Category Archives: art in Paris

Psychanalysis of the international airport

I can’t think of a place that’s more artificial, more regulated and more frustrating than an airport. With each passing year, the rules to navigate it get more draconian, the security procedures more invasive and its design more standardized. Yet, we are all expected to comply and accept what would be deemed unacceptable anywhere else.

Photo courtesy of Stéphane Degoutin and Gwenola Wagon

Artists and researchers Stéphane Degoutin and Gwenola Wagon have investigated and condensed the schizophrenia of international airports in performances, research and more recently in a book.

In their works, the artists dissect all the idiosyncrasies and absurdities of international airports.

Their analysis led them to speculate a Terrorism Museum, a space that places the traveler in a maximal state of alert. One roams inside visible and invisible security devices, which tend to cancel the slightest probability of a threat. Yet, in a vicious circle, the more present is the surveillance, the more real the threat seems.

Their research has humour, bite and darkness. What makes the work of Degoutin and Wagon particularly fascinating is how they draw parallels between airports and other areas of life: social media, wealth inequalities, western-centrism, etc. Their investigation becomes particularly disturbing when it details how many of tomorrow’s most intrusive technologies are being rehearsed in terminals across the world: the algorithms that analize your facial expressions, the driverless vehicles or the bees that sniff drugs and explosives.

I discovered their work last Summer while i was visiting the exhibition Aéroports / Ville-monde at the Gaîté Lyrique in Paris. Their installation featured copies of a Psychoanalysis of the International Airport – Museum of Terrorism booklet that compiled evidences of the ‘autistic architecture’ of airports and kept visitors glued to uncomfortable little chairs. Like everyone else in the room, I was as fascinated by the publication. Like everyone else, i asked the gallery shop staff if/where/how i could buy a copy. I couldn’t. Until now. The artistic duo has just published a book that delves with even more depth into the issue: Psychanalyse de l’aéroport international (available only in french so far.)

Stéphane Degoutin and Gwenola Wagon, Psychanalyse de l’aéroport international

Stéphane Degoutin and Gwenola Wagon, Psychanalyse de l’aéroport International

This was my cue to get in touch with the artists and ask them about their research on airports. Stéphane Degoutin teaches at ENSAD in Paris and is particularly interested in researching “mankind after man, the contemporary city after public space, architecture after pleasure.” Gwenola Wagon has produced numerous sound and moving image installations and is an Assistant Professor at the University of Paris at St. Denis. Together they founded Nogo Voyages.

Hi Gwenola and Stéphane! You call airport a “laboratory of modernity.” Could you tell us why?

SD: The airport is where different promises of the modern world are concentrated: the promise of moving freely around the globe, the promise of unlimited shopping,the promise of a completely rational organisation and the promise of a perfect surveillance. It embodies the desire of mastering the world. Yet, it is also the place where these promises meet their limits and their contradictions.

GW: The airport is at the crossroad of all kinds of transport (objects, animals, people). Its images of surveillance and control are relayed by its infrastructure and augmented by the ones that travelers make. Although matter is not teleportable, imagination still allows us to race through the stages of circulation. The airport becomes the place to fantasize about bodies propelled far away at high speed. Our writings are punctuated with documents: images, texts, news items, quotes, found fragments, testimonies with which we try to recompose the dreams of this place.

Photo courtesy of Stéphane Degoutin and Gwenola Wagon

And do you see signs that the invasive infrastructure of control over bodies and behaviour of this laboratory might be applied somewhere else in our daily experience of the city?

SD: Yes indeed. The control procedures which are first tested in the airport are then applied in many places in the city, see for instance the metal detectors, which have become common in many malls, museums and other public buildings and in many metro systems around the globe. In the LA metro system, a body scanner has been tested.

GW: The airport is an archetypal place, in terms of both space and behaviour. In the book, we have a chapter about what we call “Cultural LCD”, which can be defined as the Least Common Denominator of world cultures. A universal code that would be as neutral as possible, a standardized interface that allows different individuals or cultural groups to communicate with each other. However, the airport model is expanding further and further and contaminating railway stations, institutions, monuments, stadiums, concert halls, museums, international hotels, malls and urban duty-free shops, restaurants, museums, schools, universities, offices, motorway service areas, etc.

Stéphane Degoutin and Gwenola Wagon, Terorism Museum (video still), 2009-2013

I had a look at the video of the tour of the TERRORISM MUSEUM and was wondering how much complicity you had with the airport authorities. Your slow path and behaviour seem a bit at odd with the frenzy usually displayed by travellers and people working at the airport. You all looked a bit suspicious. So did you have to ask for some authorisation to do this tour inside the airport? Did they facilitate in anyway a tour that deconstructs the architecture of control and paranoia they deploy?

SD: For the Terrorism Museum project, we wanted to guide groups of visitors in the terminal 1 of Paris-Charles-de-Gaulle Airport, to speak of questions related to terrorism and surveillance. We asked an actor to act as a guide. He was whispering in a microphone a series of texts, which were transmitted to the ears of the visitors via a wireless system. It was really quite impressive to walk inside the terminal while visiting a museum dedicated to terrorism, along with the travellers, the police, the military and the homeless.

We did have an authorisation, thanks to the curator of this event, Andrea Urlberger, who was very persistent: she spent two years to get the proper authorisations. She wanted to host a series of art works in the terminal, including ours. She had previously worked with an airport in Munich (Germany), and there was no problem at all, but Paris was a different story… In the end, we said the title of the project was «Airport Museum» instead of «Terrorism Museum». Otherwise, it would have been impossible.

Why did you call the work Terrorism Museum? I understand the “terrorism” half but what is the significance of the term ‘museum’ in this context? There’s no display of artefacts.

SD: The idea is to create a museum of questions. We believe that the notion of « terrorism » is complex and we gathered a lot of texts by philosophers, press articles or by the terrorists themselves. We created a montage of these texts and we looked for a way to display them in an airport. We first thought of a virtual reality system, so that one could visit the museum by oneself, just by downloading an app on your cellphone. The texts would be geolocalised and you would visit them just by hanging around the airport. You would meet Bin Laden in the duty free and Habermas in the toilets, for instance. We created a prototype, but it was quite inefficient – we found out that the geolocalisation does not work properly in the airport. We presume the networks are blurred on purpose. Anyway, this is why we finally developed a « human » version of the project, with an actor, and we thought it was great.

GW: The museum is not disconnected from reality, it adds an extra layer to the space and superimposes overlays of theoretical questions to reality. The public visits it by walking through the real place, by making its way through the crowd, looking at shop windows, shopping, visiting the airport, etc. We developed this idea of a stealth museum to explores questions related to all the post 9/11 literature which, we thought, could fit inside a transportable museum that infiltrates directly the places which logic it questions and that uses available networks (GSM, Wifi, GPS…) to insinuates itself within its space. Nothing indicates its existence. Nobody knows you’re a visitor of the museum.

Photo courtesy of Stéphane Degoutin and Gwenola Wagon

Photo courtesy of Stéphane Degoutin and Gwenola Wagon

I remember the document you were showing at the Gaîté Lyrique for the exhibition Aéroports / Ville-Monde. It was full of wit, humour but darkness too. I sat there for a long time, reading through it and i sometimes think about its content when i have to take a plane now. How different is the book “Psychanalyse de l’aéroport International” that you are releasing with 369 editions? How much does it built upon the document i saw in Paris last year? And how much does it differ from it?

SD: The document you are referring to has first been produced for an exhibition at La Panacée in Montpellier. It was presented as a series of leaflets for the different rooms of the Terrorism Museum, so that you could take it with you at the airport. The different leaflets could be assembled together to form a book. The book we release now is based on it, but we have added a lot of texts, many new images, so that it is much bigger now. We also wrote a completely different introduction, to present the project to a wider audience. And it is no longer presented as the guidebook to the Terrorism Museum, but a project in its own right. The graphic design also has been completely changed by Louise Drulhe, the same graphic designer who conceived the first version. The idea was to make a book that would be accessible by a larger audience, not limiting ourselves to art centers. We would also love to publish the book in english of course.

GW: Several additional chapters complete the first artists book presented in Montpellier: L’aéroport comme archétype, Compulsion de normalité, Les somnambules du duty free, Vertige du lisse, Bulle de consolation, Stade oral du lounge et Crise d’hystérie dans la file d’attente (The airport as an Archetype, Compulsion of Normality, Duty Free Somnambulists, Dizziness of Smoothness, Bubble of Consolation, Oral Stage of the Lounge and Hysteria in the Queue), we also have new series of images as well as collected stories about the phenomenon of airport rage or about comfort animals. We want to show that the airport is, simultaneously, an archetypal place and a Crystal Palace of contemporary circulations. It clusters contradictions, connects injunctions of fluidity and of prohibition in order to safeguard us against all possible threats. This lead us to try and analyze it from the point of view of both its own logic and the paradoxical situations it provokes, to the point that it sometimes becomes the receptacle of the wildest stories.

Aéroports ville monde, at the Gaîté Lyrique

Aéroports ville monde, at the Gaîté Lyrique

Terminal P, at La Panacée, 2016

What i found most astonishing in your work is the depth and breath of the research that must have preceded the booklet i saw in Paris. Where did the information you gathered come from? interviews? stories read in newspapers/online?

SD: Thank you :) Well, it is an essay, so most of the material comes from our brains. We also gathered a lot of anecdotes from different sources, printed books, online magazines and blogs. We were interested not only in what really happened, but also in what people could fantasise (we hope the difference is clear in the book). We also read a lot of post 9/11 texts, because at that time, a lot of people have been forced to make sense of the events that occurred, and very deep texts have been published. Most of those we have gathered are by continental philosophers, but of course this is a subjective choice.

