Issue 19.3 cover image by © Emie // Eva-Marie Elg (2020)
IOANNIS BARDAKOS, CLAUDIA JACQUES, DALILA HONORATO, AND CLAUDIA WESTERMANN (Editorial Organism)
WITH PRIMAVERA DE FILIPPI
** The editorial is available to the public for free via Intellect Discover.
In nature validation for physiological and emotional bonding becomes a mode for supporting social connectivity. Similarly, in the blockchain ecosystem, cryptographic validation becomes the substrate for all interactions. In the dialogue between human and artificial intelligence (AI) agents, between the real and the virtual, one can distinguish threads of physical or mental entanglements allowing different modes of participation. One could even suggest that in all types of realities there exist frameworks that are to some extent equivalent and act as validation mechanisms for behavioural interweaving. Relevant to our own experience as an Editorial Organism, in this issue of Technoetic Arts we explore modes of participation and collaboration through different lenses by including guest-edited sections and stand-alone articles.
Two years ago, a nest box outside my window held a pair of Violet-Green Swallow. I counted six swallows fledge from the box and take their first flights in the July rain. Leaving the roof of the nest box, they flew in little loops out over the water, trying out their wings. I watched them from the dock, their bodies suspended in the air between the raindrops. This experience was the inspiration for what I call ‘nest-works’ ‐ for poetic wilding of all-too-human spaces. Nest-works began with an experimental panel for the 2021 College Art Association Conference, called ‘Co-Making this World’. The experimental session was modelled after the nest of a bird, a Black-Capped Chickadee. As this cavity-nester builds a home of disparate materials, the panel of artist-researchers built a session of disparate theories and practices, as we considered relationships with world-systems that are in the process of making (such as the nest of the chickadee). For Technoetic Arts, we weave a new nest-work of research material, as we consider new models for knowledge and creative production. This nest-work is an entanglement of short essays made by artists working with a common pattern, framing eco-poetics on collaborative and participatory processes with the non-human/more-than-human.
Mockingbirds: Modeling attention, memory, and the texture of repair
How do we show what we know? How do the models used to interpret, build understanding and sustain relationships with the world, work? Artificial intelligence models ‐ particularly those characterized as ‘deep’ learning models ‐ provoke a reframing of, and renewed attention to, these basic questions. Machines designed to learn through continuous, embedded use give rise to a form of automated intersubjectivity premised on normative notions of continuity, completeness and repair that are often opaque. A turn to poetic practice may revivify supple categories of human and non-human, with attentive connection across multiple worlds, discursively explaining these models even as they enfold us. A companion video to this text can be viewed at: https://vimeo.com/525096901.
Data-Incarnations: Nesting complex learned behaviours
What happens when humans and birds engage each other through a collaboration-as-fantasy mediated by computers? Could such an exercise be modelled in a way that helps us to transcend the techno-ocularcentric fetishes for precision and certainty which demarcate our time? From Edgar Wind’s notion of 'incarnation' ‐ as the place where empirical experience and metaphysical foundation meet in the single cognitive and experiential act ‐ this article bridges the analogue with the digital, navigating nature’s strategies to embody inherited and learned complex behaviours in the design of nests, in what I call data-nests.
Creative collaboration within heterogeneous human/intelligent agent teams
As we move towards a world that is using machine learning and nascent artificial intelligence to analyse and, in many ways, guide most aspects of our lives, new forms of heterogeneous collaborative teams that include human/intelligent machine agents will become not just possible, but an inevitable part of our shared world. The conscious participation of the arts in the conversation about, and development and implementation of, these new collaborative possibilities is crucial, as the arts serve as our best lens through which we can explore the full spectrum of potential possibilities and futures. Through the complex relationships formed through heterogeneous human/intelligent agent collaboration, we are given the opportunity to re-examine some of our assumptions and suppositions of teamwork and forms of relating and thinking within a group environment.
Material Mind: Gum on walls, drifting stones, and other acts of community sculpture
JESSE J. RING
Community acts of material signification are an important form of sculpture that occur through an exchange of human and non-human agents. First these acts of sculpture are discussed in relation to extended mind, the morphogenic model of making, material engagement theory and entanglement to frame how humans shape the world as collaborators with non-humans by extending mind through material. I then discuss various acts of community material accumulation that I consider sculpture, skateboarding and clay forming as evidence of extended mind, comparison of the morphogenic to the hylomorphic model of making, occurrences of materials affecting other materials absent of human intervention and my recent participatory installation Stone Fruit. These topics are used to present a lens for understanding the production of sculpture as a collaboration with opposed to dictation on systems of materials, places and people. This lens, in turn, presents community sites of material accumulation to be an important form of sculpture production.
Pulse: entanglements of air and light in pandemic academia
MEGHAN MOE BEITIKS
Artist Meghan Moe Beitiks considers her first-person perspective of entanglements of light and air during the 2020‐21 pandemic from her position in academia and Florida.
What happened to the subject? Mediated anticipation in neural painting
SUK KYONG CHOI
This article presents a phenomenology of artistic painting as an anticipatory process. I propose that the artist seeks to establish a state of equilibrium in a model of self-awareness expressed and represented in a self-constituted physical artefact intended to communicate to others, not representationally but affectively. ‘Neural painting’ is an arts-based research method employing a simple computational model of human aesthetic discrimination to study the creative realization of the artistic image. I use this method to explore the relationship of self and ‘other’ in computationally mediated self-portraiture. I develop an image in an exchange with a neural network by reflecting on its output and inputting autographic modifications to those images, blending visceral gesture with the ‘black box’ of artificial intelligence. Through this deeply personalized and perhaps agonistic interchange between organic self and algorithmic reflection, I seek to expose the tacit mediation implicit in the technical artefact, opening an understanding of the existential relations between natural systems (the artist) and technical entities positioned as collaborators in an anticipatory aesthetics.
