamed from Youtube in a drive-in movie theater set up under a bridge, substituting ads on billboards with a map detailing how survive in the city of Hasselt without any financial expenses, etc. Pretty simple and pretty brilliant.


Genk-Blankenberge-Genk, 2014


Hand Pump Car

Hand Pump Car, 2014


Shed, 2011

Philips has a couple of exhibitions up right now. He's part two group shows. One at the gallery Dauwens & Beernaert in Brussels. The other in Rotterdam. Hopefully, i'll get a chance to be in Antwerp (lots of exciting shows coming up at the Photo Museum!) to check out the sculpture he'll be premiering next week for the group exhibition A Belgian Politician
 at Marion de Cannière Art Space. In the meantime, i got on my laptop and asked him for an interview:

Hi Karl! Your About page talks about "a mild kind of activism" that is inextricably linked to your work. What is mild activism? How does it manifest itself? And can a mild form of activism have an impact too?

I 'm convinced that real change or influence only manifests itself indirectly. In the long run I think it's better to do so through art or culture than through direct radical activism. I think the term "mild activism" indicates a different tone.


Concierge, 2010


Concierge, 2010

I'd be interested to know more about Mia, the homeless woman who came to live inside one of your structures. Did she spontaneously come to live in the structure? How did you get to know each other? Did she give you any kind of 'feedback' about Concierge or your work in general?

I got to know her when I was thirteen years old. Once every year she passed by at a artist's place where I went after school since I was eleven. A couple of years ago, when she was visiting, I showed her the first designs I made. She proposed herself to represent and become a part the work. This was the first time, in my practice, that such a healthy distance was maintained between the artist and the artwork. From a neutral point of view, she talked to the people who were visiting the artwork. So while rolling a cigarette and making coffee she could easily welcome visitors, artists, curators... Due to the media attention we generated she was offered social housing. She accepted this when we were finishing "Concierge" but a month later she hit the road again.


Good/Bad/Ugly, 2012. Photography: Stef Langmans

Another work involving temporary homes is Good/Bad/Ugly. Could you explain us the whole process? The financial transactions?

Good/Bad/Ugly consisted of three mobile living units. On the outside of the units were several advertisements. For every advertisement we received 500 € per month. That's 1000 € per month, per unit. This money (3000 €/month in total) was used for the performance: providing a living for the inhabitants. We travelled around to different locations. In theory it is illegal in Belgium to put this kind of advertising i, but it is allowed for local businesses. We created some sort of alternative community with it.


Drive-inn You Tube

I really liked the idea of a Youtube drive-in movie theater. Could you explain us how it worked exactly? Did you select yourself the videos that were screened?

It was a video projection under a bridge. It was a costless drive in movie theater where movies were streamed from youtube. I selected the videos but the last day we screened movies suggested by the public. The project was improvised on the spot so birds were flying around during the screening and car sounds or other sounds of the environment interfered with the audio of the movies.


24 hours / 1 meter, 2009


Wedge, 2014

Do you ask for permit for the various interventions in public space?
And whether you've asked for permission or not, what does working in public space have taught you about the way our space is used, managed and controlled?

Sometimes we do, sometimes we don't. We try to stretch the gap between the real world and our artistic interventions as far as we can. I think I have learned that public space has lost it's political function. Public space used to be where people got together and where politics originated but nowadays everything is controlled. That makes it harder or even impossible to rethink the function of public space and of politics.


Atelier (interior). Photography: Pauline Niks

I'm also very interested to know more about the story of your studio. It is an antique fairground attraction called Jacky. What did it look like before? Where do you buy fairground attractions? and where did you install it? In a garden? inside a bigger building?

It was a mobile game hall, like an arcade for fairs. It was based on a circus wagon that travelled around for thirty years. Without the games it is now a space of 85 square meters, it is my laboratory. It is a mobile artists studio, it has no foundations or a postal address.

Who are the emerging (or not so emerging) artists whose work you find inspiring right now?

Gordon Matta-Clark, Gilbert & George, Claude Lelouche.

Thanks Karl!


No Title, 2014


Colruyt, 2014

Retrospective / Introspective. Group show, Dauwens & Beernaert, Brussels, 15.01 - 13.03.2015.

no walls. Group show, Fenixloods, Rotterdam (NL), 17.01 - 17.02.2015

A Belgian Politician
. Group show, Marion de Cannière Art Space, Antwerp, 20.02 - 21.03.2015

Karl Philips - Daan Gielis - Tasya Krougovykh & Vassiliy Bo. Group show, W139, Amsterdam, June 2015

Phlogiston. Group show, (location to be determined), Split (Croatia) in July 2015.
Karl Philips, Solo show, Braennen, Berlin in September 2015.

Categories: New Media News

Book review: A Theory of the Drone

Wed, 02/11/2015 - 12:00

A Theory of the Drone, by philosopher Grégoire Chamayou

Publisher The New Press writes: In a unique take on a subject that has grabbed headlines and is consuming billions of taxpayer dollars each year, philosopher Grégoire Chamayou applies the lens of philosophy to our understanding of how drones are changing our world. For the first time in history, a state has claimed the right to wage war across a mobile battlefield that potentially spans the globe. Remote-control flying weapons, he argues, take us well beyond even George W. Bush's justification for the war on terror.

What we are seeing is a fundamental transformation of the laws of war that have defined military conflict as between combatants. As more and more drones are launched into battle, war now has the potential to transform into a realm of secretive, targeted assassinations--beyond the view and control not only of potential enemies but also of citizens of the democracies themselves. Far more than a simple technology, Chamayou shows, drones are profoundly influencing what it means for a democracy to wage war. A Theory of the Drone will be essential reading for all who care about this important question.


Military patch of the USAF MQ-9 Reaper "THAT OTHERS MAY DIE" VELCRO MILITARY PATCH

When a journalist of Libération asked Chamayou about the motivations behind the book, he replied that "some philosophers in the United States and in Israel work hand in hand with the military to elaborate what I call a 'necro-ethics' that tries to justify targeted assassinations. So it is urgent to respond. When ethics is brought into a war, philosophy becomes a battlefield." (via)

Chamayou is a researcher in philosophy. A title that might sound a bit daunting for some readers. But fear not, A Theory of the Drone is as entertaining as it is thought-provoking. The rhythm of the author's reflections are fluid and easy to follow, the chapters are concise and highlight with precision a particular aspect of the weapon under study and Chmayou's references might sometimes be heavy (yet never obscure) on Kant but he also quotes Albert Camus, Harun Farocki, Eyal Weizman and even mentions Adam Harvey's anti-drone clothing.


Capt. Richard Koll, left, and Airman First Class Mike Eulo monitored a drone aircraft after launching it in Iraq. Photo U.S. Air Force/Master Sgt. Steve Horton

I haven't read many books about drones. In fact, i think this is the first one i read about the topic but i doubt i could find another publication that explains with so much ease and intelligence the dilemmas posed by unmanned aerial vehicles to the traditional codes of war.

Of course i've always had a visceral feeling that the use of drones by the U.S. and Israeli military is debatable, not to say coward and unethical. Chamayou's book articulates with precision and rigorous references to the history of war philosophy what is wrong with this form of unilateral warfare. Chapter after chapter, his books explores questions such as: What happen to the traditional principles of a military ethos of bravery and sacrifice when only one side of the conflict shoots and deprive the other of the possibility of fighting back? And more generally, how can one justify homicide in a noncombat situation? How does one-way-only armed violence distinguishes between fighting and killing? Within what legal framework do drone strikes take place? What does it mean for a zone of armed conflict to be fragmented into kill boxes the size of a human body? How does post traumatic stress disorder in this context differs from the one experienced by soldiers who fought on the battlefield? How do local populations hack and defy drones? How do you recognize a combatant dressed as a civilian, outside the zone of combat? etc.

The final pages of the book look at how the use of drones, a technology developed in a military context, is already seeping into civil society -mostly for police purposes- and what this will mean in the future for the subjects of a drone-state.

Perhaps part of the answer can be found in this image and these words i found in one of the last chapters of A Theory of the Drone:


A radio-controlled police automaton. From Hugo Gernsback, Radio Police Automaton, Science and Invention 12, no.1, May 1924 (photo)

In 1924, a popularizing scientific magazine announced a new invention: a radio-commanded policing automaton. The robocop of the twenties was to be equipped with projective eyes, caterpillar tracks, and, to serve as fists, rotating blow-dealing truncheons inspired by the weapons of the Middle Ages.

On its lower belly, a small metal penis allowed it to spray tear gas at unruly parades of human protesters. It had an exhaust outlet for an anus. This ridiculous robot that pissed tear gas and farted black smoke provides a perfect illustration of an ideal of a drone state.

Image on the homepage: Omer Fast, 5000 Feet Is the Best.

Categories: New Media News

Objection!!! Court cases with added drama

Mon, 02/09/2015 - 12:00


Queen's Coat of Arms, in Neon, 2014. Photo by Luke Hayes


Photo by Luke Hayes

In the playhouse, as in the courtroom, an event already completed is re-enacted in a sequence which allows its meaning to be searched out. [...] The courtroom is, or should be, a theatrical space, one which evokes expectations of the uncommon. [...] Theatrical effects are such dominant factors in the physical identification of a courtroom that their absence may raise doubts about whether a court which lacks a properly theatrical aspect is really a court at all.

Milner S. Ball, Caldwell Professor of Constitutional Law, University of Georgia

Lawyers learn their lines before their performance, witnesses are given advice about how to play their roles, the judge intervenes when the rules (or should we say the script) are not respected. Meanwhile, the audience sits on the side to enjoy the show.

The architecture of modern courtrooms brings justice and fiction drama even closer to each other. The International Crime Court in The Hague, for example, is equipped with cameras, microphones and sound proof sheets of glass that separates the audience from the main protagonists of the trial. In doing so, the choreographic structures of the court are becoming separated and externalised through the medium of video feeds shot from multiple sight lines, artificial viewpoints and mechanical movements.

Objection!!!, the latest work of artist, writer and film-maker Ilona Gaynor, pushes the court strategies and dramatizations to their most cinematographic limits. Using a series of models, objects, images and a fictionalized case in which a tv National Lottery draw is fixed, Gaynor exposes how the language of film-making manipulates the way a case is presented to the court and how it is understood by it. According to the whim of the team that scripts, shoots then edit the trial, the unfolding of a court case could thus be made to look comical, suspenseful, romantic, tragic or even satirical.


Camera Move Sequence, 2014

Among the pieces on show is a courtroom diorama the director would use to plan the filmic direction of the trial, a green Chroma Key Set designed to be positioned as needed and edited out in post-production, a show reel that illustrates cinematographic courtroom drama, an elaborate drawing that maps out the location of the cameras, dolly tracks and people required for the shooting length of a real time testimonial deposition, etc.

I particularly liked the photographic 'documentation' of a lawyer practicing persuasive gestures in preparation for a trial. The images are inspired by 1925 photos showing Adolf Hitler rehearsing his oratory.


The Lawyer, 2014


The Lawyer, 2014


Hitler rehearsing his speech in 1925. Photo by Heinrich Hoffmann

Objection!!! is part of Designers in Residence 2014: Disruption, an exhibition that showcases the work developed by young designers during their residency at the Design Museum in London. I interviewed Ilona a few weeks after the opening of the show:

Hi Ilona! The starting point of the project is the new courtrooms built by architects where the jury is seated in a separate room. Is that already happening? And what motivates the change in architecture?

It is to an extent, with jurors becoming separated by glass and mirrors with live camera feeds and sound to accompany them. There was a surge in European courts that were being retrofitted into pre-existing office buildings, to save resources (and sometimes for safety of civil unrest) during late 90's and, the use of camera's, audio/video feeds is now becoming common practice and is considered state of the art.

The international Criminal Court, in the Hague operates as a very bizarre enclosure, scattered with cameras, positioned at varying heights around the room, their lenses sight and proximity fixed upon on the faces and edges of tables, glasses, mirrors and reflections all screening on live fed monitors to the both the prosecution and defence. These cameras intercut each other at moments pivotal of play, documenting the dialogue and sequence of events from much higher heights then those of eye level.


A view of the courtroom at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Photo ICC/Flickr


Court Diorama, 2014. Photo by Luke Hayes


Court Diorama (Detail), 2014. Photo by Luke Hayes


The piece that attracts the most attention in the museum show is probably the elaborate diorama. Could you describe it, what happens there?

The diorama depicts the redesign of a courtroom, the UK crown court to be exact. The geometry of the courtroom was redesigned with the audience in mind; the imagined viewing sightlines to be much more acute then they would normally be; the seats would be positioned as ascending podium steps (the kinds that you see at sports stadiums) to enhance the viewing experience.

The diorama itself is designed to act as a vehicle with which the 'event' or 'show' aka 'the trial' inside courtroom can be plotted and pre-enacted cinematically by the director and producers before it starts, much like theatre rehearsals or pre-recorded live audience TV shows.

The model was designed to be self-assembled, by easy slotting conjoining walls and furniture.

It also comes with a kit of parts that consist of prefabbed folding camera equipment such as: camera's, dolly rigs, tripods, microphone stands, audience participation signs such as "boo" and "applause" and a set of dramatically posed lawyers and corresponding court room furniture.

To put the diorama in context, dioramas are frequently used between stage / film directors to communicate to actors and production staff. It is used as a plan section for the action that will occur, the sequence in which it happens and what in spatial floor capacity. This work is very much about the positions, sightlines and choreography of people in space and time... in this regard the performance of the court has a lot in common with cinema. The curatorial voice of this work is for the audience to engage in the exhibition from a directorial perspective. What is exhibited, is the anticipatory tools (plans, drawings, scripts, imagery) with which a director would use to shape the production and this case the unfolding of a trial or 'courtroom drama'.


The Lawyer, 2014


The Lawyer, 2014


I'm quite curious about the fact that you chose to explain the work using objects. That's not unusual in a design museum of course but you are openly influenced by cinema, your work often refers to it, you hired an actor and there are indeed films in the show but they are not yours. So why didn't you just make a video to explain Objection?

I've got a strong aversion to films that's sole purpose is to explain a work. For some reason it's becoming common practice in design (especially when referring to objects) that the designer needs to reveal the 'imagined' interactivity of the 'objects', in some candidly scarce scenario.

For me, I actually tend to get accidentally commissioned to make objects; I don't even really value objects and often find objects hard to engage with, because somehow they tend to lack rhythm or sequential value. I see my work as studies, or compositions that try and allude to a balancing act of arguments or sequential chapters as you may have noticed I often index the 'objects' or give them a sort of taxonomy or textual story with which to engage with.

