This June Strelka Institute will host the second installment of “Books are in the air” festival. Expanding on the future of online information distribution systems and providing discursive context for Strelka Press practice, the festival will draw together renowned and upcoming experts in the fields of media, art, culture studies and innovative publishing.
A year ago “Books are in the air” probed behind key principles of interaction between readers and electronic text, psychology of reading, and looked at books as artistic media. This year “Books are in the air” intends to look into the chaos of the digital space and see how disparate bits of knowledge could be linked together through archival practices, and how data collection can become an instrument of surveillance and control.
The festival is an eclectic series of events, among which are a workshop on data visualisation, a conference on digital archivalism, and an interactive multimedia exhibition and a concert. Together they form a platform for discussion of virtual structures that inform and influence modern models of text and information presentation. It is a laboratory for experimental inquiries into the nature of the digital realm and its intersection with the lived space.
How to preserve the lived via the digital? How to digitally archive the architectural space? In a workshop by architect and researcher Paolo Patelli participants will produce and share bytes of information that makeup traces of a building threatened to be destroyed — the automobile service station designed by Leonid Pavlov, known as "The Triangle".
Using a Kinect sensor to scan its interiors, the participants will manufacture 3D point cloud representations, and record its background noise, the frequencies and vibrations of its technical systems with contact microphones.
The research will result in an online archive, a webpage for dj-ing with spatial and aural records, a columbarium of externalised information.
Participants should bring a recording device with a mini-jack input (diameter of 3.5 mm, approx. 1/8 inch). Most phones are equipped with them. Please, consider wearing appropriate shoes to get inside the building.
Paolo Patelli is an architect and researcher, working with media technologies, hybrid publics and situated practices to reconnect the physical dimension of the city with the affordances of a networked public sphere. PhD candidate in the Department of Architecture and Urban Studies at the Politecnico di Milano, research consultant and co-author of Urban Sensing.
Since its emergence digital technology has been constituting copious systems of transmission, storage and dissemination of knowledge and information. The expansive digitisation has brought in the era, where anyone can make any image or text globally accessible; the era, when anyone can be her or his own archivist. However, global accessibility does not always rhyme with preservation: the internet is perceived as an ocean of data where everything drowns and disappears.
Digital public space is a fragmented fabric of desolate pieces of information, which seem to be hardly observable in their totality. However, one may argue that the internet itself is in essence a tool of observaibility, or surveillance to be precise. Internet surveillance is similar to archival practices: it collects data, divides it into detectable operations, and stores it in well-ordered units. These units in their turn are only visible and available to an unknown spectator of the internet as a whole. Thus the principle upon which the internet is built is reversed: universal transparency becomes universal opacity. Here the archive's function shifts from utilitarian repository of information to an effective tool of designing new social, cultural and political order.
Universally thought to be a mechanism of conserving the past, archive has not only evolved into a tool for transmitting the present into the future, but into apparatus suitable for altering memory and transferring it into an alternative future. During the “Books are in the air” festival, its participants will look at the archive in its numerous incarnations: traditional and re-imagined, an instrument for collecting art works and an instrument of artistic practice.
Julia Scher is an American artist whose work is dedicated to the issues of surveillance, control and power. Her work has been exhibited at the Venice Biennale, the Whitney Biennial, MOMA PS1, Centro de Arte, Reina Sofia, etc. She has lectured at at Harvard and Princeton Universities, UCLA and USC. She currently holds the professorship for Multimedia and Performance/Surveillant Architectures at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne.
Sven Spieker professor at University of California Santa Barbara. His research interests include Russian and East-Central European literature, contemporary art, the theory and practice of the historical avant-garde, and the interplay of media, art, and phioposhy. Spieker is the world-renowned expert in the field of archives. He is the author “The Big Archive” (MIT Press, 2008), and the co-founding editor of ARTMargins, an online journal for contemporary art and aesthetic theory in East-Central Europe.
Anastasia Ryabova is a contemporary artist. Kandinsky Prize winner in 2011 for her work “Artists' Private Collections”.
Dragan Espenschied is a media artist and 8-bit musician. Digital conservationist at Rhizome.org. Espenschied is well known in the academic research field for projects such as bwFLA: Emulation as a Service, which allows legacy computer systems to run in a standard web browser. With Olia Lialina, he has also undertaken user-centered projects like One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age, an automatically-generated archive of screen captures of 1990s Geocities webpages; and Once Upon, an enactment of contemporary websites in a historic network environment. He has also published and spoken widely on vernacular uses of the web, such as in the book Digital Folklore, edited with Lialina.
Sasha Obukhova – art historian, head of the Research department at Garage, Moscow, member of the Kandinsky Award expert board. Co-founder and director of the Art Projects Foundation and established the foundation's ACRA (Archive of Contemporary Russian Art), which later formed the basis from which Garage Archive is developing.She previously held positions at the State Tretyakov Gallery, the National Center for Contemporary Art, the Moscow Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA).