GW: We often carry out investigations in places that are off-limits (data center, animal farm, storage warehouse) that is why our research projects often emerge from documents that we would not be able to get hold of ourselves. Series of sleeping travelers, drunk, frisked exhibitionists… these documents and their captions disrupt the dramaturgy of our writings.

Many of the images come from advertisement. We divert them into another narrative that does not sell air conditioning, detectors nor robot guides. Instead, the narrative tells the story of the place through documents that we choose and combine with each other, like collages (after a very long selection) in order to reveal our relationship to the place.

For example, when we discovered the video of this woman throwing a tantrum after she’d missed her plane, it resonated with contained emotions that reach a climax through the pressure of extreme moments.

Crazy Airport Lady Throws Tantrum

Photo courtesy of Stéphane Degoutin and Gwenola Wagon

In the end, do we still have any form of agency or space for resistance when we move across an airport? Are we condemned to be victims of this infrastructure that regulates and invades our bodies?

SD : One who enters the airport abandons one’s power over one’s own body and free will. Of course, he gains the possibility to travel. It seems to obstruct even the possibility of thinking. This fragment of time during which one will abandon one’s free will to enter the huge machine is fascinating – and a bit frightening. We wanted to question this uncanny place.

GW: We do not seek to create spaces to think about dystopia, nor do we try to unnecessarily dramatize places that are already intrinsically tragic. On the contrary, we seek to show that the pinnacle of the hyper-nationality of certain spaces – such as airports – sometimes confines us to moments of pure absurdity. In the selected documents, certain situations or collages try to conjugate the absurd and the poetical. Laughter meets tragedy, a moment when we no longer know if we should laugh or cry. This tipping point, this ridgeline between emotions that could sometimes seem contradictory, that’s exactly where we try to position ourselves … while trying not to lose sight of the various layers of the place. Let’s hope that, with this book, readers can extend the analyzes and thoughts of the prismatic facets of the place, without forgetting its blind spots and its dead spots …

Thanks Stéphane Degoutin and Gwenola Wagon!

Stéphane Degoutin and Gwenola Wagon, Psychanalyse de l’aéroport International

Stéphane Degoutin and Gwenola Wagon, Psychanalyse de l’aéroport International

Photo courtesy of Stéphane Degoutin and Gwenola Wagon

Psychanalyse de l’aéroport International, by Stéphane Degoutin and Gwenola Wagon is edited by 369 editions. Right now available only in french. Hopefully, an english version will follow!

Previously: Airports: forerunners of a new world or microcosms of their own?

State of suspension: the “relentless, never-ending struggle to adapt”

A few weeks ago, while in Paris for the always excellent refrag (more about that one as soon as life is back to blissful indolence), i discovered Le Bal and its ongoing En Suspens/In Between exhibition.

Darek Fortas, Changing Room VI, 2012

The show explores how individuals and groups of people find themselves trapped in a state of uncertainty and precariousness due to bureaucracy, politics and other circumstances they have no control over. Frozen in a state of suspension, these people have lost their political visibility and with it, their place in the world.

The state of suspension is often likened to being paralysed or stunned, but it is actually a constant, relentless, never-ending struggle to adapt. The threat comes into focus. Time seems to be running out. It is a struggle not to break free from temporality but to enter it.

The exhibition is engrossing, moving and intellectually stimulating. It drags you out of your comfort zone by communicating a sense of unease that deepens as you realize that at some point, you too might end up being locked in limbo. Maybe climate change will drive us to become refugees too. Maybe it’s automation that will dehumanize us. Or maybe it’s some yet unidentified sword of Damocles that will reveal the flaws in modernity’s promises and prevent us from moving forward.

Henk Wildschut, Calais, Eritrean church, July 2015

Henk Wildschut, Ville de Calais, Partie Sud, 2016

Henk Wildschut, Ville de Calais, March 2016

Henk Wildschut, Ville de Calais, December 2016

Photo: LE BAL / Matthieu Samadet

The migrant is one of the most poignant victims of this state of suspension. Henk Wildschut followed the growth, bulldozing and resolute rebirth of the jungle of Calais since 2005. His series documents how refugees transform the landscape. With shacks and clothes drying between trees. But also with structures that speak of a semi-permanent situation: shops, sites of worship, bakeries, libraries, schools, garden, etc. Everything was razed in October 2016, before rising up again, albeit in an impoverished form and with far less attention from the media.

The photographer wrote:

That dignity was expressed in all manner of ways; the neatly folded clothes, the sleeping bags and blanket hung out, the way the surroundings were kept clean and waste disposed of. In the layout of their huts and the creation of small gardens, the inhabitants expressed their personality and individuality. I was moved by this need for security and homeliness. I wanted to use my photography to show how people retain their humanity in an inhuman situation. They symbolise the resilience of the individual.

Hiwa K, View From Above (still from the video), 2017

Hiwa K, View From Above (still from the video), 2017

Photo: LE BAL / Matthieu Samadet

View From Above was the most moving work in the exhibition (at least for me.) The video looks at refugee screening processes and reveals how following their logic to its most absurd extremes might help someone gain asylum.

During the interview necessary to get refugee status, an official checks to see whether you really come from an unsafe zone. He or she asks about small details about the city you claim to come from and compares your answers to a map.

View from Above shows a model of a destroyed city centre and tells the story of M, who undergoes interrogation to gain asylum. Before going for the interview, M spent weeks with people from a town in the unsafe zone. He has never been to that place but has drawn a map of it based on the conversations he had with people who came from there. He studied the names of all the streets, the schools, the major and minor buildings, etc.

When M finally had his interrogation interview, the official questioned him about the town and compared his answers to a map. M’s answers demonstrated knowledge of the town as it was seen from above. It took twenty minutes for M to be granted refugee status. Meanwhile, thousands of people who were actually from that town and other places in the unsafe zone waited as long as ten to fifteen years for the same thing, because their answers only demonstrated knowledge of their towns from the ground. The work thus reveals the gaps that separate administrative practices and genuine human experience.

Luc Delahaye, Eyal Checkpoint, 2016

Palestinian going to work in Israel are submitted to this situation of stanby literally, daily and physically when they are forced to go through repeated and mechanical control devices on their way out of the West Bank. Photographer Luc Delahaye tied up a phone to the entrance gantry of one of the checkpoints. The Palestinians, subjected to a system of distrust and humiliation, appear dehumanized and weary.

Debi Cornwall, Welcome to Camp America : Inside Guantánamo Bay, from the series Beyond Gitmo. Hamza, Tunisian (Slovakia 2015) Held: 12 years, 11 months, 19 days. Cleared: June 12, 2009. Released: November 20, 2014. Charges: Never filed

Debi Cornwall, Welcome to Camp America : Inside Guantánamo Bay, from the series Beyond Gitmo. Murat, Turkish German (Germany) Refugee Counselor Held: 4 years, 7 months, 22 days. Released: August 24, 2006. Charges: never filed

Photo: LE BAL / Matthieu Samadet

Beyond Gitmo give us a glimpse of the life and state of mind of men who have been released after having spent years incarcerated as alleged terrorists at the Guantanamo Bay. Reviled as the “worst of the worst,” many of these men have actually never been trialed and charged. Some have been released home. Others were displaced to foreign countries. The military prohibits photographing faces at Guantánamo Bay. Debi Cornwall replicates this “no faces” rule in the free world; their bodies may be free, but Guantánamo will always mark them.

Mélanie Pavy, Go get lost, 2017

Mélanie Pavy’s film follows a robot sent to investigate and clean up the Fukushima nuclear power plant. After a few hours under the water, the robot eventually explodes. Just before the screen gets black the spectator catches a glimpses of the carcasses of its predecessors. Even machines eventually succumb to man-made disasters.

The cold and sad images suggest the difficulty of recording in film the end of human civilization.

Stéphane Degoutin and Gwenola Wagon, Le monde comme entrepôt de livraison, 2017

Stéphane Degoutin and Gwenola Wagon’s fascinating video Le monde comme entrepôt de livraison also suggests the end of mankind. Except this time, it is one orchestrated by delivery companies that have replaced men with machines that tirelessly move items around inside gigantic warehouses. There is no place for men in this architecture made for mechanics and algorithms that carry and relocate physical items as if they were just sets of data.

Sebastian Stumpf, Puddles (video still), 2013

Photo: LE BAL / Matthieu Samadet

Short presentation of the exhibition En Suspens/In Between by Diane Dufour

In Between/En Suspens is at LE BAL in Paris until May 13.

The Dead Minitel Orchestra

Graffiti Research Lab France, The Dead Minitel Orchestra

Graffiti Research Lab France, The Dead Minitel Orchestra

Graffiti Research Lab France, The Dead Minitel Orchestra

Graffiti Research Lab France, The Dead Minitel Orchestra (Minitel Pong)

In 1982, the French public telecommunications company launched a revolutionary system combining the telephone and information technology. It was a beige, plastic box and it was called the Minitel.

The screen-keyboard set was delivered for free to French homes. People could electronically check the weather or their horoscope, find local restaurants, apply to university, book a holiday, buy shoes, monitor their bank accounts, etc. They could even chat online and have some rudimentary forms of cybersex. It was the world wide web before the world wide web and actually it wasn’t even world wide because it was limited to the territory of France. I grew up in Belgium feeling left out, envious and cheated.