Cinema for me is a common ground with which the fantasies of popular culture are often revealed in much more interesting ways then most other mediums, films allow us freely to wonder around the unimaginable in ways that are contextually and textually rich. My work is often tiptoeing along the edge of this medium because I believe the interrelations between cinema and topics I often pivot around are inextricably linked: aesthetically, contextually and culturally. I am actually this year moving my practice much more into the film going forward, both professionally and personally.

The films that you are referring to in 'Objection!!!' are a series of edited clips taken from TV dramas and films that depict the courtroom on screen as a scene or sequence, spanning across the last century of TV and cinema. The purpose of this film is to put my argument into a broadly understood context... the collectively memorised experience of the courtroom, which for most of us, has been experienced through a series of lenses rather then first hand. The film of edited sequences also reveals to the audience the stylistic differentiations between filmic genres, revealing how hard it becomes to remain objective as a pervasive viewer (in this projects case, the jury) when a sequence of camera cuts, pans, soundtracks intertwine. It would be very disturbing to witness (or watch) a case dealing with violence or rape depicted accidentally or not as a comedy for instance; the viewer's perception and adjudication could sit solely on the head of a deft handed technician. Of course this is an extreme example, but we are much more conditioned to filmic languages, no matter how subtle they are, than we think. A fast zoom to face shot for example is a classic attribute to comedy filmmaking.


Basic Plot, Case 2194, 2014. Photo by Luke Hayes


Courtroom Drawings, 2014. Photo by Luke Hayes

I was reading the interview you did with Shona Kitchen for the Designers in Residence catalogue. I really liked the way you define your work as designing 'ruses'. Could you explain what you meant by that (since not everyone has the catalogue in their hands)?

I suppose what I meant by that (although actually not so much in this project) is that I'm interested in taking pre-existing functioning models or systems that often serve to exploit the misfortune of others (legally or sometimes illegally), in some form of monetary or political bargaining and use them in ways to turn it inwards on itself. For example the only way to counteract a trap; is to use another trap, which triggers the setting of a 3rd trap, then a 4th and so on.

It is within these terms that I define my practice of design. I would say that I design 'ruses' as a stratagem to plot, to plan, to scheme, as ways to imagine the conceivably unachievable but very logistically possible.

My work often uses design as a vehicle to manoeuvre the arrangement of material in space and over time to pursue an examination of the mechanisms of risk assessment, financial calculation, and rather more literal, legal forms of judgement, in order to generate new situations events or moments to invoke an aesthetic of precision, by really obsessing over narrowing margins of space and time, where exactness matters and becomes a force (I define as design) in its own right.

Also my work often takes form as an anticipation of another form, as a pretext often constructed to allow something else to happen or to be imagined.

My commercial work under my company name The Department of No, uses this practice in much more commercial spheres such as law enforcement, legal planning, crime prevention and script plausibility studies. The ruses directly relate when cross contaminating commercial work with exhibitions and consultancy, they all amalgamate, the fiction feeds the real world and vice versa.

For example I'm currently setting up a practice of licenced Private Investigators to operate in an office located in West Hollywood in Los Angeles, to investigate civil disputes across the city that repeatedly plays itself. The pretext being to write and direct a play of experiences and cases (individuals case plaintiffs unrevealed of course), but we will be operating as a real firm with real clients, attesting to real legal cases.


Photo by Luke Hayes


Photo by Luke Hayes

We live in a time of state control, secrecy and surveillance. But by turning a trial into entertainment, you remove some of the gravitas of the justice system and leave the procedures and interpretation of a trial into the subjective hands of a film director. I've just been reading articles from last year about the introduction of television cameras into UK courts to film the sentencing of serious criminals. There was a lot of debate around losing some of the 'mystique' of the courtroom vs helping "the public re-engage with the criminal justice system". Is that something you'd like to comment on?


I'm not sure the 'mystique' of the courtroom has ever really entered the minds of most, I say this though however because we have been conditioned to the action of the court, its demeanour, atmosphere and so on through television, film etc. Of course these are highly dramatized, with little or no legal references alluding to the true nature of the law but oddly, legal dramas are some of the highest rated shows on television... the sexed up Ally McBeal was supposedly responsible for a boost of people studying law during the early 00's.

I think there's a really odd disconnect between the perceivable "public re-engaging with the criminal justice system" and actual engagement with the issues that ensue due to pervasive camera's in the courts. The Oscar Pistorius trial was undoubtedly entertaining, however the engagement was only of merely entertainment mixed with a public lust for blood of a 'murderer' to be brought to 'justice' at the viewing onslaught of a booing crowd. It seems to be taking form as a contemporary Roman games, I'm not sure how to feel about that, it requires both a smirk and a exhale of disgust. But I think the 'vs' in the articles you were reading were perhaps in the wrong place. The more concerning question is how the cameras will inevitably affect the trial and veracity of testimony itself rather then jog the public's perception.

Thanks Ilona!

Ilona Gaynor is an artist, writer and film-maker. She is also the founder of research studio The Department of No and teaches digital + media students "how to tell better stories" at Rhode Island School of Design.

Designers in Residence 2014: Disruption is at the Design Museum in London until 8 March 2015.

Categories: New Media News

Conflict, Time, Photography

Mon, 02/02/2015 - 10:36

Conflict, Time, Photography, an exhibition which opened in November at Tate Modern, looks at over 150 years of conflict around the world, since the invention of photography. It could have been one of those shows that organizes the photos according to themes, geographical area or chronology. The curator, however, orchestrated the exhibition according to the length of time that elapsed between the conflict and the moment the photographs were taken.


Toshio Fukada, The Mushroom Cloud - Less than twenty minutes after the explosion (1), 1945

The first room in the show, "Moments Later", contains thus images taken almost straight after a disaster occurred. The most compelling example of it is the mushroom cloud photographed 20 minutes after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Toshio Fukada was then a 17-year-old student. He always carried a camera with him and took the images from his window, 2.7 km from the hypocenter.

As you walk through the exhibition rooms, the duration between image and event grows into days, weeks, months, years and decades.


Chloe Dewe Mathews, Former abattoir, Mazingarbe, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, 2013
Private James Graham. 07:22 / 21.12.1915
Private John Docherty. 07:12 / 15.02.1916
Private John Jones. Time unknown / 24.2.1916
Private Arthur Dale. Time unknown / 3.3.1916
Private C. Lewis. Time unknown / 11.3.1916
Private Anthony O'Neill. Time unknown / 30.4.1916
Private John William Hasemore. 04:25 / 12.5.1916
Private J. Thomas. Time unknown / 20.5.1916
Private William Henry Burrell. Time unknown / 22.5.1916
Private Edward A. Card. Time unknown / 22.9.1916
Private C. Welsh. Time unknown / 6.3.1918



Chloe Dewe Mathews, Vebranden-Molen, West-Vlaanderen, 2013.
Private Ahmed ben Mohammed el Yadjizy, Private Ali ben Ahmed ben Frej ben Khelil, Private Hassen ben Ali ben Guerra el Amolani and Private Mohammed Ould Mohammed ben Ahmed. 17:00/15.12.1914


Chloe Dewe Mathews, Six Farm, Loker, West-Vlaanderen
Private Joseph Byers, Private Andrew Evans. Time unknown / 6.2.1915
Private George E. Collins, 07:30 / 15.2.1915

The last gallery shows the series i found most moving. Almost 100 years after the start of WWI, Chloe Dewe Mathews photographed some of the exact spots where British, French and Belgian soldiers were executed for cowardice and desertion between 1914 and 1918. The photos of Shot at Dawn were also taken at approximately the same time of year the men were killed.

The quiet landscapes evoke incidents which memory has been suppressed for decades. Although there is no visible trace of what happened in these locations, the photographer managed to convey the sadness and anxiety these young men must have experienced in those early mornings.

I've seen countless books and exhibitions of images taken by photojournalists reporting from the battle fields. Some of the images were truly frightful and depressing. Yet, frequent exposure to war photography have almost numbed my feelings. I go from one image to the next one and, at best, only a fleeting memory of what i've just seen remains. Conflict, Time, Photography revitalized a sense of horror and dismay that war images (should) provoke. By forcing me to reflect on the impact that conflicts have on people, culture and places over time, this show will haunt me for years to come.

Conflict, Time, Photography is an intense and powerful show. I wish i could mention every single work i saw there but i'll just stop at this brief selection:


Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin, People in Trouble Laughing Pushed to the Ground

Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin have a couple of works in the exhibition. One of them is People In Trouble Laughing Pushed To The Ground which uses fragments of images of Belfast Exposed, a collection of images taken by professional photo-journalists and 'civilian' photographers who documented life under the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Whenever someone selected an image in the archive for use, it was market by a red, yellow or blue sticker. Broomberg and Chanarin enlarged and reprinted the area beneath the dots, revealing puzzling, romantic, amusing or brutal fragments of life under the Troubles.


Luc Delahaye, Patio civil, cementero San Rafael, Malaga, 2009

70 years after the end of the Spanish Civil War, Luc Delahaye photographed the forensic exhumation of a mass grave containing the bodies of Republican fighters executed during the Spanish civil war.


Ursula Schulz-Dornburg, Kurchatov - Architecture of a Nucleur Test Site. Kazakhstan. Opytnoe Pole, 2012. © Ursula Schultz-Dornburg

In October 2012, Ursula Schulz-Dornburg had the opportunity to photograph the former USSR nuclear weapons test site near the city of Kurchatov in Kazakhstan. The photographs depict the pitiful remnants of a megalomaniacal arms race.


Matsumoto Eiichi, Shadow of a soldier remaining on the wooden wall of the Nagasaki military headquarters (Minami-Yamate machi, 4.5km from Ground Zero), 1945


Nick Waplington, We live as we dream, alone, 1993. © Nick Waplington

Nick Waplington captured drawings and words left on the walls by the prisoners of a war camp in South Wales where the low and mid level SS where kept before being sent to Nuremburg for trail.


Sophie Ristelhueber, Fait # 20, 1992


Sophie Ristelhueber, Fait # 43, 1992


Sophie Ristelhueber, Fait # 59, 1992

Sophie Ristelhueber traveled to Kuwait months after the end of the First Gulf War to record the physical traces of the conflict. The aerial and ground-level photos depict bombed out terrains, mangled machinery, still-burning oil fields, tank tracks and other "scars" left on the landscape.


Stephen Shore, Ukraine 2013. © Stephen Shore

Stephen Shore met Ukrainian holocaust survivors in their houses. There are a few portraits but most of the images detail their belongings. From baby pink plastic radio to ordinary kitchen corners.


Simon Norfolk, Bullet-scarred apartment building and shops in the Karte Char district of Kabul. This area saw fighting between Hikmetyar and Rabbani and then between Rabbani and the Hazaras, 2003. From the series Afghanistan Chronotopia


Pierre Anthony-Thouret, Reims after the War, Plate XXXVIII, 1927

In the months after the end of the first world war, architect Pierre Anthony-Thouret documented the destruction of the city of Reims.


Excerpt from Chapter VII, A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters I-XVIII
1. Nukic, Nezir, 1928 (exact birth date unknown). Forester and road builder. Zivinice, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
2. Mehic, Zumra, 09 Dec. 1950. Homemaker. Kladanj, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
3. Mehic, Bajazit, 16 Sept. 1972 - 11 July 1995. Mortal remains, International Commission on Missing Persons, Podrinje Identification Project. Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
4. Mehic, Ahmedin, 16 Feb. 1974 - 12 July 1995. Tooth sample used for DNA matching, International Commission on Missing Persons. Srebrenica-Potocari Memorial and Cemetery, Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina

In one of the pieces of the series A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters I - XVIII , Taryn Simon looked for the survivors of the Srebrenica massacre and built up their family trees. Most of the photos show women and children. Missing members are represented by blanks or by dental fragments found in mass graves.


Don McCullin, Shell-shocked US marine, Hue, Vietnam, February 1968

I'll end with a photo that hangs in one of the rooms titled Moments After. Don McCullin's portrait of a shell shocked marine was taken just minutes after he had been engaged in a bloody battle in Vietnam.

"McCullin's picture is very important for us because it's the kind of picture we very rarely see in the era of embedded photographers, it is very hard to take and show this kind of image," curator Simon Baker told The Guardian. "It's taken moments after this marine has been engaged in an extremely serious engagement and you see him completely traumatised, completely frozen by what's happened to him."

Conflict, Time, Photography is at Tate Modern until 15 March 2015.

Categories: New Media News

Book review: Experimental Eating

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 10:58

Experimental Eating, edited by Thomas Howells. With introductory essay by Zach Denfeld, Cathrine Kramer and Emma Conley from The Center for Genomic Gastronomy.

Available on amazon UK and US.


(Image via @allieartbooks)

Black Dog Publishing writes: Experimental Eating is the first international survey of contemporary experimental and experiential food-based creative practices across art, design, catering, science and theatre. Deliciously detailed and good enough to eat, this book combines luscious images with text that questions the assumptions behind how we make, eat and perceive food.

Experimental Eating demonstrates how current creative collaborations are pushing the boundaries of how we understand, experience and relate to food and the rituals of dining. The book encompasses unusual and cutting-edge foods, radical dining events, "kitchen laboratory" experiments, food sculptures and other documentation of the transient moments that make up this field of experimentation.


Paul McCarthy, Chocolate version of Santa with Tree. Photo: Svetlana Bachevanova via Paris Photo


Center for Genomic Gastronomy, Smog Tasting


Center for Genomic Gastronomy, Vegan Ortolan


Erwin Wurm, Self-Portrait of Cucumbers, 2008

Experimental Eating is a merry and fascinating survey of artworks that bring the political, the unusual or the technological into the ritual of food consumption. From the moment the ingredients are planted or bred to the moments they are combined into dishes, consumed or discarded.

The book comes at a good time. A time when cooking shows pullulate on tv screens while concerns are raised about the ethics (or rather lack thereof) of our food production.

The artists whose work is featured in the book remind us that a meal is far more than the insertion of edible material into our mouth. It is the result of farming practices, cultural standards, biological manipulations, technological innovations, international trade law and often also ethical choices. Some of the artists and designers working with food speculate on the impact that tissue engineering will have on our plates, others create a permanent fast food joint that offers cuisine from countries the United States is currently in conflict with, others uncover and denounce aspects of our food systems we might not be aware of, etc. What these practitioners have in common is that they use food as a vehicle to get our full attention and spark conversations over broader themes. Preferably outside of the contrived environment of museums and galleries.

Experimental Eating closes on a series of art&food related reprint. They are masterfully chosen. There's Romy Golan's Anti-Pasta which informed me someone once had the idea of founding PIPA, the International Association Against Pasta; there's an introduction to The Starving Artists' Cookbook; and there's The Culinary Triangle, Claude Lévi-Strauss essay on the semantic field of cooking meat.

There might be other publications on the topic but Experimental Eating is the first one that falls into my hands and it is an entertaining, thought-provoking and thrilling one.

