Artist Talk and Exhibition at Athens Digital Arts Festival

Public Space_s, this year's theme at the Athens Digital Arts Festival

Public Space_s, this year’s theme at the Athens Digital Arts Festival

My work ScareMail will be on exhibit at the Athens Digital Arts Festival from May 21-24. Held in the center of Athens, Greece at the Diplareios School, the Festival’s theme is Public Space_s, highlighting …

the various aspects of “public” both in the digital and physical space. In our times, the notion of public space appears to be one of the most contradictory concepts while the rise of network and communication technologies has changed our experience of public space. Public space is not only characterised by physical space and architecture but also by networks and knowledge distribution. In this framework, we seek to redefine the multiple interconnected spaces within which we act and raise new questions in relation to the information age.

In addition to the exhibition I’ll be giving an invited artist talk on the evening of May 22. The festival program is directed by Katerina Gkoutziouli and the Webart section is curated by Foteini Vergidou.

ScareMail in WRO Media Art Biennale

ScareMail at 2015 WRO Media Art Biennale

ScareMail at 2015 WRO Media Art Biennale

Opening on 13 May, ScareMail will be part of the 2015 WRO Media Art Biennale in Wroclaw, Poland. Running through 17 May at venues throughout Wroclaw, the Biennale…

…is the major forum for new media art in Poland, and one of the leading international art events in Central Europe. Since its inception in 1989, WRO has been presenting art forms created using new media for artistic expression and communication, exploring current creative territories and building a critical perspective toward emerging issues in art, technology and society.

I’m happy to be a part of this major event directed by Piotr Krajewski.

Computers Watching Movies Reviewed in Neural

Computers Watching Movies Reviewed in Neural

Computers Watching Movies Reviewed in Neural

Been meaning to mention that in Neural #48, my work Computers Watching Movies is reviewed by Aurelio Cianciotta. In the review, titled Computers Watching Movies, films seen from digital entities, Cianciotta writes:

Questioning differences with us as humans driven by narrative, personal history and different pattern recognition abilities, the work also describes an uneasy scene: a movie purposely constructed to capture the imagination of a human audience being viewed by a silent other. Emotion, symbolism, metaphors and random associations are alien to the machine, which analyses on its own terms.

You can read the entire review online, or pickup a paper copy of issue #48. Neural is a magazine/journal from Italy that has focused on new media art, electronic music, and hacktivism since the ’90s. It is published in English and Italian and edited by Alessandro Ludovico.

 

Upcoming Artist Talk at NCSA

I'll be giving an artist's talk at NCSA on 29 Apr

I’ll be giving an artist talk at NCSA on 29 Apr at 12pm

On Wednesday, April 29, I’m giving an artist talk at NCSA on the UIUC campus. NCSA, also known as the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, is a hub on campus for visualization, big data, interdisciplinary research, and supercomputing resources. My talk, titled “What Does Software Want? Recent Artistic Projects and Research,” will be in room 1040 from 12-1pm. NCSA is located at 1205 W. Clark St in Urbana.

Presenting at Theorizing the Web 2015

I'll be presenting about ScareMail at Theorizing the Web 2015 in NYC

I’ll be presenting about ScareMail at Theorizing the Web 2015 in NYC

This week I’m off to NYC for Theorizing the Web 2015. I’ll be talking about ScareMail in a presentation titled “Privacy Through Visibility: Disrupting NSA Surveillance With Algorithmically Generated ‘Scary’ Stories.” Theorizing the Web is an interdisciplinary annual conference that “brings together scholars, journalists, activists, and commentators to ask big questions about the interrelationships between the Web and society.” It’s a great group of people, and I’m looking forward to attending for the second year in a row. The panel I’m on is titled “Watched Out” and is being held at 2pm in Studio A on 17 April.

Computers Watching Movies at Media Art Futures Festival

Computers Watching Movies at Media Art Future Festival in Murcia, Spain

Computers Watching Movies at Media Art Future Festival in Murcia, Spain

Computers Watching Movies will be part of this year’s Media Art Futures Festival in Murcia, Spain. The invitation comes from curator Pau Waelder, who has placed the work within the Data Cinema program. This program will be on view five different nights during the two week festival running from 15-30 April (see the Program for precise dates). The viewings will take place at the Filmoteca Regional.

