Category Archives: trends

When is fake ‘even better than the real thing’?


DISNOVATION.ORG, Shanzhai Archeology, 2017. Exhibition view at FAKE: THE REAL DEAL?. Photo credits: Science Gallery Dublin


Matt Kenyon, Giant Pool of Money, 2016. Exhibition view at FAKE: THE REAL DEAL?. Photo credits: Science Gallery Dublin

FAKE: The Real Deal?, a free exhibition at Science Gallery Dublin, invites us to leave behind our prejudices when considering the simulated, the artificial and the fictitious.

“Fake” is a word that pops up ad nauseam in social, political and economic contexts. It is often associated with low quality goods, forged artworks, earnings of dubious origins, polite orgasms, Trump bombastic ‘rhetoric’ (or rather lack thereof), etc.

The curators of the exhibition, however, challenge us to spend time examining the multiple facets of the fake and to reconsider any assumption we might have about it:

From fake meat to fake emotions, if faking it gets the job done, who cares? In both the natural world and human society, faking, mimicking and copying can be a reliable strategy for success. When the focus is on how things appear, a fake may be just as valuable as the real thing. But what about replicating taste, emotions, chemical signatures, facts and trademarks? Have patents, politics, and art given copying a bad name? From biomimicry to forged documents, from scandals to substitutes, Fake asks when authenticity is essential, when copying is cool, and what the boundary is between a fakery faux-pas and a really fantastic Fake.

FAKE is your typical Science Gallery Dublin exhibition. It puzzles, informs, puts you out of your comfort zone at least once and it entertains you in the process.

Many of the dimensions of the fake are analysed and discussed in the show but the one that ended up staying with me after i had left Dublin looked at the ruses and strategies deployed by animals and plants to deceive each other. In the video recording of a joint talk they gave at the Science Gallery in March, Fiona Newell and Nicola Marples bring to light some of the sneaky tricks used by plants as well as human and non-human animals:

Fiona Newell, Professor of Experimental Psychology and Nicola Marples, Professor in Zoology, Trinity College Dublin talking about deception in the natural world

The presentation is absolutely fascinating. The superstar among all those creatures of treachery is not the human being but the mimic octopus, a species of octopus capable of impersonating other local species:

Mimic Octopus: Master of Disguise

Let’s remain in the company of cephalopods and dive into the exhibition itself:


Ryuta Nakajima, Cuttle 61

Like other cephalopods, cuttlefish are masters of shape and shade shifting when they need to camouflage themselves in the background. Ryuta Nakajima attempted to push the cognitive and interpretive system of cuttlefish camouflage patterns to their limits by decorating aquaria with computer-generated images of famous visual artworks. His installations shows how the creatures responded to art reproductions. The conclusion of the artistic experiment is probably that the cuttlefish didn’t see the artworks as worthy of any mimicking effort.


Barrett Klein with Joey Stein, Paul Clements, Ryan Taylor, Faux Frogs. Research models of calling male frogs, 2005—2018


Barrett Klein with Joey Stein, Paul Clements, Ryan Taylor, Faux Frogs. Research models of calling male frogs, 2005—2018. Exhibition view at FAKE: THE REAL DEAL?. Photo credits: Science Gallery Dublin

Robotic Frog Attracting Potential Mate. In the video a female tungara frog approaches a robofrog inflating its vocal sac. The female can also hear recorded mating calls playing

Ecologists can also deploy deceptive strategies when studying animal species.

Science collaborators Ryan Taylor and Michael Ryan were studying the túngara frogs in Panama and they wanted to understand the connections between multimodal signaling (using more than one sensory cue) and mate selection. Behaviourist Barrett Klein built ‘faux frogs’ (a.k.a. ‘robofrogs’) to assist them in their cheeky field studies. As the video above demonstrates, the artificial amphibians successfully fooled real female túngara frogs. When choosing a potential mate, these ladies listen to the sounds of the male calls but they are also sensitive to the sight of the male frogs inflating their vocal sacs.


Heather Beardsley, Die Sammlung/The Collection, 2017. Exhibition view at FAKE: THE REAL DEAL?. Photo credits: Science Gallery Dublin


Heather Beardsley, Die Sammlung/The Collection, 2017

Heather Beardsley’s collection of decidedly odd creatures proposes that we stop and reflect on the contrasting frameworks of museums and art galleries.

Museums use display conventions developed over time to communicate knowledge to a non-expert audience. These conventions convey the importance of the objects, but do not invite critical thinking. Contemporary art galleries, on the other hand, challenge viewers to think critically about the artifacts and decide whether or not they have any intrinsic value.

Beardsley lined up a series of animal specimens inside antique jars in a museum display. Some are hand-made reproductions of real animals. The others are actual biological creratures.

By installing these specimens together, the artist encourages viewers to question the hierarchical system they are used to and think more critically about museum displays.


Patricia Pisanelli, Stretching Cheese, 2017. Exhibition view at FAKE: THE REAL DEAL?. Photo credits: Science Gallery Dublin

Patricia Pisanelli‘s wall of square slices of processed cheese makes us question the border between fake and authentic. How much fake are you allowed to use in a food product for it to remain authentic? In the case of cheese, the answer is 51%.

Slices of processed cheese are made from cheese (and sometimes other dairy by-product ingredients), emulsifiers, saturated vegetable oils, salt, food colouring, whey or sugar. If the product contains at least 51% cheese, it can be called cheese food. Less than 51% and the slices have to be labelled as “cheese product.”

Because there are so many processes and ingredients that enter into the production of these slices, they end up presenting different flavors, colors and textures. The artist chose slices from different brands. The assemblage is changing gradually over time. The colour of some of the slices is slowly fading under the light. Stains appear on others. Some seem to dry up inside their flimsy plastic wrapping. Others remain defiantly immutable.


James Shaw, Modular Mechanics Hairy Armchair, 2017

James Shaw‘s armchair is a bit maddening. It’s made from both natural and synthetic materials: ash timber, plastic timber, brass, real sheepskin and faux fur. I inspected it with great care and i was unable to distinguish what was organic and what was imitating the organic. Which sums up the reality around us: it’s made of real and fake. They are so intermingled, so good at imitating each other that we struggle to separate one from the other.


Finn Mullan, True & False, 2017—2018. Exhibition view at FAKE: THE REAL DEAL?. Photo credits: Science Gallery Dublin

Although it doesn’t deal at all with the organic, i need to mention Finn Mullan‘s Bastardville font because it addressed in a very literal and smart way the kind of mental association recent events have caused us to make when we hear the word “Fake.”

The font was inspired by a study that U.S. documentary film director Errol Morris made back in 2013. The research attempted to find out what typeface is considered to be the most believable, the most likely to convince us that a sentence is true. It turned out that Baskerville was considered the most reliable.

Broken down until it becomes barely legible, the Baskerville gradually turns into Bastardville. The battered typeface echoes the truth eroded in the post-truth era. In the Post-Truth age, no typeface, not even the most convincing one, can save the truth from corrosion and decay.

And if you’re curious about how typefaces can shape perception, you might enjoy this episode of Word of Mouth.

