In the current age of rapid changes, challenges, and accelerating technological developments, we are being swallowed by constant information streams and a hyper-networked world. We now have at our disposal access to digital tools and vast amounts of knowledge, being connected more than ever, yet, we are deluged with misinformation and uncertainty.
In a digital age, where technology is inseparable from our everyday life, we know very little about it; we are oblivious to what lies beneath the shiny surface and issues behind our tech.
Algorithms designed to customise our news feeds gives us what we and our associates want to see, while the same algorithms evaluate our work, monitor our health, assess our eligibility for loans, calculate the cost of our insurance, target us for votes, and so on. These are just some of the areas where mathematical models, rather than humans, make decisions that affect our lives. And as we now know, these systems can be unregulated, biased and lack transparency. Very often they are wrong but also indisputable.
These examples of technological integration in all aspects of our lives lead to many questions.
One such question is if we are slowly moving into a world that we can no longer control.
How can art help us reflect and engage critically with moral and ethical debates at a time when environmental, social, political, economic and humanitarian crises abound? Can art help us look beyond the surface and navigate through a complex technological world? How can art activity power social, political, economic or environmental action or even change? And how can education prepare us for the future?
In a day of conversation and talks we are inviting artists, thinkers, educators, activists and the public to help us explore some of these questions.
11.30 Introduction: Irini Papadimitriou
11.40 Opening talk on technology and the nature of truth: Georgia Ward Dyer
12.10 Panel discussion: technology, society and the critical role of art: Bill Balaskas, Georgia Ward Dyer , Luba Elliott, Nye Thompson
13.30 lunch break
14.30 Session introduction: Eszter Bircsák
14.45 Art and participation: There There performance company, Dana Olarescu
15.00 Interventionist spaces for education, Jon Halls and Jaione Cerrato
15.15 Participate! The importance of non-formal education and counter narrative, mediated discussion by Dana Olărescu and Eszter Bircsák
16.15 Closing remarks
16.20 Symposium ends
Georgia Ward Dyer is an artist and researcher from London, currently working at innovation foundation Nesta in Futures & Explorations. She has a background in Philosophy (University of Cambridge), and developed a creative research practice while completing her Information Experience Design MA at the Royal College of Art and previously University of the Arts London. Most recently her research has addressed the intersections of philosophy and artificial intelligence, and the interrelations between machine learning and archives. Through her creative work she has established cross-disciplinary collaborations with scientists from diverse, cutting-edge fields such as epigenetics, quantum computing and machine learning, exhibiting work across the world including at the Wellcome Collection and the V&A.
Bill Balaskas holds a PhD in Critical Writing and an MA in Visual Communication from the Royal College of Art. He has been nominated for numerous awards, including the 2013 AUDI Art Award of Art Cologne for the most innovative young artist. In 2012, he represented the UK in the London Cultural Olympiad and in Maribor, the European Capital of Culture. He has received commissions for new works by Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA), John Hansard Gallery, the Jewish Museum of London, Animate Projects and several biennials. Since 2012, he is an editor for the Leonardo Electronic Almanac (The MIT Press).
Luba Elliott is a curator, artist and researcher specialising in artificial intelligence in the creative industries. She is currently working to educate and engage the broader public about the latest developments in creative AI through monthly meetups, talks and tech demonstrations. As curator, she
organised workshops and exhibitions on art and AI for The Photographers’ Gallery, the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence and Google. Prior to that, she worked in start-ups, including the art collector database Larry’s List. She obtained her undergraduate degree in Modern Languages at the University of Cambridge and has a certificate in Design Thinking from the Hasso-Plattner-Institute D-school in Potsdam.
Nye Thompson is a London based artist and software designer. Her work involves the creation of artist-software-systems that explore our evolving sense of what it is to be human and the social/psychological impact of living in a world of connected objects and nascent AIs. Nye has been documenting the global phenomenon of self-surveillance through her work Backdoored which collects and archives images taken by bots through unsecured security cameras. Her latest project The Seeker is an exploration of the emerging machine gaze. The Seeker is a machine entity which travels the world virtually, and describes for us what it sees.
Eszter Bircsák is a curator and cultural mediator who is interested in CEE regional creative industry, local movements and non-formal educational forms. She is the co-founder of Dedushkov, design thinking consultancy company, REPLYtoALL, an art and tech initiative, and one of the founders of the Kitchen Budapest medialab. Previously she worked as a gallery assistant at Trafó Gallery and she is the former head of the Székesfehérvár St. Stephen King Museum’s Fine Art Department. She graduated with a degree in art history and Hungarian language and literature philology.
Dana Olarescu is primarily a performance maker focused on interdisciplinary collaboration, with work ranging from installations, devised performances, and moving image presented in the United Kingdom, Romania, France, Germany, and South Korea. As one half of There There performance company, her practice revolves around contemporary immigration, national identity and exclusion, and researches the Eastern European migration experience in the UK. Participation is a key element in her practice, often creating work in collaboration with local Eastern Europeans.
Jaione Cerrato and Jon Halls are socially engaged designers and artists, exploring how value is perceived in contemporary society, challenging views on how the current standards by which we live are governed and exploring speculative futures as a progressive act. Their belief is that the creative thought, potential inclusivity and visual capabilities of art can help define the path forward for our society. With this in mind, they have worked together over the last few years on various projects that have ranged from workshops, events and installations. Throughout these various explorations of form, they aim to generate diverse platforms for discussion.
There is an on-site cafe and restaurant selling fresh coffee and tea, snacks and a great-value Indian lunch for £5.99. The bar will be open after the event.
The event is part of the Trajectories project