Yves Denais using the Minitel on his dairy farm in the Brittany region of France. Photo: Ed Alcock for The New York Times

It was an avant-garde domestic technology and millions of people were still using it when France Telecom decided to pull the plug on the service in 2012.

In 2013, members of the Graffiti Research Lab France decided to set up a DEad Minitel Orchestra, a series of live performance and artistic installations that explore the sonic and visual afterlife of the defunct Videotex online service. The result is experimental, joyful, often charming and sometimes absurd.

DEad Minitel Orchestra, performance at Photophore festival, 2015

Minitel sex ad in Roman Polanski’s 1992 movie Bitter Moon

The Dead Minitel Orchestra is a project by Antoine Bonnet, Martin De Bie and Jerome Saint-Clair. I’ve been loving what the G.R.L. F.R. have been doing for years so the DeMO gave me the perfect excuse to contact them and ask for their opinions on quaint devices and extinct technologies:

Hi Jerome, Martin and Antoine! I grew up in French-speaking Belgium and was hyper envious of all these 36 15 services French people seemed to enjoy. Each time i hear the name Ulla, i still think of a brief sequence from a film by Roman Polanski. Minitel seemed to be the acme of sophistication and modernity at the time. Is the Minitel still present in French contemporary culture? Has some kind of nostalgic cult developed around it?

The Minitel was definitely a thing in France in the 80s. Imagine a pre-WWW area (year 1982) where suddenly every person with a phone landline can go get a revolutionary device for free from the national phone company (named PTT at the time) and connect to online services.

Some of those services were free to connect to (ie: white and yellow pages), some others were super expensive pay-per-minute (forums, adult and porn chat services among others). Looking back, it feels strange to realize, while watching archived national news dealing with the Minitel, that there was a real nationalist pride accompanying it. There was a real struggle to stay competitive against others countries in terms of technology and industry, to remain autonomous. Remember, every country had its computer company (Olivetti, Sinclair, …)

As a consequence of this mass adoption and national exception feeling (you know how French people are), everyone above 20 yo in France has a story with the Minitel. For the youngest ones, it’s the weird computer sitting near the telephone at their grand-parents’ place. For the others it’s the first connected terminal they have ever used. And it’s true.

Each time we perform or exhibit Minitels for a show, we notice a real nostalgia in the eyes of the audience. So much nostalgia that we are sometimes thinking of doing a “People staring at Minitels” project. We would end up with totally different portraits than Kyle McDonald‘s People staring at computers.

It also sometimes becomes an intergenerational transmission thing. Kids (who are too young to be aware about it) are usually super curious about it and their parents are always proud to tell them what it is and the relation they had with the Minitel. Maybe some sort of “finally a technological item my kids don’t know about and that I can explain” effect.

Despite all this, we wouldn’t say there is now a cult developed around it. But it was definitely part of people’s everyday life. Not only as a device they used, but also through TV and billboard ads and also many wild ads for the “pink minitel” services showing nude women, along the roads, in abandoned gas stations … The Minitel was also present during turning points of people’s life: you were able to check online if you passed the baccalaureat, or register for University. And that’s the kind of story we hear each time. The Minitel is our digital Madeleine de Proust.

Internationally speaking, views are quite divergent. Envy for some like you, Régine, and sometimes curiosity. But also jokes. Golan Levin told me he knows some. I’d be curious to hear them.

Graffiti Research Lab France, The Dead Minitel Orchestra

Graffiti Research Lab France, The Dead Minitel Orchestra (minitel Boobs)

Antoine: When I was kid (I was around 8, I guess) , there were huge ads for “minitel rose” on the roads. They were everywhere and particularly on the roads leading to highways (Paris peripherique). I really enjoyed seeing these ads because when I was seeing them, it meant HOLIDAYS !!

I never got curious about these ULLA, CUM,… services but I really liked the way these ads were placed under dark spots (under bridges, in corners,..), how they were aging, losing colors, ungluing or scratched,… The girls on the pictures were almost naked but it never shocked me… I think I didn’t notice until I became a teenager​.

Martin: I remember my parents using it to access information when I was a kid. It was some kind of mysterious device I hadn’t really access to, except when I was using it by mimicry, more as a toy, without even connecting to any service (hopefully for my parents’ phone bill). It’s only later when I was 15 and that I did connect under my mother’s supervision to check school grades that I started to realize how it could be used for. I really understood how revolutionary it was when I first experienced the Internet, a few years later. Being able to use it now, in my own artistic practice, is way more satisfying than typing pointlessly on a bizarre device.

Jerome: I personally remember going to the post office (the phone company and post office were the same national company at the time) with the paper my parents received in the mail to go get a Minitel. And also some years later take it back to get a newer version, probably the Minitel 1B. I remember my father checking the National lottery results and my mother placing orders on La Redoute (a mail order company).

Ad for ‘online sex’ service 3615 ULLA, 2003

Does the Minitel have some specific, technological or other, features that make it particularly interesting to use to generate sound and images? Or is it producing the same kind of audio and images as any other type of old bits of electronics?

It is worse than what you can imagine. What’s funny is that people’s memory tend to be biased and blurred with later computers or game console they used.

In fact, the Minitel does a single and monotone beep. It’s not even 8 bit music capable. On a graphical point of view, it has 2 display modes (text and graphics), using grayscale colors (late models, difficult to find allow color though). In addition to that, the graphical mode is not even pixel based but rather character based, with, for each block of character, a 2×3 stack of rectangles whose color can be either the foreground or background color of the character.
This explains why it has its own aesthetic in terms of graphics and that’s what makes it so interesting.

Graffiti Research Lab France, The Dead Minitel Orchestra

Graffiti Research Lab France, The Dead Minitel Orchestra

Why is it the Dead Minitel Orchestra instead of just the Minitel Orchestra? Does the ‘Dead” word refer to the fact that you’ve completely re-purposed and modified the functioning of the device? Or is it there to highlight that it’s one of those dead tech that came to be supplanted by another one?

We picked “dead” for two reasons. The first one because we wanted to use the De.M.O. acronym, which is also a reference to the demo scene.

The second one because the Minitel, in its original form, is actually dead. It is just a passive terminal, by design, and all the services (remote servers) have been unplugged on June 30th 2012.

As a consequence, we’re not murderers but rather Victor Frankenstein trying to resurrect a dead body of electronics. It is repurposed and its functioning was modified because we had no other choice if we wanted to be able to keep using it.

It has not been totally supplanted by another technology. It kept living along with the Internet until Orange decided to cut the services. Lots of people were still using it, back in 2012. Mostly because those persons were used to it and they had a single use case: car mechanics checking parts availability, farmers having a look at the weather forecasts, individuals checking the stock market, …

We used “Dead” because we start working with the Minitel a few weeks before Orange shuts down the service on June 30th 2012. Our first Minitel exhibition was a tribute, a death notice of the service. We remake some emblematic “3615” pages and create some visuals and animation to say goodbye. Since this exhibition we worked to “get the hell out of it” to get some kind of DemoScene practice with it, we even tried to modify the electronic to generate some generative visuals.

The idea of making music came later, and the name came naturally, from a dead technology we make experimental music as an orchestra, and using visuals and interfaces to get control over sound as a D.e.M.O.

DEad Minitel Orchestra, performance at Plateforme Gallery, Paris in 2013

Graffiti Research Lab France, The Dead Minitel Orchestra (Minitels Electrocardio)

Is the DeMo a comment or reflection on planned obsolescence and on our throwaway culture?

We wouldn’t say it was planned obsolescence. It doesn’t fit the “give it for free and make money on the services” business model of the Minitel. It was built to last. Hopefully for us, the Minitels we own are still working, more than 25 years after they were manufactured. It’s not too bad when you know that CRT (cathode ray tube) screens have a life expectancy of 20 years. Of course, some of them are a bit tired. The almost-dead-CRT effect is not bad though. However, sooner or later, all of our Minitels’ screen will be dead. We’ll have to figure out something else to workaround that.

What are the challenges of working with a dead technology like this one?

There are indeed various challenges. The first one was to find a starting point. Florent Deloison pointed us to Fabrice, Renaud, PG and Phil (from the Toulouse Tetalab) Webcam to Minitel project. That’s how it all began. We also found some good technical documentation.

We made the Tetalab’s original code evolve to work offline and we ended up creating a dedicated Minitel library for Arduino. Mostly because we wanted to be able to easily recreate classical Minitel screens: 36-15 ULLA, the yellow pages landing screen. And, moving forward, a Minitel-like Nyan Cat, a non playable Pong and an intermittently flattening electrocardiogram (using the single beep of the Minitel). Our goal at that time was to repurpose the Minitel as a low-tech photo frame. Either to host the screens mentioned above or for our 36-15 Selfie project.

36-15 Selfie

Later came the idea to use it in a totally different way and make music/sound with it. At the very beginning we were using screen luminosity variations (either by circuit bending the graphical chip or by displaying random characters) to generate or modulate sound. We later used a homemade MIDI clock to sync the Minitels. In our last setup, we only use the Minitel and its keyboard as an interface and everything is sent to Raspberry Pis handling both MIDI and audio output. We’re also using one Minitel to display graphics and use it as a source for realtime VJ effects through another Raspberry equipped with a camera. The project is shifting to include more of the Minitel culture, using sound samples of Minitel TV ads or news saying how great the Minitel technology was. That’s really a work in progress.

Each time we have a performance planned is an opportunity to move forward on this project.

Jerome Saint-Clair and Antoine Bonnet for GRL FR, Traffic Booster

Also and completely unrelated Traffic Booster! I find it hilarious, maybe because i don’t even have a driving license. It must be one of the most irritating invention for car drivers though. You could get lynched here in Italy for setting up something like that at a traffic light. I suspect that people in Paris where you’ve installed it have not been very amused by it. Why did you make the Traffic Booster? How obvious is it to drivers that the beep doesn’t actually come from an impatient driver?

