How to Talk with your Computer?

kritički okidačiCritical Triggers at Aksioma, Ljubljana (photo: Janez Janša)

Critical Triggers is an exhibition by Linz-based Spanish artists César Escudero Andaluz and Martín Nadal, that focuses on rethinking the relationship and perception of human-machine interaction (HCI) through speculative – and critical – art and design. It does so by exploring the multifaceted implications of interfaces, networked practices, new digital materiality and underlying algorithms, in order to understand and reflect the production of new aesthetics after, or in, the so-called digital revolution.
 
The exhibition will open on Thursday, September 19th at 8 pm, and will remain on view until October 4th, working days from 5 to 8 pm. If you wish to arrange another time of your visit, feel free to contact us by e-mail, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

One day after the opening, the artist will hold Bitcoin of Things (BoT) workshop, giving you the opportunity to build your own playful bitcoin miner!

 

 

Traditionally, critical art practices developed artworks laying emphasis on uncovering problems hidden behind the user’s gaze. In 1936, Walter Benjamin argued that artists need to “enter into debate” with the apparatus instead of thinking that they are in possession of an apparatus that in reality possesses them.

According to Wikipedia, interface is a shared boundary across which two or more separate components of a computer system exchange information. The exchange can be between software, computer hardware, peripheral devices, humans, and combinations of these. Some computer hardware devices, such as a touchscreen, can both send and receive data through the interface, while others such as a mouse or microphone may only provide an interface to send data to a given system.

Exhibited works in the show criticise interfaces, including prints of modified desktops, old calculator machine hacked to be used as a worst Bitcoin miner ever, moving figures representing public personas whose operation depends on these people being alive, and small robots designed to complicate the relationship between systems.

 

How do artefacts and interfaces affect our perceptions and change us? What are the social implications of invisible practices that cloud the way people and businesses are labelled and treated? How can we understand and describe the effects of interfaces and algorithms on society, economy and human relations? What kind of society will derive from this apparatus?

The exhibition’s selected artworks pose these relevant questions as they critique our current interfaces and their cultural, economical, political, social and environmental implications.

 

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

César Escudero Andaluz is an artist and researcher focused on Human-Computer Interaction, interface criticism, digital culture and its social and political effects. His work spans image-making, sculpture, videogame, installation, networked culture, IoT, robotics, media archaeology. Since 2011, he is a researcher at the Kunstuniversität Linz in the Interface Culture LAB. His artworks have been shown at international electronic-art events, museums, galleries and conferences including the Ars Electronica Center (AT), ZKM (DE), ISMAR2015 (JP), WRO2015 (PL), Transnumeriques (FR), Hangar.org (ES), KIKK (BE), Rome Media Art Festival (IT) and ADAF (GR).

Martín Nadal is an artist/developer based in Linz and studying Interface Cultures at the Kunstuniversität Linz. In recent years, he has collaborated in a variety of projects dealing with cryptocurrencies, blockchain, IoT, etc., and taught several art- and technology-related workshops. His works have been shown at Visualizar 11, Medialab Prado in Madrid, the Ars Electronica festival and the Art Meets Radical Openness Festival in Linz, Settimana della Scienza in Genoa and at the  IAMAS – Institute of Advanced Media Arts and Sciences in Ogaki-shi.

BitterCoin / Martín Nadal, Cesar Escudero AndaluzPhoto: tom mesic / Ars Electronica (Flickr)

 

Exhibited works:

File_Món is a series of images by César Escuder Andaluz generated on the computer desktop through the distribution of icons and files arranged over images, which are downloaded from the internet and set as wallpaper. The computer screen is used as a canvas for a critical collage. It appraises the potential of creating new images on the computer without using any image authoring software.

 

Death of Things (DoT) is a series of moving figures by Martín Nadal representing public personas whose operation depends on these people being alive.

Each of these figures has one embedded microprocessor and the ability to connect to the internet. When the system detects that a character has died, the figure will stop moving permanently. A connection between the ‘life’ of the object and the person’s life is established.

 

A joint project by Nadal and Escuder, BITTERCOIN – The worst miner ever is an old calculator machine hacked to be used as a miner validating the pending bitcoin transactions in the blockchain. Bittercoin combines Internet of Things (IoT), media archaeology and economics. It works as the most basic computer, increasing the time needed to produce bitcoins to almost an eternity. The operations are displayed on the calculator screen and printed afterward.

For the duration of its exhibition period, it seeks to produce money insistently and using an economic system wholly different from the traditional art market. Paper accumulates around the machine making visible the amount of calculation required, as well as, the natural resources expended in the process, often covering the whole room and the calculator itself. Bittercoin talks about the effort and the working time expended that is conditioned by technological devices. Bittercoin is a fully functional miner that connects to blockchain. Although it is very unlikely, in the event of successfully mining a block, the nonce would be sent back to the server, entering the corresponding bitcoins of the reward to our bitcoin Wallet.

 

A flag symbolizes both belonging and exclusion, it marks property and draws a line between nationalities. Martin Nadal uses this symbolism to point out political problems in Europe. With Salvapatrias the artist makes the recurring nationalism movement of Europe visible from a different perspective. In the first stage of his work, he deals with Spanish nationalism, which became more acute in response to Catalonia’s demand for independence. 

The artist shows pictures of demonstrations in which protesting people hold flags in their hands. Contrasted with the same picture, the same picture content with the difference of claimed flags. With the help of artificial intelligence, image areas are exchanged, thus also transferring the image content into a different context.

 

Interfight by César Escudero Andaluz is a series of physical NETbots, (datapolluters) designed to complicate the relationship between systems. They provide wrong information for tracking website location, fighting against data brokers, design homogenization and GUI standards. Interfight becomes especially interesting when it behaves freely through the tablet operating system. It acts as an intruder: clicking, opening and closing applications, taking decisions, collapsing social networks, typing random comments and posting them in your name.

It works by taking the human body capacitance as input, through conductive material, and interacts with another graphical interface on capacitive surfaces like touch-screens. The contact between both interfaces, cause a physical reaction (gravity, friction, vibration). They are a paradoxical method to emphasize the presence of the interfaces in our lives.

 

TAPEBOOK by Cesar Escudero Andaluz is an exercise in media archaeology. It involves the conversion of data which are extracted from social networks into audio documents. They are recorded on cassettes. “Tapebook” takes the information directly from the GUI, alters the rhizomatic (root-likes) structure of the hypertext and converts it into linear sequence of sounds.  The user is able to select and listen to recordings made from the text of philosophers, artists and writers who talk about media art in their profiles.

 

F.U.C.K.- ID. Free Universal Cut Kit for Internet Dissidence by Cesar Escudero Andaluz is an autonomous cutting device powered by marine currents. A diver takes several minutes to attach the screws that tie the device to the cable. Once attached, the spring on the back press the saw through the cutting surface. The vane located in the upper part makes the necessary resistance to drive the pendulum that supports the saw. In an estimated time of weeks the gentle movement of the sea will cut a 60mm thick cable.

 

Bitcoin Traces by Martin Nadal is an exploration about the construction of value. Exploiting the blockchain transparency visualices the whole path from a bitcoin creation to a specific transaction, resulting in an abstract radial composition. The generated abstraction is more than merely technical, tells the story of the money, when it has been created and how many transactions has passed through.

 

 

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