24th IMAGE SYMPOSIUM
GLITCH FUTURES. DATA SPECULATION, TECHNOCOSMOLOGY AND
DISPOSSESSION IN TIMES OF ACCELERATED CAPITALISM
20 − 22 JUNE 2017
CALL CLOSURE: 18 MAY
ENROLMENT SYMPOSIUM: FROM 22 MAY
ENROLMENT WORKSHOPS: UNTIL 5 JUN (ACCESS WORKSHOPS)
The temperature of viscous Miami swamps rose as high-risk frequency trading propelled through sub-Atlantic fibre cable highways. The pulse of their desires synchronised with the construction rate of newly incepted tropical islands built on radioactive trade-debris by the bay of Dubai. And as orbiting space junk was transformed into military checkpoints for the recent colonies en route to the seven earth-like planets, the Extractivist Dream Society gathered to rethink flashy new forms of post-ethical marketing for the enhanced humans who were on their way.
This edition of the symposium reflects on the current visual production of accelerated capitalism, or how images, data and algorithms are articulating forms of governance due to their speculative nature: how they boost financial and urbanist speculation, operate as affective currencies, unleash paranoid wavelengths of cyberwarfare, and impact the pressing rise of climatic fictions via denialism and extra-planetary colonialism. For that purpose, this symposium is envisioned as a Futurological Data Bureau that sets out to analyse how the politics of image circulation are implicit in today's material culture, fuelling rampant dispossession, extractivism and neo-colonialism. It explores how virtual reality produces devastating realities of technocratic austerity and widespread states of anxiety while draining and co-opting the production of future imaginaries. Consequently, the prospective aim of the Bureau will be to identify the glitch of these imaginaries, to collectively intervene the code malfunction and its interstices in order to relaunch the imagination of our futures.
The IMAGE SYMPOSIUM is a programme devoted to the collective reflection, theory and practice around image production and visual cultures, comprising an international seminar, workshops and an open call to the public for research projects.
With contributions by Klara Anna Capova, Julie Doyle, Lisa Messeri, Metahaven, César Rendueles, Gean Moreno, and Sidsel Meineche Hansen, followed by respondents José Manuel Bueso, Marta Peirano, Diego del Pozo.
Workshops by Regina de Miguel, Metahaven, Gean Moreno.
The symposium will be held on 20, 21 J and 22 june from 4:00 to 8:00 pm and workshops on 20, 21 and 22 June from 11:00 am to 14:00 pm.
Enrolment free until 19 June
CONFERENCE PROGRAM (download pdf)
20 JUN 16:00 - 20:00
Climate warfare and extra-planetary imaginings
Planetary transcendence is increasingly a horizon of conquest, where human futures are projected beyond tangible spatiality. The New Space Age arrives at a moment of pervasively felt planetary crisis, where the demand for resource management incites a shift towards the engineered futures of extra-planetary quest. Since the cold war era, several nations have invested in the militarisation of space as a horizon for sovereignty, projecting growth-led economies, nuclear surveillance plans and extractivist policies. At the same time, Earth’s climate models have been successively disputed, linked to data erasure and manipulation to control mainstream opinion. Inquiring into how the implications of data analysis are involved in mythmaking and cosmology today, we will explore how our representation systems are affecting material politics on Earth today. How have space and planetary representations changed due to the politics of imaging technologies in the last few years? Furthermore, how is this shift towards space extractivism implied in the systemic and ecologic relation we have with the Earth?
16:30 Lisa Messeri. How planets become worlds and how worlds become futures
When seven rocky planets were discovered around the star TRAPPIST-1, claims of potentially habitable worlds animated contemporary scientific discourse and press coverage. Beautiful animations of the surfaces of these planets and imaginative tales of planet-hopping suggested that this discovery was not just about discovering more planets, but that it was also about discovering worlds. How do planets become worlds and what are the implications of these speculative environments? In this talk, Messeri will recount ethnographic findings from her work with exoplanet astronomers – scientists searching for and studying planets around stars other than the sun. She will focus on how sterile scientific images lead to rich imaginations of the kinds of places exoplanets might be. Scientists learn how to see worlds in data and then artists translate these imaginations into evocative extraterrestrial landscapes to convey scientific potentialities and a sense of enthusiasm to broader audiences. What are the stakes of these worlds? Do they present new, radical futures or do they reproduce the cultural orders of Earth? Of the exoplanets discovered to date, those that might be Earth-like hold particular meaning. Messeri will suggest that such worlds are nostalgic escapes from the climate futures that threaten our own planet.
