In his works, Aram Bartholl repeatedly focuses on the interfaces and relationships between online and offline worlds. In Keep Alive, visitors are invited to light a camp fire in front of a stone, which is equipped with a thermoelectric generator that translates energy into electricity and thus activates a WLAN router inside the stone. This provides access to an electronic library with a selection of Survival Guides available as PDFs for download. The title points to a technical condition of the network when two devices send each other meaningless "keepalive" messages to maintain the connection. Even if the router is not connected to the Internet, the work points to global networks, server and cloud structures, and increasingly centralized access to information. Cleverly, Bartholl raises questions about autonomy and survival in the information society.
Artwork: Link 1, Link 2
Artist homepage: http://datenform.de
In the infamous "Fuck You” monologue from “25th Hour”, Edward Norton lashes out into a racist, frenzied, venomous rant at New York City and its inhabitants. Émilie Brout and Maxime Marion updated the scene to the age of automation, data mania and easy generalisation with the help of popularity algorithms. Their online generative movie dynamically links images from Google or Bing searches to the audio excerpt from the film. Each keyword is translated in real time into brutal visual stereotypes that rebuff cultural diversity and echo the list of trite insults the actor spits out in Spike Lee’s movie. The set of images change at each viewing, according to the variation of the most popular images and the prejudices that human beings inject -often unconsciously- into algorithms.
General Intellect is a generative database of thousands of videos produced by Amazon Mechanical Turk workers. James Coupe paid the workers to upload one-minute videos every hour between 9am and 5pm, documenting a standard working day. They were also asked to add captions. The artist then combined the moving images into a database that could be broken down by demographics or by topic. The individuals were free to address the request as they pleased. The result is a portrait of an online labor force designed to act as anonymous machines but behaving in silly, bizarre, boring, unpredictable and irrational ways. Just like the internet. And just like the human beings who use it or are used by it.
The multi-channel video installation was originally exhibited in an abandoned school building about to be demolished to make space for luxury apartments and offices for the “other" Amazon workers, the ones who get to enjoy health insurance, free bananas and brainstorming afternoons on rooftop gardens.
On the Website Fair Warning, Jonas Lund confronts us with a seemingly endless stream of questions. We have four seconds to answer each one. Then it moves on – with a loud ping! – to the next question. Fair Warning reduces to an absurdity what we’re confronted with every day on the Internet: the assessment of our preferences using online questionnaires or tests, as well as our Social Media interactions. These systems, supposedly based on democratic processes, have little to do with our participation in decisions. Rather, we help create profiles that are sold to advertising clients. In return for our volunteerism, we generally receive practical services, an online reputation, or ephemeral entertainment. That’s not the case in Fair Warning – all you get is the next urgent ping, and the decision to resist taking part in online surveys from now on.
10.000 Moving Cities — Same but Different by the Swiss artist Marc Lee deals with the topics urbanization and globalization in the digital age. The VR installation shows the simulation of a generic urban landscape visualized on basic cubes, who’s image and soundscapes are generated in real time by material from social networks such as Flickr, YouTube, Freesound and Twitter, posted publicly by others. The installation is a window to the world that invites us to take a virtual journey over the globe and to experience constantly new image and sound collages in which one experiences local, cultural and linguistic differences and similarities. Impressively Lee’s work addresses how places continuously change and increasingly resemble one another in a globalized world.
Artist homepage: http://marclee.io
Starting in 2008, Michael Mandiberg methodically downloaded the logos of the many banks that failed during the Great Recession, and were taken over by the United States Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). During this process, these corporate visual identities were erased from the web. Except that every Saturday morning the artist downloaded the logos, preserving an otherwise lost history. Since then, 527 bank logos were saved on his computer as low resolution images, which he carefully recreated as vector files.
FDIC Insured is the output of this long lasting effort in researching and collecting information about the Great Recession that would have otherwise disappeared under the level of the visible. The project exists in three forms: a web archive of all 527 logos redrawn as hi-res vector files, located at fdic.mandiberg.com; an artist book of the same; and an installation of all of the logos burned onto the covers of cast-off investment guidebooks.