Some of the many artworks i discovered in the book:


Van Brummelen & De Haan, Monument of Sugar, Argos Brussels, 2007

Following the discovery that European sugar costs far less when sold outside of Europe, Van Brummelen & De Haan embarked on an investigation of the European subsidised sugar trade. They bought European surplus sugar in Nigeria and then shipped it back home. To elude the European trade barrier for sugar imports they transformed the sugar into a monument. The import application was thus filled under the Uniform Commercial Code Law 9703, which applies to all monuments and original artworks regardless of the material in which they are produced. In the end, however, they had to contend with more tariff barriers then they succeeded in avoiding and the sugar proved more expensive than at home.

The sugar sculpture is accompanied by a film essay which charts the artists' research into the sugar trade.


Condiment Junkie, Bittersweet Symphony, 2014

Condiment Junkie experimented with modifying the perception of taste, making it bitter or sweeter, using sound only.


Waag Society, The Other Dinner. Photo Chloé Rutzerveld, 2013

The Other Dinner investigated the meat culture of the past, present and future. One of the chapters of the event looked at the parts of the pig, cow, chicken or sheep that are usually disdained and used only for export or animal feed.


Michael Rakowitz, Enemy Kitchen. Photo: Smart Museum of Art

Collaborating with his Iraqi-Jewish mother, Michael Rakowitz compiles Baghdadi recipes and teaches them to different audiences. He also serves the food in a ice cream truck with the help American veterans of the Iraq War. Preparing and consuming the food gives the artist and the public a chance to approach the topic of Iraq in a more open, less CNN-report way.


Bompas & Parr, Cooking with Lava, 2014. Video by Robert Wysocki


Harry Parr of Bompas and Parr gets volcanic on 10-ounce rib-eye steaks and ears of corn. Photo Bompas and Parr

Bompas & Parr collaborated with Professor Robert Wysocki , an artist who works with artificial volcanoes and streams of man-made lava, for artistic and scientific purposes. The artistic duo harnessed his expertise and bronze furnace to cook meat and fish.


Henry Hargreaves, Deep Fried Gadgets

The title says it all. This is also one of the most stomach-churning works i've ever read about.


Klaus Pichler, Strawberries, One Third - a project on food waste
Place of production: San Giovanni Lupatoto, Verona, Italy
Cultivation method: Foil green house * Time of harvest: June - October
Transporting distance: 741 km * Means of transportation: Truck
Carbon footprint (total) per kg: 0,35 kg * Water requirement (total) per kg: 348 l
Price: 7,96 € / kg


Klaus Pichler, Tomatoes, One Third - a project on food waste
Place of production: Albenga, Italy
Cultivation method: Foil green house * Time of harvest: All- season
Transporting distance: 1.035 km * Means of transportation: Truck
Carbon footprint (total) per kg: 0,31 kg * Water requirement (total) per kg: 215 l
Price: 0,89 € / kg

According to a UN study one third of the world's food goes to waste (mostly in the industrialized nations of the global north) while 925 million people around the world are threatened by starvation. Klaus Pichler's series 'One Third' explores the connection between individual wastage of food and globalized food production. Over a period of nine months, the photographer used his apartment bathroom as a storage space for rotting food items. He then arranged the abominable result of the fermentation into elaborate still lifes and accompanied the images with texts that take an in depth look at the food production and distribution.

Related stories: Prison Gourmet, Data Cuisine, food as data expression, The Meat Licence Proposal, interview with John O'Shea, Super Meal, Cobalt 60 Sauce, a barbecue sauce made from 'supermarket mutants', Cook Me - Black Bile, Conflict Kitchen, Herbologies/Foraging Networks at Pixelache Helsinki, Interview with Kultivator, an experimental cooperation of organic farming and visual art practice, Temporary photoElectric Digestopians (Fusing Cooking and Solar Tech with Design), The Spice Trade Expedition - In pursuit of artificial flavoring, Book Review - Cooking Science: Condensed Matter, etc.

Categories: New Media News

Panamarenko Universum

Wed, 01/28/2015 - 11:57


Panamarenko, Scotch Gambit


Panamarenko, Pahama, Spitsbergen, Nova Zemblaya, 1996 courtesy Collection Fondation Cartier, Paris photo M HKA

Panamarenko, the artist and inventor who builds zeppelins, mechanical chickens, flying backpacks, flying saucers, robots, submarines and other machines designed to travel over land, under water and in outer space, is having a big and rather wonderful retrospective at the M HKA, in his home town of Antwerp.

As its name suggests, Panamarenko Universum attempts to cover the full spectrum of his artistic production and mental landscape. Along with many of the vehicles and devices Panamarenko has created ​​between 1965 and 2005, M HKA is also exhibiting drawings, objects, documentations of tv interviews, scientific experiments and performances, models and editions.

It's difficult not to be seduced by Panamarenko's childlike enthusiasm for movement and science, by his inventiveness and by machines which are successful as artworks but often hopeless as vehicles for ocean and space expeditions.

Some of the works i (re)discovered in Antwerp:


Exhibition view Panamarenko Universum, 2014. Photo M HKA


Exhibition view Panamarenko Universum, 2014. Photo M HKA


Panamarenko had always wanted to build a submarine to take to the open seas and defy any storm. His ultimate purpose was to use this craft to journey to the Far North. Nonetheless, it took until the middle of the 19990s before the project really got under way.


PAHAMA, Spitsbergen, Nova Zemblaya


Arlikoop, 2004

A one-man aircraft which construction is based on the flapping movements of birds.


Raven's variable matrix, 2000

An advanced deep-sea diving apparatus engineered to dive faster. It consisted of a shaft attached to a screw-propeller and two pedals with belts. The device was strapped around the diver's hips, leaving the arms and torso completely free.

'You just have to peddle away with your legs, and it's just like you have a tail. That moved you forward fast, much faster than a swimmer...' - Panamarenko


Big Elbow (Razmo Special), 1990-1992

Panamarenko testing one of his diving contraptions:


Panamarenko Archive, M HKA, Antwerp, 2014

A diving suit for walking over the gentle slopes of the seabed. The diving suit has a plastic dome helmet and a small cylinder pump, ten centimetres in diameter, to be worn on the back. The helmet is supplied with oxygen by a cylinder with a piston that goes up and down, a four-litre bladder that serves as an extra lung, and a flexible hose that floats on the water surface.


Portuguese Man of War, 1990


Panamareko testing the Portuguese Man of War in the Maldives. Panamarenko Archive, M HKA, Antwerp, 2014

In the 1970s, to create devices that take off vertically, Panamarenko concentrated his research on rotation speed and lifting power. The artist developed a series of compact but powerful Pastille Motors to power his rucksack helicopters. The name Pastille Motor refers to the round, flat shape reminiscent of a large aspirin. The engine must not weigh more than twelve kg, while five kilos of fuel should be sufficient for twenty minutes' flying.


R.p.M. (Revolutions per Minute)


Panamarenko Archive, M HKA, Antwerp, 2014

The propulsion for the Pepto Bismo is powered by short rotor-propellers, each driven by its own motor. The helicopter principal allows the pilot to take-off vertically, controlling the apparatus by body movement.


Panamarenko, Pepto Bismo, 2003 courtesy Private Collection photo M HKA

Panamarenko built flying saucers and other spacecraft, he also researched into the various possibilities of using existing magnetic fields as cosmic highways to travel the solar system. In 1997 his fascination for the cosmos resulted in the final project Ferro Lusto that he describes as a spaceship of 800 meters in length and fit for a crew of 4000. Ferro Lusto would act as the mother ship that carres various smaller crafts, which he calls Bings.


Bing of the Ferro Lusto (model), 2002

Panamarenko developed Bing of the Ferro Lusto and Bing II as hybrid machines suitable for flying through both the atmosphere and outer space. Bing II was powered using air and has three 4D booster engines developed on the basis of the Toymodel of Space theory. The engine consists of two cylinders set in parallel in a metal block. Four pistons make alternate upward and sideways movements. The drive power develops on the basis of the difference in speed and mass in contrast with the direction of movement of the earth and solar system, boosted by centrifugal force. '


Panamarenko, Bing of the Ferro Lusto (model) , 2002 Courtesy Mulier Mulier Gallery

Panamarenko built The Aeromodeller between 1969 and 1971. The basketwork gondola was designed as a living space. Two aircraft engines on top of it are used to steer the imposing airship, which is held aloft by a cigar-shaped balloon, thirty metres long.


The Aeromodeller (Zeppelin), 1969-1971


Dubbele zeppelin, 1990

Panamarenko designed this machine on insect-like aluminium legs, to enable him to walk around the Swiss mountains more easily. Crooked Leg is powered by a boat engine and is operated using two vertical levers on either side of the device.


Knikkebeen [Crooked Leg], 1994

The Magnetic Shoes are made with military boots from the former East Block and copper stator coils taken apart from electric motors. He would weld the coils' magnets to a rod and then trapped an electrical charge. The result was amazing! If you then touched a piece of metal to it, you couldn't get it off no matter how hard you pulled! In a green rucksack (where military personnel would keep their walkie-talkies) are the lead batteries to provide the current. By alternatingly turning the current in the magnets on and off, I could hang upside down from a ceiling and walk around. I thought: well, that's a start... a little bit like flying...


Magnetic Shoes, 1966-1967


May-bug (Salto Arte), 1972


Exhibition view Panamarenko Universum, 2014. Photo M HKA


Exhibition view Panamarenko Universum, 2014. Photo M HKA


Exhibition view Panamarenko Universum, 2014. Photo M HKA


Exhibition view Panamarenko Universum, 2014. Photo M HKA



Panamarenko, Donderwolk, 1970-1971. Collectie Koninklijke Musea voor Schone Kunsten van België photo M HKA



Panamarenko, Prova Car, courtesy collection M HKA



Panamarenko Archive, M HKA, Antwerp, 2014


PAHAMA (detail)


Inside the PAHAMA


Panamarenko testing his electronic tank. Location: Furkapas. ©image: Panamarenko Archive

Panamarenko Universum is on view at the M HKA in Antwerp until Sunday 29 March 2015.

Categories: New Media News

A Simple Line. A zebra finch ponders upon abstraction

Mon, 01/26/2015 - 09:27


Exhibition view at MU, Eindhoven, 2014. Photo by Hanneke Wetzer


Jalila Essaidi, A Simple Line, 2014

I'm sure you've heard about Jalila Essaidi's work before. She is an artist who uses biology as an artistic medium, the founder of the BioArt Laboratories Foundation and the author of one of my favourite books about bioart: Bulletproof Skin, Exploring Boundaries by Piercing Barriers. And yes, she is also the artist behind the famous Bulletproof Skin project.

Essaidi is currently participating to the exhibition Matter of Life | Growing Bio Art & Design at MU in Eindhoven with a less headline-grabbing but equally fascinating work called A Simple Line. The installation looks at how the thin line between reality and abstraction is taking shape inside our brain and more precisely at the level of the 'simple cells' that are responsible for the formation and perception of the abstract concept of a line.

With 'A simple line', Essaïdi attempts to merge the abstract idea of a line with its most tangible reality by having a zebra finch look at its own brain cells in the form of a line. The result of her experimentation joins the organic (a bird inside a cage), the abstract (colour block lines) and even the conceptual.


Jalila Essaidi, A Simple Line, 2014


Jalila Essaidi, A Simple Line, 2014

A few words with the artist:

Hi Jalila! Do you have a link to the research about specific cells (simple cells) that are responsible for the formation and perception of the abstract concept of a line?

Information processing and specifically the functioning of simple cells find its origin in the research of Hubel and Wiesel. These cells were discovered in the late 1950s. It would be hard to pin point a specific article that would be interesting for your readers but I think the videos of Hubel and Wiesel's cat experiments say more than a thousand words. There are several available online.

Serendipity & discovering simple cells:


Hubel and Wiesel Cat Experiment

Simple cells & complex cells, tests that show* how the cells are reacting to orientation specific lines:


Hubel & Wiesel - Cortical Neuron - V1

*What you are hearing are the cells -connected by electrodes placed in the brain- firing when stimulated

How does the installation work? What is it made of? What do we see in the two tubes?

I have the feeling this question is technical/practical in nature so I am skipping the intent of the work, which of course is a vital part to the question "how".

What you see is the setup needed to merge the abstract idea of a line with its most tangible reality.

The installation is a work in progress; inside the tubes a line made of simple cells is visible. The cells are attached to a thin floating horizontal structure, which acts as a scaffold. The entire installation is designed to offer an optimal environment by controlling the temperature and composition of the atmosphere inside the inner tube, containing the line.

The next stage of the work would be an exploration into golden support structures, how to preserve the line outside of its current environment, and how to combine these preserved lines into their final form.


Jalila Essaidi, A Simple Line, 2014

Is there a particular reason why you chose a zebra finch? rather than any other bird, or even a mouse or a bug?

Zebra Finches are, just like Zebra Fish, a model organism in scientific research. At the Bio-Imaging Lab of Antwerp University they research plasticity of the Zebra Finch brain using functional magnetic resonance imaging. These studies give us new insights in for example Alzheimer's disease. My intention was to visualize the capacity of simple cells to detect lines using fMRI and make that the foundation of the project. This turned out to be not possible with current fMRI technology (of which they have at Antwerp the state of the art).

But even with fMRI out of the picture, the Zebra Finches stayed. Their brain being mapped out in histological- (for example http://www.zebrafinchatlas.org/)and digital three dimensional atlases simplified the entire process and of course their traditional birdcages -made mostly out of lines- charmed me and they felt like a natural choice for the project.

How did you get the brain cells of the bird?

The cells aren't from the actual birds in the birdcage, but from zebra finches that passed away due to old age.


Exhibition view at MU, Eindhoven, 2014. Photo by Hanneke Wetzer

Any upcoming project, research, event you'd like to share with us?

There will be an event on February 7th 2015 at MU Artspace where there will be a reflection on the work from the arts, philosophy and neurosciences. The evening will be in the format of a talk show.

I'm working on /researching a new project again with spidersilk which I hope to present at the end of 2015.

Thanks Jalila!

A Simple Line is part of the exhibition Matter of Life | Growing Bio Art & Design at MU, Strijp S, in Eindhoven. The show remains open until 22nd February 2015.
Also part of the exhibition: Cobalt 60 Sauce, a barbecue sauce made from 'supermarket mutants' and FATBERG: Building An Island of Fat.

Don't forget to send your proposals to the BIO ART & DESIGN AWARD. The three winning ideas will be awarded €25.000 to fully realize a new work of art or design that pushes the boundaries of research application and creative expression. They will be developed in collaboration with a Dutch research institution then exhibited to the public in MU Art Space in Eindhoven at the end of the year. The deadline for applications is 2 February 2015.
Categories: New Media News

Vampires, crucifixion and transfusion. BLOOD is not for the faint-hearted

Thu, 01/22/2015 - 10:47


Shaun McCann, A human placenta from 'Stem Cell Transplantation. Part of BLOOD at Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin

It flows throughout our bodies and yet some of us faint when they see a drop of it. It is a key features in stories of vampires and children fairytales. It is the fluid that is most closely associated to life but also to the Ebola virus, diseases transmitted by mosquitoes and other life-threatening conditions.


