20190118

Visited the Oodi Central Library Public Art opening and saw works by Jenna Sutela, Tuomas A. Laitinen and Samir Bhowmik. The works were curated by Shannon Mattern and Jussi Parikka. The process was managed by the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York (Ilari Laamanen) and named Other Intelligence. Mattern and Parikka gave an well thought introduction to the curatorial process. They framed the library as an avant-garde public institution of knowledge distribution and gave a media-orientated introductions to the institutions history. The artists presented works which referred to artificial intelligences.

Sutela and Laitinen had very practical approaches to AIs and their artworks utilized machine learning and music generation algorithms. Bhowmik’s approach felt more advanced. His “Memory Machines” tour, performed together with the 00100 Ensemble, offered an analysis of the library as a culture-memory-factory.

Sutela explained that her piece is a fragment of an ongoing art-research process, in which she is investigating (among other things) the development of languages and exploring links between bacterial livelihoods and human-intelligences. She presented a unique artist-book titled “nimiia ïzinibimi” which was written using characters produced by a computer program. The book was available for the public to read and possibly for lend too which is very interesting (all public art should be distributed this way!). The characters for the writing were drawn by a machine, which based it’s designs on the movements of a branch of bacteria called Bacilli subtilis. The texts referred to a French medium Hélène Smith, who supposed had received messages from the planet Mars in the 1800s.

The concepts behind “nimiia ïzinibimi” are intriguing and the idea of using an artificial intelligence to fuse together the movements of bacteria (as seen on the plane of a petri-dish) and alphabet characters, for the purpose of presenting the uttering of a long-gone psychic-medium is inspiring! The characters looked like asemic writing.

Unfortunately the way the process was displayed at the library didn’t do justice to the complexity of the work. Visitors entering the library are introduced to it trough a short video, projected on the lobby wall. The video offered some hints to the thinking (texts were only in English, which felt rude). The projection was overcasted by a array of other media-displays and projections in the same space, which the library uses to announce it’s programming etc. Also using a binded-unique-artist-book to show the bacterial writings, felt offbeat in the Oodi context. Oodi as a the new central library, with its maker-space, emphasis on co-learning and event programming is not about books at all.

Tuomas A. Laitinen presented a “Swarm Chorus”, an ambient sound composition and a series of abstract videos, projected on a see-trough space divider. At the opening, three singers wandered the main lobby wearing beekeeper protective gear. They sang long vowels to wireless microphones and Laitinen effected their tones from his workstation. They also projected sounds using an ultrasonic speaker but I didn’t understand why. The work reminded me of surrealistic art. Both artworks felt like documentations or aestheticization of artificial intelligence driven processes but didn’t offer an engagement with the AIs themselves.

Bhowmik’s work fitted Mattern’s and Parikkas definitions of the library best. He organized a tour into the hidden territories of the library-culture-memory-factory. His work facilitated inquiries to the ecological sustainability of cultural institutions and the role automated systems play in knowledge production. Some parts of his approach felt very familiar from his dissertation: “Deep time of the Museum – The materiality of Media Infrastructures” from 2016 (mentioned earlier). During the tour we were introduced to automatic book sorting machines, temperature regulation systems, the backstage of movie projection halls, different service areas and the interior-and-exterior ceilings of the building.

Bhowmik paused the tour at key locations, were he made short introductions to the technologies present at the location or the 00100 Ensemble performed gestures and dances, which were illustrated and furthered Bhowmik reading of the site. The hands of the performers were painted blue, perhaps as a hint of the labor of the invisible hands which keep the library systems running. The actors visualized the cybernetic nature of library workers. As workers the tasks which constitute their work, are so fragmented and intertwined with mechanized automation processes, that their existence is reduced to a node of the institution-intelligence.