Jerome: That’s a project people really enjoy. I mean they enjoy it when they watch the video, not as victims. In the meantime I’m pretty sure drivers didn’t even notice it was automatic. They are so used to stress and angriness.

I made the traffic booster as a reaction to the need for speed (not the video game) in our society. When you live in a large city you’re absorbed by its pace. You have no other choice than to conform with it. If you don’t comply, it makes people angry. Try to walk slowly in the corridors of the metro when people are rushing to the office in the morning and you’ll notice. Same thing on the road. Driver will put themselves or others at risk to save only a few seconds, without realizing that they’ll have to stop at the next traffic lights and actually not gain time at all. This mechanism applies to a lot of things in our occidental societies. Plus there are devices and rules to force you to do so and to record that. Fixed office hours along with time recorders, personal objectives along with variable pay, Uber-like companies along with smartphone apps, … In the end, technology is not a real progress but is used to control people. And people don’t step down. They comply and compete. The traffic booster is there to remind that: beware of what’s forcing you to go faster without giving you the time to actually step aside, look around and think of what’s really going on here.

Thanks Jerome, Antoine and Martin!

Airports: forerunners of a new world or microcosms of their own?

Jonathan Monk, Waiting for Famous People (Marcel Duchamp), 1997. Photo: Galleri Nicolai Wallner

Aéroports / Ville-monde, an exhibition open until 21 May at the Gaîté Lyrique in Paris, invites visitors to look behind the sanitized, codified and paranoid facade of airports and ask themselves whether airports are harbingers of a new order or microcosms of their own.

In an advanced globalized era, the airport is a lab for our contemporary life. It echoes and fixes all the major themes that rhythm life in our societies: mobility and surveillance, immigration and consumption, terrorism and globalized connection. Linked from one another by a uniform protocol, from Marseille to Yellowknife, they might be today the suburbs of an “invisible world capital”, foreseen by the SF writer J.G. Ballard, the tarmac of a global village, the doorstep of an artificial and virtualized world.

Hiraki Sawa, Dwelling, 2002

The exhibition recreates some of the key moments of your passage through an airport terminal: you get a boarding pass at the entrance, walk through Matthias Gommel‘s queue management system, stop at Marnix de Nijs‘ security portal equipped with a biometric software that will probe your facial features and matches them to famous characters (i tried several times and was ‘recognized’ as an actress of erotic horror movie, thanks!), etc.

The exhibition is entertaining without ever verging on the funfair. It has depth, insights and the ambition to make us see airports as more than icons of non-places and glorified shopping mails. Airports are symbols of globalization, territories of hyper-controlled behaviour, gateways to movement, etc. And as recent events in the U.S.A. have demonstrated, they’ve also become spaces for civic expression. When Trump’s travel ban blocked entry of migrants from 7 Muslim countries, including green card holders, people flocked to airports with signs and messages of solidarity to demonstrate their opposition to the policy.

Matthias Gommel, Untitled (Passage), 2011. Aéroports, Ville-Monde, exposition à la Gaîté Lyrique du 23 février au 21 mai 2017. Photo: © vinciane lebrun-verguethen/voyez-vous

Marnix de Nijs, Physiognomic Scrutinizer, 2008-2009. Aéroports, Ville-Monde, exposition à la Gaîté Lyrique du 23 février au 21 mai 2017. Photo: © vinciane lebrun-verguethen/voyez-vous

Aéroports / Ville-monde is designed like a temporary airport terminal that gets more intriguing and troubling as you move from one artwork to another. Here’s a very quick walk through some of the works i found particularly interesting in the exhibition:

Adrian Paci, Centro di Permanenza Temporeana, 2007. Photo via artslife

Adrian Paci, Centro di Permanenza Temporeana, 2007

Adrian Paci’s work highlights the repercussions of conflicts, social revolutions and soon i’m sure the effects of climate change that will transform many of us into environmental migrants. In our capitalistic society, goods are free to travel, human bodies are not if they don’t have the ‘right’ documents. The video Centro di Permanenza Temporeana (Center of Temporary Permanence) shows people stepping onto boarding stairs. Once they’ve reached the top, there is no cabin for them to enter. The planes slowly pass behind them and these people remain standing with dignity on the pitiful platform, excluded from the economy of movements and from the promise of a better future in another country.

Paci’s exploration of migration issues echo his own experience. In 1997, the artist had to leave Albania with his wife and two daughters and settled in Milan. At the time, his country was in a state of crisis and protests bordering on civil war.

Cécile Babiole, Couloir Aérien, 2016. Couloir Aérien, 2016. Installation view at La Gaîté yrique

Cécile Babiole, Couloir Aérien, 2016. Aéroports, Ville-Monde, exposition à la Gaîté Lyrique du 23 février au 21 mai 2017. Photo: © vinciane lebrun-verguethen/voyez-vous

Cécile Babiole’s installation Couloir Aérien makes loud and intrusive the civilian air traffic flying over and around the building of the Gaîté Lyrique. The system detects the ADS-B (Automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast) signals emitted by aircraft and amplifies them. Sounds of otherwise unnoticed flyovers suddenly invade the space according, while a video screen visualizes the source of these otherwise unnoticed sounds: flight name, altitude, latitude, longitude, speed.

Stéphane Degoutin and Gwenola Wagon, Psychoanalysis of the International Airport – Museum of Terrorism

Stéphane Degoutin and Gwenola Wagon, Psychoanalysis of the International Airport – Museum of Terrorism. Aéroports, Ville-Monde, exposition à la Gaîté Lyrique du 23 février au 21 mai 2017. Photo: © vinciane lebrun-verguethen/voyez-vous

Stéphane Degoutin and Gwenola Wagon, Psychoanalysis of the International Airport – Museum of Terrorism. Aéroports, Ville-Monde, exposition à la Gaîté Lyrique du 23 février au 21 mai 2017. Photo: © vinciane lebrun-verguethen/voyez-vous

Artists and researchers, Stéphane Degoutin and Gwenola Wagon present the airport as a museum of terrorism, a place characterized by the coexistence of the fantasy of the disaster, of the absolute surveillance, of the omnipresence, of unlimited shopping.

The installation Psychoanalysis of the International Airport – Museum of Terrorism at the Gaîté takes the form of a long table where people sit down and read the booklet Psychanalyse de l’aéroport international in which Degoutin and Wagon have compiled evidences that airports operate as space where bodies made transparent are shifted through ‘autistic architecture’, where threat is over-dramatized and surveillance is becoming increasingly arbitrary.

The book manages to be both hilarious and thought-provoking. Every single visitor who sits down to briefly browse through it ends up being glued to their chair.

Discovered in the book (sorry i couldn’t resist):

In 2012, John E. Brennan got naked while going through a checkpoint at Portland airport as a protest against invasive Transportation Security Administration procedures, such as body scans and pat downs

Joseph Popper, The Same Face (installation detail), 2015

Aéroports, Ville-Monde, exposition à la Gaîté Lyrique du 23 février au 21 mai 2017. Photo: © vinciane lebrun-verguethen/voyez-vous

The Same Face plays on the similarities between flight simulation video games and drone command centers. Both exploit digital technologies but only pilots of drone control rooms can wreak havoc and kill real human beings at a distance. The work takes the bombing of Brighton’s Grand Hotel by the IRA in 1984 as a point of departure, where the location of the event is one of a series of landscapes reimagined from 5000ft high.

David Thomas Smith, Anthropocene Series, 2006 (Beijing International Airport, Beijing, People’s Republic of China)

David Thomas Smith, Anthropocene Series, 2006 (Las Vegas, NV, United States of America)

David Thomas Smith takes screenshots of Google Earth aerial images and organizes them into complex tapestries that visualize the elaborated structures of global capitalism’s centers. “I would like people to come away with a sense of the scale on which the world operates,” the artist explained in an interview with Canadian Geographic. “The power that mankind has at its finger tips, and then, hopefully, they may begin to question how that power is used.”

Masha Shubina, Lost and Found series, 2016

Masha Shubina’s self-portraits are printed on aircraft security cards. She’s defiant, hiding her face behind a balaclava or a traditional Ukrainian scarf, brandishing a Molotov cocktail and displaying behaviours that could get her arrested. Especially in an airport.

Jasmina Cibic, JC01 – Lufthansa, 2006

JC01-Lufthansa is part of a series of photographs representing the inside of the cabin of an aircraft that was under repaired at the Ljubljana airport in Slovenia. The artist took advantage of the fact that the planes were immobilized and emptied and she decorated them with hunting trophies collected by a Yugoslavian general. Two worlds collide in this image, Western Europe’s capitalist vision and the rugged terrain of Yugoslavian history.

More images from the show:

Hiraki Sawa, Dwelling, 2002

Aéroports, Ville-Monde, exposition à la Gaîté Lyrique du 23 février au 21 mai 2017. Photo: © vinciane lebrun-verguethen/voyez-vous

Aéroports, Ville-Monde, exposition à la Gaîté Lyrique du 23 février au 21 mai 2017. Photo: © vinciane lebrun-verguethen/voyez-vous

Aéroports, Ville-Monde, exposition à la Gaîté Lyrique du 23 février au 21 mai 2017. Photo: © vinciane lebrun-verguethen/voyez-vous

Aéroports / Ville-monde is at the Gaîté Lyrique in Paris until 21 May 2017

Presumed Guilty: stereotypes of female criminals

Robert Capa, Just after the liberation of the town, a French woman who had a baby with a German soldier was punished by having her head shaved, Chartres, France, 18 August 1944

Carl Mydans, A tondue, 1944

I’ll never forget the stories my grandmother used to tell me about the ‘shaved women of the Libération. After the Second World War, women accused of having worked with the nazi invader, spied for them, denounced their neighbours, and participated to nazi operations were paraded in the street, insulted, spat on, beaten, etc. The apotheosis of this public humiliation was the moment when men (they were usually men) would shave the head of the women as a punishment for being a ‘traitress’. Roughly 20 000 women were shaved in France in 1944-1945.