BLOOD at Science Gallery Dublin

The 25 artworks that make the exhibition BLOOD (Not for the faint-hearted) aptly reflect the complex space that blood occupies in our cultures. From the vampire killing kit to the video of stem-cell extractions, from the luminol dripped down onto a sculpture made of blood and resin to Hermann Nitsch's cathartic Theatre of Orgies and Mysteries, all grounds seem to be covered: history, pure science, crime, medicine, literary fiction, ethics and taboo.

A couple of works in the show might be upsetting for some and indeed the gallery recommends it to the 15+. Strangely enough, i had no problem visiting the show but writing about it makes me far more uncomfortable. I could not even watch the video of Maria Phelan's work MYTYPE.


Marion Laval-Jeantet and Benoit Mangin, May the Horse live in Me! Part of BLOOD at Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin


Marion Laval-Jeantet and Benoit Mangin, May the Horse live in Me! (Dried horse blood) Part of BLOOD at Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin

One of the works that opens the show is a documentation of Que le cheval vive en moi! (May the horse live in me!), a performance in which Marion Laval-Jeantet was injected with horse blood plasma. This bold self-experiment continues the artistic duo's exploration of trans-species relationships.

In the months preceding the performance, Marion Laval-Jeantet built up her tolerance to the foreign animal bodies by being injected with horse anibodies. The artists called the process "mithridatization", after Mithridates VI of Pontus who cultivated an immunity to poisons by regularly ingesting sub-lethal doses of the same. Once her body was ready, she was injected with horse blood plasma containing the entire spectrum of foreign antibodies, without falling into anaphylactic shock, an acute multi-system allergic reaction.

In this Science Gallery interview below, Benoit Mangin explains how Marion was able to hide the eyes of the horse. A horse would normally react very violently to having his eyes covered but somehow, the animal didn't perceive her as being an entirely different organism.


May the Horse Live in Me! at BLOOD


Robert McDonnell's blood transfusion apparatus on display. Photo The City.ie

Nearby, lies the apparatus used by surgeon Robert McDonnell on a fourteen year old girl whose arm was torn and lacerated while she was working in a paper mill. Robert drew 350 millilitres of blood from his own arm and syringed it back into Mary Anne. The girl's condition improved for a short time, but she died the day after. It was the first human-to-human blood transfusion performed in Ireland.


John O'Shea, Black Market Pudding. Part of BLOOD at Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin

John O'Shea is showing a video recipe of his renowned delicacy, the Black Market Pudding. Just like we get milk from cows and eggs from chicken without the need to kill them, we could also get fresh blood from pigs and make black pudding, a type of blood sausage commonly eaten in Britain and Ireland.

The blood is extracted from living pigs via a routine veterinary procedure and the whole business model ensures that the pig grows old peacefully. Kind of. And because vegetarian suet is used to emulsify the ingredients, the black market pudding is branded as being an ethical animal product.


Marc Quinn, Legion. Dried horse blood as part of BLOOD at Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin

Marc Quinn is an artist famous for many reasons. One of them is a series of casts of his head made out of 8 pints of his own blood, frozen.

Quinn is participating to the show with a wax model of his baby son. The sculpture is made of wax mixed with animal blood and protein his son is intolerant to. The work is thus both tender and savage. It evokes the love for a child and the cruelty of appropriating the blood of a non-human animal.


Peter Arnds, The Nazi Ideology of Blood and Blood-Ridden Tales From German Children's Literature

Professor Peter Arnds is showing a fascinating collection of German children's books in which children come to harm and blood is shed, posters that detail the Nazis' obsession with blood and its purity, and a short video on the Nazis' ideology of blood.

It turns out that children's literature and folktales are quite at ease with the depiction of murder, cannibalism and other violent scenes. In Germany and elsewhere. One example of this is Charles Perrault's version of Little Red Riding Hood from 1697or the Grimm Brothers' original fairytales.


Chella Quint, STAINS™. Part of BLOOD at Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin


Chella Quint, STAINS™. Part of BLOOD at Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin (image from the Science Gallery facebook page)

There is a lot of humour in the gallery as well. STAINS™ is a fake company that challenges the hypocrisy of marketers trying to sell female menstrual products while showing blue liquids and pretty girls laughing in the sunshine.

Visitors to the exhibition are invited to take a selfie with one of the blood stain broaches made by STAINS™ and share the photo via the Twitter with the hashtag #periodpositive. You can also buy the blood stains as earrings or pendant.

More images from the show:


Charlie Murphy, Blood Vessels. Part of BLOOD at Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin


Maria Phelan, MyType. Part of BLOOD at Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin


Shaun McCann, A human placenta from 'Stem Cell Transplantation. Part of BLOOD at Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin


Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Pulse Index. Part of BLOOD at Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin


Franko B, Lover. Part of BLOOD at Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin


Franko B, Woof Woof. Part of BLOOD at Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin


Clemens Ruthner, Vampire Killing Kit. Part of BLOOD at Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin


Clemens Ruthner, Vampire Killing Kit. Part of BLOOD at Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin


Clemens Ruthner, Vampire Killing Kit. Part of BLOOD at Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin

The exhibition was curated by curator and media studies scholar Jens Hauser, haematologist Prof Shaun McCann, Immunologist Prof Luke O'Neill, literary and cultural scholar Prof Clemens Ruthner and Science Gallery Dublin director Lynn Scarff. It remains open at the Science Gallery Dublin until tomorrow, Friday 23rd of January.

Categories: New Media News

Mediterranean. Portrait of a region in turmoil

Mon, 01/19/2015 - 10:52


Ghadaffi's compound Bab Al-Aziziya, Tripoli


Saint-Tropez, France. © Nick Hannes

Photographer Nick Hannes spent four years traveling around the Mediterranean looking for the traces left by mass tourism, migration, financial crisis, political upheavals and other burning issues. "[The Mediterranean] remains unique on the map of the world: a sea at the intersection of three continents, a relatively short distance from each other," Hannes told Flanders Today. "There's a reason why this region is considered the cradle of our civilisation."

History meets very contemporary troubles in his photos. While touring some 20 countries, the photographer saw tourists dancing on beaches while poverty-stricken people at the other hand of the sea were hoping to board a boat and migrate to richer shores, protests by family members of people who disappeared during the Algerian civil war, Gazans smuggling goods through underground tunnels in an attempt to overcome the severe food shortage imposed by the Israeli blockade, etc.

Hannes' series Mediterranean. The Continuity of Man is currently on view at the Photo Museum in Antwerp. I visited the show a few days ago and here are some of the images i found most striking:


Crisis wedding, Rio, Greece. © Nick Hannes

Doing prospection for my Mediterranean Project in the port city of Patras, Greece, I bumped into this weird wedding party. Christos Karalis (44), who married Anna (26), decided to have the party in his petrol station, to save on expenses. "This is how we respond to the crisis", a family member said to me. "Please show these pictures to Merkel. A Greek keeps on laughing and celebrating, even when his money is being taken away."


Thiva, Greece


Rock of Gibraltar, seen from La Linea de la Concepcion, Spain. © Nick Hannes


Qalandiya checkpoint, Ramallah © Nick Hannes


Valencia, Spain. © Nick Hannes


Checkpoint, Sirte, Libya. © Nick Hannes


Tunis


Asylum seekers, Athens, Greece. © Nick Hannes


Istanbul, Turkey. © Nick Hannes


Adana, Turkey. © Nick Hannes


Cairo, Egypt. © Nick Hannes


Ibiza, Spain. © Nick Hannes


Palase, Albania. © Nick Hannes

Mediterranean. The Continuity of Man is at FotoMuseum Antwerp until February 1, 2015.

Check also my post on another FoMu exhibition that features Hannes' work: Red Journey, a photo trip across the former Soviet Union.

Categories: New Media News

Prison Gourmet

Fri, 01/16/2015 - 12:33

Karla Diaz is an activist, artist, writer and one of the founders of the artist group Slanguage Studio. A couple of years ago, she got interested in the prison food system in California and in particular in the prisoners' ingenious strategies to overcome the culinary flaws of the CDCR cafeterias.

It turns out that prisoners create their own recipes using the limited list of ingredients they can buy either from the jail commissary or the vending machines. The men also design kitchen tools using whatever is available to them and make some unconventional mixtures of ingredients to create their own unique flavours.

Diaz asked friends serving time in prisons in California to send her their own food recipes and collected them for a print on demand book called Prison Gourmet.

On a documentary and curiosity level, Prison Gourmet is a kind of culinary version of Prisoners Inventions. But Prison Gourmet is also a performance in which the artist addresses the politics of food and incarceration by reproducing prison recipes devised by inmates.

I contacted Karla Diaz and she kindly accepted to answer my questions about Prison Gourmet:

Hi Karla! How did you get the idea to make prison recipes?

This idea first came in a meeting I had with my mentor, Manuel "Manazar" Gamboa who was an L.A. poet and playwright. He died in 2001. Manazar spent 17 years of his life in a California prison and after being released from prison, he dedicated the rest of his life writing and teaching writing to others. One day, he shared with me one of his favorite prison recipes-- a tuna casserole with potato chips and dipped pickles. I was so intrigued by the taste of this recipe, the combination of flavors, the process, and Manazar's story. I wanted to recreate this recipe and share it with others. It was not until 2010, that I had the opportunity to do so. My brother had gone to prison and I became more actively involved in the prison food system. I was amazed on the limited choices of food-packages that prisoners could eat. They are saturated with salt, oil and high cholesterol. There had been a few food strikes by prisoners demanding better food conditions. At the same time, I became aware of alternative food recipes that prisoners were eating. These recipes are made from food items that prisoners get to choose from their commissary food items. It's not the cafeteria food. They choose these food items and combine them to make their own recipes. I also learned that some of these recipes are done collaboratively. In a prison system, that tends to isolate and segregate people by race. I was so intrigued by the idea that food recipes were a means of unity. I decided to make this performance called prison gourmet, emphasizing the term "gourmet" and giving value to the prisoners as self-taught chefs.

What does (or did) the Prison Gourmet performance look like exactly?

In 2010, I was asked to participate in "Let Them Eat LACMA" a one-day event of collective performances organized by the art collective Fallen Fruit, that happened at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Prison Gourmet was originally a three-hour, one-day performance recreating recipes from California prisoners. The performance not only gave audiences free-samples of the recipes but also guided audiences through the process of which the food was made. This process is very important because prisoners make these recipes with limited cooking tools for instance, some prisoners use plastic bags, towels and t-shirts instead of pots and pans. The original Prison Gourmet also included a notebook with some of the letters with the recipes and general information on the California prison food. In 2014, Prison Gourmet was part of the exhibition "Around the Table: Food, Creativity, Community " at the San Jose museum of Art. I was glad to expand on the performance and make a full-length video of the recipes, a book documenting some of the recipes, a performance recreating one of the recipes and answering audience questions, and an installation.


Karla Diaz, Prison Gourmet. Around the Table, San Jose Museum of Art, November 9, 2013 - April 20 2014. Photo Aperture Priority

How did you get prisoners to share these recipes with you?

I asked prisoners that I had a relationship with or friends that had a loved one in prison. Looking back, I don't think I would have gotten much response if I approached the prison institution officials. I've tried that approach before and have gotten a lot of paperwork, delay, red tape, censorship and no response. Also, you have to understand that prisoners have a different relationship to the police authorities and the amount of information they share with police. From what prisoners have told me, sometimes information whether it be written or in images can be used against them. It could be a simple letter or phone number, or an image that can be used against them. Prisoners had to trust me. And that is a very big responsibility as an artist. To keep that trust. Working with many different communities in my work, I've learned that this is one of the first most important things to build.


Prison Gourmet, Sweet & Sour Chicken. Image courtesy of Karla Diaz

I'm also curious to know more about prisoners' cooking experiences: what kind of ingredients and cooking tools do they have at their disposal? And do you know where they cook? In their cell or do they have access to a kitchen?

I think I answered this a little bit earlier. The prisoners use limited tools at their disposal--essentially what they have available to them in their cell or what they can trade or access without permission from the kitchen. Cooling pans and pots take the place of trash bags and bath towels or t-shirts.

Could you give us some examples of creative uses of prison ingredients?

Yes, of course. One example of an interesting creative use of an ingredient is strawberry jelly. For example, in a recipe for orange chicken, a prisoner uses strawberry jelly with sugar, water and the powder drink Kool-Aid to make the orange sauce. Prisoners use pork rinds as a substitute for chicken. It's incredible how visually the strawberry jelly looks the same as the orange chicken sauce.

I suspect that Prison Gourmet is about more than just food. So which kind of issues are you exploring during the performance, how do you manage to engage the public into the discussion?

Yes, Prison Gourmet is more than just about food politics. Its about human creativity, even in the most limited of conditions. It's also about freedom. What I mean by this is that for prisoners, food consumption is not about taste. One day, I wrote to a prisoner asking him why he had made this recipe for orange chicken. I thought he really liked the taste of it. He replied that it wasn't so much the taste of these ingredients put together but that it was the memory that this created for him. Every time he made it, he remembered being home with his daughter. It meant freedom. It meant being home with his family. I also think about the impact this has on food culture, health and its context. You look at the prisons in the united states and there is a high rate and disproportionate rate of people of color (young men in particular) that are currently incarcerated...they are making alternative food practices that they learned from their culture from their memories living in their neighborhoods.

What now seems like a hipster food to eat like Korean-tacos, prisoners have already invented long ago. Taste is about remixing and remembering who they are on the outside world. It means tasting that bit of freedom....

By no means is my intention to comment on prisoners' crime or punishment. I am no one to judge this or is interested in that. I say this because there have been many audiences that have made comments that prisoners deserve to eat bad food. I try to engage audiences throughout the performance by allowing them to ask questions. To facilitate dialogue and exchange, I also keep a journal for audiences who want to comment on the recipes directly to the prisoners.

Prison Gourmet is also a book. Do you sell it? Where?

Yes, Prison Gourmet is also a book. I have self-published a limited edition of these and they are published on demand by emailing my studio website at info@slanguagestudio.com. Please make sure you write Prison Gourmet on the subject line. The first edition was published with the help of the Mexican consulate via the facilitation of the San Jose Museum of Art.

Thanks Karla!

Categories: New Media News

The 10th edition of GAMERZ. From dancing trash bag to dichotomic perception

Mon, 01/12/2015 - 11:11


View of the Fondation Vasarely. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ


Adelin Schweitzer, Dichotomie #Eyeswalking, 2013

Here's my -as usual- very belated and -as usual- very enthusiastic review of the GAMERZ festival which took place in Aix-en-Provence so many days ago i refuse to count.

