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FACT Re Write

Interactivity Group

All group sessions are free and everyone is welcome.

On 7 Nov 2019, 5 Dec 2019, 16 Jan 2020, 5 Feb 2020

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Part of the Autumn/Winter 2019 season

What role have women played in making and engaging with new technologies? Over the course of four sessions, join digital artist and academic Helena Geilinger in exploring active debates around the systems that we use and are used by, looking at artificial intelligence, female net artists, physical infrastructures of the internet and CGI.

Incorporating music, drawing, reading, watching and walking, these sessions provide a unique way to engage with ideas around gender and technology.

Each session will be themed around a topic with downloadable reading material available beforehand. If you are not able to read through the documents prior to the session, please do not worry. Everyone is welcome and we will read through the materials during each session, sharing knowledge with each other.

Session 1 - Artifical Intelligence

Thursday 7 November / 18:00 - 20:00

“Why assume that AI will default to good behaviour if we program it to be just like us?”

Artificial intelligence systems are being applied to many areas of human life – including education, health care, law, housing, and employment – influencing significant decisions that impact individuals, populations, and national agendas. These systems wield great power, yet few accountability measures are being put in place to ensure the safety of those who use and are used by them.

Looking at recent work from women artists and researchers, we will consider some of the social, political and cultural ramifications of AI. Through a series of activities – including discussion, drawing and listening – the session will provide a unique way to engage with ideas around gender and technology.

Further sessions will involve activities that provide avenues into thinking about CGI, female net artists and physical infrastructures of the internet.

Session 2 - Net Art

Thursday 5 December / 18:00 - 20:00

“The artist, even art itself, is fully immersed in networked culture and is no longer able to assume the position of an observer: everyone is a participant.”

Whether an artist chooses to interact with it or not, all art today has a relationship with the internet. From virtual exhibitions and online archives, to artworks that rely on digital platforms to facilitate engagement, technology is now an instrumental part of art experiences.

But what differentiates art that uses the aesthetic of the internet from art that takes the internet as its medium? How can we develop an understanding of networked culture that goes beyond materials and technology?

Beginning with definitions of various net-related mediums – and how they differ from one another - participants are invited to consider art’s relationship to the internet as one that is as challenging and complex as the social, cultural and political society it stems from.

Resources:

Net Art Anthology: Rhizome

WHAT IS NET ART? – Net.Specific

Session 3 - Physical Infrastructures of the Internet

Thursday 16 January / 18:00 - 20:00

‘The cloud doesn't just have a shadow, it has a footprint.’

The internet is not invisible. It is a physical infrastructure consisting of phone lines, fibre optics, satellites and vast warehouses filled with computers, which consume huge amounts of water and energy. It exists in a 550,000 mile long network of under sea cables and data centres that account for 3.5% of total global carbon emissions and one fifth of the planet’s electricity usage.

From cell towers to junction boxes, we are surrounded by evidence that the internet is not a mythic place where invisible waves make everything work. Terms such as ‘The Cloud’ deliberately create this sense of distance and of an ungraspable power.

This session intends to draw public attention to the infrastructures that govern our society, yet are intentionally kept opaque. In bringing awareness to how these systems operate, we can seek to understand them, and shift autonomy into the hands of those that use them.

Resources:

Networks of New York: An Illustrated Field Guide to Urban Internet Infrastructure (Image Key) - Ingrid Burrington

Session 4 - CGI & Deep Fakes

Wednesday 5 February / 18:00 - 20:00

‘Fakes don’t need to be flawless to have an impact.’

Advanced CGI software has irreversibly blurred the distinction between reality and simulation. Video content – the last ‘trusted’ media format – now joins static images and articles in the murky landscape of fake news. Democracy, privacy and truth all stand threatened by this development in AI capability.

While recent coverage on CGI trends has focused on the sinister political implications, such as deepfakes, this technology also has the capacity to deliver a great deal of good. In addition to practical applications in medical care, community engagement and cultural access, artists are now exploring new arenas of imagery and spaces for creativity.

Screening Alan Warburton’s Goodbye Uncanny Valley, followed by a group discussion, this session invites participants to consider how simulated environments might generate alternative visual languages and transnational forms of togetherness in the digital realm.

Resources:

Kadish Morris - ‘Why Artists Created a Mark Zuckerberg ‘Deepfake’’

Joanne McNeil ‘Glitches in the Matrix: Adventures in the CGI Wilderness’

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