Free Public Launch Event and Gallery Tour with the Artists: Wednesday 25 March, 6.30-8.30pm
Refreshments will be provided.
Technology Will Save Us? is the third part of an exciting three-year programme called Trajectories. Through events including exhibitions, workshops, discussions and a performance, the programme showcases and explores the great potential of new media arts to help us engage critically in the current and future issues of the world through the work of students and recent graduates.
The artists showcased in this exhibition were selected through an open call that invited students and recent graduates in the UK to send work for consideration.
After Trajectories I (“Technology and the Nature of Truth”) and Trajectories II (“Technology Never Sleeps”), the theme of Trajectories III continues to explore technology and its role in shaping our societies.
The sentence Technology Will Save us (without the question mark) has recently appeared on large-scale bilboards across the UK as a part of a high-profile BT brand campaign. According to BT, the campaign “reveals the company's ambition to help families and communities across the UK, and companies in Britain and around the world, to remove the barriers of today to realise the potential of tomorrow”. But it reveals as well the fetishisation of technology and technosolutionism perpetuated by late-capitalism.
The presented works challenge this statement and propose other points of view on the role of technology, each through a different lense.
Trajectories III open call selection jury: Klio Krajewska and Sara Choudhrey
Exhibition – List of Works:
Robin Hood Gardens: Rewound
Nathan Bayliss, Eddie Wong. Sound design by James Quinn.
Robin Hood Gardens Estate was a council estate in East London built in the late ’60s designed to fulfil a utopian vision of urban living and social organisation. The vision failed to materialize – what remains today is a sprawling complex of dilapidated, under-occupied homes marked for demolition.
Robin Hood Gardens: Rewound is a video essay containing visuals generated by artificial intelligence. This is done through a neural network (pix2pixHD) trained on a custom photographic image-set. The neural network imagines what the building might have looked like in the past and regenerates an entirely new facade of the iconic estate.
Although neural networks have become increasingly important in the field of artificial intelligence, the medium is temporarily constrained. They rely on a corpus of training data which itself may be from disparate times and places. As such, they are inherently “of the past” and yet they are used to predict the future.
Drawing from the theory of hauntology, the late cultural theorist Mark Fisher suggests that our contemporary era is haunted by these ghosts of failed utopian aspirations or what he termed “nostalgia of a lost future”. Robin Hood Gardens: Rewound is an illustration of this paradox in the trajectory of technological progress. The work finds parallels with past endeavours to change the world and the promises of technological utopianism of today.
Ornamental uses a hacked EEG (electroencephalogram) headset to scan a viewer's brain in the gallery. The viewer’s brain data is not stored, but instead, in real time, is used to grow a generative visualisation. The visualisation represents the viewer’s thought. After the scan, the viewer’s visualisation is then added to a “cognitive library” with other viewers’ visualisations. Once added to the cognitive library, each visualisation continually grows and mutates according to the properties from it’s initial brain scan. Each constantly evolving visualisation eventually “goes viral” by transitioning from the cognitive library and spreading through a symbolic spatial void.
We often see the world and the world’s ‘problems’ through a human-intelligence centric view which then informs how we value and interact with others and our environment. Prioritizing cognitive efficiency and capital gains as a measure of the quality of life can be destructive. It can reduce us to utilitarian idea machines. It can separate us from the physical world and suggest a separation between our minds and our bodies. It can fade everything inside and outside of us that makes us alive, because love and sleep and art have little to no value.
Come to the Gallery for Brain Scanning:
Pillars of Creation
'Pillars of Creation’ is a photograph taken by the Hubble Telescope of interstellar gas and dust within the Eagle Nebula. The gas and dust are in the process of creating new stars, yet are also being destroyed by stars which exist nearby. These images were originally created by Zoltan Levy, the Imaging Group Lead at the Space Telescope Science Institute. This project follows on from the project Pillars of Creation, Lenticular Print, where Melanie King analyses the sophisticated image composite techniques used by NASA and the European Space Agency. Within these scientific institutions, layers of light frequencies and colours are combined to create one image. Here, she uses the CMYK Screen Print process to replicate this image composite technique using the analogue CMYK screen printing method. This image intends to highlight the combination of different monochrome views, which are spliced together to create a full-colour image. These full-colour images involve subjective and aesthetic choices to create a product to be presented and publicized through mainstream media networks, which can be misleading to the untrained eye.