Lisa Messeri is an anthropologist of science who researches the human dimensions of scientific endeavours, focusing on planetary science and virtual reality. She is an Assistant Professor at the University of Virginia and the author of “Placing Outer Space: An Earthly Ethnography of Other Worlds.” She studied aerospace engineering as an undergraduate at MIT before earning a Ph.D. in anthropology.
17:30 Klara Anna Capova.The commercial conquest of the solar system: is outer space available on a first come first served basis?
The beginning of the 21st century witnessed considerable global developments in space exploration, with the beginning of a novel era: the New Space Age. The principle symbols of that age are firstly the internationalisation of space activities, secondly the commercial utilisation of space technologies, and lastly the emergence of an outer space economy.
The US Spurring Private Aerospace Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship Act signed by President Obama in December 2015 says that any asteroid resources obtained in outer space are the property of the entity that obtained them and the role of US Office of Space Commerce is to “foster the conditions for the economic growth and technological advancement of the US space commerce industry”. The outer-space domain is now regarded as potentially “private property” while mass media regularly report on ambitious plans for the creation of permanent settlements on Mars, travel to Earth’s orbit, and the mining of asteroids for resources.
It is becoming clear that space commerce shall raise a number of new themes such as the impact of human activities on celestial bodies, space exploration and exploitation, and planetary protection. To illustrate those themes the author presents anthropologically minded socioscientific case studies to exhibit themes of neo-colonialism, exo-environmentalism, outer space resources utilisation and monetisation in the context of space commerce.
Klara Anna Capova is Honorary Research Fellow, Department of Anthropology at the Durham University (UK) and Visiting Research Fellow at Pufendorf Institute for Advanced Studies in Lund University (Sweden). She is a sociocultural anthropologist working in Science and Technology Studies. Her main research interests are in the social study of astrobiology and scientific search for extraterrestrial life in general. Klara Anna is looking into transformations of human relations to outer space, developments in contemporary worldviews and studies how science changes society.
18:45 Julie Doyle. Making climate ordinary: harnessing culture and creativity to help envision our climate futures
As the impacts of global climate change become increasingly more visible and felt, it remains a remote and future issue for many people in western countries. How can visual and other forms of mediated communication help us engage with climate change in ways that generate positive action rather than overwhelm and despair? In this presentation, Julie Doyle explores how visual and mediated communication constructs knowledge and shapes perceptions of climate change. She argues that climate change needs to be made visible as a cultural issue within media and popular culture in order to link to people’s emotions and everyday cultural practices. She then moves on to explore how working creatively across disciplines and practices can help to create cultural meanings and emotional engagements with this issue. Focusing upon two collaborative climate arts projects – one that uses visual media as a basis for exploring communication (It’s the Skin You’re Living In, 2011), and one that uses creative play as a form of youth engagement (Future Coast Youth, 2015) – she argues that we need to work together in ways that are creative, caring and challenging in order to better envision our climate futures and move towards more climate resilient societies.
Julie Doyle is Professor of Media and Communication, and Co-Chair of the Centre for Research in Spatial, Environmental and Cultural Politics, University of Brighton. Her research explores how visual media and culture shape climate change communication and engagement. Prof. Doyle has collaborated with visual artists and practitioners, and provided consultancy for environmental NGOs, government, and the sustainability communications sector.
