ŠUMx disccusions @IFCA-Automated Ecologies

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A weekend programme of lectures, talks and discussions organised by ŠUM to accompany the 25th IFCA – International Festival of Computer Arts focused on entwinements of technology, ecology and capital.

12 & 13 October, Maribor, Slovenia

Locations: Vetrinjski dvor, Pristan/Staninvest

Talks by Louis Armand, Marko Bauer, Vít Bohal, Dustin Breitling, Peli Grietzer, Max Hampshire, Mark Horvath, Adam Lovasz, Andrej Tomažin, Bogna M. Konior, Primož Krašovec, Lukáš Likavčan, Domen Ograjenšek, Paul Seidler, Maks Valenčič, Tadej Vindiš. Lecture performance by Agustina Andreoletti. Concert by drone emoji.



*14:30 Project presentations as part of IFCA-Automated Ecologies exhibition @ Pristan/Staninvest

  • Selfish Machines / Tadej Vindiš

The complexity of intelligent computing systems extends far beyond those who develop them. The inner workings of such systems, where the decision-making process of self-learning systems may be concealed in human-incomprehensible data, can often only be understood by specialists. In his ongoing practice-based research into Selfish Machines, Vindiš proposes to turn attention to the byproduct of the superorganism in question; the logics that exist at the intersections and disconnects between biological, mechanical and machine learning systems, which can lead us to a more intuitive understanding of artificial intelligence. Through a series of experiments Vindiš attempts to observe and expose the operational structure of intelligent systems in the absence of human-set goals, encouraging the systems to preference their operational features over the efficiency of a real-world application, producing autonomous alien artefacts rather than statistically meaningful outcomes.

  • sprawl.systems / Paul Seidler, Max Hampshire, Frida Ortgies-Tonn, Johannes Wilke

sprawl.systems is a gamified exercise in the machinations of non-human capital. It is based upon John Horton Conway’s Game of Life (1970), a zero-player game determined by its initial state. This cellular automaton, requiring no human interaction, serves as a universal Turing machine which determines its own proof-oriented state. The emergent and generative behaviour of a particular Game cannot be predetermined without simulating the exact starting conditions of the game itself. sprawl.systems utilizes a Game Of Life style interface, presenting to the viewer artefacts of generative market development whilst simultaneously expanding upon Charles Stross’ thesis of corporations as Slow AI. Whilst structures and patterns emerge that are recognisable as such to the viewer, the debris corporate entities leave behind is thoroughly asemic in nature. Although pareidolia grants an advantage in the natural world, in the market environment it merely leads to more confusion as humans fall behind the threshold of being able to compute the market’s next state before it has already arrived. The emerging non-linear economy, although still bound to human consumption, appears as a “world-without-us”.

16:00 ŠUMx discussion#1 @ Vetrinjski dvor

#automation #economy #aliencapital #consumption #autonomous systems

  • Primož Krašovec: Automated Consumption / talk

The most common objection to Alien Capital is that capital may be able to operate autonomously and automate production, but that manufactured goods – in order for production to continue – still have to be bought by someone and because the buying is still done by people and we are doing it “manually”, capital is not really autonomous.
The simplest answer would be that people’s everyday consumption is marginal/negligible in comparison with the trading done by capital within itself (mainly trading with financial instruments) but the (potential) automation of consumption nonetheless presents an interesting theoretical question that can be developed in two directions: 1) With algorithmic advertising that works on the level of affect (which is already an automated level of human activity), consumption is already largely automated; and 2) from the perspective of capital (which is indifferent to human needs), consumption is only a form of communication between individual production units – if there were a more effective form of communication than market relations, capital could exit the market and thus also consumption.