However, the only crime committed by some of these women was horizontal collaboration. They had slept with a German out of love, conviction, necessity, under duress or simply because they were prostitutes. All of them lost their hair, symbol of seduction and perdition. Of course, men were punished for colluding with the German invader as well but only women were stigmatized and punished for ‘sleeping with the enemy’.

Album-souvenir d’Isabelle H. (Paris, trips in Normandy and on the French Riviera in the company of a German officer), 1944. Arch. nat. Z/6/1236

Album-souvenir d’Isabelle Hyer. Paris, trips in Normandy and on the French Riviera, 1944. (© Archives nationales)

Young woman and German soldier in Paris, investigation file of Marguerite P. Arch. nat., Z/6/123/1176

Women shaved and paraded on a truck in Cherbourg, 1945

Presumed Guilty, an exhibition at the Archives Nationales in Paris, explores how women have been judged according to different sets of values -and often with less impartiality- than men. From the XIVth Century to the end of the Second World War, French women were ‘presumed guilty’. They were judged for their crimes (or what was perceived as such) but also simply for being women. Something pertaining to their gender made them more likely to commit certain types of crimes. Until 1946, these women were interrogated by men, judged by men and condemned by them.

The exhibition examines this position through five archetypes of female felons: the witch, the poisoner, the child-killer, the rebel arsonist, and the traitor.

Between the XVth and the XVIIIth Century, 110 000 trials for witchcraft were held throughout France. 80 % of the accused were women. Women were regarded as weaker than men and thus more susceptible to be seduced and perverted by the devil.

It was believed that the devil would touch the woman and leave a mark on her body when they made their pact. The mark was supposed to be insensitive to pain. The investigators would thus meticulously examine the naked body of the accused woman and then prick their body with a blade. If the woman did not flinch nor bleed, it was a proof that they were a witch. Women were also asked questions about their sexuality, in particular the details of their copulation with the devil.

Violette Nozière who poisoned her parents

Violette Nozière during her trial in Paris in 1934. Photo credit: Rene Dazy, Rue des Archives, Paris, France

In the modern era, the figure of the witch with her potions and knowledge of herbs was replaced by the one of the female poisoner. Poison was seen as the woman’s weapon of choice. “Brave” men kill with a knife. Cowardly women with drugs. Poisoning someone was adjudged to be more shocking than homicide: it suggested premeditation, ruse and hypocrisy and therefore merited greater punishment. Furthermore, the crime indicated a woman who had chosen to depart from her traditional role of a ‘nurturer’.

Berthe V., arrested for child killing. Archives départementales de Loire-Atlantique

Encore un carreau d’cassé (young pregnant maid and her boss), published in Le Rire, 12th year, 1905-1906. Arch. nat., AE/II/3734

A fourth figure of criminal is the child-killer. These were often girls who had only a vague understanding of what their body was going through and were afraid of losing their ‘reputation’ and thus any chance of ever finding a good husband. Some had been raped, victims of incest or just naive. During the trials, the judges often interrogated them about the seduction and intercourse that led to an undesired childbearing.

Justice was harsh to these women. At least until the XIXth century when society finally recognized that men had to bear some responsibility for the shame, misery and despair of these women.

The anarchist Germaine Berton, 1921

Then came the pétroleuses, the women accused to have used bottles full of petroleum or paraffin (similar to modern-day Molotov cocktails) to set on fire key buildings in Paris during the radical socialist and revolutionary government that briefly ruled the French capital in 1871. Many government buildings were indeed set afire by the soldiers of the Commune but it was only only the rumour that attributed the arson to women. Hundreds of pétroleuses (a word that has no equivalent for men) were brought before a court, none were recognized guilty of intentional firing. But the myth perdured and the term was applied to rebellious women who didn’t conform to the rules that govern their gender and whose beliefs and gestures couldn’t be controlled by men.

Germaine Berton, for example, was born long after the Commune but she was seen as a marginal, a kind of pétroleuse. Berton was a young anarchist activist who shot one of the leaders of the French Far Right organization known as Action française. She was arrested and claimed responsibility for the crime. Everything about her belied the ideal of a woman: she had political opinions, she acted alone, was single and wore short hair. On 24th December 1923, the tribunal found her not guilty of the crime. The judges didn’t want to turn her into a martyr so they claimed she couldn’t be held responsible for her act.

Unfortunately, Presumed Guilty closes today. It is a fascinating exhibition. 320 interrogation records and previously unseen documents give their voice back to these women.

The exhibition closes at the end of the Second World War but as we all know (glass ceiling and all that), the fight for equality, dignity and recognition is not over for many women across the world.

On a side note, i was very surprised to see how few men were visiting the exhibition on the day i was there. There were dozens of women of all ages but only one ‘husband’.

Workers monitored by a nun, drawing by Aristide Delannoy, L’Assiette au beurre, 1901. Arch. nat. AE/11/2940

Gustave Jamet, Women’s government, 1848. Arch. nat., AE/II/3513

Police report about Léonie Bathiat, better known as Arletty, Paris, 3 October 1945. Arch. nat., Z/6SN/105, dossier 40863

Letter of remission from 1457 for the execution in Marmande of several women accused of witchcraft. Arch. nat., JJ//187, fol. 22 v°

Presumed guilty 14th-20th century is at the Hôtel de Soubise, Archives Nationales in Paris unil 27 March 2017.

Image on the homepage found over here.

Extra Fantômes. The real, the fake, the uncertain

While in Paris a few weeks ago, i visited Extra Fantômes. The real, the fake, the uncertain, an exhibition at La Gaîté Lyrique that explores the interweaving of the technological and the uncanny.

Extra Fantômes, exposition à la Gaîté Lyrique du 7 avril au 31 juillet 2016. © vinciane verguethen/voyez-vous
Extra Fantômes. View of the exhibition space at Gaîté Lyrique. Photo: © Vinciane Verguethen/voyez-vous

Extra Fantômes, exposition à la Gaîté Lyrique du 7 avril au 31 juillet 2016. © vinciane verguethen/voyez-vous
Karolina Sobecka, All the Universe is Full of the Lives of Perfect Creatures. Exhibition view at Gaîté Lyrique. Photo: © Vinciane Verguethen/voyez-vous

Extra Fantômes, exposition à la Gaîté Lyrique du 7 avril au 31 juillet 2016. © vinciane verguethen/voyez-vous
Nils Völker, Seventeen, 2016. Extra Fantômes, exhibition view. Photo © vinciane verguethen/voyez-vous

I thought it would be a light and amusing way to fill a rainy afternoon. And amusing it certainly was. At least at the start of the exhibition, when you find yourself plunged inside dark spaces and Lynch-inspired red room dedicated to the occult. There is a Oui Ja table, a mirror haunted by animals, a phone that puts you in contact with ghosts, a clique of translucent cushions that breathe over your heads. But the exhibition goes way beyond the mystical and the supernatural…

In a world where scientific rationalism rules, interest is on the rise for alternative forms of relating to the world and to others.

The exponential development of technology is paradoxically a time there is a surge in attention and demand for magical, unexplained and mythological phenomena.

After the first two rooms of fun and phantasms, the ride gets darker and the paranormal gets worryingly normal. The specters, spirits and impersonators become pervasive, intrusive, you can ignore them if you so wish but you can’t hide from them. They are made of the data we generate. They are our disembodied doppelgängers, our digital shadow and they relentlessly shed information about our opinions, routines, sexual preferences and working habits. Unsurprisingly, these last few rooms were the ones where i spent the longest time.

Extra Fantômes. View of the exhibition space at Gaîté Lyrique. Photo: © Vinciane Verguethen/voyez-vous

The first one presents itself like a Control Room that enables the visitors to discover the immaterial energies and invisible forces that inhabit the same spaces as us. These forces are not esoteric anymore. They are real, they are the ones that inevitably accompany our technology-mediated existence.

onformative, Google Faces, 2013

onformative, Google Faces – Google Earth Flight Animation

Google Faces was my favourite piece in the room because of the way it ties up the uncanny atmosphere of the previous rooms with the reality of the current technological world.

Google Faces tirelessly travels through Google Maps’s satellite images and uses a face detection algorithm to detect portraits hidden in the topography of our planet. The images would look nothing like faces were it not for pareidolia, a psychological phenomenon wherein the mind perceives a familiar pattern of a face, animal, object, message or other where none actually exists. “Unprejudiced” technology meets human subjectivity.

Extra Fantômes, exposition à la Gaîté Lyrique du 7 avril au 31 juillet 2016. © vinciane verguethen/voyez-vous
Tobias Zimmer and David Ebner, Database, 2014. Exhibition view at Gaîté Lyrique. Photo: © Vinciane Verguethen/voyez-vous

The cameras of the Database installation record the faces of visitors as they enter the room, a recognition algorithm analyzes them and the resulting data is sent to a printer, which automatically prints the little portraits along with data about the time of the visitor’s passage in the gallery. The process is super fast. Every hour though, the intrusive work acknowledges the right to privacy by blending all the faces into a composite portrait and displaying it on the installation’s website, while all other digital records are deleted. As for the ridiculously voluminous prints, they get shredded.