EMIE // EVA-MARIE ELG
Sara Ahmed’s enquiry on what it means for sexuality to be lived as oriented from the work Queer Phenomenology inspired the art series ‘A Sexual Series’, based on post-humanist theory and asexual experience. Shapes of performative alter egos materialized from a queer cyborg position of technologically enhanced crip experiences (the strong symbolical constructing process of straightening scoliosis surgery). From being a glitch of the past towards a post-individualist future, the artificial intelligence sexbot is a metaphoric, elevated cyborg drag version of the artist to embody asexuality and queer Otherness. Based on multitudes of CUNTraDICKtions to encourage self-reflection, the series explores the complexities of ob/scene and on/scene performances; the position of a sex positive asexual as well as questions of belonging as a naturally artificial rebel.
Between reality and non-reality
Virtual reality is all too often considered as antithetical to reality, the former being an entity fully separated from the latter. Since there has been historically no consensus among philosophers as to what constitutes reality, this article seeks to contribute to the debate on i crucial issue. It argues that reality should be considered as including non-tangible properties and that, from the first-person point of view, virtual reality is part of the reality of each and every one of us. Furthermore, grey zones between reality and virtual reality, that is to say environments in which reality blends with fantasy and highly personal perception of our surroundings are much more common than often assumed. The article claims that architecture is the most powerful foundation for virtual reality and therefore creator of grey zones. Real spaces (such as cafés or streets, and moreover cities) offer experiences more intense than any typical virtual environment and cause the blurring of awareness in which world we are. Virtual reality is an impoverished reality, and attempts to realize it have led to disastrous outcomes. On the contrary, grey zones, partially anchored on the materiality, actually enrich reality with non-tangible qualities, without threatening its authority in our souls and minds.
Blockchain technology, foundations, protocols and aesthetic considerations
This article aims to outline the fundamental concepts that characterize blockchain technology in order to allow for a better understanding of how it is structured within the protocols which govern the internet, but also to portray the devices which allow its re-appropriation by capitalist culture. The theoretical foundations of this article are supported by a medio-archaeological position that allows us to acquire a technical look at the blockchain, but also to weave historical and aesthetic parallels in order to understand the NFT phenomenon, at the core of current economic issues and speculations.
PABLO SOMONTE RUANO
Aura & Transvestment is a transmedia project consisting of a series of generative images, an experimental form of cryptomedia and a video essay. By describing its own powers and contradictions, the work explores notions of value, ownership, authenticity, artificial scarcity and abundance in the digital realm. The project is a critical analysis of non-fungible tokens used as proof of ownership for digital art, taking Walter Benjamin’s concept of aura as a starting point. It argues that, for tokenized art, cryptography serves as an artificial source of auratic power that reverts the political potential of reproducibility falling back to a magical and ritual notion of aura. This time around the ritual performed is that of property, authenticity, ownership, markets and commodification. Finally, the article outlines alternative uses of cryptography and distributed ledger technologies to support artistic labour and proposes transvestment as a temporary counter-action for the reallocation of value from capitalist forms of production and into commons-based models of social coordination. Submitted to this journal is an adaptation of the script for the video essay, alongside other elements of the project. Please visit: https://aura-transvestment.art.
Unruly Objects: NFTs, blockchain technologies and bio-conservation
ANNA DUMITRIU, ALEX MAY, ATHANASIOS VELIOS, ZOI SAKKI, VERONIKI KORAKIDOU, HÉLIA MARÇAL AND GEORGIOS PANAGIARIS
This article explores and challenges notions and methodologies of conservation, including the use of blockchain technologies as a means of establishing provenance of a physical BioArtwork, of the artist’s documentation encapsulating their intentions and of the conservator’s records required for the artwork’s ongoing care. The exploration is done through a case study of an art project called ‘Unruly Objects and Biological Conservation’ created by Anna Dumitriu with support from Alex May. The artwork consists of three items containing RFID tags sealed in resin ‐ which point to the location of the artist’s documentation. Therefore, the works physically include instructions for maintaining their inherent concepts and materiality for the benefit of the conservators. Such instructions can often be difficult to track down, or become disassociated from the artwork while the digital preservation of this storage method also poses its own set of questions. The works also include biological material including mud from a bacterial ecosystem known as a Winogradsky Column, living plant material and SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus) RNA from a plasmid construct.
Technoetic Arts is included in EBSCO’s Academic Search Complete and Art and Architecture Complete collections. Researchers affiliated with universities will have access to all article PDFs via their library’s EBSCO subscription. This issue is logged with volume 19 of 2021 on EBSCOhost.
||| Founding Editor: Roy Ascott Issue 19.3 Editors: Ioannis Bardakos, Dalila Honorato, Claudia Jacques, Claudia Westermann with Amy-Claire Huestis and Primavera de Filippi (section editors) Editorial Organism: Tom Ascott, John Bardakos, Dalila Honorato, Hu Yong, Claudia Jacques, Claudia Westermann Production Manager: Faith Newcombe