José Manuel Bueso is a freelance theorist and docent. He is also director of La Unidad de Imaginación Forense, the shared reading group in the first season of Escuelita, called Speculative Infrastructures
21 JUN 16:00 - 20:00
Shaping worlds though machinic vision
The technocratic regime in which we live today is undisputable: computation on a planetary scale —internet and mobile devices, information networks and data clouds, apps and intelligent cities, automation and artificial intelligence sprawling through various realms of life, wiki-democracy and augmented society— has given rise to a technological megastructure that is at once an architecture of governance and of political transformation. Caught between determinism and technological fetishism, images operate as currencies of value, vectors of financial, political and affective flows that have the capacity to (un)shape subjects, communities, cities, territories and the relationships they establish with one another. As we increasingly take part in the production of operational visual regimes (from automatisation to the ubiquitous recording of every sphere of life) and large swathes of life move into the digital, it is crucial to examine the manifold impact on the construction of subjectivity and society this paradigm change is entailing . Never before in history have we produced such a quantity of images or been recorded by surveillance so widely while pro-actively participating in various forms of control. User data experience is altering our capacity for storytelling; algorithms and recognition patterns have replaced ethical codes as we have embraced paranoia and distrust in favour of slogans of protection. Machinic intelligence is being ideologically established as an evolutionary horizon. Moreover our exposure to images are normalising a state of disaffection: the generalised desensitisation through the purported rationality of the technologies that produce them and their systematised consumption, hence stressing the privatisation of emotions, indifference and individualism. This is resulting in a generalised state of collective depression and anxiety -or capitalist realism- that is little addressed and often-masqueraded under neoliberal narratives as a reaction to levels of personal success. This panel introduces various discursive and practical takes on the subjective and political reshaping of these operational visual regimes, reflecting subconscious textures of user-generated content platforms, emotivist capitalism as well as extrapolating life beyond AI.
16:15 Mohammad Salemy. On machinic intelligence & the winter of AI
Viewed from inside contemporary time and space, the Internet paradigm, network discourses, and computationalism appear as a series of sensible theories and philosophies that model intelligence and the operation of cognitive, social, and natural systems based on the mechanisms of computer hardware and software. Viewed from outside this particular contemporaneity, however, computationalism is a specific worldview, one that is perhaps already reaching or will soon reach its peak. Experts from the fields of artificial intelligence and philosophy of technology agree that a sudden decline in research and development, as well as enthusiasm about high technology, is inevitable given the fundamental limitations of both our knowledge of the workings of the brain (i.e., how thoughts are formed), and the concepts and materials supporting our existing technological infrastructure. There is a widespread belief among those who follow these decelerating developments that technological progress will experience a major setback within the next decade with new advancements greatly slowing down if not halting altogether. The most pressing issue, however, is the political reality of our technologies, the study of which has historically come to place most if not all of our intelligent machines in the arsenal of the rich and the powerful. What will happen when, in the near future, technological progress is politically subsumed, evolutionally decelerated, and culturally forgotten?
Mohammad Salemy is an independent New York-based artist, critic, and curator who holds an MA in critical curatorial studies from the University of British Columbia. He has shown his works in Ashkal Alwan’s Home Works 7 (Beirut) and Witte de With (Rotterdam). His writings have been published in e-flux, Flash Art, Third Rail, and Brooklyn Rail
Metahaven is a strategic design studio operating on the cutting edge between communication, aesthetics, and politics. Founded by Vinca Kruk and Daniel van der Velden, Metahaven creates ingenious, strange assemblages between different art forms ranging from installations to clothing. Their work, both commissioned and self-produced, addresses branding and identity in such a way to speak of contemporary forms of power, in an age where power is especially designed to exclude as many people as possible from its operating system, its code.
