Elizabeth SHORES. Looking In: Outer Space as a Metaphor of Possibility for Practitioners and Viewers of Art and Design

In this performative lecture, the author argues that the use of outer space as a metaphor for possibility enables practitioners and viewers of art and design to build social awareness and develop affective technologies for post-conflict resolution. In what ways have outer-space oriented art projects developed over the past twenty years and how can the creation of these new access points in visual culture promote critical discussion in a given public? Whose voices are represented? Rather than using cosmology and outer space science as a way to imagine the future of our species on another planet, assist outer space programs with visualizing or giving form to their projects, or creating work intended to captivate an audience, the analyzed metaphors offer unique methods of engaging with publics by investigating aspects of production, agency, and power, drawing connections between the search for interpersonal resonance and the struggle to find it within a neoliberal system. Concepts of otherness are examined in the context of how outer space is constructed on Earth, creating access points for people to reframe societal trauma and reward a public in order to promote the resistance of a mindset geared towards personal, as opposed to mutual, gain.

“My art practice uses multi-sited transnational methods of collaborative design to study how the language of empire in material culture is a catalyst for the funding of outer space exploration programs. Using data taken from aboard my weather balloon, I create Nano-sized sculptures on circulating currency by electron beam physical vapor deposition. I typically collaborate with artists, scientists and lawyers in a fast-paced praxis of call and response. This research has been published or presented at Arizona State University, New York University, School of Visual Arts, University of New England Armidale, Zayed University, and the University of New Mexico. My work can be found in the collections of the University of Iowa and Nevada Museum of Art.”


Tytus SZABELSKI. Post-digital Landscape. Matter and Metaphors

One of my main fields of interest are entangled relations between digital image or data and the material, physical space and landscape. It is not only the case of an aesthetic experience and the ways it can be mediated, but literal, material transformations that landscape and environment of our planet undergo in the age of mass digitalisation. The problem was perfectly described by a video artist Lisa Rave, who in a documentary piece Europium (2014), tells a story – rooting from the times of colonisation – of harmful extraction of rare earth elements. Without them, we could not have our contemporary colourful 4K LCD displays, nor a simple colour TV set from the 60’s.
Wandering through Google Street View, does anybody think of all the energy and water needed for powering and cooling those giant server farms, full of digitalised, satellite-captured pieces of Earth? From Rosi Braidotti’s post-humanism and Manuel DeLanda’s new materialism, Jussi Parikka’s geology of media to Benjamin Bratton’s electronic „stack”, consciousness of above mentioned facts is wide in contemporary theory. So it has always been for artists, what I would like to show and develop in this speech.

Tytus Szabelski – born in 1991, photographer and visual artist. Graduated journalism and social communication on Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Poland, and photography at the University of Art in Poznań, where he recently does his doctoral studies. He worked with Center of Contemporary Art in Toruń, Miłość Gallery in Toruń and ‘Krytyka Polityczna’ magazine (‘Political Critique’). Awarded with scholarship of the city of Toruń in culture (2012 and 2016). Finalist of Polish and International contests for best art master’s diploma work. Laureate of Konrad Pustoła memory scholarship for socially engaged photographer. Former editor of ‘Magenta’, an online magazine dedicated to contemporary photography, editor of ‘Postmedium’ art academic journal.


Anna TOKAREVA. Baba Yaga Myco Glitch

Unlike other, dutiful, female characters of Russian folklore, Baba Yaga is a powerful, anarchic witch. She lives alone in the woods; rejects household labour, repurposes the mortar and pestle for high-speed transportation, with broom as anti-tracking device; commands the undead; cannibalises. Baba Yaga is shape-shifting and gender-ambiguous, by turn gatekeeper, helper, or child eater. In her spirit, yeasty conspirators use bread, the sacred ‘staff of life,’ as a carrier for eco-hypnotism. A Russian conspiracy theory claims that industrially produced yeast bread is infected with a slowly destructive ‘killer yeast.’ It has been suggested that rye bread caused the Salem Witch Trials. The symptoms of the ‘cursed’ girls were akin to ergotism, caused by mycotoxic fungus that thrives on rye. Ergotism halted Peter the Great’s attack on the Ottoman Empire in 1722. Inspired by ergot distribution and the symbiotic mycorrhizal networks of our tree kin, Baba Yaga Myco Glitch seeks to disrupt patriarchal structures from Salem to Shanghai to Siberia. We colonise human microbiota. We misbehave in the kitchen. We harvest mind-altering wild yeasts, knead incantations into sourdough sensors to transmit kneading data to the network, bake Yagic sigils. Yagic Glitch Yeasts ferment toxic extractive ideology into visions of alternative futures.

