Paul GRANJON. What to make [techno] art about in the age of ecological collapse?

The author is a technological artist whose subject is the co-evolution of humans and machines. He addresses this subject with hand-made machines presented in performances and exhibitions. The trajectory of his practice-based reflection since the mid-1990s lead to an increasingly issue-based delivery, often involving participants in making machines and sharing ideas about our relation to technology and nature. Sustainability and ecology have always been at the heart of the work, yet the recent increase of alarming facts about ecological collapse are motivating Granjon to re-centre his practice. Future works will aim at creating formats, tools and narratives that inform viewers’ and participants’ awareness of the issue and incite them to take practical action. The first part of the paper provides an overview of the main ideas Granjon has explored for the past 20 years: robotic moment, machinic life, technological dependency, post and transhumanism, emulation of nature, artificial general intelligence, participation. The second half of the paper examines ecological collapse with a selection of recent and historical studies. The psychological impact of different communication and engagement strategies by activists, theorists and artists is evaluated, concluding with Granjon’s current propositions for a [techno] art practice in the age of ecological collapse.

Paul Granjon has been making robots and other machines for exhibitions and performances since 1996. Granjon’s work became known for a deadpan combination of humour and serious questions about our relation with technology. His Sexed Robots were exhibited in the Welsh Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2005. He performed internationally with his disco dancing humanoid, a Robotic Gun and other live robots. He regularly delivers Wrekshops, public events where participants build new machines from electronic waste. Recent commissions include an installation that questions our expectations of a social robot (Manchester Art Gallery, 2016) an electric forest (Garage Moscow, 2017) and a microbe/robot collaboration (Azkuna Zentroa Bilbao, 2018). He teaches Fine-Art in Cardiff School of Art and Design, UK.


Davide BEVILACQUA, Christina GRUBER, Antonio ZINGARO. Unpacking Digital
Greenwashing – Is an organic Internet possible?

Aiming at discussing the ecological trend on the Internet, this presentation is based on an attempt to define how Digital Greenwashing can be understood as a practice in which Internet corporations combine the use of green computing with ecological-friendly marketing strategies. In the Internet, “greenness” is not only a label to apply to fields like food, mobility, clothing or architecture but to the Internet as well. For the tech industry, green is the color of a growing euphoria for zero emissions and sustainable computing that nevertheless rely on rhetorical practices belonging to the gray areas of marketing and self-representation. Currently, companies like Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Google began promoting their investments in 100% green data-centers as further reasons to trust in their business and sustain their activities. In addition to „classic“ Greenwashing practices, by claiming their support to the environmental motives, these companies do not only attempt to polish their image to enlarge profits. Through their very specific rhetoric, they push towards a re-centralization of the Internet, in which environmental activism is a synonym for „optimization“ of the infrastructure. This presentation will unpack the recent „environmentalist turn“ of digital capitalism in the framework of renewed Greenwashing practices.

Christina Gruber is an artist and freshwater ecologist living and working in Vienna, Austria. She works at the intersection of art and science; her work deals with societal phenomena that shape our world. These relate to the Anthropocene, a concept that describes human beings as the main force changing the earth’s surface. Gruber investigates the effects human activities have and had on the landscape and how they’ve shaped the earth’s surface, specifically focusing on water. In the last years, water is of special interest to her. She sees it as the element that all things on earth, including humans, have in common. It is the connector between stories of different places and layers, running through everything, from clouds to datacenters. http://www.christinagruber.net

Antonio Zingaro is a multimedia artist and internet hacktivist. His practice explores the hidden layers of the internet as well as the relationship between intimacy, sexuality and technology. After working as a filmmaker, he published R.T.F.M. (Read This Fucking Manual), a digital self-defense cross-media manual. He is currently a MA candidate at the University of Art & Design Linz. http://www.forzantonio.it

Davide Bevilacqua is an artist and curator working in the blurry area between media and contemporary art. His interest relies on the rethorics of the technological development and on the understanding of the art exhibition as an “interface”, a processual space for exchange. He is part of the artist collective qujOchÖ and s Since 2017 is curator in servus.at. www.davidebevilacqua.com

servus.at is a net culture initiative operating its own network infrastructure in Linz, Austria. servus.at deals with the central issues of the information society and offers open source internet services for art and cultural producers. Main goal of the association is to implement ideas of a “free society” in the daily practice of art and cultural production. www.servus.at


Teodora Sinziana FARTAN. Red Herrings and Green Omens: Exploring the Urgency of Environmental Concerns Through Narrative Techniques

This paper aims to explore futuristic imaginaries through the lens of ecological urgency today, by employing the practice of “fictioning” together with narrative techniques, science fiction ideas and computation as methodologies within art practice. By assuming a geocosmological, nonhuman-centred perspective, an experiment in the creation of patchwork temporalities is generated, focused on the re-assembling of new worlds in the context of envisioning futures through speculative media – it proposes the notion of an uneven aftertime and attempts to showcase an experimental approach to exploring the symbolic weight of hallucinating future landscapes in the current backdrop of ecological uncertainty.

Teodora Sinziana Fartan is a new media artist and writer based in London. Her art practice investigates new modes of experience and human-machine interaction through the use of speculation and fictioning: constructing alternate imaginaries occupies a central position in her art-making process, alongside circuit bending, designing interactive objects and building custom software to make these come to life. Often drawing on science fiction, natural phenomena, literary techniques, ritual practices and futurology, Teodora’s work finds inspiration in a wide variety of sources in its attempt to make sense of our increasingly computational social, political, environmental and existential context.


Taller de CASQUERIA: Default Water

The proposal delves into how nature is provided with new materialities by contemporary ways
of describing the landscape, creating, at the intersection of the two, areas of opportunity.
Default Water arises from the study of a real news story article: In October 2010, a person
drowned in its car, falling inside a swamp in a region of southwestern Spain: ”…the route was ‘obsolete’, … the night was closed and the GPS device, whose cartographic base was not updated, led them along a road that had been (intentionally) flooded by a swamp for years.” This fateful event describes the journey of a body through an error (or glitch) caused by the
friction between nature and its representation. Map and territory are not coincident, and it’s
in this dissonance where the proposal lives. Cartography and landscape evolve at different
rates, where one is not always capable of assuming the changes of the other in time. But, what would have happened if this person had fallen into the water within this represented virtual environment? Could we suppose that person had survived? Google Earth, as a referential map, leads the representation of the planet. Water, in this context, loses its physical qualities, becoming a solid volume, a hard and continuous surface on which satellite images are projected.
Nature is not longer only a physical reality. Digitalization, included as a key actor in every
ecosystem, generates in between its components new interactions to be explored.

Taller de Casqueria is an artist and architecture collective led by Elena Fuertes, Ramón
Martínez, Álvaro Molins and Jorge Sobejano. Taller de Casquería’s work focuses on the
intersection between architecture and contemporary society. It’s research based experiments
and installations aim to find tools to be applied to space, city and society. Taller de Casquería’s recent work is guided by three main conceptual axes: New materiality, as the investigation of new materials, construction- and communication systems which lead to a new understanding of architecture and design, with a specifc interest in the so called “ready-mades” and industrialized materials. Dissemination, disclosure and an extense outreach of innovative processes or concepts, taking communication as a decisive aspect of design. New economic and social-media tendecies such as circular and shared economical impulses as guarantors of the system to come.