Database publicly documents the nuts and bolts of facial recognition—which governments and large corporations keep behind closed doors—and also refuses to catalog or monetize the information accumulation, in stark contrast with other entities that collect big data.

Semiconductor, Magnetic Movie, 2007

In Semiconductor’s Magnetic Movie, physicists from NASA’s Space Sciences Laboratory at UC Berkeley describe their experiments about magnetic fields while images visualize this invisible phenomenon in the form of hectic, ever-changing geometries.

Extra Fantômes, exposition à la Gaîté Lyrique du 7 avril au 31 juillet 2016. © vinciane verguethen/voyez-vous
Extra Fantômes. Exhibition view at Gaîté Lyrique. Photo: © Vinciane Verguethen/voyez-vous

The last room in the exhibition bears the inauspicious title of ‘the Bunker.’ There’s nothing oppressive about it though. The space is filled with ideas and strategies deployed by artists to fight back against data collecting, machine scrutiny and other forms of control. They make us disappear and even turn us into ghosts in the eyes of the machines.

There’s a very straightforward way to make yourself untraceable. Head over to the website of LessEMF and get a maternity camisole, sleeping bag or poncho that will protect you from electro-magnetic fields. My personal choice would be this fetching upper body shield which might come in handy next time i fancy a bit of jousting.

Extra Fantômes, exposition à la Gaîté Lyrique du 7 avril au 31 juillet 2016. © vinciane verguethen/voyez-vous
Extra Fantômes. Exhibition view at Gaîté Lyrique. Photo: © Vinciane Verguethen/voyez-vous

Adam Harvey, Stealth Wear

Adam Harvey, Stealth Wear

Adam Harvey designed a range of fashionable thermal evasion garments that protect their wearer from the eyes of the drones and other heat sensing machines.

Extra Fantômes, exposition à la Gaîté Lyrique du 7 avril au 31 juillet 2016. © vinciane verguethen/voyez-vous
Extra Fantômes. Exhibition view at Gaîté Lyrique. Photo: © Vinciane Verguethen/voyez-vous

The artist and researcher is also famous for CV Dazzle, a sly make up and hair fashion technique that covers the face with bold patterns. By breaking apart the expected features targeted by computer vision algorithms, CV Dazzle makes you immune to CCTV scrutiny.

Heather Dewey-Hagborg, Invisible

Finally, Heather Dewey-Hagborg has been exploring the next frontier in surveillance: biological surveillance. Her Invisible kit ensure your genetic privacy by obliterating any DNA trace you leave behind.

Extra Fantomes HD_03
Catalogue Extra Fantômes

Extra Fantomes HD_15
Catalogue Extra Fantômes

The catalogue of the exhibition is published by Gaîté Éditions and Lienart. It contains plenty of great essays by the like of James Bridle, Finn Brunton, Vinciane Despret, Marie Lechner, Elliot Woods (Kimchi and Chips), Mushon Zer-Aviv, etc. Only available in french, i’m afraid.

More images from the exhibition:

Extra Fantômes, exposition à la Gaîté Lyrique du 7 avril au 31 juillet 2016. © vinciane verguethen/voyez-vous
Karolina Sobecka, All the Universe is Full of the Lives of Perfect Creatures. Exhibition view at Gaîté Lyrique. Photo: © Vinciane Verguethen/voyez-vous

Mathieu Schmitt, Oui Ja, 2013

Extra Fantômes, exposition à la Gaîté Lyrique du 7 avril au 31 juillet 2016. © vinciane verguethen/voyez-vous
Mathieu Schmitt, Oui Ja, 2013. Exhibition view at Gaîté Lyrique. Photo: © Vinciane Verguethen/voyez-vous

Malte Martin, Spectres, 2014

Extra Fantômes, exposition à la Gaîté Lyrique du 7 avril au 31 juillet 2016. © vinciane verguethen/voyez-vous
Exhibition view at Gaîté Lyrique. Photo: © Vinciane Verguethen/voyez-vous

Extra Fantômes, exposition à la Gaîté Lyrique du 7 avril au 31 juillet 2016. © vinciane verguethen/voyez-vous
Extra Fantômes. Exhibition view at Gaîté Lyrique. Photo: © Vinciane Verguethen/voyez-vous

Extra Fantômes. The real, the fake, the uncertain was curated by Daily tous les jours. The show remains open at Gaîté Lyrique in Paris until July 31rst 2016.

Persona. Or how objects become human

Wang Zi Won, Mechanical Avalokitesvara, 2015

Ghost Hunter suitcase and alphabet for ouija, 1926-1940 Surnatéum, Bruxelles. Photo Claude Germain

Kenji Yanobe, Sweet Harmonizer II , 1995

The Musée du Quai Branly in Paris is probably one of the few places in the world where you can see post-apocalyptic outfits, ghost hunter instruments, divination robots, Nigerian monoliths bearing minimal human features, Mezcala anthropomorphic figurines, the egg of a titanosaurus, Japanese Bunraku puppets and other historical or contemporary artifacts in the same exhibition.

Persona. Strangely Human lines up over 200 objects and videos to probe how ancient and contemporary cultures infuse life and persona into things.

Many objects have a status more similar to that of a person or a creature than that of a simple object. Works of art – Western or non-Western, popular or contemporary –, or high-tech products – robots, machines, etc. – are regularly endowed, in their use, with unexpected capacities for action, which render them almost people. Like a child devoted to its cuddly toy or someone who curses their computer or mobile accusing it of being incompetent or stubborn. Like the shaman who calls on the spirits through a statuette resembling the gods.

The backdrop of the exhibition is of course the ongoing debates regarding transhumanism, artificial intelligence and the increasingly blurry borders that separate humans from machines. But what makes the exhibition of the Musée du Quai Branly original and different from the shows i usually cover is that its approach is mostly anthropological. The curators are anthropologist Emmanuel Grimaud, ethnologist Anne-Christine Taylor-Descola, anthropologist Denis Vidal and art historian Thierry Dufrêne. Together they gather artifacts from all over the world to explore questions such as: How does the inanimate become animate? How do people establish an unusual or intimate relationship with objects?

Persona, Étrangement humain (trailer)

The exhibition investigates the human in the non-human through 4 different paths.

The first one looks at ‘unidentified presences’, the ones that we think we can detect in a vague shape, or an unexpected sound. It seems that, as humans, we are ‘wired’ to anthropomorphise, to identify life where there is objectively only a bunch of abstract shapes.

In 1944, psychologists Fritz Heider and Marianne Simmel showed to subjects a short animation of independently moving geometric shapes. They found that most people couldn’t help but attribute intentional movements, personalities and goal-directed interactions to the shapes. The attribution takes place in the absence of common social cues like body language, facial expressions or speech. The experiment shows how humans have a spontaneous tendency to attribute feelings and thoughts to barely anthropomorphic shapes.

Fritz Heider & Marianne Simmel, Experimental study of apparent behavior, 1944

In 2008, the BBC re-created a controversial sensory deprivation experiment. Six people were taken to a nuclear bunker and left alone for 48 hours. Three subjects were left alone in dark, sound-proofed rooms, while the other three are given goggles and foam cuffs, while white noise is piped into their ears. The volunteers suffered anxiety, extreme emotions, paranoia and significant deterioration in their mental functioning. They also hallucinated and thought they could see or hear thousands of empty oyster shells, a snake, zebras, tiny cars, the room taking off, mosquitoes, fighter planes buzzing around.

BBC, 48 Hours of Total Isolation (The volunteers begin to hallucinate)

Meanwhile in Thailand, people adopt Kuman Thong, or “Gold Baby.” The little household effigy contains the spirit of a mythical child. Its owner has to care for it as if it were a real child, show it affection and talk to it every day. A bit like you would do with a tamagotchi.

Kuman Thong

A second section of the show explores the persons that you might want to ‘detect’ and communicate with: the ghosts, the spirits, the apparitions, etc.

I wasn’t expecting to find Thomas Edison there. At the end of his life, the famous inventor was said to have been working on a device for communicating with the dead. The “spirit phone” or telephone to the Dead would have enabled paranormal researchers to work ‘in a strictly scientific way.’

The idea for the device came through a correspondence between Edison and Sir William Crookes. The British inventor claimed to have captured images of spirits on photographs. These images allegedly encouraged Edison. The machine never saw the light of the day. Hence the skepticism that surrounds it.

Image via unreal facts

William Crookes, Photos with Katie King

The divination apparatus below appears to have been developed in response to sudden changes in Pende culture, in particular the arrival of colonialists in the region. These changes in society fueled demands for new tools that might afford insight into unfamiliar experiences.

During consultation, the diviner would lay the instrument on his knees with the head facing up while names of individuals suspected of crimes were recited. The galukoji‘s head would spring upward when the culprit’s name was uttered.

Galukoji, Divinatory instrument, Pende region, Congo, 1920 – 1950. Photo Claude Germain

Divination statue (Kafigeledio), Ivory Coast, XIX-early XXTH century. These effigies oracle were manipulated by members of secret societies to detect who was lying

Spirit hand Martinka and Memento mori ring, late XIX and XVIIth century

Used during the cohoba ritual, the tool was used to help the participant vomit before the ceremony and thus helped them purify their body. The participant would then inhale a potent hallucinogen, putting them in a trance that facilitates contact with supernatural beings.