Anna Tokareva (Rostov-na-Donu, 1988) adopts investigative and archival methodologies to explore entanglements between technoscience and contemporary mythologies. She is interested in the subtleties and fictions of post-Cold War politics, mystifying appearances, and weirding binary narratives. Her work has been exhibited in Auckland, Edinburgh, and Madrid. Her essay, “Nooscope: The Political Myth of Planetary Scale Computation,” will be published by the Digital Cultures Institute, NZ in early 2019.


Normunds KOZLOVS, Ilva SKULTE. Anti-entropic ideas of reforming the
Earthlings’ life by Russian cosmist Tsiolkovsky

Tsiolkovsky is well known as founder of rocket-science. But he had very radical ideas concerning the evolution of humanity and even life itself. Radical- even for the whole “Russian cosmism” movement- inspired by Fyodorov’s “Philosophy of Common Deed”. The present state of the cosmos indicates, by Tsiolkovsky, the triumph of creative “anti-entropic” forces of life and mind over equalizing entropic tendencies and over cosmic hinges of matter to absolute organizations, which would mean the end of the world. Tsiolkovsky was the first theorist for cosmic expansion of mankind. When the mankind, a cut so far left from animals, realizes the modest place on evolution’s ladder and the gap from intelligent life in space, it transforms the Earth and itself. There will be agriculturally mastered the entire terrestrial and oceanic territory, wild plants and the highest animals should be exterminated, used for industrial purposes, the thickness of the earth’s atmosphere, and in the future the earthly matter will turn into materials for cosmic colonies.
Thus, coming out of its cradle – the Earth, Mature Humanity (also the Kantian definition of Enlightenment as “a maturity”) will reach anti-entropy.

Normunds Kozlovs has philosophy and sociology study background at Latvia University as well as social work education praxis in higher school “Attīstība” and currently is lecturing at Riga Stradins University’s communication department as well as Liepaja University’s program for new media art. His academic interest is counter- culture ideology. Articles on dandyism, camp esthetics and steam punk are published by arterritory.com The papers in english and latvian are collected at the site: http://rsu-lv.academia.edu/NormundsKozlovs

Ilva Skulte is Associate Professor at Riga Stradins University and teacher of Liepaja New media art studies. Her main fields of interest are media in digital age and media literacy as well as new trends in contemporary literature and poetry.