17:15 César Rendueles. No test card. The visual nihilism of emotivist capitalism
Since its historical origins, capitalism has developed an increasingly more complex emotional culture that has led to the expressive individualism that characterises neoliberal globalisation, in which contemporary visual sensibility plays a core role. Post-fordism has promoted intense forms of self-exposure and the cultivation of desire as a means of overcoming the traditional contradiction between the Calvinist ascetism proper to the world of labour and consumerist hedonism. Postmodern subjectivity conceives itself as a permanent blank space of reflexivity and reinvention, a work in progress that ought to be evaluated in aesthetic terms and whose main threat is not exploitation or lack of political freedom but the foreclosure of the possibilities of individual self-expression. It is difficult to overestimate the importance of hegemonic visual production in this process: it has generalised constitutively fragmentary forms of sensibility, coherent with promises of continual reinvention, and has transformed visual experience into yet another element of the spectacle, eliminating spaces of critical distance. The result has not been the “democracy of emotions” promised by the theorists of postmaterialism, nor the era of “self-communication of the masses” augured by techno-utopianism, but extreme forms of emotivism adrift in a hypertrophic magma of images. Contemporary image politics form a simulacrum of symbolic exoskeleton that camouflages the nihilistic effects of the subjective exposure to the elements characteristic of globalised capitalism and, at the same time, prevents the construction of alternatives to damaged life and political desubstantiation.
César Rendueles is a doctor in philosophy and a lecturer in sociology at Universidad Complutense de Madrid. He has published Sociofobia. El cambio político en la era de la utopía digital (2013), Capitalismo canalla (2015) and En bruto. Una reivindicación del materialismo histórico (2016), and has also edited classic texts by Karl Marx, Walter Benjamin, Antonio Gramsci and Karl Polanyi.
18:30 Metahaven. Digital Tarkovsky
Moving image output is the default setting of today’s digital world. The CCTV shot, the drone shot, the dashcam, the Instagram video, and other images become forensic narrations between fluid fictions. New worlds emerge amid hardware, software, and platform. Towards what new cinematic paradigm may we be proceeding? Obsessing over the work of slow filmmakers like Andrei Tarkovsky and Alexander Sokurov, Metahaven proposes “cinema for the interface” as the operative logic of contemporary duration. Digital Tarkovsky is a Metahaven research project on moving image, cinematic narration, script, plot, and texture which accompanies the studio’s art and filmmaking practice.
Metahaven is a collective working across design, art, and filmmaking founded by Vinca Kruk and Daniel van der Velden. Recent solo presentations include Information Skies, Auto Italia, London (2016), The Sprawl, YCBA, San Francisco (2015), Black Transparency, Future Gallery, Berlin (2014), and Islands in the Cloud, MoMA PS1, New York (2013).
Marta Peirano is deputy editor of eldiario.es; founder of Cryptoparty Berlin and co-director of COPYFIGHT. She has published books on automatons, annotation systems and technological futurism and an introduction to cryptography for journalists and media sources called El Pequeño Libro Rojo del activista en Red. This is the first book in the world with a prologue by Edward Snowden. She also writes a column on technology, digital art and surveillance for the journal Muy Interesante.
22 JUN 16:00 - 20:00
CCC (corporal, capital, city) whitewashing
The production of 3D virtual animation has become a key tool for manifold sectors, ranging from military complex architecture and city-wide planning to the porn industry. Far from being innocuous, these technologies of visual production are not only altering the operative fields in which they are inserted, but are also affecting and modifying the subjects, objects and territories they represent, generally for the sake of commodification. Through various case studies, this session will explore the performativity of these animations and the reality effects created by this type of visual production and its consequences. For instance, it will address how the architectural animations of the city of Miami are building the imaginary of the city itself, channelling forms of capital and normalising the vertical military gaze through drone aesthetics. This is a perspective that demarcates space as friendly/enemy, erasing from the visual surface the dispossessed and racialised subjects who get in the way of the projection of luxury apartment blocks. Likewise, we will also explore how the high-tech gaming and pornography industries are creating animations of hyper-sexualised female bodies that tacitly reproduce regimes of productive and reproductive labour. These are phantasmagorical images proper to the current neoliberal times that, besides emphasising the dispossession of bodies they (do not) represent, are normalising a state of disaffection: the generalised desensitisation through the purported rationality of the technologies that produce them and their systematised consumption.