«The liberation of the game, its creative autonomy, supersedes the ancient division between imposed work and passive leisure» May 17, 1960. Excerpt from the Situationist international manifesto.

The 10th edition of the festival celebrated thus the death of passive leisure in the hands of games and art as well as the transformation of the compliant consumer into a creative user and abuser of technology. The exhibitions across town also investigated how the digital environment impacts and disrupts people's development at conscious and unconscious levels (cognitive, social, psychological, among others) and looked at how these often invisible adjustments can be harnessed in alternative social, economic, political or ecological practices.

The result is a free exhibition that proved, once again, that a digital art event can be both highly entertaining and smart. But the one thing that strikes me the most about GAMERZ is that, year after year, the festival manages to uncover and select young artists whose work i would otherwise not know about. And they are pretty good at spotting talents. The portfolio of artists like Labomedia, Antonin Foruneau, Jackenpopp, Maxime Marion & Emilie Brout or Paul Destieu has gone from strength to strength ever since i discovered their work at GAMERZ.

Here's what the 2014 edition brought us (and there's more to come):


Lucien Gaudion, Spectra, installation for prepared vinyl, 2011. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ


Lucien Gaudion, Spectra, installation for prepared vinyl, 2011. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

Spectra, by Lucien Gaudion, is a vinyl printed with a chromatic circle, like the picture discs that were so popular up until the 1970s. As the record needle travels around the vinyl, the sound spectrum of each colour is made audible, from its lowest to highest frequencies, by a reading cell scanning the surface.


Ink Geyser (Mapping), Mathieu Tremblin, 2011-2014. Part of F.A.T. Lab, Like Jacking. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ


Mathieu Tremblin, Ink Geyser (Mapping), 2011-2014. Part of F.A.T. Lab, Like Jacking. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ


Mathieu Tremblin, Dancing Trashbag, 2011. Part of F.A.T. Lab, Like Jacking. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ


Addie Wagenknecht & Pablo Garcia, Webcam Venus, 2013

F.A.T. Lab was exhibiting a series of artworks ranging from a Dancing Trashbag to a Cam bootleg screening of The Pirate Bay Away From Keyboard.

Each of these artworks exploits the concept of LikeJacking Spam (a kind of spam targeted at social network) but by sharing their source code, the artists want to stimulate empowerment through poetic/activist/humorous perturbations.



Adelin Schweitzer, Dichotomie #Eyeswalking, multimedia installation, 2013. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ


Adelin Schweitzer, Dichotomie #Eyeswalking, multimedia installation, 2013. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ


Adelin Schweitzer, Dichotomie #Eyeswalking, multimedia installation, 2013. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ


Adelin Schweitzer, Dichotomie #Eyeswalking, multimedia installation, 2013. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

If one subtracts what the eye can see from what the ear can perceive, what remains of our perception of a given place ? What does our body become when it's not anymore the actor of our perceptions?

These are the questions at the origin of Adelin Schweitzer's exploration of the notion of dichotomy. The artist was showing two pieces where natural and artificial perceptions play with and against one another.

Dichotomie #Eyeswalking is made of two videos that document Schweitzer's walk in the snowy Canadian landscape. One gives a traditional, horizontal view of someone walking and is shown on a (traditional again) video screen. The other is shot from above, from a bouquet of balloons he is carrying along. It is screened inside a pedestal and you have to bend your head and watch inside goggles to watch that perspective. Constantly looking up to the wall screen in order to compare the two perspective is irresistible but if you stick to watching the perspective from above, it almost feels as if your body is pulled up and the scene is unfolding below your body.


Yro, Bernard Szajner, Jesse Lucas & Erwan Raguenes, Persystograf. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ


Yro, Bernard Szajner, Jesse Lucas & Erwan Raguenes, Persystograf. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ


Yro, Bernard Szajner, Jesse Lucas & Erwan Raguenes, Persystograf. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

Inspired by an old instrument called the hurdy-gurdy, the Persystograf is activated by a hand crank. It emits sounds and images that can be customized using additional control knobs.


Art of Failure, Flat Earth Society, 2008-2014. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ


Art of Failure, Flat Earth Society, 2008-2014. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ


Art of Failure, Flat Earth Society

Flat earth society takes readings from the stylus of topographic radar, cuts them into vinyl and then plays them back with a stylus.


Gaspard and Sandra Bebie-Valerian aka Art-Act, Viridis. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ


Gaspard and Sandra Bebie-Valerian aka Art-Act, Viridis. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ


Gaspard and Sandra Bebie-Valerian aka Art-Act, Viridis

Viridis is both an online survival game and a fully-operative spirulina farm run by artists Gaspard and Sandra Bebie-Valérian.

The Viridis game is set in a post-apocalyptic world, in which humans owe their survival to spirulina, the "green counterpoison". But what makes the game interesting is that it gives players the possibility to collaborate with the farmers on the daily management of the real spirulina farm. Players can convert their points into daily tasks or items, vote in referendums about the cultivation of spirulina, etc.

More images from the festival:


Screening of Machinimas selected by Isabelle Arvers. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ


Olivier Morvan, à ton image (le projet escapologique, épisode VIII). Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ


Olivier Morvan, à ton image (le projet escapologique, épisode VIII). Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ


Olivier Morvan, à ton image (le projet escapologique, épisode VIII). Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ


Olivier Morvan, à ton image (le projet escapologique, épisode VIII). Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ


Performances at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ


Opening night at the Fondation Vasarely. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ


Opening night at the Fondation Vasarely. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ


Catering of the opening night by Dolls in the Kitchen. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ


Catering of the opening night by Dolls in the Kitchen. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ


Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ


Performance at the Fondation Vasarely. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ


Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ


Guillaume Stagnaro, Fluorescent Umwelt, at the Fondation Vasarely. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

Loooots more photos over here.

Categories: New Media News

Vegetation as a Political Agent

Tue, 01/06/2015 - 12:11

I finally made it to the PAV - Parco Arte Vivente (park of living art) in Turin and visited Vegetation as a Political Agent. The exhibition charts a history of the plant world, by looking beyond the biological and exploring the political and social implications of vegetation. And it is pretty much as exciting as i had hoped.

Plants are not as neutral and powerless as we might think. For example, they played a particularly important role in the 17th and 18th centuries, when navigators and 'explorers' sent to discover the world ended up annexing the land, colonizing populations and looking for ways to exploit the financial potential of new plant species (culminating in the spice trade.)

At the other end of the spectrum are individuals and communities which, from the 1970s on, have been using plants to resist, revolt and defy. The exhibition tells their story through documents that date back to the first ecological revolutions, specially commissioned projects and contemporary artworks.


Emory Douglas, Zapantera Negra. Wall painting, variable dimensions. Courtesy the artist, painted by Pietro Perotti. Photo PAV

The show opens with the mural Zapantera Negra in which Emory Douglas (Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party from 1967 until the 1980s when the group disbanded) brings together the Black Panther movement and the Escuelita Zapatista supporting the rural working-classes in Chiapas. Douglas modified one of his famous posters Afro-American solidarity with the oppressed people of the world (1969) by turning a rifle into a corn plant, symbol of Mexican populations.


RozO (Philippe Zourgane and Severine Roussel), When vegetation is not decoration, 2014. Photo PAV

By placing plants in the context of territorial control in colonial and postcolonial periods, RozO's When vegetation is not decoration is perhaps the work that best encapsulates the exhbition. On a larger-scale, vegetation can become a tool to manage a territory or, conversely to support resistance against foreign control. The installation, made of archive material housed inside a temporary architecture of bamboo and palm leaves, illustrates contrasting uses of vegetation in history:

First, black and white photos taken by the French army in the mid-1950s show the French army harvesting wheat in Algeria. They are protected by elite soldiers and armored units. These images clearly depict the exploitation of land for the benefit of the coloniser. Aside from the word "Algeria" written on the grain sacks, it seems that we are witnessing a French cereal farming region. Here vegetation is clearly used to assimilate and acculturate. Vegetation is employed by the attacker and coloniser of a country or region, to deterritorialize its inhabitants. Rendering the natives foreigners in their own land was a technique that frequently used by colonisers. In the 20th Century, following the invasion of Poland, Nazi Germany implemented a wide-reaching process of "Germanisation" of the territory, to render it German.

On the other side are stills from Chien thang Tay Bac (North West Victory), a documentary filmed in 1952 by the Viet Minh military forces during the war against French occupation. The images demonstrate how Vietnam fighters used topography and vegetation as a weapon. Instead of traveling through the road infrastructure, the soldiers used pathways that allow them to avoid detection by the French occupiers and instead of using the traditional bamboo rafts to cross rivers, they built bamboo bridges that were almost impossible to detect as they were positioned 10 centimetres under the surface of the water.


Critical Art Ensemble, Sterile Field, 2014. Photo PAV

Roundup Ready Crops are genetically engineered crops that have had their DNA altered to allow them to withstand the active ingredient of Monsanto's herbicide Roundup. Farmers who plant these seeds must use Roundup to keep other weeds from growing in their fields.

Members of Critical Art Ensemble prepared an artificial plot of land with RR herbicide, and challenged people to try and grow something in the enriched soil. The result of their efforts is depressing, it illustrates better than any essay the reason why the herbicide's nickname is 'killer exterminator'.


Adelita Husni-Bey, Part of chronicle of zines about the English radical environmental movement (details)

The most fascinating work in the show for me was Adelita Husni-Bey's timeline of English 'green' movements between 1987 and 2004 as seen through the radical and underground zines they published. Before the widespread use of the internet, zines and magazines were the only way to spread counter-information, controversial ideas and research.


Dan Halter, Mesembryanthemum Space Invader, 2014. Delosperma cooperi. Photo PAV

Dan Halter planted a colony of Mesembryanthemum, a flower originally from southern Africa which is considered an alien species in many other parts of the world. Once in full bloom, the plant forms the famous icon of the Space Invaders video game, suggesting thus a very literal take on the idea of invasion. Excepts that this time, the colonization is upside down: it's African invaders that are about to colonize Europe.


Fernando García-Dory, Dream Farms The Lost Path: Learning from George Chan's Legacy, 2009-2014. Photo PAV

Fernando Garcia-Dory brings to our attention George Chan's models of Integrated Farming and Waste Management System. The IFWMS involves a closed sustainable cycle in which matter and energy flow within the productive unit, increasing yields to meet the demands in food and energy of local populations while at the same time guaranteeing the sustainability of the ecosystem.

This revolutionary model, called Dream Farms, is as yet largely unknown.


Claire Pentecost, Greetings from the Cornbelt, 2012. Series of five postcards, poster, archival envelope Courtesy the artist. Photo PAV

Claire Pentecost's series of postcards document the artist's research in Mexico where she discovered that transgenic maize is illegally cultivated. Working with grassroots organizations in Sierra Juarez di Oaxaca, she catalogs the OGM plants and portrays them on postcards that are then distributed to Mexican farmers in the hope that they will help stop the contamination.

More images from the exhibition:


Imre Bukta, In The Cemetary Of Farm Wagons, 1976. Photo PAV


Imre Bukta. Photo PAV


Piero Gilardi, O.G.M. Free [G.M.O. Free], 2014. Costumes for political animation, painted expanded polyurethane, cloth and mannequins. Photo PAV


Adelita Husni-Bey, Story of the Heavens and Our Planet, Archetype I, 2008-2009 (installation view.) Photo PAV


Amilcar Cabral. Photo PAV


View of one of the exhibition rooms. Photo PAV

Vegetation as a Political Agent was curated by Marco Scotini. It is on view at the PAV - Parco Arte Vivente in Turin until 11 January 2014.

Categories: New Media News

Techno-Ecologies II. Acoustic Space #12

Fri, 01/02/2015 - 10:19

Techno-Ecologies II. Acoustic Space #12, edited by Rasa Smite, Armin Medosch and Raitis Smits.

(available on amazon USA or by ordering directly from RIXC via e-mail: rixc @ rixc.lv.)

Publishers RIXC Center for New Media Culture and MPLab, Art Research Lab of Liepaja University write: Techno-ecological perspectives have become now one of the key directions in contemporary discourses and are part of a larger paradigm shift from new media to post-media art. A range of practices which were once subsumed under terms such as media art, digital art, art and technology or art and science, have experienced such growth and diversification that no single term can work as as a label any more. Traditionally separated domains are brought together to become contextual seedbeds for ideas and practices that aim to overcome the crisis of the present and to invent new avenues for future developments.

This is the 2nd volume in the Acoustic Space series that continues to build a 'techno-ecological' perspective whereby new artistic practices are discussed that combine ecological, social, scientific and artistic inquiries. Edited and published in the context of the exhibition Fields, it makes a perspective its own that sees art as a catalyst for change and transformations.

This 300+ page publication is a collection of papers by artists, curators and academics. The texts are mapping contemporary practices in art & technology but they also had the specific function of providing a framework to the Fields exhibition that took place in Riga last Summer. The show investigated the place of contemporary art practices in society and the role artists can take not just as generators of new aesthetics but also as catalysts of active involvement in social, scientific, and technological transformations. The publication is as deep and as wide-ranging as the Riga show was. Its content also echoes many of the current conversations that makes media art such an exciting field to follow: DIY culture vs 'black box' technology, digital archiving, continued influence of early locative art, funding models for the digital culture, reconciliation between sciences and humanities, etc.

Here's a far from exhaustive list of essays i've enjoyed reading:


Graham Harwood and Matsuko Yokokoji, Coal Fired Computers, 2010. Photo by Marc Wathieu

In Slow Media Art - Seeing through Speed in Critiques of Modernity, Kevin Hamilton and Katja Kwastek applied the ideas of the slow food to Media Art. The slow media art works they presented share a 'deep engagement with sensation, duration, and speed.' I like the concept because it proves media art detractors that there is more to media art than the quest for innovation and sparkly spectacle. The examples of the genre selected by the authors of the paper include YoHa's magnificent coal-fired computers and Esther Polak's Milk Project.


Kuai Shen Auson, 0h!m1gas

In Stridulation Amplified: An Artistic Research of the Bioacoustic Phenomena of Leaf-cutter Ants Using the Turntable, artist Kuai Shen Auson shares what he learnt from 5 years working on and exhibiting 0h!m1gas , an installation that harnesses the relentless activity of an ant colony into a DJ scratching performance.

In Ars Bioarctica. Five Years of Art & Science Work by the Finnish Society of Bioart at Kilpisjärvi Biological Station, Erich Berger and Laura Beloff draw lessons from their five years of experience organizing art&science collaborations in sub-Arctic environment

Michel Bauwens's essay Evolving Towards a Partner State in an Ethical Economy looks at the free software industry and defends the idea that society can learn something from the politics of this value creation model and that of a 'P2P' state might emerge from these social practices.

