8 things i’ve learnt during the last edition of the STRP biennale

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Conference for the Curious. Photo © Blickfänger Steve Maher, Heavy Metal Detector. Photo: © Boudewijn Bollmann Outside the historic Philips Klokgebouw where the biennale unfolds A few weeks ago, i visited STRP Biënnale, the mega festival of art, technology and music in Eindhoven. The theme of the event this year was Senses & Sensors. Both the huge exhibition and the two-day event of talks and discussions called Conference for the Curious explored perception in all its guises and meanings. Some of the questions raised during the festival included: How can technologies hinder or expand our senses? Can the same technologies enable us to develop new senses? What role do technological sensors play in our perception of … Read Entire Story

The Seed Journey to preserve plant genetic diversity. An interview with Amy Franceschini

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Seed varieties have declined significantly since the beginning of time. First, with plant domestication and now, increasingly, through homogenization, industrialisation, privatization and commodification of our seed stock. Independent groups are currently working as private protectors of genetic diversity by cultivating endangered varieties in their home gardens, sharing seeds with other seed savers, but also lobbying the EU to make sure that a new proposal for seed marketing regulation will promote agricultural biodiversity, small-farmers’ rights, global food security and consumer choices. Flatbread Society Soil Procession, 2016. Photo by Monica Loevdahl Futurefarmers… Read Entire Story

Teds and clerics

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Chris Steele-Perkins, Italy. Rome. Feburary 2009. Vatican. The Clericus Cup. Matches played at Oratorio St Pietro. Goal keeper for Redemptoris Mater. The Clericus Cup is a Vatican-backed football tournament that takes place every year in Rome. Most players are seminarians studying to be Roman Catholic priests. A few are ordained priests. The first cup took place in 2007. Two years later, photographer Chris Steele-Perkins flew to the Italian capital and documented the tournament. The fans of each team were so enthusiastic that complaints were lodged by residents near the grounds about the noise being made by Africa supporters playing loud Reggae, American supporters shouting “Come on you Knackers, kick some caboose,” Italian supporters using megaphones … Read Entire Story

Upcoming online classes: A mapping of socially-engaged creative practices

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This is a public service announcement! The USS Iowa firing during target exercises near Vieques, Puerto Rico, 1984. Photo: Phan J. Alan Elliott. Via wikipedia In May, i will be giving online classes at the School of Machines, Making & Make-Believe. The school is based in Berlin but is also traveling from one art&tech venue to another to teach and discuss imaginative exploration of art, technology, design, and human connection. I’ve given talks there twice. Once in Berlin and once at Casa Jasmina in Turin. And now as befits a blogger, i’m going to run one of the first online classes organized… Read Entire Story

Artefact: are technology and magical thinking really incompatible?

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Final chapter of my report from the Artefact festival which is closing tonight at STUK in Leuven (this way for the previous posts, ladies and gentlemen —> Dataghost 2. The kabbalistic computational machine and Artefact festival: Magic and politics.) Suzanne Treister, Cybernetic Séance (MACY CONFERENCES ATTENDEES), 2011 Troika, Squaring the circle, 2013 + Troika, All Colours White, 2016. Installation view at STUK in Leuven for the Artefact festival. Photo © Kristof Vrancken This year, the event looked at magic, its meaning, reach and role in contemporary culture and society. The topic was analyzed… Read Entire Story

Harvesting the Rare Earth

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Jacob Remin, Harvesting the Rare Earth, 2017. Photo: Anders Sune Berg Jacob Remin, Harvesting the Rare Earth, 2017. Photo: Anders Sune Berg Rare Earth elements (or RREs) are a group of 17 metallic elements essential to sustaining the unrelenting global demand for new technological products. The materials have specific chemical and physical properties that make them useful in improving the performance of pretty much anything we associate with innovation nowadays: hybrid cars, smartphones, laptops, hi-tech televisions, sunglasses, lasers as well as less mainstream technology used by the military and medical profession. Rare earths are extracted through opencast mining, they also generate radioactive waste and need be separated and purified at high ecological costs. Add to the picture that China has a near-monopoly … Read Entire Story