Vomit-inducing spatula, Martinique, circa 1200 – 1492. Photo Patrick Gries

The third chapter in the exhibition studied what robotics professor Masahiro Mori called the Uncanny Valley, the thin line that is crossed by things that appear so human that they end up repelling us. Instead of trying to replicate exactly the human appearance, Mori actually suggested that designers explore zoomorphism or draw inspiration from other art forms (Bunraku theatre, religious statuary, etc.) to produce effects of empathy, attachment and even hypnosis.

This section features Vanuatu marionnettes, prosthesis, mommies that all evoke the human form and seem to both attract and repel the viewer.

Human skull covered with human hair, animal teeth and tinted animal skin. The death raises here a feeling of “uncanny strangeness”.

Anthropomorphic crest, Cross River (Africa.) Photo Thierry Olivier, Michel Urtado

Mummy, undated parched head of Mundurucu Indian, Brazil

Jean Dupuy’s dust sculpture comes to life as soon as it is connected to the heart beats of the visitors. The dust is actually an extremely low-density red pigment called Lithol Rubin that has the ability to remain suspended in air for long periods.

Jean Dupuy, Cone Pyramid (Heart beats dust), 1968 (photo)

Performance of the piece at the exhibition Für Augen un Ohren, Akademie der Künst, Berlin, 1980 (photo)

Automata of the gods are displayed during religious feasts today in India. The figures are used to capture attention, tell myths or accompany rituals. Their slow and hypnotic gestures put people in a state that prepares to devotion.

Conception Ankush Bhaikar pour l’exposition “Persona. Étrangement humain”
Matsya automaton, avatar of the god Vishnu. Conception Ankush Bhaikar for “Persona. Strangely Human.” Photo Emmanuel Grimaud

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Vanuatu marionnette. Photo Gautier Deblonde © musée du quai Branly

The final part of the exhibition, “Show Home”, invites you to enter a dwelling and meet the interfaces, devices and robots that might one day be part of our family. How shall we cohabit with them?

Some of the pieces on show are the ones you expect to see there: robots, life-like love dolls but you will also discover a collection of phallic amulets and anthropomorphic spoons.

Stan Wannet‘s electro-mechanical installation features a pair of baboons playing a classic gambling trick. The work is a direct reference to both Wolfgang Von Kempelen’s Chess Playing Turk and Hieronymus Bosch’s painting The Conjurer ‘in an attempt to blur the artificial borders between our rational, polite and slightly ambitions selves on the one hand and the more primal, greedy and curious us on the other.’

Stan Wannet, Civilized Aspirations in Art, Monkeys and small time Entrepreneurs

Divinatory robots such as the one below were popular in Mumbai in the 1990s. They were made using discarded Japanese toys. From the sanskrit Bhavishya (“destiny, future”), the robot is an interface to divination, it predicts the future in 3 languages in exchange of a few coins.

Robot de divination
Bhaishyavani, Robot de divination, End of XXth century. Photo Claude Germain

The little sculptures below are made using kitchen tools. They are designed as “real incarnations of gods.” They assist users in their everyday lives, but they can also turn against them.

Two Haitian sculptures from the nineteenth century representing the Ogou loa. Photo Claude Germain

Strange Days Have Found Us-1
Danny Van Ryswyk, Strange Days Have Found Us

Return of the Venusian
Danny Van Ryswyk, Return of the Venusian, 2015

Some of the images i took during my visit of the exhibition are on flickr.

Persona. Strangely Human remains open at the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris until 13 November 2016.

NEUNUNDNEUNZIG (99) balloons of claustrophobia

Martin Bricelj Baraga and Olaf Bender, NEUNUNDNEUNZIG (99)

NEUNUNDNEUNZIG (99) is a kinetic sound sculpture by Martin Bricelj Baraga and Olaf Bender (raster-noton).

The work takes the shape of a matrix of 99 balloons that inflate individually to surround visitors in a physical, sonic, and visual experience. The piece inhales and exhales, expands and deflates, building up an almost claustrophobic experience that aims to echo the crises and dilemmas our society is going through.

And if you’re a child of the 80s, you might even guess that the title and use of balloons evoke “99 Luftballons”, Nena’s hit single that talked about innocent objects that provoke nuclear paranoia.

Nena, 99 Luftballons, 1984
NEUNUNDNEUNZIG (99) will be shown this week in Paris as part of the International Biennial of Digital Arts NEMO. The biennial is associated with SHAPE, a European platform for innovative music and audiovisual art that has such an impeccable and experimental taste for sound art that wmmna became one of their media partners. But back to Olaf and Martin! They spent the weekend inflating balloons and adjusting pipes but still managed to find some time to answer my questions:

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Hi Martin and Olaf! How did you two start working together? How do your respective practices and interests complement each other?

Bender: We met some years ago during diverse festivals and one day Martin introduced me to some of his projects that I found interesting because they all had something subversive and weren’t that super seriously arty, but had rather something simple, an energy that reminded me of something I knew from rock music, a kind of non-conformist attitude. (projects: Nonument, Re:Museum, New Human.) But to be clear about our current collaboration, my part in it is that I added the sound to the 99 installation which had already been conceptualized by Martin before.

Baraga: When I work on open air intervention or indoor installation I am mostly interested in the space and the ambience of light and sound and how all this affects the space alone, and the visitor. So sound is very important – I’m interested in the sound of spaces and of objects- objects producing sounds, becoming some sort of instrument. Olaf is interested in physicality of sound, so I think these 2 things match.

It’s interesting that Olaf mentions the simple energy because I had the same feeling when I experienced his music- the kind of raw power, that I really wanted this piece to have in.

Beside that – the song NEUNUNDNEUNZIG (99) is about cold war- the east/west block, and we both come from different countries but from the same former eastern block.


The description of the piece states that the space is “shrinking and extending, thus creating a highly intensive, even claustrophobic psycho-physical and socio-spatial experience that mirrors the current conditions of our society.” Could you give us more details about the experience? What will visitors see and feel?

Bender: I wouldn’t say that the room is shrinking and extending, for me it’s more like breathing. From an abstract perspective, the setup of the balloons acts like an organism. The initial idea was that visitors enter this organism in the darkness and a part of the scenario should be this claustrophobic experience that you always encounter if you give up control to a complex mechanisms (airplane, army, elevator etc.).

Baraga: Exactly – you enter the grid that really functions as an organism- and it looks like an organism too. It looks like a set of cocoons of the future bodies to be born, all connected to their base- pneuma – mother. You are seated in total darkness and start to hear, feel the initial breathing part. The intensities that follow can bring up different reactions.

The grid and the organism are allegories of the system. And we do have organic connections with machines already, we’re being transformed slowly. And what happens when the machines get weird. Or just play their own game. It already happens on a daily basis. As for the breathing of pneumatics- Pneuma – the greek word for breath was very important in Judaism and Cristianity in religious context, meaning spirit or soul.

Do machines that breathe have soul?

How long does it take to get the full immersive experience?

It’s an intimate experience for 15 minutes with 15 other visitors. The current 99 composition actually lasts for 15 minutes, but it takes more time with the whole procedure to enter the room, to be seated, so in a way we can do maximum 2 shows per hour.

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Why was it important for you to communicate a feeling of claustrophobia (as opposed to a light and entertaining experience?

Baraga: It is a reflection of the current state we’re in as humans, the technocratic environment that is becoming so sophisticated that it seems that no change is possible – it’s becoming almost suffocating. That is a very claustrophobic feeling i think.
In creating a total darkness, I’m interested in creating a zone environment where you don’t have a constant influx of information and distractions which you are always exposed to.

Bender: For me, a claustrophobic feeling is important as it is something that signalizes a human being that a certain system has a big potential for danger. I don’t see it in opposition to a light and entertaining experience, even positively acting systems can create this strange feeling if they become totalitarian.

Could you talk about the sound too? How does it evolve along with the kinetic experience?

Bender: The sound is split into three parts. the first part is a high-frequency, the second part a low-frequency theme and the third is more aggressive through mid-range frequencies that interact more and more with the pneumatics before everything collapses.

Baraga: I think the most interesting part of NEUNUNDNEUNZIG (99) is that apart from the fact that it is a constructed environment, it acts as an instrument.

You have the breathing part- the inhaling and exhaling sounds. Then you have the metal mechanical sounds of the valves- when they are opening on and off, that is very beautiful- at the end they get a kind of mechanical insect sound. Below that is the sound design that Olaf did – from almost inaudible high frequencies to very powerful drones with rich details.

What were/was the biggest challenge(s) you encountered while developing NEUNUNDNEUNZIG (99)?

Baraga: When I started working on this project the idea was to build something simpler than the previous big installations I did. You just pack the 99 baloons, the pipes and hop on a plane, right? But pneumatics are one of most complicated systems to use, because it is so non-exact, it is really hard to control. So the technical rider up is a very demanding one- it is almost impossible to get the same compressors in each country due to different standards.

It’s a very complicated sound set up too, because the experience totally changes depending on the space we enter. When we did the latest composition at MoTA Museum in Ljubljana, everything worked and when we arrived at the Galerie Fernand Leger we had to change so many parameters to have everything fit the room. So it’s definitely not a plug and play piece.

Bender: It’s still a work in progress and there are certain factors to be optimized. The physical power of the compressors, for example, is a problem, so the balloons are limited regarding speed and precision. From my musical perspective, I wished to have a more direct connection between the pneumatic and the acoustic system because they have the same physical base.

Apart from its title, has the piece anything else to do with Nena’s protest song?

Bender: My first association with 99 was not so much connected to Nena’s protest phase, it was more connected to something military or science-fiction scenarios like in 1984 or Fahrenheit 451.