Moderator: Vladislav Shapovalov — artist, researcher and editor living and working in Milan and Moscow. Previously a member of Radek Community (1999-2007). As an artist he participated in The False Calculations Presidium exhibition (2012) and The Way of Enthusiasts at the La Biennale di Venezia – Architettura 2012. As an editor he worked on the book "Parallel Convergences: Pawel Althamer and Anatoly Osmolovsky" (Marsilio Press). In his recent projects he is addressing the subjects of architecture of total institutions and the role of archive in art practices.
Paolo Patelli and the participants of his workshop "THE ROOMS AND THE BACKGROUND NOISE: POINTS AND FREQUENCIES AS MEDIA" will present the results of their research — a digital archive dedicated to the automobile service station designed by Leonid Pavlov, known as "The Triangle".
Media-artist Valya Fetisov will speak about the use of so-called “Easter Eggs” in visual media. “Easter Eggs” refers to a type of secret or inside-joke implanted in video games, films, or software by their creators. Fetisov's lecture will consider the phenomenon as a method of artistic practice, a kind of interface as well as a means to establish communication between an author and his work in the digital environment.
Following the lecture, Moscow sound artist Sergey Kasich will present a game from his series, “Oral Stimulations,” in the Strelka Courtyard. In its set-up, the game resembles Tetris, only to play it one must use his or her own voice. A high-pitched scream into a microphone will move the figure to the right, while a low-pitched one will send it to the left; a scream into the microphone of the second player can turn the figure around all together. In this aspect, the festival's entire audience can participate, chipping in their voices as support.
Valya Fetisov is an artist, graduate and instructor at the Rodchenko School of New Media. Participant of the Sharjah Biennial of Contemporary Art in 2013, as well as in the 89plus Art Marathon at the Serpentine Gallery in London, 2013.
Sergey Kasich is a sound-artist, graduate of the Strelka Institute, and founder of Soundartist.ru.
Under the guidance of Moscow Coding School tutor Nikita Komarkov the workshop participants will learn the basics of treemapping, a method for displaying hierarchical data, using one of Strelka Press' books as an example.
Treemapping — is a new method for information visualisation by using nested rectangulars, which dimensions are modified by datasets. One of this algorithm's advantages is an effective use of space. As a result, they can easily display thousands of items on the screen simultaneously.
The workshop is aimed at the beginner. No programming skills required.
Moscow Coding School is the first coding school in Moscow to hire developers from thriving Russian and Western enterprises to tutor beginners in programming.
Nikita Komarkov is a front-end developer for Look at Media projects, including an article editor. In his free time Nikita develops visualisation for a number of art and music projects. Graduated from Moscow State University of Design and Technology with a degree in Computer-aided design.
Among the most persistent and unfortunate conclusions drawn from the wide-scale digitalisation of information is that it will simply amplify, extend, rationalize and/or control “knowledge” and “intelligence” without also fundamentally changing our understanding of what knowledge and intelligence actually are. It is not the same but more and faster.
Because of this we miss the opportunity to appreciate new and usual forms of intelligence that appear before us. We can communicate with some of these directly and some of them communicate for us. Others think in ways so unlike the way we think (or the way we think that we think) that communication will probably be only partial at best. The implications for a geopolitics of computation are decisive, particularly at the scale of the city.
In this talk, Benjamin H. Bratton will consider these dynamics in relation to several contemporary forms of “artificial intelligence,” here understood not only as machines that think like people, but machines that achieve measurable intelligence in ways very different than people.
These include, first of all, a critique of “Turing Test” anthropocentrism in popular understandings of artificial intelligence, (2) a survey of machine perception and sensing understood as a kind of active sensation, (3) a discussion of massive universal addressing systems and their implications for our basic conceptions of objects and events, and (4) a consideration of the intelligent archives as a building block for emergent macroeconomic platforms.
Special attention will be given to the role of Russian futurism, science, and science-fiction in anticipating and articulating related ideas.
The lecture will be followed by a musical performance by Noise Decor. This collaborative effort between Zhenya Nedosekina (Jekka) and Diana Burkot (Rosemary Loves a Blackberry, Fanny Kaplan) will feature vocal improvisations from a range of unusual musical programs and instruments. The performance of these young musicians will serve as a kind of rejoinder to the theme of the electronic storage of information.
Strelka Press reading recommendation:
Can jokes bring down governments? Memes, design and politics
Benjamin H. Bratton is a theorist whose works spans Philosophy, Media, Art and Design. He is Director of The Center for Design and Geopolitics at the University of California, San Diego; and Professor at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. His research is situated at the intersections of contemporary social and political theory, computational media&infrastrtucture, architectural&urban design problems. Bratton's current work focuses on the political geography of the cloud computing, highly-granular universal addresing systems.
Bratton is a highly unconventional thinker whose written work and oral presentations challenge our perception of information culture today and the brave new world ahead of us.
Zhenya Nedosekina — contemporary musician, graduate of the Strelka Institute, curator of city and cultural programs. As part of the development of contemporary culture in the Russian provinces, Nedosekina created a program of cultural education events in Kaluga.
Diana Burkot — contemporary musician from acts like Rosemary Loves a Blackberry and the trio Fanny Kaplan.