More works and installation views from FAKE:


Morten Rockford Ravn, Fear and Loathing in GTA V, 2015 — present. Exhibition view at FAKE: THE REAL DEAL?. Photo credits: Science Gallery Dublin


Morten Rockford Ravn, Fear and Loathing in GTA V, 2015 — present


Morten Rockford Ravn, Fear and Loathing in GTA V, 2015 — present


Janez Janša, Janez Janša and Janez Janša, Janez Janša Bottles, 2017. Exhibition view at FAKE: THE REAL DEAL?. Photo credits: Science Gallery Dublin


DISNOVATION.ORG, Shanzhai Archeology, 2017. Exhibition view at FAKE: THE REAL DEAL?. Photo credits: Science Gallery Dublin


Isaac Monté & Toby Kiers, The Art of Deception, 2015. Exhibition view at FAKE: THE REAL DEAL?. Photo credits: Science Gallery Dublin


Unknown, Fake Fake Alien Autopsy Head, 1996. Exhibition view at FAKE: THE REAL DEAL?. Photo credits: Science Gallery Dublin

Also part of the exhibition: Vapour Meat: a helmet to vape the essence of ‘clean meat’ and The Phylogenetic Atelier: Would your wear clothes made of the skin of de-extinct species?

The exhibition FAKE: The Real Deal? remains open at the Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin until the 3rd of June 2018.

Perpetual Uncertainty. Inhabiting the atomic age


Susan Schuppli, Trace Evidence (video still), 2016. ©-Polly-Yassin

Nuclear cultures, its promises, dangers and dilemmas, are never far away from media headlines. Sometimes the stories are terrifying (as in Kim and the Donald fighting over the title of “World’s Most Irresponsible Leader”.) Other times, the stories echo events or political choices from the past: radioactive waste that keeps on piling up, toxic legacies of European bomb tests in its African colonies, seaborne radiation from Fukushima nuclear disaster detected on the U.S. West Coast, etc.

Perpetual Uncertainty, an exhibition that opened a few weeks ago at Z33 House for Contemporary Art in Hasselt, reminds us that the nuclear forms the backdrop of our lives, for thousands of generations to come. And even beyond.

The show brings together artists from across Europe, the USA and Japan to investigate experiences of nuclear technology, radiation and the complex relationship between knowledge and deep time.

Perpetual Uncertainty is amazingly informative and stimulating. It helps the public face its anxieties by visualizing every material and immaterial aspect of nuclear technology: the extraction of uranium from the ground, the production of energy, the repercussions of deliberate and accidental explosions and the thorny subject of radioactive waste. Through each of work in the show and each aspect they explore we get to realize how much man-made radiation has transformed our understanding of materiality, knowledge and time.

While the exhibition helps us comprehend what it means to inhabit the atomic, it also leaves space for the impasses and dilemmas that characterizes nuclear culture, a subject which, as we know, still brings far more questions than answers.


Nick Crowe and Ian Rawlinson, Courageous, 2016


Suzanne Treister, NATO, 2004-2008. Exhibition view at Z33. Photo by Kristof Vrancken

Z33 is an ideal venue for a reflection on nuclear culture. First, because Z33 is a research-based institution that explores the critical perspectives that art, design and architecture can add to the understanding of the contemporary challenges and dilemma that society is facing today.

Furthermore, Z33 is located in Hasselt, Belgium. Now you might not automatically associate Belgium with nuclear blasts. Yet, the country is disturbingly linked to the bombs that were dropped on Japan by the U.S.A. back in 1945. At the time, Belgium had made itself incredibly rich by extracting the mineral resources of its colony, the Belgian Congo. One of the mines was located in Shinkolobwe and had been identified as a source of uranium. The quality of the mineral was so high that it was sold to the U.S. and supplied nearly a large part of the uranium used in the bomb dropped over Hiroshima, and much of the related product of plutonium that went into the one that destroyed Nagasaki.

Here’s a few lines about some of the works in the show:


Lise Autogena and Joshua Portway, Kuannersuit, Kvanefjeld, 2016

Lise Autogena and Joshua Portway, Kuannersuit, Kvanefjeld, 2016


Lise Autogena and Joshua Portway, Kuannersuit, Kvanefjeld, 2016. Exhibition view at Z33. Photo by Kristof Vrancken


Lise Autogena and Joshua Portway, Kuannersuit, Uranium ore from the experimental mine at Kvanefjeld, 2016. Exhibition view at Z33. Photo by Kristof Vrancken

The region of Kvanefjeld in southern Greenland is the site of rich rare earth mineral resources and large deposits of uranium. It is also a place of incredible beauty with unspoiled mountains, wooden houses and deep blue fjords.

Foreign mining companies have shown great interest in Kvanefjeld and a recent relaxation of regulations by the government of Greenland has opened up the possibility of creating an open pit mine there.

Lise Autogena and Joshua Portway spent the summer 2016 traveling in South Greenland, meeting residents, politicians, farmers and government officials and uncovering the deep divisions surrounding the mining project.

For some, the mining activity is a means of gaining autonomy from Denmark and keeping younger generations employed.

However, opponents to the project believe that courting foreign investors amounts to swapping one form of dependency for another, with the added risk of environmental degradation, health hazard for the community and their livestock as well as a threat to traditional ways of living from the land and the sea.

According to environmentalist NGOs, the mining project does not ensure that environmental risks are reduced as much as is practically possible. For example, polluting tailings from the refinery are disposed of in Lake Taseq high up in the Narsaq valley river system. From here, there is a high risk that radioactive isotopes and toxic chemicals will enter the groundwater, rivers, fiords and the sea.

The divisions within the local communities illuminate the dilemmas of our times and underline that the quest for energy and ‘progress’ has trade-offs and costs for society and the whole ecosystem.


Yelena Popova, Unnamed (Video still), 2011

Yelena Popova’s Unnamed video essay combines personal and archival footage to relate the story of her hometown in Russia.

Ozyorsk (codenamed City 40) was a “secret” town, built to accommodate the scientists and technicians of a plutonium factory along with their family. The residents were forbidden from leaving the city or making any contact with the outside world. For decades, this city of 100,000 people did not appear on any maps.

The government went to great lengths to ensure that the city’s occupants would be content with their secluded lives: they enjoyed high quality healthcare and education, generous wages, beautiful buildings and parks as well as well-stoked grocery stores.

The film goes on to reveal how, in 1957, the plant was the site of the Kyshtym nuclear disaster, the third-most serious nuclear accident ever recorded. The Soviet managed to keep the explosion secret for years. It’s only in 1976 that scientist Zhores Medvedev made the nature and extent of the disaster known to the world.

As the film develops, the representation of the disaster becomes a metaphor for the failure of science in the twentieth century and the difficulty to both understand a phenomenon (thus comprehending its details) and knowing it (by being aware of its consequences and significance).

Today, the city of Ozyorsk is still home to most of Russia’s nuclear reserves and people living in the area remain exposed to high levels of radiation.


David Mabb, A Provisional Memorial to Nuclear Disarmament. Exhibition view at Z33. Photo by Kristof Vrancken


David Mabb, A Provisional Memorial to Nuclear Disarmament. Exhibition view at Z33. Photo by Kristof Vrancken

A Provisional Memorial to Nuclear Disarmament combines William Morris fabrics with anti-nuclear symbols and slogans. The association is less arbitrary than it might seem. The British Ministry of Defence used the Morris Tudor Rose print (1883) for over thirty years (from the 1960s through to the 1990s) to furnish the officers’ quarters inside its nuclear submarines.