Baraga: I would say Nena’s song is a starting point. The formal part- grid of 99 baloons comes from there- but in reverse sense, these balloons don’t bring hope, instead they act as a suffocating grip. The intensities of the blocks or the logic of polarization of the world are facts which seem so powerful you cannot escape them. But it is not just about the cold war, which seems so hot now. You could have a references to past, present or future torture rooms, to the drone strikes, to the NSA, etc.

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What’s next for you Baraga and Bender? Any upcoming event, project, field of research?

Baraga: We discussed few things – a public space projects with architectural elements like containers and another project with socio realist monuments of Europe.

But for now we really want to develop the balloons into much simpler version too. The one where you control the technical set up and sound more easily in a more controlled environment. Where the spectator looks at the object from outside- not being a part of it- the traditional way seems interesting for this new piece in this moment.

Thanks Martin and Olaf!

Martin Bricelj & Olaf Bender are showing NEUNUNDNEUNZIG (99) at the Galerie Fernand Léger, in Ivry, Paris. The show opens tonight and will continue until the 29th. The event is part of the NEMO Biennale, the International Biennial of Digital Arts which runs until the 31st of January 2016.

All images courtesy of the artists.

Flash crashes. Glitches in the trading system

In my naive and poorly informed mind, the stock market breathes at the rhythm of men wearing dark suits, pressing an earpiece against their head and frantically raising and waving their other hand. Mine is however a very antiquated vision of trading. Investing and speculating, it seems, is now mostly controlled by algorithms. These computer programs speculate, send and cancel orders tirelessly, basically doing the job of a human trader. Just much, much faster. So fast that they can execute a trade in milliseconds and even microseconds. That's why we are now talking about high frequency trading algorithms.

The volume of trade goes far beyond human physical perceptions. These bots are so fast, they can flood the market with millions of fake information to confuse and hide their true investments. The process is called quote stuffing.

Photo by Benjamin Gaulon

RYBN have been investigating the world of finance since 2006. Four years ago, they even launched their own trading bot on the financial markets. The autonomous program executes, buys and sells orders online, and its activity is mapped into real-time visualizations such as charts, soundscapes, and timelines. Its Twitter account even provides details about ongoing orders. Its performance will end when the bot reaches bankruptcy.

More interestingly, RYBN's program is distributed in open-source format. Unlike the black box of the algorithmic and high-frequency trading.

Members of RYBN were participating to refrag, a series of workshops, talks and performances that took place in Paris a few weeks ago and that explored Glitch Art. Their presentation looked at what happens when HFT algorithms slip, glitch and disrupt the trading system. Basing their research on a rigorous analysis of documents available online, the artists analyzed four famous 'flash crashes.' They mostly used the data compiled by Nanex, a firm that offers streaming data on all market transactions and distributes the data in real-time to clients.

The automated trade execution systems i mentioned in the opening paragraph might be sophisticated but they are far from flawless. Once in a while they act in unforeseen ways and trigger "flash crashes". A flash crash is a sharp drop in security prices occurring within an extremely short time period. And because algorithmic trading is disconnected from the economy, any variation is an opportunity for a flash crash.

Image via Nature

The most famous flash crash is called... 'the Flash Crash.' It occurred on 6 May 2010, when the Dow Jones index dropped 9% in minutes. The loss was estimated at one trillion dollars. The US stock market then took a few more minutes to right itself back. During that short period of time, some trades were executed at extreme prices (either very low or very high) After the event, it was agreed that all transactions made that day between 2:40 and 3 p.m. would be canceled. No one knows exactly how the crash happened but many attributed it to some miscalculation of HFT algorithms.

RYBN made a sound work out of it. Flash Krach turns into sound the raw data of the day, recorded from the 9 stock exchanges routed on the NYSE.

One of the Nanex Tick Charts of Knightmare event

Another important flash crash took place Aug. 1, 2012. Knight Capital, one of the biggest executors of stock trades in the United States, suffered a technical glitch in its algorithmic trading systems, causing stocks to be misquoted (the algorithm was apparently buying high and selling low which doesn't sound like a very lucrative formula) and costing the firm more than $440 million in 40 minutes.

An analysis by Nanex explains that almost all these trades alternate between buying at the offer and selling at the bid, which means losing the difference in price. In the case of EXC, that means losing about 15 cents on every pair of trades. Do that 40 times a second, 2400 times a minute, and you now have a system that's very efficient at burning money.

The computer-trading glitch was nicknamed, the Knightmare.

Screenshot of the fake AP tweet

Another memorable flash crash occurred when the Twitter feed of the Associated Press was hacked and a false tweet announced that the White House had been hit by two explosions and that Barack Obama was injured. The Dow Jones dropped about 150 points in a seconds before bouncing back when traders realized that the tweet was a hoax.

The event revealed how high-frequency trading algorithms comb Twitter and other news sources, interpret them and almost instantly turn certain words into trades. It also shows how vulnerable the markets are to random pieces of information.

RYBN also noted that algorithm trading is calibrated to work in 'normal' conditions. The system will work seamlessly until it meets a black swan such as this fake tweet. The black swan broke the system and the trading strategy had to be re-calibrated accordingly.

The last flash crash is the humiliating one that BATS (Better Alternative Trading System) suffered in March 2012. The company had to withdraw its IPO when, in mere seconds, its shares plunged to less than a penny from the $15 IPO opening price.
The trades were later voided.

Some believe that the crash was due to a software glitch but others think that it was the result of a malicious, 100% intentional Nasdaq algorithm that purposefully brought BATS stock to a price of 0.00 within 900 millisecond of the company's break for trading.

What is sure that, as is often the case, the precise cause(s) of the flash crash remains unclear. The markets remain thus at the mercy of technological outages that cannot be predicted or even fully understood.

RYBN's concluding words were that these four crashes received much attention from the press but in fact, flash crashes, and the permanent state of instability they create, are now part and parcel of the way the market works. Nanex estimates that 18.000 mini flash crashs or Flash equity failures were reported between 2006 and 2011.

I think i'm going to read Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt, Michael Lewis' book about the role of high-frequency traders in global stock markets.

See also this other presentation i heard at refrag in Paris: The 3D Additivist Manifesto + Cookbook.

The 3D Additivist Manifesto + Cookbook

The 3D Additivist Manifesto

A few days ago, i was at Parsons Paris for reFrag: glitch, a series of workshops, talks and performances that address the multifold ways in which glitches manifest and/or are mobilized artistically in our lives. Participants talked about flash crashes in the financial market (more about that one soon), wacky operating system from the early nineties, Spinoza glitches, archaeology of bugs, etc. It was good, brain-stimulating and intense. We even watched the documentary of a fist fucking performance. Here's the project page if you're into that kind of entertainment.

Rourke presenting at reFrag: glitch.Photo by Benjamin Gaulon

Audience at reFrag: glitch.Photo by Benjamin Gaulon

I'll probably write an incomplete but enthusiastic post about the event in the coming days but for now, i'm going to kick out the reports with Morehshin Allahyari and Daniel Rourke's presentation of the 3D Additivist Manifesto + Cookbook. Rourke was in Paris. Allahyari spoke to us via skype.


Morehshin Allahyari, Dark Matter

Allahyari and Rourke's 3D Additivist Manifesto is an invitation to artists, researchers, activists and critical engineers to submit ideas, thoughts, and designs for the future of 3D printing. The submissions should reflect on the current state of additive manufacturing, identify the potential encoded into the most challenging 3D printed objects and push the technology to its most speculative, revolutionary and radical limits. Once collected, these submissions will form The 3D Additivist Cokbook.

Morehshin Allahyari, Daniel Rourke, The 3D Additivist Manifesto. Sound design by Andrea Young

The project started germinating in the artists' minds when Rourke interviewed Allahyari for her project Dark Matter, a series of 3D printed sculptures that combined objects, beings and concepts forbidden by the Iranian government. Most of these objects look pretty harmless to us. However, in her native country, a dildo, a dog, a satellite dish, a Barbie, or a neck tie (??) are frown-upon and in some case strictly forbidden. The work is both an archive of vetoed objects and an encouragement to those who live under oppressions and dictatorship to use the printer as a tool for resistance.

Allahyari and Rourke have recently teamed up for the 3D Additivist Manifesto + Cookbook, a works that brings together art, engineering, scifi and digital aesthetics under a mind-blowing and slightly weird umbrella.

Photo: Adrian Gaut for Wired

Julien Maire, Man at Work, 2014

The cookbook is inspired by William Powell's Anarchist Cookbook. Written in 1971, the manual brought together various readily available sources of knowledge and offered instructions on how to build bombs, make drugs, hack arcade machines, etc.

Other sources of inspiration for the 3D Additivist Manifesto include recent 3D printing projects such as the 3D printed gun, Julien Maire's (amazing) 3D animation that uses 3D printed objects instead of film and F.A.T.'s Free Universal Construction Kit.

One last major source of inspiration is Donna Haraway. Because the scholar is the author of the Cyborg Manifesto of course. But also because she believes that the Anthropocene is not a radical enough way to describe our era. Human beings are putting themselves in a situation similar to the one that the cyanobacteria experienced at the beginning the Earth history. They made life breathable for other other organisms by converting CO2 into oxygen, and they almost killed themselves in the process. Haraway suggests that we call our era the Cthulhucene.

reFrag:glitch, a collaboration between Parsons Paris and The School of the Art Institute of Chicago's Film, Video, New Media & Animation Department, is an international Glitch Art event that ran from the 19th to the 23rd of March 2015.