Artwork: Link 1, Link 2
Artist homepage: http://www.mandiberg.com
DCT (discrete cosine transform) is a core component of JPEG image compression technology. Yet few people have in-depth knowledge of how the algorithm functions or are aware of the race and gender issues underlying its development. Menkman uses the satirical novella Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin Abbott Abbott to highlight some of these issues. The novella, published in 1884, is a comment on the hierarchies in Victorian culture and an examination of dimensions. Menkman sketches a two-dimensional world of geometric figures, in which the narrator DCT Senior describes how DCT Junior first ran an open source Syphon framework on its 64th interval, unveiling the young algorithm’s transcoding trip through various ecologies of complex image fields. Introducing different levels of compression; moving from macroblocks to dither, to lines, to the ‘future’ realms of wavelets and vectors, the user travels through the geometric world of ever evolving complexity in which newer and more complex dimensions are more and more ‘illegible’. Menkman made each image plane in 3D, and per level, artefacts from another realm of compression form the textural basis of the chapter.
Artist homepage: http://rosa-menkman.blogspot.ch
If you download and open the app named Vlinder (Dutch for butterfly) on your smartphone, all you see at first is the message that there is nothing to be seen here. But eventually the butterfly passes through and is seen in your camera image – in other words, wherever you and your smartphone happen to be. The butterfly soon flits to the closest smartphone with Vlinder, «ad infinitum». Vlinder creates a network of unknown individuals, each of whom plays a part in keeping a delicate butterfly alive. This work makes palpable (both in a very friendly, but also a bit uncanny way) that we ourselves are always part of human-machine networks that buzz with data. But the work can also be understood as a plea for the delicate, fragile and ephemeral amidst a garish, attention-based economy.
Artwork: Link 1, Link 2
Artist homepage: http://www.nikoprincen.com
In 2014, Evan Roth began tracking and visiting the transitional moments where Internet submarine fiber optic cables come ashore. The final output of this ongoing research process are “network located videos”: video pieces hosted online from servers located in the same countries or cities where they were recorded, on URLs composed of the GPS coordinates from where the footage was taken. The pieces are recorded with a modified camera that shoots in the same infrared frequency that travels through fiber optic cables.
In Landscapes, an exploration into the physicality of the Internet is used as a gateway to enter nature and better understand the cultural shifts brought about by the increasingly frequent demands of technology. What started out as an attempt to reconnect with the network has since turned into a more personal and universal narrative about the relationship between the self and nature, and an attempt to create net art that intentionally deviates from the speed at which we usually consume things online.
Artwork: Link 1, Link 2
Artist homepage: http://www.evan-roth.com
ADM XI is the final project of the trilogy Antidatamining series, initiated in 2006. Its main goal is to challenge the neoclassical economics dogma by presenting artists’ vision and know-how to create innovative and counter-intuitive strategies of investment and speculation work on trading algorithms. The online collection consists of ten different projects that present heretic, irrational and experimental trading algorithms, operating and competing in a marketplace provided by RYBN.ORG. In this world benefits are no longer driven by prices and other economic instruments, but rather, by living organisms, esoteric mathematical formulas, numerological rules, or supernatural phenomena. Following their own non-commercial and obsessive logic, some algorithms attempt to produce a total and irreversible chaos, while others try to influence the market prices to make it look like a given geometrical shape, while others tries to saturate the market with non human affects. Inspired by the ‘Fabulatory Epistemology’ of Louis Bec and Vilem Flusser, high-frequency networked finance and its algorithmic transformation process, and the concept of ‘Algorithmic Governmentality’, the website is presented as a research platform for algorithmic trading engineering. The site documents all the uncanny strategies in great detail mimicking the systems and aesthetics of geometrical and botanical practices, such as, logical diagrams, classification, operational patterns, and textual descriptions. Similar to real life financial trading, the audience can track the behaviour of each algorithm in the monitoring system. As a net-based project ADM XI shows how an artwork is not necessarily a one-person affair, but can proliferate as a network.
Projects by: b01, Brendan Howell, Martin Howse, Nicolas Montgermont, Horia Cosmin Samoila, Antoine Schmitt, Marc Swynghedauw, Suzanne Treister.
Artist homepage: http://rybn.org