In 2014, David Mabb visited one of those submarines, the decommissioned HMS Courageous which the public can now visit naval dockyard in Plymouth, on the southwest coast of England.

Famous 19th century socialist Morris would have probably been upset to see his designs used inside instruments of war and violence. Mabb reappropriates Morris’ fabrics and pairs them with anti-nuclear protest signs and slogans from different times and countries.

The works are presented on old-school freestanding projection screens. Distributed over two exhibition rooms, they look like an actual protest march.

As Mabb explained the title of the work in The Bulletin:

The work is called A Provisional Memorial to Nuclear Disarmament.” “Provisional” because Britain’s Conservative government has—despite considerable opposition—decided to go ahead with the commissioning of a new generation of Trident nuclear submarines armed with nuclear missiles. And just last week, it confirmed that it is going to proceed with Hinkley Point, the first nuclear power station to be built in Britain for two decades.


Jon Thomson and Alison Craighead, Temporary Index (Dessel), 2017. Exhibition view at Z33. Photo by Kristof Vrancken

Will people in a distant future be aware of radioactive sites? Will they understand the language we try to develop now to warn them of the danger? Thomson and Craighead’s Temporary Index is a totem that marks both time and space.

First, the totem acts as a signpost, mapping the distance between Z33 and the Category A Radioactive Waste Facility to be built at Dessel, 44km from the gallery.

Temporary Index also counts down the seconds that remain before the nuclear waste facility is finally deemed safe for humans. The numbers displayed on the screen are overwhelming. Yet, the radioactive substances they point to have a super short life compared to others. They are low-level radioactive waste that will require ‘only’ 300 years until they no longer represent a threat. Other waste disposal facilities have to provide protection for over hundreds of thousands of years, which far outstrips the understanding that most of us have of time.

Temporary Index, Chernobyl Reactor #4, Ukraine, an earlier version of the Temporary Index, was exhibited at the Perpetual Uncertainty show in Umea last year. It marked the distance from the museum to the Chernobyl reactor and visualized the 20,000 years of radioactive decay necessary for the Ukrainian location to be safe, providing us with a glimpse into the vast time scales that define the universe in which we live, but which also represent a future limit of humanity’s temporal sphere of influence.

Isao Hashimoto, 1945-1998 (video still), 2003


Isao Hashimoto, 1945-1998 (video still), 2003

Isao Hashimoto’s video doesn’t need much explanation. His video plots on a map every single known nuclear test and explosion that took place across the world from 1945 until 1998. 2053 in total. It’s shocking to discover how gaily the UK and France have tested their nuclear weapons in distant territories.


Shimpei Takeda, Trace. Exhibition view at Z33. Photo by Kristof Vrancken


Shimpei Takeda, Trace

Shimpei Takeda used photo-sensitive material to physically expose the traces of radiation present in the samples of the contaminated soils he collected throughout the landscape surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

He used no camera for the photographic process. He simply placed the radioactive soils on photo-sensitive films in a light-tight container and left them there for a month. Radioactive substances emit radioactivity to expose gelatin halide on the surface of photographic film.

The number and size of the white dots are proportional to the amount of radiation present in the soil.


Shuji Akagi, Decontamination of My Yard, Fukushima City, 2013


Shuji Akagi, Fukushima City, 2011-2017. Exhibition view at Z33. Photo by Kristof Vrancken

Since the nuclear disaster in Fukushima in 2011, Shuji Akagi has been documenting the changes his hometown is going through. Most of his images feature big plastic blue or green bags and tarps. They seem to be everywhere: in the streets, in the fields, in people’s backyard, etc. They are filled with contaminated soil. In his photos you also see how people have resumed their daily life. Only now they have to navigate around the plastic-wrapped manifestation of invisible radiation.

It has been estimated that the decontamination process could take more than 100 years.

More works and images from the exhibition:


Dave Griffiths, Deep Field (UnclearZine), 2016. Exhibition view at Z33. Photo by Kristof Vrancken


Dave Griffiths, Deep Field (UnclearZine), 2016. Exhibition view at Z33. Photo by Kristof Vrancken


Eva and Franco Mattes, The Last Film, 2016. Exhibition view at Z33. Photo by Kristof Vrancken


Ken & Julie Yonetani, Crystal Palace: The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nuclear Nations, 2013. Exhibition view at Z33. Photo by Kristof Vrancken


Robert Williams and Bryan McGovern Wilson, Cumbrian Alchemy, 2013. Exhibition view at Z33. Photo by Kristof Vrancken


Exhibition view of Perpetual Uncertainty at Z33. Photo by Kristof Vrancken


Cécile Massart, Laboratoires, 2013. Exhibition view at Z33. Photo by Kristof Vrancken


Cécile Massart, Colours of Danger for Belgian High-Level Radioactive Waste, 2017. Exhibition view at Z33. Photo by Kristof Vrancken


Kota Takeuchi, Take Stone Monuments Twice, 2013-2016


Kota Takeuchi, Take Stone Monuments Twice, 2013-2016. Photo via z33 research


Kota Takeuchi, Take Stone Monuments Twice, 2013-2016. Photo via artsy

Nuclear Culture presents: Perpetual Uncertainty is at Z33 in Hasselt until 10 December 2017. Entrance is free.

More photos from the exhibition on Z33 flickr set and on mine.

Perpetual Uncertainty is produced by Bildmuseet, Umeå and curated by Ele Carpenter with the support of Z33 and Arts Catalyst London.

Related stories: Sonic Radiations. A nuclear-themed playlist commissioned by Z33 for the exhibition and The Nuclear Culture Source Book.

Work it, Feel it! New mechanisms of body discipline


Toni Schmale, hafenperle II, from the series: fuhrpark. was das/der neue gefährt sein kann, 2013. Installation view: Work it, feel it!, Kunsthalle Wien 2017, Photo: Jorit Aust


Juliette Goiffon and Charles Beauté, Face mask, 2016

Article 24 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights declares that Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

But does this still hold true? What remains of the values and achievement labour movements have fought so hard for since the Industrial Revolution? The growth of the service industry, of automation and of the white collar workforce liberated our bodies from the most physically exhausting exertions but does that mean that we feel a sense of body relief and comfort?

It turns out that, from a physiological point of view, sedentary activity is putting new strains and burdens on our bodies. News reports calling sitting ‘the new smoking’ abound. Employers are now increasingly responding to employees’ stress, loss of motivation, back problems and sick leaves with corporate wellness programs. Some offer wearable activity trackers to make work more fun, improve workers’ health, boost employee productivity or save money on health insurance costs. Others grant free gym membership. Or bananas.

As for rest and leisure, anyone with an internet connection is painfully aware that ‘urgent’ work emails, itches to update social media status and message from clients and colleagues are quietly nibbling away at our leisure time. Furthermore, the growing use of zero-hour contracts in the low wage sectors of the service and digital economy is imposing a new time discipline where the worker, informed often at short notice if their efforts are required, remains constantly on alert. Fortunately, we can still retreat in sleep. We might have less and less of it nowadays but it remains the last territory that capitalism hasn’t directly and completely conquered. Yet.