In Contestation and the Sustainability of the Digital Commons, Eric Kluitenberg reflects on the outcomes of the Economies of the Commons, a series of conferences that focused on how sustainable models could be identified for creating and maintaining public online media culture and knowledge resources. The final part of his paper charts various revenue models that can sustain commons based initiatives in the digital domain.

I learned about the existence of anticartographism in Gavin MacDonald's text Moving Bodies and the Map: Relational and Absolute Conceptions of Space in GPS-based Art in which he walks us through the short history of the use of GPS as an artistic medium.


Bug Music: David Rothenberg's Insect Choir

In Bird, Whale, Bug: The Reasons for an Interspecies Music, composer David Rothenberg tells about his experience of working with bird song neuroscientists, playing music with animals and even bugs and his findings about how a musical approach might lead to better understanding and respect for 'natural' sounds.

About the FIELDS exhibition: FIELDS, positive visions for the future, Ghostradio, the device that produces real random numbers, Sketches for an Earth Computer, POLSPRUNG (POLE SHIFT) - Devastating Experimental Set-ups, On the interplay between a snail and an algorithm.

Image on the homepage: a performance by Cécile Babiole at the FIELDS exhibition.

Categories: New Media News

Survival Kit Festival in Umeå

Mon, 12/29/2014 - 10:25


Anthony Clair Wagner. Photo: Fanny Carinasdotter


Umeå Skafferi / Umeå Pantry at Pilgatan 16 (photo)

It's almost 2015 and i still have to write reviews of a couple of festivals i've visited over the Autumn. The first one that was languishing in my draft is the very smart, very socially-engaged and exciting Survival Kit festival in Umeå, Sweden. The event explored the theme of local and global survival through the lenses of visual art, music, food, discussions and lectures.

How can we look at issues such as ecology, economy and human survival at large? And on a more personal level: how can I navigate as an individual in this new and complex world?

Wherever we look, there is a feeling how being disconnected, of living in the midst of uncertainties regarding our economic and political systems, social structures, and ecological future. The Survival Kit Festival looked at what can be done to regain some control. The artists and activists selected don't stop at denouncing what is wrong with society and the world at large, they also document or implement small, practical solutions that might ensure our survival. These experiments go from building a biodome with an aquaponic system for fish and vegetable cultivation to converting a parking lot into a collective garden. From proposing a new currencies for culture to inviting the public to a cup of chaga mushroom tea.

I had never been to Umea. It's a small city and it was pissing rain all along. Yet, i found that place amazing: strong leftie values, free wifi on public buses, a culture of veganism and cheerful cut-out figures greeting you at the entrance of supermarkets:

Also i slept inside a prison cell. So what was not to love?

Here's a small selection of the works i discovered at the festival:


Joost Conijn, Wood Car, 2002


Joost Conijn, Wood Car, 2002


Joost Conijn, Wood Car, 2002


View of Joost Conijn video installation inside John Söderberg's caravan, at Verkligheten. Photo: Fanny Carinasdotter

In 2001 Joost Conijn spent the Summer riding a car he had built himself through Eastern European countries. The car is made out of wood, it runs on wood and because the world economically runs on oil, the artist wasn't going from petrol station to petrol station (like we normally would) but from rural area to rural area with no specific destination nor itinerary.

His objective was to use the plywood-clad vehicle as a ploy to generate unexpected situations and meetings across the road. The film of his expedition shows people in small villages guiding him to local saw-mills, offering him spare wood and inviting him to a picnic.


John Söderberg at Verkligheten. Photo: Fanny Carinasdotter

Conijn's film is screened inside John Ola Söderberg's caravan. I really REALLY like that one, it is simply a caravan made out of a caravan.


Siri Hermansen, Chernobyl Mon Amour, 2012 (video still)


Siri Hermansen, Chernobyl Mon Amour, 2012 (video still)


Chernobyl Mon Amour, 2012 (Extracts)

Siri Hermansen's films shows what might emerge from complete despair and devastation. The festival was screening two videos that document the survival strategies developed by local communities and individuals who have chosen to live in Chernobyl and Detroit.

In Chernobyl Mon Amour, the artist follows two state-employed guides who take catastrophe tourists, journalists and scientists to the exclusion zone of Pripyat, a city built for the families of power plant workers and evacuated at the time of the disaster in 1986.

In the interview, they talk about their fondness of the area. One of them even describes how he believes that his body is now accustomed to the radioactivity and how, after five years in the zone, his body actually gets ill when he enters the normal world. They both stay longer and longer periods in Chernobyl, ignoring the breaks their doctors advise.

They add that if you look around, it appears as if the whole nature is thriving in this radioactive environment. More and more animals are moving into it and vegetation grows unrestrained.

To them the zone offers a unique situation of hope, freedom and possibility within the hardships of Ukrainian society, and they describe Chernobyl as their "paradise".


Siri Hermansen, Land of Freedom, 2012


Siri Hermansen at Verkligheten. Photo: Fanny Carinasdotter

In the other film shown in the gallery, Land of Freedom, Hermansen follows the members of The Yes Farm, an artistic/activist community that moved from San Francisco to Detroit where they repaired and settled in one of the city's many abandoned buildings. The members of the collective see Detroit as an opportunity to explore new ways to live a more sustainable and socially-conscious life, through farming, gardening and a return to skills that the Fordist economy made obsolete.


Gunilla Bandolin, Bi installation at Verkligheten. Photo: Fanny Carinasdotter


Gunilla Bandolin, Bi installation at Verkligheten. Photo: Fanny Carinasdotter


Gunilla Bandolin, Bi installation at Verkligheten. Photo: Fanny Carinasdotter

If the earth was destroyed, Gunilla Bandolin would start building up the whole survival process with a bee-hive. Bee hives provide you with honey and pollen, the bees would pollinate the few plants that subsisted and new crops would grow. A beehive also produces surplus warmth, and thus cheap, retrievable energy.

It is a prototype like this, or the beginning of it, that I have tried to create in this exhibition. I want the bee-hives to be made in a transparent material and preferable place them in a shopping centre to remind people of the conditions of our existence. It is calculated that about 70% of what we have on our daily plates is dependent on pollinating insects.


Kaspars Lielgalvis, Non-convertible culture currencies


Kaspars Lielgalvis, Non-convertible Culture Currencies in Trailer Gallery, at Umeå University. Photo: Fanny Carinasdotter

Artist and art manager Kaspars Lielgalvis proposes the use of a new culture currencies as a possible solution to the situation of funding culture which has suffered greatly from the ongoing financial crisis.

This new medium of exchange, called Non-convertible Culture Currencies, would be used only in the cultural context. The first Culture currency - Dobžiks is already in use since March 2012 as a valid payment for entering events at the Totaldobže Art Center in Riga. There is a plan to create a worldwide network of those organizations that will accept Culture currencies and use Culture currencies as a payment for work which is done in cultural field and in most cases is paid too less.

Other works and images from the festival:


Anthony Clair Wagner. Photo: Fanny Carinasdotter


Anthony Clair Wagner. Photo: Fanny Carinasdotter

Isabelle Fremeaux, John Jordan and Kypros Kyprianou, Paths Through Utopias (trailer)

Isabelle Fremeaux, John Jordan and Kypros Kyprianou spent seven months on the road visiting eleven Utopian communities across Europe, documenting a parallel universe where money is worthless and private property has been abolished.


Antti Laitinen at Verkligheten. Photo: Fanny Carinasdotter


Lisa Busby. Photo: Fanny Carinasdotter


Emma-Lina Ericson, I Still Have an Other-Ache at Kungsgatan 92. Photo: Fanny Carinasdotter


Atsuko Otsuka's photo showing animals living in the "no-go zone" in Fukushima. Photo: Fanny Carinasdotter


Erik Sjodin, installation with aquaponics system


Erik Mikael Gudrunsson's work


Chto Delat, The Tower

The festival, which ran in collaboration with Survival Kit 6 in Riga, was organised by Verkligheten, a non-commercial and artist-run gallery that explores various kinds of art expressions.

Categories: New Media News

Because i always wondered what an artistic residency in the Arctic might be like...

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 11:52

This week, i'm talking with French artist Benjamin Pothier who is currently frost-bound for an ARS BIO ARCTICA residency organized by the Finnish Bio Art Society at Kilpisjarvi Biological Station in Lapland.

Pothier is in the region to shoot videos and make sound recordings but because he a PhD researcher in Arts, Anthropology and Architecture at the CAIIA Hub of the Planetary Collegium, University of Plymouth, he is also investigating nomadic architecture, drawing lessons from the way nomadic cultures live in symbiosis with the environment and more generally exploring issues of global warming which are felt so acutely in circumpolar regions.

The artist had previously attended the FIELD_NOTES laboratory at Kilpisjarvi Biological Station and last year he had been invited as an artist to participate to the Arctic Circle Residency 2013, in the international territory of Svalbard.

I'm catching up with Benjamin while he is still in the Arctic and before he flies to South Africa to show his photos of icebergs in Johannesburg....

Benjamin Pothier, 8KNOT Trailer

Hi Benjamin! The ARS BIO ARCTICA residency has an emphasis on the Arctic environment and art and science collaboration. Are you working with scientists over there? How?

Well, I am not working with scientists right now as there are no scientists at the station at the time, I mean apart from me! What is specific to my work is that I am actually an artist AND a researcher. I am a researcher in anthropology, which is usually classified as a "Social Science". But of course anthropology means much more than that for me. I have been driven to anthropology researches for intellectual and artistic reasons. I think the perspective on society one can gain through anthropological studies or research is quite similar to the position of the artist in our societies, and maybe even in traditional societies, as long as you consider the role of the shaman, which in my opinion is connected in many ways to the role of the artist in contemporary societies. But this is probably more an artist statement than an academic point of view.

As an artist i'm connecting to the site, the landscape, the nature and surroundings, through Photography and documentary film direction, but it is really a way to connect to the site. because all of this also include long walks, or staying still under snow or strong wind near an arctic lake shore, for example, to do video or sound recording. And the body is as much an interface with the landscape as the camera or the microphone.

Then as a researcher I try, and sometimes manage, to get an overview about theses experiences, mainly life in the arctic circle for this residency, in order to widen the frame of reference for my research.


Sound recording on the Shore of Kilpisjarvi's Lake 22/10/2014. -5°C strong wind

What brought you there? Because surely there must be art residency in more hospitable parts of the world?

I'm actually a PhD candidate at the CAIIA the Center for Advanced Inquiry in the Interactive Arts, in the program of the Planetary Collegium, which is supervised by the professor and artist Roy Ascott, and my research is focused on Circumpolar North Arctic and Subarctic Tribes... that's probably one of the reason! But I would love to visit... hum... Vancouver or San Francisco for example ! I am also passionate about the art and craft of the Haida people of Pacific Northwest Coast of North America for example...

Well last year I've been selected for the Arctic Circle residency, organized by The FARM,INC, a NYC based cultural organization. And we went up to 20° from the North Pole. I find this kind of residencies challenging. And I like it. For the Arctic circle residency we had to take a zodiac boat every morning to go to the shore, protected by three armed guide against potential polar bears attacks, and it's an "interesting" way to do film direction or photography. For me it was also a way to gain "field knowledge" on contemporary ways to "survive" in the arctic, through discussions with the arctic guide and a study of their gears and behavior.

As an artist I am also interested by that kind of harsh environments because it questions the place of humans on Earth... it's connected to some of my pursuits, I am quite interested by the work of Survival research laboratories, for example, or the Makrolab created by Marko Peljhan, or Angelo Vermeulen's Seeker projects. I'm honestly a die hard fan of "old school Cyberpunk", science fiction at large as well as bio-regionalism and vegan cooking... and to deal with rugged, waterproof or foldable technologies in this harsh environment, or to cook my vegan bolognaise with dried soy chunks in the station kitchen, all of these are experiences that fits with all those pursuits.

And well, of course the Arctic is NOT Antarctica, but I'm a big fan of the movies The Thing, the John Carpenter's one and the quite recent prequel as well. So some of the experiences I'm living there are materials for future art projects, who knows? Art installations, short sci-fi movies or novels, but with strong first-hand field experiences as background. And some like photographing the landscape or directing a cross media project here are very concrete art experiences with a result in the short term.

The Arctic is the perfect place to engage into those kind of life and art experiences. I like being in a place where I can feel that nature is stronger than me, even if it is always a very calculated risk, I'm very cautious and I have a kind of "preppers" mindset. But in a "philosophical" point of view, when I'm saying that "Nature is stronger than me", it's probably because "I" like when "I" becomes "Nature" and there is no more "me" for a few minutes. that's the reward. It's a Zen type experience. I am really not the first human nor artist talking about that!


Fire inside the Kota


Benjamin Pothier, Maiitsoh (open)

This is not the first time you are at the Kilpisjarvi research station. You first went there in 2011 for the Finnish Bioart Society's Field_Notes workshop. So is this residency a continuation of the previous one? Or are you working on something entirely different?

Well I was working on something quite different at that time, an interactive documentary Installation about Computer History that I presented at the Computer Art Conference #4 CAC#4 in Rio de Janeiro in September, the project is called Maiitsoh: I've interviewed various people from William Gibson to Noam Chomsky, or John Cale, about topics dealing with computer history, consciousness and creativity, and I was working on that project at the time of the Field_Notes workshop. Maiitsoh is the Navajo word or more precisely the Dineh world because the so-called "Navajo" call themselves Dineh... And it's more than time to give some recognition to the indigenous people. So it's the Dineh word for the Wolf. It's a direct homage to the code talkers during World War II, at that time the Dineh language was used by the Allies as an "analog" cyphering technique, while the Axis Countries where using a mechanical cyphering machine, the Enigma machine. The first ever modern computer ever built, Colossus, was actually built to break the Enigma machine code. It's a part of history quite well known in the computer community. There is also a not that good movie directed by John Woo about the Dineh code talkers. I used the name Maiitsoh as a tribute to the Code Talkers, but also for it's similarities with Macintosh. Maiitsoh is made of wood, like the first computer mouse or the first Apple computer... it's really a multi scalar project. It's about creativity, it's a 3 or 4 dimensional Nodal point, in the Gibsonian perspective. it's a wooden computer and it's an icon of computer recent History. Forget about plastic, the first computers owe things to the wood!

Nowadays i'm very focused on my PhD research, which is a study of the patterns of the Ainu people, the aboriginal people of North Japan. It's for me one of the most beautiful form of craft on this planet. This is a very subjective comment. As an artist, I just love the shape of their patterns.

But the subject is a bit wider. I am questioning the origins of arts and craft on this planet, basically. Why did the human species started to draw, to do sculptures, embroidery ? That is the question! I never take for granted anything that exists on this planet. Why do people wear pants made with denim fabric for example ? And why don't we embroider our clothing nowadays ? What is an object ? Why do human grow those kind of vegetables in the area, and not other ones ? To get perspective is always a good way to make a daily fresh start and enhance your human experience.