Discussion#1 with Primož, Paul, Max and Tadej, moderated by Maks Valenčič

17:30 ŠUMx discussion#2 @ Vetrinjski dvor

#AI #automation #intelligence #posthuman #acceleration #singularity #inhuman

  • Mark Horvath and Adam Lovasz: AI as Future-Present Posthuman Collectivity / talk

Henri Bergson recognized that it is the future which creates both past and present. Time is retroactive. What does this mean for the future of AI? In contemporary discourses, we often find an eschatological emphasis on the transformative potential of AI technologies. Rather than viewing AI and technological singularity as future potentialities, we argue that the past is always retroactively created by a future that was already here in the form of an absent presence. Following Peter Wolfendale’s recent suggestion, we argue that social intelligence was always artificial. The technological singularity was here all along in the form of self-accelerating collective intelligence systems such as language and culture. The technological refinement of machine learning only represents a further development of accelerationist tendencies several millennia in the making.

  • Peli Grietzer: Theory of Vibe / lecture

This talk presents a framework for conceptualizing Modernist and avant-garde works as “inhuman” cognitive-aesthetic structures that do not depend upon interpretation or intention. Drawing on neural network models of cognition, we describe a process whereby literary works create new knowledge by materially demonstrating information-theoretic truths about the living world in their own structure.

Discussion#2 moderated by Marko Bauer, Andrej Tomažin

19:00 ŠUMx discussion#3 @ Vetrinjski dvor

#collapse #patchwork #entropologies

  • Vít Bohal and Dustin Breitling (Diffractions Colletive): Catabolic Contingency Plan: Notes from Wyrdpatchworkshop / talk

In tandem with the IPCC 1.5 Special Degree Report, the recent shift in the conception of Patchwork opens new questions about how we might imagine the collapse/catastrophe scenarios, and how we adopt general preparational strategies that attempt to mitigate its effects. The recently-held series of Wordpatchworkshop (Punctum, Prague) brought together a number of speakers who dealt with just such themes and topics, and constituted a liminal patchwork of its own, with its own discrete dynamics and infrastructural preconditions. As Arran Crawford writes, “patchwork is a machinic evolutionary sorting process. Patches adapted to reality will thrive, patches not so adapted will be cut. In this sense patchwork formalises collapse and reconfigures it into a sign of systemic health.” How then does the contemporary notion of patchwork transmutate and respond to the coming catabolic and degraded post-sustainable landscape, and what are some of its implications for systemic praxis?

  • Louis Armand: ENTROPOLOGIES / talk

This talk will examine the principle of spontaneous synchronisation, probability & entropy in the “causation” of emergent complex systems, including socalled “life” systems, in disputation with the return within posthumanist discourse of latent dichotomisations of life and non-life, natural and artificial, worldly and alien, Anthropocene & post-Anthropocene, etc.

Discussion#3 moderated by Marko Bauer, Andrej Tomažin


21:00 drone emoji / concert @ Wetrinsky club


SUNDAY, 13.10

11:00 ŠUMx discussion#4 @ Vetrinjski dvor

#human – non-human interaction #post-apocalyptic class experience #political ecology and climate crisis #autonomy

  • Domen Ograjenšek: You Make It Hard to Have a Good Time / talk
    The talk will address the world-building of early 2000s pop music videos and the realities that they inform or have informed. “(…) Strangely enough, the world of Xtina’s Dirty covers a different altitude. The heights of the abandoned skyscrapers are substituted for underground basements that maze in a disorienting manner, leaving behind the once dedicated functions of the spaces they occupy. If the sauna-like furnishing of Britney’s environment still upholds the functionalist framework, it is only to accommodate the already existing micro-climate conditions – to help make sense of them; to make the rooms seem unbearable by design and thus frame the constant and unavoidable heat and moisture as a luxury or even decadence. Yet Xtina’s basement dwelling, dark, damp and flooded with the rising sea water, leaves behind even these last remnants of making sense. It is radically anarchic and representative of a different post-apocalyptic class experience.” /excerpt from the talk)
  • Lukáš Likavčan: Autonomy and Necessity / talk