Visible Solutions, Clarity, 2010. Installation view: Work it, feel it!, Kunsthalle Wien 2017. Photo: Jorit Aust


Hannah Black, Bodybuilding, 2015. Installation view: Work it, feel it!, Kunsthalle Wien 2017. Photo: Jorit Aust


Hannah Black, Bodybuilding (excerpt, 2m46s), 2015

A new exhibition at Kunsthalle Wien is looking at the work of the future and the future of work. The show focuses particularly on the increasing demands that work is placing on our physiology and how these demands are met with (conscious or not) moments of bodily resistance. Bearing the energetic title Work it, feel it!, the show is part of the Vienna Biennale for art, design, and architecture which theme this year is Robots. Work. Our Future. The various exhibitions in the biennale explore innovation, speculation and the future. With a bit of scifi and a bit of healthy imagination. Work it, feel it! stands out from the other curatorial perspectives by taking a more critical, more oblique yet very pertinent approach that scales the theme back to the body of the worker. And while the show zooms in on the disciplining of the human body, it never loses sight of the broader picture and issues: the capitalist organization of work and its impact on all aspects of our life.

The exhibition focuses on the demands placed on the human body and its possibilities to act, as seen against the backdrop of an increasingly automated workplace. What are the mechanisms of discipline and control that have been applied to the mind, and above all to the body, to make it an efficient production tool and a pillar of consumerism?.

Work it, feel it! explores the role of artists in this context. Not only did artists pioneer new working models based on flexibility, freelancing and precariousness, they also constantly question systems of control, redefine spaces for agency and present possible alternatives and escape routes to this implacable drive for productivity that has become the ‘new normal.’


Danilo Correale, No More Sleep No More, 2014/16


Danilo Correale, No More Sleep No More, 2014/16. Installation view: Work it, feel it!, Kunsthalle Wien 2017. Photo: Jorit Aust

Danilo Correale, No More Sleep No More (intro)


Danilo Correale, No More Sleep No More (still), 2015

The most thought-provoking work in the show for me was No More Sleep No More, Danilo Correale‘s compelling essay on the chronopolitics of sleep and wakefulness in postmodernity.

In 2014, Correale started a series of conversations with various experts on sleep: doctor David M. Rapoport, anthropologist Matthew J. Wolf-Meyer, historian Roger Ekirch, sociologist Simon Williams, labour studies scholar Alan Derickson, geographer Murray Melbin, philosopher Alexei Penzin and feminist scholar Reena Patel.

The interview part of Correale’s installation is a 4 hour long study of the tensions between the unyielding urge to be productive and the impact that sleeplessness has on productivity but also on social life as well as physical and mental health.

I didn’t get to hear everything but the whole research behind the work is so fascinating that i’ve just ordered the book! While i was in Vienna, however, I did get to listen to Roger Ekirch. The historian believes that industrial capitalism’s relentless need for productivity has shaped our sleeping habits. Not only did we sleep more in the past but we also used to divide our sleep into two shifts. Then came the Industrial Revolution in Europe and stricter, less intuitive sleep/wake schedules were imposed on the workers.

No More Sleep No More suggests a very near future when productivity will not only encroach on every waking hour of the day, as it already does, but will also take control over our sleeping cycles.

As an ironic and somewhat cruel comment on the dictates of neo-liberal capitalism over our sleep patterns, the installation features a dreamy, scifi screening of hypnotizing moving fluids to be experienced, not sitting on the traditional gallery bench, but reclining on the most comfortable bed i’ve ever tried in my life.


Danilo Correale, Boosted (detail), 2014


Danilo Correale, Boosted, 2014. Installation view: Work it, feel it!, Kunsthalle Wien 2017. Photo: Jorit Aust

Correale also explored alertness and the hyper-productive body through a series of silk scarves which patterns are inspired by the aggressive language of advertisements for energy drinks and invigorating ‘superfoods’. The fairly recent explosion in the energy drink & food market seems to respond and sustain the capitalistic call for 24/7 ebullience. According to its rhetoric, rest is a waste of time, aspiring to it is seen as some kind of moral flaw, a socially unacceptable blemish on productivity.

One of the scarves was covered in weapon patterns, implying that the future of our performances might not lay in maca and Red Bull but somewhere in the U.S. military’s ongoing sleep-reduction research program.


Shawn Maximo, Creeper Comforts (Specialty Multi), 2017. Installation view: Work it, feel it!, Kunsthalle Wien 2017. Photo: Jorit Aust


Shawn Maximo, Creeper Comforts (Specialty Multi), 2017. Installation view: Work it, feel it!, Kunsthalle Wien 2017. Photo: Jorit Aust

At the back of the exhibition space is Shawn Maximo’s futuristic beauty store. It looks familiar, like a Sephora of the future, only that along with the usual eye shadow palettes and myriads of lipstick shades, you find body parts. Various shapes of butts, colours of eyeballs, hands in all possible skin tone hues, etc. The cosmetic store specializes in the optimisation of the appearances of both humans and robots.

We already know that in the future, human bodies in need of enhancement will have access to affordable biofabricated flesh, 3D printing prosthesis and other customizable body parts. Maybe in the future we will all be like Aimee Mullins, the double-amputee model and Paralympian, who collects set of legs and sees in each of them the possibility to acquire new powers, new function and a new identity. How about self-conscious robots? Maybe they will be as free (or as constrained) as we are to change their appearance in a bid to look fit, attractive, modern and ready to comply with any new work requirement.

Which made me wonder: will we want to look more like a super powerful and sleek piece of robotics in the future? Or will the robots strive to look slightly flawed and more ‘natural’?


Sidsel Meineche Hansen, The Manual Labour Series (detail), 2013


Sidsel Meineche Hansen, The Manual Labour Series, 2013

Sidsel Meineche Hansen’s Manual Labour Series questions the hierarchy between manual labour and cognitive labour forms. The series, consisting of five woodcut prints and a laser-cut wooden plate, depicts the human autonomic nervous system (that’s the control system that acts largely unconsciously and regulates functions such as the heart rate, digestion, pupillary response, urination, etc.) as well as hands injured by repetitive strain and affected by tendinitis.

To make the print series, the artist appropriated Edvard Munch’s woodcut printing technique and digitalised it by converting her handmade drawings into illustrator files, which were then laser-cut into the surface of the wood she used for the printing. The veins of the wood emphasize the craft, but also suggest a depiction of psychic spaces.

Depression, stress or nervousness are often interpreted as the collateral damages of our time and pressures at work. But what if they are signs (if not to say symptoms) of a resistance of the body—against its commodification and its exploitation by capitalism? The logic of profit strains the most intimate parts and particles of our bodies, from our emotions and our desires down to the tendons of our fingers. Everything can potentially create value, nothing escapes commodification. The whole body is mobilised and absorbed by this logic and the invasive technologies that support it. Sidsel Meineche Hansen’s work addresses the psychological and physical consequences of late capitalism, on a micro- and macro-political level, at home and at work, and seeks to locate points of resistance.

More images and works from the show:


Juliette Goiffon and Charles Beauté, Face mask #1, 2016


Juliette Goiffon and Charles Beauté, Upgrade (overall equipment), 2017. Installation view: Work it, feel it!, Kunsthalle Wien 2017, Photo: Jorit Aust


Installation view: Work it, feel it!, Kunsthalle Wien 2017. Photo: Jorit Aust


Louise Hervé and Chloe Maillet, Prosper Enfantins Performances, 2009

PDF of the exhibition guide.