16:15 Taller de casquería. Black Island
The Google Earth algorithm is a constantly evolving system. The updates of its database provide an ever-clearer view of the Earth’s surface, however, there are still dissonant spots. Momentary interferences in the connection between satellites and terrestrial receivers, errors in the process of mapping a flat image over a virtual topography or the censoring action of many states on certain points of their geographical representation give rise to new territorial typologies: black spots, virtual voids. Virtual devices enable the possibility of transforming random failures into new territory. Black Island delves into the influence of new ways of describing reality in the generation of new landscapes, borders and appropriation processes.
Taller de Casquería is a group of architects founded in Madrid in 2010. They work on the periphery of architecture, arts and communication through the production of speculative research projects. Taller de Casquería’s recent work is guided by three main conceptual axes: research of new economic, social and political tendencies as guarantors of the system to come; experimentation with new materials, construction- and communication systems which lead to a new understanding of architecture and design; representation, disclosure and an extensive outreach of innovative processes or concepts, taking communication as a decisive aspect of design.
17:15 Gean Moreno. Worldcentermiami
Dozens of architectural animations showing towers, parks and entire neighbourhoods that will spring up all over in Miami in the near future are floating online. Together, they have the possibility of stitching together an entire other Miami, a city in which its brick and mortar would find no reflection. It feels more and more like this virtual cartography may be the real city, and we may just be turning into the glitch-people that exist when meeting the vanishing urban configuration of school speed zones and parking tickets. This presentation will look at one particular animation for a 30-acre private development that is slated for an area just north of downtown. This animation collects a number of features that characterise these proliferating promotional artefacts: the smart-bomb drop-in, the drone flythrough,and then some. Unintentionally, it reveals more than it anticipates about the nefarious operations of dispossession and racialisation that function in the service of a kind low-wattage urban warfare that hides beneath charged-up visuals, seductive voiceovers and soundtracks.
Gean Moreno is Curator of Programs at ICA Miami, where he founded and organizes the Art + Research Center. He is on the Advisory Board of the 2017 Whitney Biennial and serves as co-director of [NAME] Publications. Between 2014-2016, Moreno was Artistic Director at Cannonball, where he developed pedagogical platforms and public commissions. He has contributed texts to various catalogues and publications, including e-flux journal, Kaleidoscope, and Art in America, and has lectured at numerous universities.
18:30 Sidsel Meineche Hansen. Pharmacopornographer
This talk will focus on the female avatar ‘EVA v3.0’ which is a product sold online by TurboSquid, a company that supplies stock 3D models for computer games and virtual adult entertainment. The EVA v3.0 avatar is the main protagonist in in my recent work: the CGI and VR animations —DICKGIRL 3D(X), 2016; No right way 2 cum, 2015 and Seroquel®, 2014— and an object in my research on post-human sex. As part of the presentation, I will screen some video works and discuss the role of CGI and virtual reality in connection to Paul B. Preciado’s notion of the ‘pharmacopornographic’ model of society. These animations will bring about reflections on virtual space as an extension of capitalist reality. I will also discuss the current development of the mobile app OVER which questions automation and the precarious system of digital labour in a critique of artificial intelligence from the perspective of labour power and colonial history.
Sidsel Meineche Hansen is an artist based in London. Her work takes the form of woodcut prints, sculptures, CGI and VR animations which typically foreground the body's industrial complex in the pharmaceutical, porn and tech-industries. Her research-led practice also manifests as group work, seminars and publications. In 2009 she co-founded the research collective Model Court, and in 2015 she co-edited Politics of Study (London and Odense: Open Editions and Funen Art Academy). Meineche Hansen was a visiting scholar at California Institute of the Arts in 2016; currently she is associate professor at the Funen Art Academy, Denmark and visiting lecturer at Royal Academy of Fine Art, London.
Diego del Pozo is an artist, cultural producer and lecturer at the School of Fine Arts at USAL. His practice is driven by politics of emotions, affective economies and how affective devices are socially and culturally produced. He is a member of the art collectives Subtramas, C.A.S.I.T.A. and Declinación Magnética. He is also a member of the research groups Las Lindes, Península and Visualidades Críticas. Del Pozo has shown his work in many solo and group exhibitions and video programmes at various galleries and contemporary art centres.