This talk will elaborate on certain aspects of the thought of Brasilian scholar Denise Ferreira da Silva, regarding raciality and her concept of state of necessity, which is according to her a philosophical baseline for separation between white subjects and black bodies. In particular, according to da Silva, white subjectivity emerges out of its presumed exemption from this state of necessity, which might be otherwise labelled as natural necessity. Here, I’d like to track racial origins of environmental violence and climate collapse. From that point on, I will join this survey of raciality and state of necessity with questions of autonomy in planetary entanglement – an entanglement that can be described via Virilio’s notion of metabolic multitude, or ecological economics and degrowth movement emphasis on reading human political economy as material and energy metabolism. If we are elements of this multitude/metabolic continuum, then reconsidering of the energy expensive liberal notion of freedom might lead to deleting white exemptionalism and inserting human species-being back into a reconfigured state of necessity. However, space for a productive notion of autonomy as elaboration on and through existing limits imposed by natural necessities might be still possible even under such conditions.

  • Agustina Andreoletti: Sensing bodies beyond data collection / lecture performance

The lecture performance explores existing projects using various forms of motion capture and haptic sensors. Drawing on media studies and feminist theory, the presentation expands notions of virtual and physical bodies in their intra-action and suggests the inclusion of patterns of difference to give hints about the nature of sensing mechanisms, affective responses and the diffractive processes that come into being. How does the decision to sense produce affect? Which role does a particular kind of sensing agent play in our perception? How do the intrinsic characteristics of such an agent and its limitations influence the results?

Discussion#4 moderated by Maks Valenčič


18:00–20:00 @ Pristan/Staninvest

  • Bogna M. Konior: Post-Soviet Cyberfeminism: On Cybernetic Governance / lecture

During the presidential election of 2001, a decade after Poland became independent from the USSR, the cyberactivist collective CUKT (Central Bureau of Technical Culture) debuted civic electoral software, which included a virtual presidential candidate, a female-presenting avatar called Wiktoria Cukt. Running under the slogan, “politicians are redundant”, Wiktoria was “the perfect candidate for the information age because [she was] information.” The artists perceived her as no different than the simulacrum that breeds in all politics – “whomever we choose,” they said, “we will be choosing a Wiktoria Cukt.” On the one hand, Wiktoria speaks to the decentralised utopian discourse of early cyberspace, where the idea of anonymous, cybernetic democracy was at the height of its popularity in the “Western” progressive imagination, to which Poland was eager to claim its belonging. On the other, Wiktoria diverges from the Anglophone cyberfeminist canon, at the time focused on attacking the Big Daddy Mainframe through slime, blood and embodied hacking. As a political fiction of futurist femininity understood as a collaborative output of humans and machines, Wiktoria is instead interested in “objectivity, professionalism, standardisation, measurement, progress.” In this talk, I challenge the common understanding of cyberfeminist and post-Soviet frameworks as focused on identity and representation. I instead begin from two assumptions: that we do not yet know what women are and that time functions differently across the web. Drawing on the cyber/xenofeminist work of Sadie Plant, Amy Ireland, and Diann Bauer, among others, I read this cybernetic artefact as political fiction that undermines the viability of non-cybernetic governance and standard chronology.



Agustina Andreoletti is a curator and researcher from Buenos Aires, based in Cologne. In her practice she combines curatorial questions, political actions and strategies of mediation. Her research focuses on theories of globalization, infrastructures of knowledge, opaque narratives, alternative forms of cooperation in local, regional and transnational areas, affect, technology and biopolitics. http://www.agustinaandreoletti.com

Louis Armand is the author of Literate Technologies (2006), Videology (2015) and The Organ-Grinder’s Monkey: Culture after the Avantgarde (2013), among other books. He directs the Centre for Critical & Cultural Theory at Charles University in Prague. www.louis-armand.com


Marko Bauer is a writer.