Work it, feel it!, curated by Anne Faucheret and associate curator Eva Meran, remains open at Kunsthalle Wien (Karlsplatz location) until 10 September 2017.
The exhibition is part of the Vienna Biennale for art, design, and architecture.

Disobedient Electronics: Protest

I find myself the very lucky and very pleased recipient of the Disobedient Electronics booklet edited and hand-crafted by Garnet Hertz.


Disobedient Electronics. Photo by Garnet Hertz

The booklet’s manifesto calls for more design (or art) that gets out of the sleek graduation shows and galleries, confronts sociopolitical issues head-on and bites back. As he sums up, “Design can be how to punch Nazis in the face, minus the punching.” Hertz isn’t afraid to ruffle a few feathers when he writes in his intro to the publication that:

1. Building electronic objects can be an effective form of social argument or political protest.
2. DIY, maker culture and local artisinal productions can have strong nationalist and protectionist components to them – in some senses, populism can be seen as the rise of the DIY non-expert.
3. Critical and Speculative Design (Dunne & Raby) are worthwhile approaches within industrial design, but perhaps not adversarial enough to reply to contemporary populist right-wing movements (Brexit, Trump & Le Pen). Questions like “Is it moral to punch Nazis in the face?” should be answered with smart alternatives to violence that are provocative pieces of direct action.
4. If we are living in a post-truth time, we should focus on trying to make progressive arguments and facts more legible and engaging to a wide and diverse audience.
5. The fad of ‘Maker Culture’ is over. Arduinos and 3D printers are fascinating things, but the larger issues of what it means to be a human or a society needs to be directly confronted.

A few months ago, Hertz issued a call for submissions and published some of the most inspiring answers he received. Some are works i was familiar with (but always happy to find again in new context and with new texts written by the artists/activists/designers) such as the Abortion Drone by the ever brilliant Women on Waves (& Collaborators), Julian Oliver‘s Transparency Grenade, Román Torre and Ángeles Angulo’s Thero device that allows you to physically manage your data traffic, Eizo Ishikawa and Tamon Sawangdee’s Tamon CRAF, the paperplane machine for protests , I.E.D. (Improvised Empathetic Device) by Matt Kenyon and Doug Easterly, the Barbie Liberation Organization generously offers a Barbie/G.I. Joe home surgery manual, the Institute for Applied Autonomy‘s Robotic Graffiti Writer, etc.


Annina Rüst, A Piece of the Pie Chart. Photo via Unframed

I also discovered some smart ideas and projects that were completely new to me. There’s Annina Rüst’s A Piece of the Pie Chart, a feminist food robot that visualizes the gender gap in art and tech on edible pies. Or The 79% Work Clock that sounds an alarm 79% of the way through the work day to remind us that after a certain time of the day, women stop being paid for their work. Neil MacAloney’s description of Phantom Kitty, a (work in progress) device that would turn on whenever you’re not using the computer, sounds very promising. The tool would perform online searches and open websites, throwing in a vast amount of misinformation into internet tracking activity, rendering data gathering pointless.


Pedro G. C. Oliveira and Xuedi Chen, Backslash (ROUTER. Off-Grid Network)

The works i found most interesting were Pedro G. C. Oliveira and Xuedi Chen’s Backslash, a series of open source functional devices that help activists communicate during a network blackout. I was also very impressed with the Automated Doorbell and Decorative Wreath made by with the Feminist Maker Space at the University of Texas in protest of Campus Carry, a law that provides that license holders may carry a concealed handgun throughout university campuses.


Matt Walker, Device for the Emancipation of the Landscape

There are more projects in the book (all dutifully listed on the webpage of Disobedient Electronics) but i’d like to end with the one i found most touching: Matt Walker’s Device for the Emancipation of the Landscape. This sound-cannon collects sounds from the surrounding landscape through its “mouth.” The field-recordings are then mixed and projected back into urban or industrial sites, opening up the space of authority and offering an opportunity to reflect on both the human impact and treatment of landscape.


Disobedient Electronics: Protest (Pre-production Proof – version 2017 April 28)

I love the booklet: the hand-made format, the colour, the whole impetus behind its creation, most of the works included (or rather i love ALL of the works included, i just felt that some of them were only scratching on the surface and wouldn’t reach anyone beyond the usual art/activist audiences). Disobedient Electronics is a great starting point for a much-needed discussion about how art, design and creative practices in general can challenge issues such as homophobia, sexism, racism, economic inequalities, political status-quo, etc. I think that in general media art and interactive design are far too complacent when it comes to creating socially-engaged works. Too often, the projects are more about getting some attention from bloggers and festival curators and less about directly getting to grips with a specific issue. Or reaching out to the ‘general’ public.

I would love more publications like Disobedient Electronics, with artists from other parts of the world for example. If Hertz makes another issue, i’ll definitely send something.

There are only 300 copies of the booklet available, if you feel you can contribute in any way to the project, Hertz might send you one of the last copies for free…


Disobedient Electronics. Photo by Garnet Hertz


Disobedient Electronics. Photo by Garnet Hertz


Disobedient Electronics. Photo by Garnet Hertz


Disobedient Electronics. Photo by Garnet Hertz

Previously: Critical Making and an Interview with Garnet Hertz.

Economia Festival. Consumerism, crabs, automation, and other insights by non-economists


Keith Yahrling, Home Depot, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 2007


Evgeny Morozov with Olga Mink. Photo by Diewke van den Heuvel for Baltan Laboratories

Another quick look back at the Economia festival that took place at Baltan Laboratories in Eindhoven a few weeks ago…

As i mentioned earlier, the event’s rallying cry was that time had come to discuss the economy without inviting the economists to the table. The festival performances, screenings, artworks and talks did indeed bring a radically new perspective on the economical challenges that society has been facing over the last decade. The keynotes were particularly unexpected and enlightening. The ever eloquent and provocative Evgeny Morozov walked us through the signs of the formidable march of the tech giants towards political control and economic monopoly. Pankaj Mishra explored the Age of Anger and his talk was, imho, far less incisive than his book. The videos of their keynotes are online but i’m going to put the spotlight on the other two talks: Frank Trentmann‘s chronicle of the consumerist society and Geerat Vermeij‘s theory about how a closer study of biological ecosystems can teach us more about the mechanisms and trends of the economy than we might suspect.


Frank Trentmann. Photo by Diewke van den Heuvel for Baltan Laboratories


Frank Trentmann. Photo by Diewke van den Heuvel for Baltan Laboratories

Frank Trentmann: A world of consumers. Keynote lecture at the Economia Festival

Historian Dr. Frank Trentmann drew upon his book Empire of Things to narrate the history of consumption and the many impulses that drive our ‘material self’. It was a fascinating and instructive talk. I learnt that consumption didn’t start in the 1950s in the US but long before that, in Europe and in the China of the Ming dynasty. And that the biggest boom in consumption took place in the 1950s and 1960s when society was becoming more equal and the states started to dedicate more resources to the well-being of their citizens. I was reminded that women, at a time when they were not allowed to vote, turned their purchasing power into civic power, feeling that they had a social duty towards the underpaid workers who were producing the goods. Whether you agree with his views or not, you might find Trentmann’s concluding remarks thought-provoking, especially when he explains why he doesn’t believe that we’ve reached peak stuff, and why the drive for ‘experiences‘ is nothing new and won’t slow down our shopping frenzy.