Proceed at Your Own Risk. Tales of dystopian food & health industries

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Kirsten Stolle, Protecting Its Own Tail (from the series Monsanto Intervention), 2013. Collage on a 1963 Monsanto magazine advertisement Pharming, or pharmaceutical farming, uses genetic engineering to insert genes into host animals or plants so that they produce substances that may be used as pharmaceuticals. The process allows the production of cheaper drugs on tap. “If you need more, you breed more,” a spokesman for a pharming company told the NYT back in 2009. Unsurprisingly, the technology is controversial, especially when it comes to animal welfare. These are … Read Entire Story

Obfuscates your feelings on Facebook and defeat its algorithms in the process

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Ben Grosser, Go Rando, 2017 At a time when truth is treated as a polymorph and malleable commodity, when half of your country seems to live in another dimension, when polls are repeatedly proved wrong, when we feel more betrayed and crushed than ever by the result of a referendum or a political election, it is easy to feel disoriented and suspicious about what people around us are really thinking. Blinding Pleasures, a group show curated by Filippo Lorenzin at arebyte Gallery in London invites us to ponder on our cognitive bias and on the mechanisms behind the False Consensus effect and the so-called Filter Bubble. The artworks in the exhibition explore how we can subvert, comprehend and become more… Read Entire Story

Listen to the sounds from the deepest hole ever dug into the Earth crust

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Justin Bennett, Vilgiskoddeoayvinyarvi: Wolf Lake on the Mountains, 2016. Photo by Rosa Menkman for Sonic Acts Last year, while i sat down listening to the speakers of the Open Fields conference in Riga, i learnt about the existence of the Kola Superdeep Borehole, the deepest man-made hole ever dug into the Earth crust. Lucas van der Velden, director of the fantastic Sonic Acts, was presenting Dark Ecology, a three-year art research and commissioning project which invited participants to re-evalute our definition and relationship to the environment. One of the works commissioned was Justin Bennett’s Vilgiskoddeoayvinyarvi: Wolf Lake on the Mountains, a sound walk that takes us inside the now abandoned and very decrepit research station in the company of the last … Read Entire Story

GAMERZ: Digital tech ‘degenerated’ by craft and kludge

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Trailer for the 12th edition of the GAMERZ festival I’ve attended a fair number of editions of the GAMERZ festival over the years. The event seems to have found a formula that works, developed a personality of its own while always bringing to light new artists, perspectives and ideas that surprise me. Some of the performances are a bit mad and frenzied, a bit raw and totally at odds with the sleek and efficient aesthetics and atmosphere of many other media art festivals. And that’s why GAMERZ remains one of my favourite art appointment of… Read Entire Story

Book review: Privacy. A Short History

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Privacy. A Short History, by David Vincent, Professor of Social History at the Open University. On amazon USA and UK. Publisher Polity writes: Privacy: A Short History provides a vital historical account of an increasingly stressed sphere of human interaction. At a time when the death of privacy is widely proclaimed, distinguished historian David Vincent describes the evolution of the concept and practice of privacy from the Middle Ages to the present controversy over digital communication and state surveillance provoked by the revelations of Edward Snowden. Deploying a range of vivid primary material, he discusses the management of private information in the context of housing, outdoor spaces, religious observance, reading, diaries and autobiographies… Read Entire Story

Air Slaves. Could we one day ‘lend our lungs’ to filter polluted air?

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“Prepare for a future in which the only way of making a living is to ‘lend your lung’ to filter heavily polluted air. Clean Air International Inc. is looking for suppliers for its first Organic Clean Air (TM) retail store.” Air Slaves. Image courtesy of Let it Be! art agency Air Project. Work-in-progress demo on 25 September 2012, Labor, Budapest Visitors of the Air Slaves exhibition which opens next Monday in Berlin will be invited to cover their mouth… Read Entire Story