In a not so distant “world without us” humans will be replaced by machines, Artificial Intelligences will be optimized by other AIs and algorithms will be programmed by self-learning algorithms, lays written in the presentation of The World Without Us, an exhibition curated by Inke Arns in which the artists explore the possibility of an ecology after man. This is the age of the post-Anthropocene, in which other “life” forms, such as algorithms, AIs, artificially created nanoparticles, genetically modified micro-organisms and seemingly monstrous plants, have taken control of the world. This new era, which has already begun, albeit imperceptibly, is the age of non-human actors.
The 3D Additivist Manifesto was published in 2015 by Morehshin Allahyari and Daniel Rourke. Under the battle cry #Additivism – a compound form from the words ‘additive’ and ‘activism’ – the two artists herald 3D printing as an over-arching metaphor of our time. Through an ‘eclectic mix of art project, online community, ironic commentary and revolutionary potential,’ Additivism aims to develop Additivistic technologies beyond their current limitations.
Internet Machine is a triptych on the hidden infrastructure of the Internet. In slow travelling shots, it leads spectators through one of the largest, most secure and most error-tolerant data centres in the world, operated by Telefónica in the Spanish city of Alcalá. The audiovisual tour through seemingly endless labyrinths of pipes, cables, server rooms and huge tanks makes the complex physical architecture of the supposedly invisible ‘cloud’ tangible.
How do the robots that slowly but surely populate our world see our streets, our cities and ourselves, and what conclusions do they draw from their observations? In his found-footage video Robot Readable World, the filmmaker and designer Timo Arnall tries to find out to what extent the highly selective and fragmentary perspective of machines on their environments aligns with the principles of human perception.
LaTurbo Avedon is everywhere: on Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, SoundCloud and Ello. She chats and comments, tweets and shares, posts selfies and accepts friendship requests. Nothing special for an artist in an era where so-called ‘post-internet artists’ fill galleries and art fairs with technoid GIF aesthetics from the World Wide Web. But LaTurbo Avedon is a female avatar who exists only on the Internet… She furthermore curates an online gallery and writes poems that she patches together from text snippets from pop songs, video game strategy guides and film synopses, and to which she subsequently lends a visual expression with herself in the lead role. (source: Wired.de, 29 January 2015)
The main attraction in Will Benedict’s music video for the Detroit-based noise band Wolf Eyes is a recurring figure in the artist’s work: an alien, who is here seen in a distinctly casual attitude talking about assimilation with the renowned talk-show host Charlie Rose. Together with crudely assembled hybrid creatures and overlapping motifs from science-fiction and mainstream culture, Benedict’s alien forms a darkly anarchic commentary on recent political crises and their representation in the media.
The imagery in Claerbout’s video Travel is inspired by the synthesizer sounds of therapeutic meditation music. Predictable images on predictable music – an idea the artist had in 1996, but which could only be implemented seventeen years later with the help of advanced digital animation technology. Combining intelligent technology with utter banality, Claerbout’s high-resolution images lead spectators through a thoroughly unspecific, illusionary landscape – ‘a forest that’s in everyone’s head’ as David Claerbout describes.
At the beginning of the video On Air, we see a miniature camera being strapped to the back of a falcon. Then, the spectator’s gaze merges with the perspective of the ‘upgraded’ drone-like bird as it flies over a barren lunar-like landscape in the United Arab Emirates. The hunter here turns into a spy, and an archaic cultural technique – falconry – into an equally effective and sophisticated surveillance method.
In a continuously growing series of works, Sidsel Meineche Hansen engages with the relationship between subjectivity and capitalism. Among other things, she explores nervousness as a form of institutional critique, and asks how the porn and psycho-pharmaceutical industries produce subjectivity. In the video Seroquel, the human body appears as something that can be shaped by drugs and synthetic drugs; the image sequences on which it is based were partly taken from advertising films for the pharmaceutical industry.
Pumzi, ‘Kenya’s first science fiction’ according to Wired, is set in a futuristic Africa, thirty-five years after the Third World War, also known as the ‘Water War.’ In a post-apocalyptic world where almost all forms of life on earth have become extinct, a young researcher decides to leave her remote, subterranean neighbourhood, from which nature has altogether disappeared, and to set out on a search for traces of life.
In Ignas Krunglevicius’s video Hard Body Trade, fantasies of nature and artificiality collide. Its camera travellings through clouds and mountain landscapes based on stock photography resemble the elaborately animated digital worlds of a video game. Meanwhile a computer-generated voice makes the all-too-fragile and imperfect human spectators of the video a tempting offer.
Mark Leckey’s Green-Screen-Refrigerator-Action presents the viewer with a smart refrigerator. Standing in front of a green screen, which surrounds the device with ever-new, clinically smooth illustrations from the worlds of advertising, tourism and corporate or industrial film, it happily chats away with its distorted little machine voice. Spoken by its creator Mark Leckey, the text snippets on the fridge’s technical functions and capabilities are interspersed with elements from the Popol Vuh (the sacred book of the Maya) and a treatise on Marcel Duchamp.
In Dark Content the net art pioneers Eva and Franco Mattes explore the most hidden corners of the Internet. The raw materials of this installation are interviews with so-called ‘content moderators,’ who remove objectionable content on Internet platforms on behalf of big companies. The artists thus question the ideological mechanisms governing the political, moral and economic orientations of these very discreet processes as well as the anonymity of the parties involved.
Yuri Pattison’s the ideal (v. 3.0) explores Bitcoin, the still nascent digital currency, which is generated in so-called Bitcoin mines. The more Bitcoin mines one has, the more virtual money one can generate. The Chinese company HaoBTC, a Beijing-based start-up, owns a Bitcoin mine that is located next to a new hydroelectric dam in the province of Sichuan (occupied Tibet). the ideal (v 3.0) consists of an AntMiner, a smaller version of the hardware used in the HaoBTC mine. The water-based cooling system contains original stones from the riverbed, downstream from the hydroelectric dam. These stones were sent by Eric Mu, Chief Marketing Officer at HaoBTC, along with footage of HaoBTC’s expanding operation that Mu shot for the artist. (Cynthia Krell / Inke Arns)
In Anomalies construites (Built Anomalies), the camera travels slowly through a computer room with large TV screens showing the home screens of 3D simulation software programmes. An off-screen voice talks about the ambivalence between paid and unpaid work in the development of new information and communication technologies. If, as Julien Prévieux contends, ‘the machine does not so much amuse than bemuse us,’ mankind might eventually become superfluous.
The video The Kitty AI, Artificial Intelligence for Governance by Pinar Yoldas consists of the 3D animation of a cat speaking about itself and its duties as governor of a future city in 2039. The kitty tells the story of how the effects of climate change forced the city to rethink its modes of functioning and ultimately led to new forms of urban life.
In HFT The Gardener Suzanne Treister unfolds the complex inner universe of a British high-frequency trader with the flowery name Hillel Fischer Traumberg, who finds his calling in researching psychoactive botanical substances. In an unlikely narrative spanning seven series of works, Treister merges scientific, artistic and shamanic practices with the politics of global financial constructs, botany, algorithms and outsider art.