Geerat Vermeij. Photo by Diewke van den Heuvel for Baltan Laboratories


Geerat Vermeij: The economy of nature. Keynote lecture at the Economia Festival

Geerat Vermeij is an evolutionary biologist. Eleven years ago, he wrote Nature: An Economic History, a book which explores how processes common to all economic systems–competition, cooperation, adaptation, and feedback–govern evolution as surely as they do the human economy, and how historical patterns in both human and nonhuman evolution follow from this principle.

Throughout his talk, the scientist highlighted strong parallels between biological evolution and economics in the human realm in order to try and answer a rather vital questions: Can we construct a healthy economy that doesn’t grow?


Pankaj Mishra. Photo by Diewke van den Heuvel for Baltan Laboratories


Evgeny Morozov. Photo by Diewke van den Heuvel for Baltan Laboratories


Photo by Diewke van den Heuvel for Baltan Laboratories

The Economia festival was curated by Wiepko Oosterhuis and organised by Baltan Labs in Eindhoven.

Previously: Economia, a festival on economy without the economists and Economia festival: short films about finance.

Culture as Weapon. The Art of Influence in Everyday Life

Culture as Weapon. The Art of Influence in Everyday Life, by Nato Thompson.

On amazon USA and UK.

Publisher Melville House writes: The production of culture was once the domain of artists, but beginning in the early 1900s, the emerging fields of public relations, advertising, and marketing transformed the way the powerful communicate with the rest of us. A century later, the tools are more sophisticated than ever, the onslaught more relentless.

In Culture as Weapon, acclaimed curator and critic Nato Thompson reveals how institutions use art and culture to ensure profits and constrain dissent — and shows us that there are alternatives. An eye-opening account of the way advertising, media, and politics work today, Culture as Weapon offers a radically new way of looking at our world.

From the Guggenheim Bilbao becoming the ultimate icon of urban revitalization to the Nazi Party stadium rallies throwing people into massive nationalist hysteria with their powerful speeches, Wagnerian music and what architect Albert Speer called cathedrals of light. From the Taco Bell Chihuahua dressed to evoke Che Guevara to the independent slogan “Keep Austin Weird” hijacked and copyrighted to serve a branding campaign for the capital of Texas. From corporate-driven bohemia in Berlin and Portland’s hippest neighbourhoods to rock stars wearing Reebok trainers while performing on behalf of Amnesty International. From Apple Store abolishing cash registers (that crude reminder of commerce!) and filling its aseptic spaces with with smiling people dispensing free advice to the McDonald’s Corporation supporting programs that improve the well-being of children while getting people addicted on its cheap, GMO-laden junks food served by under paid employees, etc. Culture, it seems, is intimately weaved into capitalism and politics. And vice versa.


The cathedral of light above the Zeppelintribune, Nuremberg, 1936. Photo: Allgemeiner Deutscher Nachrichtendienst – Zentralbild (Bild 183)

Using historical and contemporary examples gleaned from political campaigns, PR stunts, philanthropy, advertising or interior design, Nato Thompson efficiently demonstrates how culture can be turned into a set of tools and tactics that allows those in power to quietly manipulate the impressionable, irrational and social creature that we are.

Thompson wrote this book as a b-side of the exhibition Living as Form, as a kind of guide to how socially engaged artistic practices can be appropriated by PR companies, advertisers, politicians, corporations and other entities with only their own best interests in mind. They too understand the power of the visual, the importance of arousing emotions, of creating social connections, of devising more radical modes of communication, production and distribution.

Willie Horton political ad ran in 1988 before the presidential election

Some of the tricks deployed by businesses or politicians used to be revolutionary but seem almost banal nowadays. Paying women to smoke in public as an act of freedom in defiance of the taboo of women smoking, for example. Others appear as dirty as ever decades later, such as the infamous Horton ad which suggested that presidential candidate Michael Dukakis bore some responsibility in crimes committed by a murderer temporarily released from prison.

Thompson’s book is informative and entertaining. It is also troubling, thought-provoking and impossible to read without thinking about Trump (or Brexit, or anyone in Europe thinking time has come to make their country ‘great again’.) Especially when it shows how fear has become one of the main drivers of America mainstream culture. Fear permeates the news, is intensified through sensationalist discourses and images but most of all, it feeds millions of men to the notoriously voracious industrial prison complex, keeps Guantanamo Bay in perpetual and unjustified limbo and can turn anyone into a potential, innocent victim: Steve Kurtz, black teenagers, people who have names that don’t sound ‘right’, etc.


Billionaires for Bush

Somehow, there is also hope in this book. Humans might be irrational and fairly easy to maneuver but they are also capable of seeing through the smoke screen. They fight back. They use capitalism to overtake capitalism. They hijack media and write their own history of alternative media. They orchestrate civil disobedience with humour and brio. They can even re-purpose fear. To paraphrase Thompson they learn from power even if they do not agree with it.

I sometimes had the feeling that the author is more comfortable writing about some topics than others. He is moving when writing about Reverend Billy and more factual when detailing the military’s cultural approaches to counterinsurgency, for example. But that’s just a detail – that and the fact that there is absolutely zero photo in the book- because Culture as Weapon splendidly condenses into some 300-ish pages the many reasons why culture is exciting, liberating, deceiving and dangerous. Depending on who gets to pull its strings.

Book review – Public Servants. Art and the Crisis of the Common Good

Public Servants. Art and the Crisis of the Common Good, edited by Johanna Burton, Shannon Jackson and Dominic Willsdon. Foreword by Lisa Phillips.

On amazon USA and UK.

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Publisher MIT Press writes: How should we understand the purpose of publicly engaged art in the twenty-first century, when the very term “public art” is largely insufficient to describe such practices?

Concepts such as “new genre public art,” “social practice,” or “socially engaged art” may imply a synergy between the role of art and the role of government in providing social services. Yet the arts and social services differ crucially in terms of their methods and metrics. Socially engaged artists need not be aligned (and may often be opposed) to the public sector and to institutionalized systems. In many countries, structures of democratic governance and public responsibility are shifting, eroding, and being remade in profound ways—driven by radical economic, political, and global forces. According to what terms and through what means can art engage with these changes?

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Mel Chin, Safehouse, 2008-2010. Part of Operation Paydirt and Operation Paydirt Headquarters in New Orleans. Photo via Jan Rotschild

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Simone Leigh in collaboration with Stuyvesant Mansion, Free People’s Medical Clinic offered a “limited array of homeopathic and allopathic services ranging from yoga instruction to community acupuncture, all offered by Brooklyn-based practitioners”. Photo via A Blade of Grass

I’ve long stopped counting the number of books dedicated to art&activism that i’ve read and reviewed over the past couple of years. Socially-engaged art practice is a tremendous art crowd-pleaser. It is catchy, slightly subversive and easy to label and package to avid audiences. Public Servants. Art and the Crisis of the Common Good collects existing and newly commissioned essays in which artists, critics, curators and historians interrogate the definition, purposes and reception of socially engaged art. The authors reflect on questions such as: Can art projects efficiently respond to concrete community needs? How much of an impact can they have? And how do you measure this impact? According to which criteria? Does it make sense for a socially engaged work to last only a couple of months, until a biennial or festival closes? How do you sustain a longer term engagement with a particular issue? How embedded do artists have to be in communities in order to see change happen? Is a new aesthetic vocabulary arising from these practices? etc.