8CHAN: A TWITER-FOSSIL (05/08/2019)
Enabled by the extraction of energy and minerals, a vastly increasingly amount of digital data is created and stored online. In addition to the material ramifications of the Internet of Things – such as the vast carbon-footprint of data-centres, their pervasive toxicity is also carried by the predatory algorithms empowered by big data mining – algorithms seeking the maximization of human consumption online. The digital instigates a cyclical trend of consumption that revolves around the mining of the Earth and the mining of citizens’ data. This feedback loop of re-materializations threatens the Earth’s ecologies while shaping destructive ideologies of human agency.
This post-digital body of work combines a tactical use of coding and photo-chemical processes to materialize the invisible entanglement between the socio-political realm, algorithms and minerals. Cyanotype prints are made from archives resultant from a data visualization application developed by the artist in Processing and Pure Data.
On 3 August 2019, a domestic terrorist attack was perpetrated in El Paso, Texas, targeting the Hispanic community, killing 22 people and injuring 24 more. Minutes before the attack, the shooter had posted a white-nationalist and eco-fascist manifesto on the message board 8chan, a website known to be linked to several white supremacist mass shootings.
Hundreds of seemingly “neutral” tech companies enable the existence of this and similar platforms – web hosting, DNS (Domain Name System) registration and content delivery services sustain and monetize websites that feature hate speech and racist content. Despite their latest efforts in developing stricter moderation policies, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube also play a crucial role in the spread of this toxic “information”.
In the wake of the attack, the creative data visualization application created by the artist filtered tweets containing the text “8chan”. The resultant data visualisation responded to the flow of information across Twitter, generating a quasi-organic form from the interactions and spread of data related to 8chan.
In this work, 8chan is a case study for the processes which enable the amplification of toxic ideologies within the Internet. Through investigating and materialising the tweets archived by the application, the key actors within a multi-layered narrative of digital toxicity are exposed.
Are We Humane?
Anne-Marie Heck, Guorong Luo, Rashmi Bidasaria
The installation is an uncomfortable set-up that questions the ethics and politics of humane architecture in the context of factory farming. Through an immersive video, the spectator experiences the journey of cattle inside the Serpentine Ramp, “Stairway to Heaven” – an infrastructure implemented in most of America’s slaughter houses designed by the iconic and controversial figure Temple Grandin.
Driven by the drastic change in heartbeat of the animal paired with visual cues, the installation precisely depicts the physiological condition of the animal in its last steps.
Systematized humane killing of animals has led to an unsolvable debate about our ethical/unethical interaction with animals. ‘Humane' is a conundrum: it directs us to a debate where violence is one half of the argument and an inevitable one.
The audience is invited to think about the asymmetry of power between animals and their surrounding architecture. We aim to question the existential concept of “humanity” in animal slaughtering. On a stronger note, to examine the idea that humans can ethically exploit animals by weaponizing spaces – spaces designed for death and violence – and the questionable politics and humanness of the design of such places.
Transparent is a reflection on the ways we construct and simulate hyperrealistic depictions of nature and how we control the ways we envision the natural world.
In the modern Anthropocene, the natural world is commonly conceptualised as something which can be engineered to our immediate needs and reduced to raw materials.
Transparent uses capacitive sensors that allow the viewer to control the rain that falls on the window, varying in location and intensity. This interaction allows us to engage in a hyperrealistic fantasy where we have the ability to manipulate and govern this form of nature.
Through climate and ecological collapse, our estranged relationship with nature is being dramatically redefined, forcing us to re-evaluate the way in which we understand, define and interact with it.