I write about surveillance, privacy and technologies of security. Most frequently this is from a political perspective, engaged with issues of power, but also particularly with issues of representation – how are these technologies and the social practices facilitated by them represented in thought and in language? To what problems are these technologies presented as an answer? And what type of political climate is it that doesn’t simply justify their use, but actively seems to mandate it. Often this is political language – the language of policy documents and speeches as well as the procedural documents which pass thought-made-technical through the assemblages of organisations, actors and technologies that make up contemporary society. However it also reaches out to the broader culture of surveillance. This also means paying attention to those representations of surveillance and security technology that counter or complicate these narratives of control and management. This makes the netart, data sculptures and networked space artwork of the UK artist Stanza of particular interest as it explicitly and actively engages with surveillance, privacy, technology and control.
Dreaming of a world and dimensions beyond our own is a timeless and universal concern. But for people of African descent this musing has additional poignancy. Exiled, enslaved colonised how many Africans looked up at the night sky and pondered if there was another kinder world above in that great expanse. This yearning that has been the inspiration of what today we term Afrofuturism, first coined by writer and critic Mark Dery in 1993 to capture the essence of what has become a discernible movement in African Diaspora art, music, film and literature.
Jam tomorrow (maybe)! Thanks, Gideon! Don't worry, though - if they can rebel in Hong Kong, there's hope for our chances (seriously, the Hong Kong thing is potentially HUGE - take a look at this). That said, though, WHO CARES? After all, it's DECORATIVE GOURD SEASON AGAIN, and the steady cavalcade of consumer distractions continues almost unabated between now and the big, festive daddy of them all. This is probably the last Curios in which there's going to be no mention of people trying to sell you stuff for Chri****s, so enjoy it while you can. Oh, and if I can give you another unwanted piece of advice, if you're in London then do try and go and see this - if you're reading this, you're pretty much bang in the middle of the target audience, and it's a really interesting production (also has the added bonus of seeing genuine incomprehension on the faces of theatregoers when confronted with the concept of Pedobear, which is worth the price of admission alone).
ANYWAY, I'm off for the next few weeks - until my return, though, slip on this week's metaphorical dark clothing and balaclava and follow me, as we sneak round the back of the internet's house, take advantage of an unlocked back door and creep upstairs to rifle through its underwear drawer and enjoy its collection of special interest photography - it's WEB CURIOS!
When Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation launched a broadside at Google, claiming the company abuses its overwhelming market position in Europe, it looked a lot like a clash between web and print – the Information Age vs the Gutenberg Age.
At best, buying followers is ethically dubious. It hasn't stopped Constant Dullaart from buying 2.5 million fake Instagram followers and distributing them to big names in the "art world", as part of a new work.
While American Prohibition made illegal the sale, production, importation, and transportation of alcoholic beverages, The Mountain Winery in Saratoga, California had permission to produce wine for “exclusive” use in religious sacraments. As a result, John Steinbeck and Ansel Adams once shared a bunk bed. Whatever the magnet, these people always seem to know each other. Knowing often leads to collaborations, and collaborations to labels that group and identify artists with each other and a time in history. Dadaists, for example, believed that the value of art was in the act of making and collaborating with others.
Round and round we go. The social media site du jour is Ello, which news organisations around the world are claiming to be attracting new users in their thousands each day. Currently in beta, its two claims to fame are that it's ad-free and allows for any username.
Arts Council England is to fund and launch a new aggregator of video arts content. Delivered by video aggregation and rights business Rightster, it is pitched as a destination, which brings the best videos from across The Interwebz into one place.
The body is increasingly being seen as a digital security interface. From iris scanners to fingerprint recognition, innovations abound which aim to identify us from everyone else in order to provide secure access to services. According to new developments from Australia, tears provide biometric security which is way stronger than existing solutions.
It appears that while I was typing this everyone's decided to go bombing. Hey ho. Fortunately, though, Web Curios doesn't really *do* geopolitics and so we can conveniently ignore all those troublesome questions about international responsibility and legitimacy and stuff in favour of pointing at a bunch of stuff on the web in slack-jawed amazement.
So follow me once again, webmongs, as we venture into the hall of mirrors on the soul that is the internet - what you are about to see is the truest possible reflection of who we are this week, so if you don't like the hideously distorted picture gurning back at you then, well, tough. IT'S WEB CURIOS!
Karina Smigla-Bobinski is a true interdisciplinary artist. Working with interactive, kinetic, physical and sculptural media alongside oil painting and digital display, she has enjoyed considerable success across five continents with work such as Ada and, more recently, as part of DiBari's "dream team" innovation collective.
We caught up with Karina just after her keynote at Berlin's ReTune conference last weekend.