I wasn’t expecting an explosion of optimism and brashness. I’ve often found artists and curators quite lucid about the real impact that art can have on political, economical or social issues. Public Servants confirmed the diffuse awareness of art limitations. Still, there is also a lot of energy and determination in these essays. The authors, especially the artists, believe in the importance of weaving together the symbolic and the pragmatic, of using art to build platforms for nuanced debates about complex problems, of collaborating with communities and harnessing their knowledge and skills.

I think that this sentence that artist Pablo Helguera wrote in his essay sums up quite adequately the spirit of the book:

“Artists seldom have the resources to create societal change on a grand scale, but we can produce pilots, models, or smaller gestures that, if expanded, could truly effect change.”

The book is divided into six ‘departments’ that echo the divisions of governmental oversight. There is also a portfolio section in which a series of artists have been invited to articulate their own relationship with the themes explored in the book.

Here’s a quick walk through the 6 departments:

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Forensic Architecture, Gaza Book of Destruction, subtitled A Verification of Building-Destruction Resulting from Attacks by the Israeli Occupation, is a people’s archive in which every building destroyed or damaged in Israeli attacks has been chronicled

The first department, Public Works, shows how artists are constantly re-imagining the public sector and submitting it to a bit of DIY action in order to breathe new life into abandoned buildings and areas (while juggling the need to avoid gentrification.)

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Photo Requests from Solitary. My Auntie’s House on the Block. Photo by Chris Murphy

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Photo Requests from Solitary, Unfulfilled request

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Josh Begley, Prison Map visualizes the architecture of the American prison system using aerial images

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Ashley Hunt, 94 boys and girls, ages 9 to 18 | Miami-Dade Juvenile Detention Center, Miami, Florida, on 13.5 acres, the third largest youth prison in the U.S.. Part of Degrees of Visibility which records how the spaces that surround prisons and jails show and conceal the scales of mass incarceration in the U.S.

The Department of Security looks at artistic initiatives that contest rather than reinforce current governmental notions of security. With a particular focus on mass incarceration in the US, brutal police system, racial terror in the US, criminalization of poverty and vicious forms of militarized repression on black youth, etc.

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W.A.G.E., Artist Payment Graphic, excerpt from W.A.G.E. graphic poster of artist survey results, 2011

The Department of Labor and Economy reflects on alternative modes of value and the social sustainability (or rather lack thereof) of art practices.

I was particularly touched by the contribution of Lise Soskolne from Working Artists and the Greater Economy (W.A.G.E.), an activist group and non-profit organization whose mission is “currently focused on regulating the payment of artist fees by nonprofit art institutions and establishing a sustainable model for best practices between artists and the institutions that contract their labor.”

The editors of the book offered a small fee to include a 5,000 word essay written by W.A.G.E, but asked her to wave the fee ‘due to the scholarly nature’ of the project. Soskolne wrote a considerate answer in which she explained that it wasn’t possible. She had to chose between rejecting the significant career ‘opportunity’ of having her work included in an important publication and sticking to her ethos and values. She chose ethics and only her answer to the editors’ request was published. Smart!

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Pablo Helguera, Libreria Donceles, 2015. An itinerant, Spanish-language second-hand bookstore, created in 2013 out of a desire to address the lack of outlets that serve the growing Hispanic and Latino communities in the United States

The Department of Education engages with the State’s sharp disinvestment in education (and particularly art education) and the concomitant neoliberal corporatization of the sector which makes access to education anything but democratic and egalitarian and opens up the gates of research funding to the poisonous influence of the oil, bank and pharmaceutical industries.

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Tue Greenfort, Exceeding 2 Degrees, 2007. The temperature inside the museum was raised by 2°C. The money saved on heating costs was used to purchase an area of Ecuadorian rainforest

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Alan Sonfist, Time Landscape, 1965-1978-Present. The artist created a forest with plants that were native to the New York City area in pre-colonial times. Photo via issues and images

The Department of Health and Environment looks at the well-being of the citizens and of the planet they inhabit. It is probably the chapter in which the expression ‘symbolic gesture’ came the most frequently to my mind.

Pedro Reyes, The People’s United Nations (pUN), General Assembly, 2013

The Department of Culture reveals how little the state can be trusted when it comes to administering culture.

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Project Row Houses

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Monica Villarreal, MIGRATION IS? at Project Row Houses – Round 41: Process and Action An Exploration of Ideas. Curated by Ryan Dennis

Book review – Public Servants. Art and the Crisis of the Common Good is obviously very US-centered. However, drastic cuts in the public sector and other austerity measures adopted in many European countries mean that the issues and questions investigated in the book pertain to the old continent as well.

If you can’t afford the book or wonder how pertinent it might be to your own practice or research, have a look at the essay A critique of social practice art. What does it mean to be a political artist? by art critic Ben Davis and at the series of responses that the article generated. These texts are part of the book and i found that they illustrate very well many of the debates and questions raised in the MIT Press publication.

I should probably publish a kind of shortlist of books, magazines and online resources dedicated to art and activism soon. And when i do, Public Servants. Art and the Crisis of the Common Good will definitely appear among the first titles i’ll recommend if the theme interests you.

Public Servants: Art and the Crisis of the Common Good is part of the New Museum’s newly relaunched publication series, Critical Anthologies in Art and Culture.

There will be a book launch slash panel event titled Public Servants in the Future Imperfect. A Double Book Launch Co-presented with A Blade of Grass at the New Museum on 26 January 2017.

Design My Privacy. 8 Principles for Better Privacy Design

00a0adesignmyprivacyy8Design My Privacy. 8 Principles for Better Privacy Design, by Tijmen Schep.
With foreword by Mieke Gerritzen, Director of MOTI, the Museum of the Image in Breda.

On amazon usa and uk.

BIS Publishers write: How can we protect our privacy in this digital era? Because of the emerging of ‘The internet of things’ this question becomes more and more relevant to designers. Technology becomes part of our daily used products. Watches, clothing, cars, houses are becoming ‘smart’, all being connected to the ‘cloud’. This book gives you guidance on how to design for privacy.

This book is written to encourage designers to think about and to design for privacy issues. The technology behind the smart products and systems are so complex, that for the consumer it is difficult to understand what the consequences are for everyday life. Designers have to start thinking about transparency and accessibility in the design of privacy-sensitive products and services. This book offers the designer guidance, in the form of eight design principles, that help with designing products and services.

Screen-Shot-2014-05-23-at-9.24.59-PM
Owen Mundi, I Know Where Your Cat Lives

Privacy concerns are taking a beating these days: China is implementing a social credit system meant to rate each citizen’s trustworthiness, UK has just legalized a series ofextreme surveillance measures and let’s not cry over what the orange fascist is going to inflict to American citizens worried about data-collection by intelligence agencies.

The Design My Privacy booklet invites designers to engage with privacy issues instead of leaving the whole discussion into the hands of IT experts.

SETUP medialab, The National Birthday Calendar (teaser)

The author of the book, technology critic Tijmen Schep, lists 8 design principles that designers should keep in mind while working on products and services in the age of the Internet of Things.

These principles require the designers to be practical (by including privacy features right from the start of the project in order to avoid costly updates later), humble (allowing users to customize according to their own needs and culture), brave (standing up to a client who would like to collect as much data as possible), malicious (thinking like a hacker and forecasting all the ways the technology can be abused), critical (realizing that designers imbue designs with codes of law, cultural norms and prejudice), etc.