Diffractions Collective has emerged as a platform for critical discussion on art and algorithm, and developed into a community which labours at the intersection of accelerationist philosophy, technology, politics, semiotic economy, and conflict. The collective brings together a number of Prague-based artists, writers, coders and thinkers, and after holding events at the Školská 28 gallery, in the spring of 2016 the Collective relocated their activities to the gallery Display. Recent projects include Reinventing Horizons (2016), Sinovation Ltd. (w/ BCAA systems, 2017), Viroxenologies_#VX (w/ BCAA systems, 2018) or the Wyrdpatchworkshop I-IV (2018 – 2019) hosted by Punctum Krásovka.

Peli Grietzer finished his PhD in mathematically informed literary theory at Harvard Comparative Literature and the HUJI Einstein Institute of Mathematics. His dissertation borrows mathematical forms from deep learning theory to model the ontology of “ambient” phenomena like moods, vibes, styles and “structures of feeling” and goes on to deductively derive something like Modernist poetic practice from this premise. He is an on and off contributor to the ambient/archival literature collective Gauss PDF and is working on a feature film with video artist Tzion Hazan. He tweets @peligrietzer

Mark Horvath is a philosopher and researcher who lives in Budapest. He is a co-founder of Absentology Collective, a postmodern and speculative realist research group based in Budapest. His research interests include postmodernism, virtuality, pessimism in philosophy, finitude and Baudrillard’s philosophy.

Max Hampshire is a researcher and artist based in Manchester and Berlin. As well as currently bootstrapping EXIT TECH studio Nascent, he is one of three co-founders of terra0 and has previously worked with the RIAT Institute for Future Cryptoeconomics and the Institute of Network Cultures. http://mxhmpshr.net/

Primož Krašovec is assistant professor at the Department of Sociology, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana, and a regular collaborator of Šum journal.

Lukáš Likavčan is a researcher and theorist, focusing on political ecology and philosophy of technology. He is a teacher at the Center for Audiovisual Studies FAMU, Prague, a collaborator of the Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design, Moscow, and a member of Display –Association for Research and Collective Practice, Prague.

Domen Ograjenšek is a writer, art critic and curator. He holds a degree in philosophy from the University of Ljubljana and is currently a PhD candidate at the Institute for Cultural Studies and Art Theory at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna.

Bogna Konior is a writer, a lecturer in new media and digital culture at the University of Amsterdam and a postdoctoral fellow in Interactive Media Arts at NYU Shanghai. She tweets @bognamk. More at www.bognamk.com.

Adam Lovasz is a Philosopher and social theorist whose interests include phenomenology, political theory, posthumanism and speculative realism. He is a co-founder of Absentology Collective.

Paul Seidler is an artist/researcher living and working in Berlin. Since 2013 he studied at the University of Arts where he also later worked as an academic researcher at the Design Research Lab. His projects and papers have been discussed and presented at Transmediale, CTM, Dutch Design Week, Ars Electronica, Moneylab, Wired and Forbes. http://plsdlr.net/

Andrej Tomažin is a writer, journalist and critic based in Ljubljana. The focus of his research is the cross-section of technology and art. He writes about literature, theory, film and the visual arts for magazines such as Kino!, ŠUM, Idiot, as well as others. He writes short stories and novels. He heads the monthly broadcast Otitis Media at Radio Študent, which explores new media, art, technology and software in connection with various philosophical deviations, most often in the form of interviews.

Maks Valenčič is a student of the Master’s program in communication studies and a member of the cultural editorial board of Radio Student, Ljubljana.

Tadej Vindiš is a London-based artist, curator, producer and lecturer on the crossroads between contemporary art, cultural studies, technology and media research, focusing on the field of machine vision – its cultural implications and disruption. In 2016, he finished his MA studies in Interactive Media: Critical Theory and Practice with distinction at Goldsmiths, University of London, under the mentorship of Graham Harwood and Luciana Parisi. He continued as a Visiting Researcher at Goldsmiths, where he develops Selfish Machines, a practice-based research project into artificial intelligence. http://www.tadejvindis.com/


ŠUMx programme is organized by Šum Journal (Društvo Galerija Boks) in coproduction with IFCA – International Festival of Computer Arts (MKC) and City of Women Festival.