Upcoming Invited Artist Talks and Workshops

Posters for Upcoming Invited Talks at Beloit College and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Posters for Upcoming Invited Talks at Beloit College and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Next week I’ll head north to give a couple invited artist talks and workshops. First is Beloit College, where I’m speaking as part of the Liability Labs Incorporated (LLI) experimental residency program run by Nicki Werner. The second is a talk and workshop at Digital Humanities Lab at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. This invitation comes from Marc Tasman and is sponsored by the Digital Arts and Culture Program. Here’s the abstract for my talk/workshop at UWM:

Hide the Metrics and Scare the NSA! Net Art as Artistic Research
 
When using Facebook, why do we want more “likes” and not less, and how does this “desire for more” change what we post for our friends? How does ubiquitous NSA surveillance affect what we write in an email and to whom we send it? Artist Ben Grosser will present two recent net art works that investigate these questions. The first, Facebook Demetricator, is a web browser extension that removes all quantifications from the Facebook interface, inviting the site’s users to try the system without the numbers and to see how that removal changes their experience. The second is ScareMail, a modification of Gmail that makes all email “scary” in order to disrupt NSA surveillance. Grosser will discuss how these works function as artistic research in order to investigate the social, cultural, and political effects of software. This talk will be followed by a workshop focused on the ways net art practices can reveal new information about the user/site relationship, and how a website’s design constructs user (inter)action. Participants will be guided to brainstorm specific website manipulations, and Grosser will prototype participant ideas in order to visualize and theorize their effects.

The talk at Beloit College is at 7pm on 1 Apr, and the talk/workshop at UWM is at 4pm on 2 Apr.

Upcoming Exhibitions in Michigan and Florida

ScareMail will be part of Terms of Service at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts

ScareMail will be part of Terms of Service at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts

I have a couple exhibitions/screenings opening this week.

First up is Terms of Service at the Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Terms of Service “explores identity, individualism and conditions people face as a result of our increasingly indexed and surveilled lives. We are interested in the psychological pressures that commercial and non-commercial monitoring create, as well as potential solutions or responses.” ScareMail is the work I’ll have in the exhibition, and the event is produced by Curatorial Studio taught by Paul Wittenbraker at GVSU. The exhibition runs from 30 March to 17 April, with openings/events on 3 April and 10 April.

Next is a one-night screening at the Crisp-Ellert Art Museum in St. Augustine, FL as part of Jacket. The event is at 7pm on 2 April, and is curated/juried by Kevin Mahoney, Patrick Moser, and Julie Dickover.

There’s much more on tap for the spring (most of it in Europe); I’ll be posting about those shortly.

Computers Watching Movies Discussed on Ireland National Radio

Last week Carnegie Mellon University design professor Aisling Kelliher talked about artificial intelligence and art on Ireland National Radio’s show Culture File. During the episode, titled “What if computers decided the Oscars?”, Kelliher engaged in some smart conversation about my work Computers Watching Movies. Amongst the questions Kelliher asks are what might movies made to please computer vision algorithms look like?

The discussion of my work starts at 2:50 in the clip, but I recommend you listen to the entire segment (about 8 minutes).

Finalist for Arte Laguna Prize in Virtual and Digital Art

Computers Watching Movies is a Finalist for the Arte Laguna Prize in Virtual and Digital Art

Computers Watching Movies is a Finalist for the Arte Laguna Prize in Virtual and Digital Art

I’m happy to share that my work Computers Watching Movies has been named a top five finalist for the Arte Laguna Prize in Virtual and Digital Art. The winner of the prize will be announced during the opening ceremony on 21 March in Venice, Italy. Since it’s a finalist, Computers Watching Movies will be part of the finalist exhibition at the Telecom Italia Future Centre. Jurist and curator Domenico Quaranta will give a guided tour of the Virtual and Digital Art exhibition on 22 March at 11 am.

Guest Artist and Composer at NMSU Contemporary Arts Festival

Audience Interface for More Like This

Audience Interface for More Like This

I am quite pleased to be the guest artist and composer at this year’s Contemporary Arts Festival at New Mexico State University. There I will join collaborators and saxophonists Rhonda Taylor and Kelland Thomas to produce the second performance of More Like This, my work for saxophones, artificial intelligence, live electronics, and participatory audience.