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James Bridle, Citizen-Ex


James Bridle, Citizen-Ex

Aside from the 8 principles, the book also contains plenty of case studies, examples of artistic projects contributing to the privacy discussion, a crash course on the value of privacy, a glossary of important terms and concepts, a reading list, a series of interviews with experts such as Marcel Schouwenaar and Jaap Stronks and a contribution by Frank Koppejan about prospective European privacy legislation. There’s even a little privacy pop quiz about the very blurred boundaries between reality and science fiction.

Lauren McCarthy and Kile McDonald, pplkpr

Design My Privacy is a witty, practical and thoughtful little book. It constitutes a useful tool for designers who want to create products and environments which balance efficiency, user-friendliness and privacy. But it can also serve as a sensible companion for customers who might want to know what to look for and what to be cautious about next time they plan to buy a car insurance, smart watch or energy saving outlet.

Views inside the book:

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irevealmyatribbbut

sampleannnaaalys

Image on the homepage stolen from HUH magazine.

Design My Privacy. 8 Principles for Better Privacy Design

00a0adesignmyprivacyy8Design My Privacy. 8 Principles for Better Privacy Design, by Tijmen Schep.
With foreword by Mieke Gerritzen, Director of MOTI, the Museum of the Image in Breda.

On amazon usa and uk.

BIS Publishers write: How can we protect our privacy in this digital era? Because of the emerging of ‘The internet of things’ this question becomes more and more relevant to designers. Technology becomes part of our daily used products. Watches, clothing, cars, houses are becoming ‘smart’, all being connected to the ‘cloud’. This book gives you guidance on how to design for privacy.

This book is written to encourage designers to think about and to design for privacy issues. The technology behind the smart products and systems are so complex, that for the consumer it is difficult to understand what the consequences are for everyday life. Designers have to start thinking about transparency and accessibility in the design of privacy-sensitive products and services. This book offers the designer guidance, in the form of eight design principles, that help with designing products and services.

Screen-Shot-2014-05-23-at-9.24.59-PM
Owen Mundi, I Know Where Your Cat Lives

Privacy concerns are taking a beating these days: China is implementing a social credit system meant to rate each citizen’s trustworthiness, UK has just legalized a series ofextreme surveillance measures and let’s not cry over what the orange fascist is going to inflict to American citizens worried about data-collection by intelligence agencies.

The Design My Privacy booklet invites designers to engage with privacy issues instead of leaving the whole discussion into the hands of IT experts.

SETUP medialab, The National Birthday Calendar (teaser)

The author of the book, technology critic Tijmen Schep, lists 8 design principles that designers should keep in mind while working on products and services in the age of the Internet of Things.

These principles require the designers to be practical (by including privacy features right from the start of the project in order to avoid costly updates later), humble (allowing users to customize according to their own needs and culture), brave (standing up to a client who would like to collect as much data as possible), malicious (thinking like a hacker and forecasting all the ways the technology can be abused), critical (realizing that designers imbue designs with codes of law, cultural norms and prejudice), etc.

citizen-eiiiiiiix
James Bridle, Citizen-Ex


James Bridle, Citizen-Ex

Aside from the 8 principles, the book also contains plenty of case studies, examples of artistic projects contributing to the privacy discussion, a crash course on the value of privacy, a glossary of important terms and concepts, a reading list, a series of interviews with experts such as Marcel Schouwenaar and Jaap Stronks and a contribution by Frank Koppejan about prospective European privacy legislation. There’s even a little privacy pop quiz about the very blurred boundaries between reality and science fiction.

Lauren McCarthy and Kile McDonald, pplkpr

Design My Privacy is a witty, practical and thoughtful little book. It constitutes a useful tool for designers who want to create products and environments which balance efficiency, user-friendliness and privacy. But it can also serve as a sensible companion for customers who might want to know what to look for and what to be cautious about next time they plan to buy a car insurance, smart watch or energy saving outlet.

Views inside the book:

0phonedroneclones

irevealmyatribbbut

sampleannnaaalys

Image on the homepage stolen from HUH magazine.

AI, global warming, black holes and other impending global catastrophes! Videos for your weekend

I’m just back from a short trip to Dublin where i visited Design and Violence at the Science Gallery. I’ve LOTS to tell you about the exhibition. It’s dense, brilliant and sometimes also a bit disturbing. It challenges everything you think you know about what is good and what is bad, about design’s role in discriminating, torturing and drafting new forms of insidious brutality.

While i was in town, i had the chance to attend one of the Science Gallery’s evenings that explore impending global catastrophes. Called The End is Nigh, the series is not as dark and gloomy as the title suggests. Well, yes it is but there was also a lot of humour, irony and messages of hope in the discussions. The panel i attended, Automatic Disqualification: Will AI mean the end of work, or the end of humans?, explored the possible threats posed by artificial intelligence in the fields of employment, social inequalities and even the survival of the human race.

Video of THE END IS NIGH #2 – Automatic Disqualification: Will AI mean the end of work, or the end of humans?

The panelists were:
Barry O’Sullivan, the deputy president of the European Association for Artificial Intelligence, who summed up the key concepts of AI, the extent of its presence in our daily life and the main threats that humanity might have to face in the near future,
Niall Shanahan, a communications officer for IMPACT, Ireland’s largest public service trade union, focused on how/where/why AI is going to replace us in the work place,
Mary Aiken, a forensic cyberpsychologist (probably the coolest title/job in the whole universe) whose work specializes in the impact of technology on human behaviour, pretty much dominated the evening. She talked about Google losing control of its search engine, lessons learnt and quickly forgotten in the area of AI, technology distracting us from the desire to be 21st century Luddites, moving from natural selection to algorithm selection, sexbots making human physical encounters IRL dispensable, etc.
– CJ Cullen, the Deputy Director of Communications and Information Services at the Irish Defence Forces, talked about (autonomous) killing machines.
The discussion was moderated by Anton Savage of Today FM.

Another panel looked at how we should deal with climate change: should we mitigate climate change now? Or should we wait for future technologies to solve our problems?

Video of THE END IS NIGH #3 – In Hot Water: Is Climate Change humanity’s Greatest Threat?

The panelists were: Cara Augustenborg, environmental scientist and lecturer at University College Dublin, Hugh Fitzpatrick, student in MSc Environmental Science TCD, and Barry McMullin, Associate Professor at DCU faculty of engineering and computing. The event was chaired by Constantine Boussalis, Assistant Professor in Political Science at Trinity College Dublin.

I missed that one unfortunately but i’m going to watch it tonight.

And i’m going to keep the first episode of the series, The End is Nigh: Asteroids, Comets, and Rogue Black Holes: Can Earth dodge a cosmic bullet?, for the weekend! This one looked at humanity’s best options to ensure survival in the event of planetary catastrophe.

Video of The End is Nigh 1: Asteroids, Comets, and Rogue Black Holes: Can Earth dodge a cosmic bullet?

The panelists were Mary Bourke, Assistant Professor of Geography at Trinity College Dublin, David McKeown, Assistant Professor of Design Innovation in the TCD School of Engineering and Niamh Shaw, engineer, scientist and artist.
The event was hosted by hosted by Joseph Roche, Assistant Professor of Science Education at TCD.

Photo on the homepage via Caribbean 360.