You brought a bike in the Arctic? Is it a very practical mode of moving around up there? What's the story of the bike?

Yes, I brought a foldable bike there, a Brompton. For various reasons. First, It's an artistic and activist statement, here in the Arctic which is of course one of the first region exposed to global warming. I am really pro-biking, I was even close to people from Critical Mass at a time. I am proud about that past. It's a shame to see that people are so unconscious of environmental problems. Last year in Svalbard, at 20° from the North pole, we saw styrofoam on the shore. In that incredible landscape... and of course the invisible pollution is also quite dramatic... Species are disappearing , the arctic is melting, and I guess nobody forgot Sandy Superstorm... well , I don't have a short term memory and I remember being already aware of those increasing problems in the 90ies... And you can really make eco-friendly businesses and make money. So come on! Humanity is a teenager trashing its room.

So it is in a way an homage to old friends from the activists community, to bring a bike here in the Arctic, and to use it to circulate around the station, or to go to the grocery store few kilometers from here, despite the wind and snow... But there is also something related to artistic performance, to use that quite "urban Bike" which is in a way the "Rolls Royce" of folding bikes, and to use it on hard snowy roads in the Arctic Circle. I also applied a kind of "artistic protocol" to the use of the Bike, which is a direct homage to Joseph Beuys piece I Like America and America Likes Me.

The bike never actually circulated nor touched the ground on a road before I took it out of its rugged case, here at the station. The same way Beuys didn't touch the U.S. soil before being brought to that room with a live coyote... It was an homage to the political situation of "Native Americans", and here in the North of Finland there are still Sami people, northern Europe's last hunters and gatherers. So the title could be "I like Finland and Finland Likes me", maybe ! hahaha!


Suohpanterror, Blowupnorth

I don't personally know them but I have seen some work by a collective called Suohpanterror, they do street art and art related projects dealing with the Sami identity. They are probably much more reliable than me to talk about the Sami question. What I can give as an artist is some visibility about the question. And of course for the bike performance itself, there are some unconscious parts I can't myself explain. It's like making a collage, but in 4 dimension and in real life, with an Arctic logistic, and a study of the possible ways to bring that bike to a research station. It's very useful here for me, and it's of course a bit burlesque to bring it here. I like that mix. It's a very serious and complicated project, it's suddenly completely absurd, and then it becomes really serious again.

I honestly thought that it would be a bit more challenging than that to use the bike. The Brompton works quite well on Sapmi's roads...

And then of course the Brompton itself is a very amazing object. it's manga like and also almost Steampunk . But it's quite Beat-Punk for me. It's a super contemporary object with that 1950ies or 60ies taste and quality. And I'm actually NOT paid to say that.


Drone FPV Training with the Search and Rescue Team from the Norwegian Red Cross

You've also been invited for a training session with people who use Drones for Search and rescue for the Norwegian Red Cross in the High Arctic. Can you describe the experience? Are you planning to apply to your work what you learnt there?

It was honestly a fascinating experience... As a researcher I have a kind of "classical anthropology " approach, but as an artist I am more interested by digital anthropology or the anthropology of technology. Honestly i've been baffled to meet those people in Tromsø. I was missing some spare parts to make my drone works here in the Arctic, so I looked for forums in Norway on the internet, and two days later I was in contact with those people. And they are very skill full experts on that domain. Their practices are connected to many of my pursuits. I've been invited last year by European Union's oldest program for collaboration in Science and technology to deliver a talk about the future of 3D printing. And then one year later, in Tromsø, on a rest area in a mountainous road I've met this guy who actually makes homemade and huge Octocopters, with 3D printed part that he designed himself.

I remember when there was no mobile phone, that's something I always remember when I want to get some perspectives about the mutations of western societies, or the world at large. I don't take technical progress for granted. It's an organic process in perpetual evolution. It's fascinating to realize what we can do in our ages with technology. People tend to forget about that. I never complain when Skype is slow... I'm always amazed to be able to talk in video with someone in California when i'm in Paris.

And well, for the experience of Drone and FPV, which stand for First Person View. It's way more fascinating than what I imagined. It's actually a physical experience to see through a camera which is flying 200 meters above yourself or at 1 kilometer from you... it's a bit trance-like, or even techno-shamanic like. The only similarity I can find is when i used a 360° camera during a training at the SAT Society for Arts and Technology in Montreal in 2013, and when I was able to see my recording in the 360 dome theatre at SAT, the Satosphere. I had the same weird physical experience challenging my perspective on vision, the body, etc... very impressive!

And of course there is this satisfaction to realize that this technology is used to rescue people, to bring two ways radios or first aid kit to people stuck in mountains.

FPV in the Arctic is definitely an amazing experience. There is that contrast that I really like, I talked about that previously. To be in the middle of that impressive nature, and to be able to use the most up to date technology. So, yes, I will clearly apply to my work what I have learnt there, probably in the form of an installation, might be a short movie also, but it's a bit too early now, I still have to integrate the process and the experience. I am really thankful to those people, and particularly people from FPV.no, Hi Kristian! :)


Quadcopter Flying test #1....


with aerial view of Kilpisjarvi's Research station

From what you told me by email about your residency, meeting people is an important part of your work. You're also in contact with the Sami people, for example. How do they fit into your research there?

I am actually in a region that can be defined in many ways... I'm in North Finland, i'm in the Arctic Circle, but I am much more clearly in Sapmi, which is the proper name to describe this region, usually called Lappland. I prefer to use the word Sapmi, the land of Sami people. Lappland comes from Lapp which means rag in swedish. Honestly the Sami people are not the Indigenous people I know the most, I mean in terms of anthropology or basic contemporary History. I'm mostly here to do a comparative study of their decorative patterns. Well for me the residency is much more about feeling the landscape and the ways of living in the arctic.

Next month I am invited as a visiting scholar in Anthropology at the Center for Sami studies, at the University of Tromsø, in Norway. it is actually the northernmost university on earth, and the SESAME, center for Sami studies is at the forefront of Sami and Indigenous studies. They actually deliver masters in peace studies and in indigenous studies... quite an amazing place! There, I will meet Sami people and some colleagues from various countries in order to discuss my research.


TROMSØ'S Bridge


View of the Bay from TROMSØ'S Bridge

What's next, after the ARS BIO ARCTICA residency?

Well in the short term, I will exhibit my series of photographs taken at 20° from the North Pole in Svalbard last year at Kalashnikovv Gallery, in Johannesburg, South Africa in December. The exhibition is organized in collaboration with the IFAS, the French Institute in South Africa. It's really a great opportunity for me to be able to exhibit this Arctic related work in Johannesburg. And it will be another opportunity to talk about the arctic situation and the globalized aspect of the Climate question. I am very thankful to the IFAS for their support as well as to MJ Turpin, one of the owner of the gallery for the invitation. I think he definitely understand my work, which is something rare. He is also an artist and I really like some of his printed work and performances. South Africa is a very specific country, there is a very active art scene, as far as I know through discussions with my South African colleagues, and I had a glimpse of South African creativity last year at the Gaité Lyrique in Paris.

I'm really thrilled to be given the opportunity to exhibit my work in Johannesburg. Then I'm definitely looking for other residency opportunities, as well as planning a trip to Japan in the coming to years for my PhD research.

Thanks Benjamin!


Preparing for some underwater video recording as well as sound recording at Kilpisjarvi's lake


Reindeer in the forest near Kilpisjarvi's research station

All images by Benjamin Pothier.

Related story: Field_Notes: From Landscape to Laboratory.

Categories: New Media News

Retail poisoning, a disruption of consumerism

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 15:04


Sabine Keric and Yvonne Bayer, Urban Camouflage

I'm just back from a few days at accès)s(, the festival of digital culture in Pau. It was packed with good ideas and i'll definitely blog more about it next week (or the one after considering that i still have to publish reports of events i attended in September!) but right now i need to decypher the grubby notes i took during the talk that artist and researcher Benjamin Gaulon gave on Sunday. It was a fun one and should provide you with some inspiration for your Christmas shopping chores.

The focus of his presentation was Retail poisoning , a term directly inspired by the strategies of torrent poisoning used by the entertainment industry to hack into p2p networks.

Retail poisoning is a disruption of consumerism that injects critical actions into the market. The methods of attacks are similar to those used by anti-piracy organisations to prevent file sharing of copyrighted content.


Benjamin Gaulon at the festival accès)s(

Gaulon gave lots of examples for each strategy and you can see all of them on the video of his talk. I've selected only a couple of them for these notes:

1. Decoy insertion (or content pollution) is a method by which corrupted versions of a particular file are inserted into the network.

Examples:

Cildo Meireles modified Coca-Cola glass bottles. When empty they look ordinary, but political statements printed on the glass in white are revealed as the bottles are filled with the brown liquid. They range from 'Yankees Go Home' to instructions on how to make a Molotov cocktail. The empty bottles with the messages were then recycled back into the Coca-Cola distribution system.


Cildo Miereles, Insertions into Ideological Circuits: Coca-Cola Project 1970. © Cildo Meireles

The Barbie Liberation Organization swapped the voice boxes on hundreds of talking G.I. Joes and Barbie dolls. The BLO then returned the toys to the shelves of stores, an action they refer to as shopgiving.


Barbie Liberation Organization, 1993

John Osorio-Buck buys stuffed animals in thrift stores and then dissects and reassembles them to make new creatures. The new animals are then placed back onto the shelves of the thrift store.


John Osorio-Buck, Catch and Release

Provoked by the offer of a pedometer with the Go Active! Happy Meal at McDonald's, the Meat Helmet by SWAMP Meat Helmet is an exercise machine that forces you to chew until you have consumed the amount of calories contained in your fast food meal.


SWAMP, Meat Helmet

For Urban Camouflage, Sabine Keric and Yvonne Bayer wore Ghillie-style camouflage suits to mimic common goods bought in supermarkets.


Sabine Keric and Yvonne Bayer, Urban Camouflage #4

Antoine Lejolivet and Paul Souviron of Encastrable take self-assigned 'residencies' in DIY and gardening stores where they build temporary sculptures


Encastrable, Résidence 11


Encastrable, Résidence 10

Benjamin Gaulon went to Apple stores, downloaded the Corrupt.desktop app and installed it on the computers to glitch the desktop image of the monitors.


Corrupt.desktop [Apple Store Chicago] @gli.tc/h festival

2. Index poisoning makes search difficult for users of the p2p network.

Examples:

Banksy doctored 500 copies of Paris Hilton's debut album in 42 record shops across the UK, filling it with his own remixes and changing her portraits in an action that questions the vapidity and idiocy of celebrity culture.


Banksy, The Punking of Paris Hilton, 2006

Dumb Starbucks is "a parody about the power of corporate branding" as well as an exploration of the concept of parody law. According to Nathan Fielder, the law "allows you to use trademarks and copyrighted material as long as you're making fun of them."


Nathan Fielder, Dumb Starbucks, 2014

3. Spoofing: companies that disrupt p2p file sharing on behalf of content providers build their own software in order to launch attacks.

Examples:

Without asking for the store permission, Bad Beuys Entertainment shot a 'sictom' inside the IKEA showroom.


Sictom épisode 2_Bad Beuys Entertainment

Re-code.com, a collaboration between Conglomco and The Carbon Defense League, is a barcode database and web-based application that enables customers to "name their own price for the products they want to buy."

Re-code.com on CNN

A Mannequin Mob entered the 5th Avenue Gap in Manhattan dressed in white spandex Morphsuits and posed as mannequins. Gap security called 911. The police handcuffed many performers, but eventually allowed them to leave the store.


Improv' Everywhere, The Mannequin Mob

In July 2009, IOCOSE and friends offered the Søkkømb guillotine kit to the customers of IKEA.


IOCOSE and friends, Søkkømb, IKEA, Barcelona

4. Interdiction prevents distributors from serving users and thus slows P2P file sharing.

Examples:

The Buy Nothing Day launched by adbusters in 1992 as an international day of protest against consumerism.

Reverend Billy and his Church of Stop Shopping.
Just ask yourself: What would Jesus buy?


Reverend Billy's Church of Stop Shopping performs a credit card exorcism

Artist The Vacuum Cleaner and accomplices invade supermarkets and proceed to walk around the aisle pushing empty shopping trolleys.


The Vacuum Cleaner, Whirl-Mart Ritual Resistance

Evan Roth, Available Online for Free stickers:

5. Eclipse attack (aka routing-table poisoning) targets requesting peers directly by taking over a peer's routing table so that they are unable to communicate with any other peer except the attacker.

Examples:

GWEI (a system that uses google ads to eventually buy the whole company) and Amazon Noir (an automatic algorithm allowing you to download a whole book from amazon ). Two of my favourite projects ever. Both by UBERMORGEN.COM, Alessandro Ludovico and Paolo Cirio


Amazon Noir

Darius Kazemi made a bot that randomly buys items for him on Amazon. Similarly, the Random Darknet Shopper, by Mediengruppe Bitnik, is an automated online shopping bot which uses a budget of $100 in Bitcoins per week to randomly buy an item on Darknet.


Mediengruppe Bitnik, Random Darknet Shopper, 2014

Photographer Alexis Jemus multiplied himself in an IKEA in Montreal, creating an eerie army of Jemuses inside the Street View virtualization of the store.


Alexis Jemus, 2014

Far more examples in the tumblr archive. Don't hesitate to contact Benjamin if you know of any practice of retail poisoning that hasn't been mentioned on the tumblr yet.

The accès)s( conference is over but you can still visit the exhibition Disnovation at Le Bel Ordinaire until 6 December 2014.

Categories: New Media News

Post-Photography: The Artist with a Camera

Thu, 11/13/2014 - 11:14

Post-Photography: The Artist with a Camera, by Robert Shore, arts journalist and editor of quarterly Elephant.

Available on amazon USA and UK.

Publisher Laurence King writes: The real world is full of cameras; the virtual world is full of images. Where does all this photographic activity leave the artist-photographer? Post-Photography tries to answer that question by investigating the exciting new language of photographic image-making that is emerging in the digital age of anything-is-possible and everything-has-been-done-before.

Found imagery has become increasingly important in post-photographic practice, with the internet serving as a laboratory for a major kind of image-making experimentation. But artists also continue to create entirely original works using avant-garde techniques drawn from both the digital and analogue eras.


Roman Pyatkova, Soviet Photo

Post-Photography: The Artist with a Camera presents the works of artists who produce photographic works but aren't necessarily photographers and who use or reference images that already exist. There is, after all, plenty of material for artistic appropriation and reappropriation in our self-obsessed and all recording society: from selfies to CCTV footage, from google street view to prints found in bins.