The performance of More Like This is just one piece in a concert of my works, both music and art. The program is:

Not Pitch (1995)
for baritone saxophone and computer-generated tape
Rhonda Taylor, baritone saxophone

mix whit (1997)
for computer-generated tape

Uninduced Approximation (1991)
for Bb trumpet and computer-generated tape
Pancho Romero, Bb trumpet

lotted ebb (1998)
for computer-generated tape

Computers Watching Movies (2013)
computationally-produced HD video and stereo audio

INTERMISSION

Touch Me Now (2014)
assembled Vine video loops with audio

More Like This (2014)
two saxophonists, artificial intelligence, live electronics, and participatory audience
Rhonda Taylor, saxophones Kelland Thomas, saxophones

The concert is Friday, 27 February, at 7:30pm (MST). Before the concert, at 6:30pm, I will give a pre-concert talk in the hall as well. In case you aren’t in New Mexico that night you can still catch the event on live stream. Watch the Facebook event page for more details as the night approaches.

ScareMail Wins Network Culture Award at Stuttgarter Filmwinter

ScareMail was given the Expanded Media Award for Network Culture at Stuttgarter Filmwinter

ScareMail was Given the Expanded Media Award for Network Culture at Stuttgarter Filmwinter

I’m happy to share that ScareMail was given the Expanded Media Award for Network Culture at the 2015 Stuttgarter Filmwinter in Stuttgart, Germany. ScareMail was selected at the conclusion of the Expanded Media Festival that ran from 15-18 January at several venues in Stuttgart. An excerpt from the jury statement:

It can be used by everybody as a social tool with a real effect on the networks of surveillance, because it is successfully disabling the control systems with the exuberance of false information. ScareMail is an excellent representative of the media art practice, where software knowledge, activism and aesthetic production are tightly intertwined. It is an easy accessible poetic tool with a real political effect.

I’m grateful for the recognition from the distinguished jury members Bojana Kunst, Pawel Janicki, and Daniel Kötter.

ScareMail in Expanded Media Festival at Stuttgarter Filmwinter

ScareMail is part of the Expanded Media Festival in the 2015 Stuttgarter Filmwinter, Stuttgart, Germany

ScareMail is part of the Expanded Media Festival in the 2015 Stuttgarter Filmwinter, Stuttgart, Germany

I am happy to share that ScareMail is part of the Network Culture section of the Expanded Media Festival at the 2015 Stuttgarter Filmwinter in Stuttgart, Germany. Being held from 15-18 Jan at Kunstbezirk, the festival is curated by Marcus Kohlbach. For more information, see the Stuttgarter Filmwinter online guide.

Press Coverage of Computational Culture Article

Washington Post Article about my Computational Culture Paper

Washington Post Article about my Computational Culture Paper

My article “What Do Metrics Want? How Quantification Prescribes Social Interaction on Facebook”—published in the journal Computational Culture—has received a significant amount of discussion in the press. The articles include:

Computers Watching Movies Wins First Prize in VIDA Awards

Computers Watching Movies wins First Prize in the VIDA Awards for Art and Artificial Life

Computers Watching Movies wins First Prize in the VIDA Awards for Art and Artificial Life

I am extremely pleased to share that my project Computers Watching Movies has been awarded First Prize by the VIDA Awards. The VIDA Awards “rank among the most important distinctions in the field of new media art,” and recognize projects dedicated to art and artificial life. “Over the past 15 years, has consolidated its firm commitment to defining and developing new contemporary artistic practices in the context of technological, scientific, and cultural innovation.”

VIDA said of my project:

This work invites us to rethink the reality inherited from the digital revolution and its social, cultural, and political implications. The author designed a computer vision system whose originality lies in the fact that it is applied to computer themselves rather than humans. In other words, while the system’s artificial intelligence watches selected clips from classic films like 2001: A Space Odyssey or Taxi Driver, a motley assortment of lines appear on the screen that map the places toward which the computer directs its gaze, synchronized with the original soundtrack. This slightly ironic project recalls the classic theories of machine consciousness in line with some of the earliest works to explore the convergence of art and artificial life.

The prize includes a cash award of 12,000 Euros. VIDA was founded by artists Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Nell Tenhaaf, and Susie Ramsay, and is supported by Fundación Telefónica out of Barcelona. This year’s jury members were Honor Harger, Jose Carlos Mariátegui, Marina MacDougall, Mónica Bello, Nell Tenhaaf, Roger Malina, and Laura Fernández Orgaz. Mónica is also VIDA’s artistic director.

I am tremendously grateful to VIDA, the jury, and Fundación Telefónica; I will use the prize money to develop my next large-scale AI-related artwork. I also want to acknowledge the work of the other finalists, including second prize winner Cecilia Jonsson.