Vygandas “Vegas” SIMBELIS. Interpretative Digitality

Interpretative Digitality is a concept about how the physical and digital worlds exist together. In relation to the Ungreen theme, it discusses what is digital and what is physical. Seeing the physical world as digital come from the understanding of various aspects of digitalisation, quantification, calculation. A few will be elaborated in this article. This article might include artworks of my personal artistic practice and research, however, it mostly be covering the explanation on the digital – physical divide. Some more text could be found in my PhD thesis.
“The digital”. To engage with the concept of the post digital, as a starting point we need a shared conceptual understanding of what we mean by “the digital” itself. Importantly, the term “digital” in its literal meaning does not in itself imply high-tech, or intangibility. Coming from the Greek word ‘digit’ (finger), it refers to values that are discrete, as when counting on fingers, compared to measuring e.g. size. This fundamental meaning does not require the manifestation to be driven by a computer or electrical power. The abacus for instance is an example of a pre-electronic digital counting device. On a similar note, the cardboard punched cards broadly used in the early days of computer science were nothing but physical representations of digital data. Or as phrased by Rydarowski et al. on artistic forms: ”There is a long tradition of painting, film, architecture, sculpture, and new media works that use analog equipment to produce discrete signals” (Rydarowski, Samanci, & Mazalek, 2008). There is a slight difference between going deeply into what digital means through reducing it to the fact that it builds on zeros and ones
(a reductionist account), versus recognizing it more broadly as what we typically mean by the “digital” – i.e. algorithms, data and the ability to traverse different hardware equipment, servers, sensors, actuators, IoT and so on – but most importantly having computation at the core. Another question is how the process of computation could be recognized as the digital and found in every stage of our lives, for example, in the Jacquard loom (Fernaeus, Jonsson, & Tholander, 2012). These relate to finding countable, discrete units in our environment and behavior. These accounts differ, but at the same time cause these perspectives of the same world to converge. In my work, I rely on more of the “everyday” notion of what we mean by digital technologies and materials – the everyday culturally-accepted definition rather than the strict reductionist account. That said,
my approach does not reject any of these perspectives, but the proposed interpretative digitality account is emphasized in my work. How we interact with our devices also reflects on the digital in sever- always. One way is through tangible interaction with, for example, our mobile phones, when we physically interact by shaking them. Another way is seeing the digital unit in every stage of our lives. The form of a mechanical calculator or any other similar device is both analog and digital, as digital is anything that contains countable units; it could be the fingers of one’s hand. Lund expresses it thus: “’Digital’ simply means that something is divided up into exactly countable units – countable with whatever system one uses, whether zeros and ones, decimal numbers, strokes on
a beer mat or the digits of one’s hand” (Cramer, 2015, p.19). As all these examples demonstrate, the physical and digital do not have a perfect divide. They arrive reciprocally and vanish somewhere in between “…‘digital’ information never exists in a perfect form, but instead is an idealised abstraction of physical matter which, by its material nature and the laws of physics, has chaotic properties and often ambiguous states” (Cramer, 2015, p.19).

Vygandas “Vegas” Šimbelis, artist name – Das Vegas (Lithuania/Sweden), is a contemporary (media) artist and (PhD) researcher. With degrees in art from various art academies, he has achieved Licentiate of Arts degree and a PhD at Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, Sweden. Having experience in fine art and design, Vegas examines new territories and conducts research questioning the role of art (and artist) in relation to our contemporary society and with its socio-political implications. Something is an overarching approach to Vegas work and it implies various significant artistic, scientific and technological resources. Decolonizing is the major theoretical and political framework of his work, in particular, in regard to technology with its failure processes, hacking, acceleration and disruption. Converging art and technology, eradicating the divisions between contemporary art and media arts, merging digital with analog, Vegas reflects the implications of the colonial exertion of rights and seeks for the humanization of technology. With a major focus and regard to the post-digital, the artist is particularly interested in harnessing the hacking for humanizing of technology in its contiguity with and of its situatedness in the real world. In the following, Vegas explores norm-critical perspectives, conceptual ecosystem and design ideas to increase the perceived humanization of technology and re-examine the societal, political, and cultural discourses. The unexpected context, unseen places and unexplored realms are of major importance to the Vegas exhibition approach. It is more of harnessing of hacking than a tradition of exhibiting. With internet sites’ and mobile app examples, usage of a tax system, or exhibitions on eBay.com the focus shifts toward the defamiliarised within the art settings. Or the occupy museums principle is applied to enter secret milieus in Being Background, the blockchain network extends Art_Value program, skyscraper building facade as a monitor display, or former nuclear-reactor and art-fair contexts both as site- and context-specific installations – this is the exposition proposal to perceive Vegas’ work. Vegas’ projects have been exhibited at more than 120 exhibitions from the start of his œuvre in 1996, including: MANIFESTA, Video_Brasil art festival, Istanbul Biennial, Tallinn Print Triennial, Barcelona Art Contemporary Festival, ClubTransmediale, FILE art festival, National Museum and Modern Museum in Stockholm, Contemporary Art Centre in Vilnius, INTRO art centre in Vilnius, Ctrl_Alt_Del Sound Art Festival, Piksel art festival in Bergen, etc. Research has been presented in practical work, talks and publications (and proceedings) at ISEA, SIG-CHI, SIG-GRAPH, ACE, RIXC, Renewable Futures, 4S and EASST, EVA conferences.