July 23 - 26, 2019 • Pittsburgh, PA, USA
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#Install1: Installations: Birding the Future and The Cybernetics Library
Scholars will be present from 10 am to 1 pm to answer questions regarding these installations.
Birding the Future
1Bard College, United States of America; 2Independent Artist
Birding the Futureis an artwork that explores current extinction rates by specifically focusing on the warning abilities of birds as bioindicators of environmental change. The installation invites visitors to listen to endangered and extinct bird calls and to view visionary avian landscapes through stereographs, sculpture, and video.
Birds provide a unique window into the entanglements of our time. Unrestricted by human-imposed borders, approximately 5 billion birds migrate every year thereby linking cultures, countries, and ecologies and revealing issues collectively shared. It is also estimated that a third of all bird species will have disappeared by the end of this century. Declining bird populations in practically all habitat types signal profound changes over our entire planet, changes that affect our ecologically-bound cultural identities. Birding the Future poses three questions in response to this crisis: What does it mean that we can only see and hear extinct species through technology? What might happen as the messages of birds are increasingly being silenced? How can traditional ecological knowledge be combined with technological advances to surpass what any one way of knowing can offer?
Calls of endangered birds are extracted to create Morse code messages based upon tales, stories, and poetry in which birds speak to humans. These messages are combined with unmodified calls of extinct birds, which act as a memory of the past and underscore technological reproduction as the only means to hear certain species. Using a real-time control algorithm (Pd) the projected extinction rate is scaled to the duration of the exhibition by decreasing the density and diversity of bird calls.
A series of stereographs offer a loose narration through the soundscape. Popular from the mid-nineteenth century through the early twentieth century, the stereoscope has been chosen as the viewing instrument for its potential to heighten perceptual awareness and provide a historical link to human impact on the environment. The viewer’s gaze wanders back and forth between foreground and background, and by doing so continuously shifts one’s point of view within the frame. In this way the stereograph plays with the act of looking and the viewer is challenged to consider how the filters through which one looks then translate into ways knowledge is constructed. Composite photographs of real and imagined environments connect regional issues with a global perspective. On the back, textual analysis explores the complexities of our more-than-human world via poetry, data and other relevant habitat and behavioral information. To date there are six series: Queensland Australia, Arabian Peninsula, Norway, Mid-Atlantic USA, Frankfurt, and a series focused on laboratory birds.
For ACH 2019 we propose an interactive day-long installation that will include stereographs from each series and the sound installation described above. Birding the Future is highly adaptable and has been installed nationally and internationally in multiple types of configurations based upon particularities of the site. Artists will supply technical equipment and work with conference organizers to determine location.
To view artwork, please visit: https://www.birdingthefuture.net
Dependent upon space and interest, the following video could also be installed: https://vimeo.com/238204874
The Cybernetics Library: Revealing Systems of Exclusion
1Cybernetics Library; 2Avant.org; 3Princeton University Libraries; 4School for Poetic Computation; 5Prime Produce Apprenticeship Cooperative; 6Fordham University; 7Columbia University GSAPP
We propose a 4-day installation of a physical library collection, digital interface, and software simulation system. We are a research/practice collective that explores, examines, and critiques the history and legacy of cybernetic thought via the reciprocal embeddedness of techno-social systems and contemporary society. This installation’s intention is to examine and expose to users patterns of systemic bias latent within those systems and their use. The collection will be housed in custom-built, secure furniture and made accessible to all attendees of the conference.
Our collective is comprised of members from a diverse set of backgrounds and practices, including art, architecture, technology, publication, librarianship, gender studies, media/cultural studies, cooperatives, fabrication, design, simulation, queer studies, and more. We work on the project independent of institutional affiliations, but have had numerous successful collaborations, and were the organizers of an independent but highly successful conference, from which our ongoing project emerged.
From this outsider position, our project seeks to refigure and make more accessible the relationships between people, technologies, and society. The project has been manifested through activities such as community-oriented artistic installations, reading groups, workshops, and other public programs. The project also incorporates ongoing development of tools, platforms, and systems for enhancing, deepening, and extending engagement with the knowledge it organizes and to which it provides access. The project aspires to support its collaborators and users by serving as a connecting node for disparate communities that share intellectual or activist goals for exploring and advancing art, technology, and society.
The first version of the software simulation system used cataloging data to form associations between the usage histories of users of the library system, as well as linking content from works accessed during the initial conference to the topics presented by the speakers (in the context of a multi-layered visual representation). Another system, part of an installation at a program around the theme of "uncomputability", prompted users to participate in the construction of a collective poem by scanning in books from the collection which had meaningful associations for them. Another highly interactive implementation allowed users to engage their practices of sharing knowledge through metaphors of gardening: cultivation, care, attention, and community.
Our installations have been featured by The Queens Museum, The Distributed Web Summit by The Internet Archive, The School For Poetic Computation, Prime Produce, The Current Museum, vTaiwan, and Storefront for the Commons.
While the specific implementation of the installation for the ACH conference is still in preliminary stages of development, we are building on the themes of direct engagement, and collective, emergent explorations of structures of knowledge that can reveal hidden assumptions and biases latent in our approaches to technology and society. Based on our history of successful, memorable installations and collaborations, we are confident that this installation will contribute a valuable critical, conceptual, and technological resource the conference. We hope to produce an ecology for new collaborations, unexpected encounters, and deeper explorations of the themes and methods of the conference, and would be happy to be able to provide more detail soon.
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