Post-Photography is one of those beautiful classic coffee table books. Lots of images and concise paragraphs about each artist and photo series. However, Post-Photography is different from most coffee table books: the introductory essay is short but it is informative and pertinent. Not the usual "let's write something lackadaisical and call it content' (i learnt the word lackadaisical yesterday while reading the comments of a blog post about this very book. The word is so pretentious i had to use it too.) I've read and reviewed my fair share of books about photography and i think this is the first time i encounter a publication that focuses specifically on this phenomenon (or 'moment' as the author calls it) and articulates it so clearly and eloquently.

This book is split into five sections: Something Borrowed, Something New shows the artist in the guise of an editor and curator; Layers of Reality recognizes the distinctive outlook that camera has on reality; All the World Is Staged is made of images that document world constructed by the artists; Hand and Eye highlights the materiality of photography; and Post-Photojournalism -which, unsurprisingly, was the chapter that interested me the most- discusses how fabricating reality can be another, sometimes more powerful, way to document it.

Here's a few examples of the works presented in the book:


Roman Pyatkova, Soviet Photo


Roman Pyatkova, Soviet Photo

'Soviet Photo was the only photo magazine available to photography professionals and amateurs in the Soviet Union from 1926 to 1992. Like other publications of the time, it was an outlet for Communist propaganda. Roman Pyatkovka combined photographs from the magazine with his own works as a photographer making clandestine photos (mostly of naked ladies) in the 1970s and '80s. "When looking at these pictures today, we are able to reflect on the ideals and disappointments, censorship and creativity of that time," Pyatkovka writes.


Mishka Henner, (Paleis Noordeinde, Den Haag) Dutch Landscapes, 2011


Mishka Henner, (Staphorst Ammunition Depot) Dutch Landscapes, 2011

When Google launched its satellite imagery service in 2005, some governments attempted to censor sites deemed vital to national security. Techniques of concealment and restriction vary from country to country: cloning, blurring, pixelization, and whitening out sites of interest. The Netherlands, for example, hid hundreds of significant sites including royal palaces, fuel depots and army barracks behind stylist multi-coloured polygons. Ironically, it made the censored sites even more conspicuous. The country has since adopted a less distinctive method of visual censorship.


David Thomas Smith, Three Gorges Dam. Sandouping, Yiling, Hubei, People's Republic of China, 2010-11. From Anthropocene

The Anthropocene series are large kaleidoscope photomontages composited from thousands of satellite online images that show some of the world's most recognizable manmade structures and urban landscapes. This work reflects upon the complex structures that make up the centres of global capitalism, transforming the aerial landscapes of sites associated with industries such as oil, precious metals, consumer culture information and excess.

Each location alludes to specific environmental or social issues. The image above, for example, represemts the urban displacement caused by the Three Gorges Dam.


Jonathan Lewis, Lidl. From the WalmArt series

Jonathan's walmArt series shows "big box" stores around the world pixelated beyond recognition. Distorted as they are, the photos still read as consumer spaces.


Hisaji Hara, A Study of 'The Salon', 2009

Hisaji Hara are based on Balthus paintings.
(wondering why i added this series as i so dislike Balthus' work.)


Scarlett Hooft Graafland, Flash


Caleb Charland, Demonstration with Hair Dryer and Aluminum Foil, 2006. From the series Demonstrations


Caleb Charland, Atomic model, 2008. From the series Demonstrations

In his Demonstrations series, Caleb Charland used everyday objects or materials he found in surplus and salvage yards to explore the laws of physics and make the perfect portrait of a scientific phenomenon.


Julie Cockburn, Tantrum


Julie Cockburn, Funster, Hero, 2012

By cutting, embroidering and using collage, Julie Cockburn adds a psychological and sometimes even surreal layer to the vintage photographs she found in garage sales, high school yearbook portraits, cinema headshots, family mementos and landscapes.


Martina Bucigalupo, Gulu Real Art Studio, 2011-12

While working in Northern Uganda, Martina Bacigalupo stopped into a photo studio to get a few shots developed. There, she noticed a standard size portrait in which the face had been cut out. The owner of the studio explained that the missing part had been used for an ID photo. When customers needed an ID head shot, he would just make a standard size portrait print from which he would stamp out the ID portrait. Bacigalupo collected all the discarded headless prints she could from the cutting room floor and created a faceless but very moving portrayal of a society which has lived through violent conflicts over several decades.

Because many people don't own a suit but want to look smart in their photograph, the studio has one suit jacket anyone can borrow even though it might not be their size.

Inside the book:

Photo on the homepage: Nicole Belle, Untitled from Rev Sanchez, 2008.

Categories: New Media News

Fired but Unexploded

Sun, 11/09/2014 - 10:16


Zsolt Asztalos, Fired but Unexploded, 2011


Zsolt Asztalos, Fired but Unexploded, 2011

This weekend i'm in Turin for the Artissima art fair. I'll get back with a proper story about the event later. I suspect it's going to take the usual form of a photo heavy and mute post but right now i wanted to highlight Fired but Unexploded, a series of videos and photos of bombs that didn't explode.

Every day in Europe, unexploded bombs from WW1 and WW2 turn up during construction works and even in open fields and riverbeds. Approximately 15 unexploded bombs are recovered every day in Germany. In the forests of Verdun, France, "démineurs" still find about 900 tons of poisonous and explosive munitions every year. And i was very surprised to read that in my country, Belgium, between 150 and 200 tons are recovered each year. Most are stockpiled in a secure location and the most toxic and dangerous ones are wrapped in more explosives and destroyed inside a dedicated building.

Zsolt Asztalos' country, Hungary, was bombed heavily during the final months of the war by US, British and Soviet forces, with Budapest carpet-bombed on 37 occasions.

Hungary's Unexploded Bomb Disposal Department gave the artist access to some of the explosives. They might be 60 years old but these bombs still pose a risk of detonation. Asztalos sees in them a symbol of conflicts among humans:

The unexploded bombs symbolize those places and situations that the sounds evoke, he told Funzine. They may symbolize political conflicts - in this case we hear the sound of street demonstrations; they may stand for the time bombs of consumer societies - then we hear someone going through TV channels; or they may represent issues in private life and partnership - then we hear someone doing the dishes without saying a word, and the tension in the air is almost palpable. We hear all these sounds and see this unexploded bomb. The question is only when it will explode.


Zsolt Asztalos, Fired but Unexploded at the Viltin gallery booth, Artissima


Zsolt Asztalos, Fired but Unexploded, 2011


Zsolt Asztalos, Fired but Unexploded, 2011


Zsolt Asztalos, Fired but Unexploded, 2011


Zsolt Asztalos, Fired but Unexploded, 2011


Zsolt Asztalos, Fired but Unexploded, 2011


Unexploded locations


Zsolt Asztalos, Fired but Unexploded at the Viltin gallery booth, Artissima

The bomb collection.

Categories: New Media News

A screaming comes across the sky. Drones, mass surveillance and invisible wars

Fri, 11/07/2014 - 10:15

Notes about A screaming comes across the sky. Drones, mass surveillance and invisible wars , Laboral's new exhibition that addresses the ethical and legal ambiguity of drones, mass surveillance and war at a distance.


Hito Steyerl, Strike


James Bridle, Watching the Watchers. Creech AFB, Nevada, 21.6.2011

Drones are very much part of today's culture. You can buy one on amazon and fly it as if it were a sophisticated kite. You also probably read how they are (or will be) used to deliver urgent medical supplies, shoot movies, monitor crops, track wildlife or gather information after a natural or manmade disaster.

In many people's minds, hobbyist and civilian uses of UAVs have overtaken the military role and origins of drones. No surprise here as what governments are doing with drones, who they are killing and how is a mystery for the public. And even often for government officials, as this video shown by curator Juha van' t Zelfde during Laboral's drone conference illustrates:


Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Drones

Drones have been operating and killing since the early 2000s. Yet, we still have fairly few or no statistics regarding civilian casualties. The Bureau of Investigative Journalist does a great job at counting strikes and casualties in Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan. Data gets blurry when it comes to attacks in other countries such as Afghanistan. And a lack of transparency goes hand in hand with a lack of accountability. The wars are fought in remote countries by invisible technologies operated in the name of people who have only a very limited knowledge of what is happening 'on the war front' and this situation contrasts with the ability that satellite images have given us to see and explore the world. The irony is illustrated by James Bridle's ongoing series of aerial photographs of military surveillance drones, found via online maps accessible to everyone.


James Bridle, Watching the Watchers. Dryden Research Center California, 2011


James Bridle, Watching the Watchers

The title A screaming comes across the sky is taken from Thomas Pynchon's novel, Gravity's Rainbow, which explores the social and political context behind the development of the V-2 rocket, the first long-range ballistic missile and the first man-made object to enter the fringes of space. The rocket was developed by the German military during World War II to attack Allied cities as a form of retaliation for the ever-increasing Allied bombings against German cities. Today's technologies of war, such as the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper drones, and their laser-guided Hellfire missiles, bear resemblance to the V-2 in their ability to operate unseen and to strike without warning.

In the post-PRISM age of mass surveillance and invisible war, artists, alongside journalists, whistleblowers and activists, reveal the technological infrastructures that enable events like drone-strikes to occur.

I've now seen quite a few exhibitions that explored the politics, ethics and meanings of drones. A screaming comes across the sky manages to bring a fresh and compelling perspective on the issue by taking sometimes a more oblique, metaphorical approach to drones. While the curator selected some of the most iconic works dealing directly with drones today, he also looked at artists who are interested in questions of surveillance and control but in a rather poetical, symbolic or even sometimes humourous way.


Martha Rosler, Theater of Drones


Martha Rosler, Theater of Drones, 2013

Martha Rosler's Theater of Drones is a great introduction to the subject of drone warfare. The banner installation was first exhibited in Charlottesville, the first city in the United States to pass a law restricting the use of drones in its airspace

Talking about the drones, Rosler said: "They appear to make war invisible, but of course in the countries that we're bombing, and where people are being killed, they are a terror fact of everyday life. They don't terrorize us, because we have this classic split, which we also had during the Vietnam War of over here and over there are two different worlds, and they're not really connected."

The banners list a series of chilling facts about drones: "The Air Force has plotted the drone future to 2047. The Pentagon plans to increase funding by 700% over the next decade." "Since 2004, drone strikes have killed an estimated 3,115 people in Pakistan. Fewer than 2 percent of the victims are high-profile targets. The rest are civilians, and alleged combatants. " And this little gem of a quote by a Pentagon official:
"They don't get hungry. They're not afraid. They don't forget their orders. They don't care if the guy next to them has just been shot. Will they do a better job than humans? Yes."

The same room also showed works developed by fabLAB Asturias. The prototypes, platforms and maps bring the drone issue into a context closer to citizens' daily interests and experiences (a dedicated post about fabLAB's drone experiments is coming up!) Their projects also remind the public that the U.S> military doesn't have the monopoly of questionable use of drones. Using them for surveillance, border control and in military contexts is very much part of the European agenda as well.

Quick tour of the other works on show:


Lot Amoros, Dronism, 2013


Lot Amoros, Dronism, 2013


Lot Amoros, Dronism, whitedesert

As part of his ongoing research on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), Lot Amoros placed posters around Egypt to inform people how to protect themselves from Israel's Heron drones. Israel is the world's leading exporter of military drones. As this video shows, Israeli drones and other weapons meet with great success on the international market as they have been repeatedly tried and tested on Palestinians.

The instructions of the Dronism document were directly quoted from real Al-Qaida drone documents. All al-Qaida references or aggressive languages were removed and replaced with peaceful instructions for the sole purpose of offering innocent civilians a series of tools to protect themselves from unmanned aerial vehicles, using common materials and trash to construct frequency inhibitors, camera blinders, etc.

Amoros also intended to send the instructions to Palestine on board a tiny DIY drone. It turned out that flying the quadcopter over the border into Palestinian territory was too dangerous. The artist and activist did however succeed to send the instructions via underground tunnels.


Laurent Grasso, On Air (still)

I was so glad to get another chance to see Grasso's wonderful On Air again. , The film, shot in 2009 in The United Arab Emirates, looks at traditional hawk hunting. The bird in the movie is equipped with light and sophisticated surveillance equipment. Once let to roam free above the land, it becomes a spying tool, recording every dune and village it flies over. The images are fascinating but they are also threatening.

The movie and its paranoia-inducing music reminds us that a technique to use pigeons for aerial photography of enemy lines during wars was developed as early as 1907. The practice might not have vanished completely. A few years ago, articles reported that Iranian security forces had captured a pair of "spy pigeons," not far from one of the country's nuclear processing plants.


Alicia Framis, History of Drones


Alicia Framis, Pigeon photographers

Which brings us nicely to Alicia Framis's History of Drones. Her taxidermied work presents the pigeon as the predecessor of today's drones. In 1908, German apothecary Julius Neubronner patented aerial photography by means of a pigeon photographer. The invention was tried out for military air surveillance in the First World War and later.

Besides actually being used in military contexts as a means of surveillance and collecting intelligence, they were indeed unmanned aerial instruments, which might had a different historical importance if it wasn't for the quick and strong progress in the field of aviation. In this new work, Framis creates a light-hearted reminder of the evolution of aerial espionage.


Preparing James Bridle's Drone Shadow drawing in Gijón, 2014


James Bridle, Drone Shadow drawing in Gijón, 2014

MQ1 Predator Drone Shadow
located in the port of Gijón. The work has been painted by local practitioners using James Bridle's: Drone Shadow Handbook, which can be found here. A brilliantly simple and poignant reminder of military technologies, as James Bridle reminds us: "We all live under the shadow of the drone, although most of us are lucky enough not to live under its direct fire."

Check out the video below for more details about Bridle's interest in drones:

The talk is available in spanish as well.


Marielle Neudecker, The Air Itself is One Vast Library

Really like this work. I wrote about it Here.


Roger Hiorns, Untitled (view of the exhibition)


Roman Signer, 56 kleine Helikopter, 2008

A video showing 56 remote-controlled toy helicopters taking to the sky to great chaos.


Metahaven, Silent Dazzle, 2014


Metahaven, Silent Dazzle


Hito Steyerl, Strike


AeraCoop (Lot Amorós, Cristina Navarro y Alexandre Oliver), Flone


AeraCoop (Lot Amorós, Cristina Navarro y Alexandre Oliver), Flone


AeraCoop (Lot Amorós, Cristina Navarro y Alexandre Oliver), Flone

A screaming comes across the sky. Drones, mass surveillance and invisible wars is at LABoral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial (Art and Industrial Creation Centre) until 12 April 2015. In collaboration with Lighthouse.

Related stories: Flone, The Flying Phone, A dystopian performance for drones, KGB, CIA black sites and drone performance. This must be an exhibition by Suzanne Treister, Under the Shadow of the Drone and The Digital Now - 'Drones / Birds: Princes of Ubiquity'.

Categories: New Media News