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.