A walk or a tour is a great format for a performance, because in motion groups begin to make sense of themselves as an organization. Our group stretched into a think belt and which followed Bhowmik, like a fermented milk strain. People took their time to experience the site and thanks to Bhowmik presentation, we could witness how the library-culture-facture performed with us. We learned how the different building sensors read us and how the building changed its processes, according to the data it collected from us. We formed a temporary co-agency with the site. In some moments the actions of the 00100 Ensemble obscured the buildings own performances.

A fun coincidence took place in the temperature regulation room. A member of the 00100 Ensemble was reading a book at the corner of the room. Our group walked around the temperature regulation machine. I saw a worker adjusting the machine and printing a label using a Dymo Label-Priter. The label showed an abstract series of numbers and letters, which possibly refer to the service manual or are intended to be read by a scanner. The text and the act of writing a code, on the machine, with a machine felt like a small miracle. It felt very odd being cornered by an actor (faking reading), a worker writing code and a machine which was interpreting the temperature of the library and making adjustments to the heat regulators. Culture production, information production and heat production (or energy consumption) got intertwined in one view.

Bhowmik focus on the heat regulators felt very engaging thanks Dr Jiat-Hwee Chang presentation on the matter in the Imagining infrastructures podcast (2017), which looks at how the cooling systems of Singapore are linked to the cities colonial history. During the colonial era, building designs was westernized and traditional construction materials/technologies were abandoned. The local designs were well equipped in dealing with the heat but the interior temperatures of the westernized building had to be regulated using mechanical devices, which are depended on imported fossil-energy sources. Chang presented this is a prime show-case of the destructive nature of colonial thinking. It the case of Oodi the view to this process was reversed, as the primary function of the temperature regulation is to keep the space habitable by humans and to protect the books (by setting the humidity).

The last part of the tour was visit to the library ceiling, were we stood in the cold snow for a while. When we returned from the ceiling back inside, I had a flashback from the temperature regulation room. While returning inside, I imagined how our heat signatures would be identified by the temperature regulating machine-intelligence. The heat we had lost from our bodies was identified by the intelligence and it would make adjustment to the temperature of the building to compensate for the change. The walk made me capable to read my body as a mere composition of information (or heat), which needs infrastructure to sustain itself… Much like a book. Feeling cold as a part of an artwork was an interesting aesthetic experience (entropy?).

In a chat with the Oodi maker space staff (whom I befriended trough the Oodi Modular working group), I got a nice introduction to the new services the library is offering to it’s guests. I was told that libraries in Finland have been very influential in the establishment of the contemporary information society. Libraries provided the first public internet terminals, the first public access printers and copy-machines. From the staffs view, the 3d-printers, meeting rooms, media studios and soldering stations (which the second floor of the library is committed to) are a natural extension of this process. The staff made a joke: “Next year we’ll have DNA sequence CRISPR printers and the first the Peoples Artificial Intelligence”. I’m exited to see what kind of art will be developed by guests of the library.

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Visited Lau Nau: Wild/Captive at Blank Forms last weekend. Modular synth beats from multiple directions, blended with field recordings from the woods and organ-toned melodies. Many of the nature-sound-trips I’ve heard in the city (Bánh Mì Verlag/Control gigs) have been based on field recording too. They have underlined the differences of technological and natural soundscapes, moving from nature-like-sound towards machine-like-sounds (the narrative contrasts them and makes technological sounds feel disrupting). In Naukkarises’ piece the organ-toned melodies (from an accordion?) blended into nature sounds seamlessly. It was a tad romantic, but welcome. It felt hopeful.

Visited Storm King Art Center last Monday with the ISCP-crew. There were also people from other residents such as Eye Beam at the trip but unfortunately we didn’t have time to mingle (it was so cold outside). The endless display of gigantic rusty metal sculptures was depressing but there were some pretty vistas, fresh air and decent artworks on display too.

Mary Mattingly’s Along the Lines of Displacement: A Tropical Food Forest (2018) is a series of tropical trees planted to the cold New York terrain. The palm trees were intentionally displaced, as an absurd and uplifting response to global warming. They are destined to die during the winter, which makes the piece into a memento mori plant-life arrangement. Being non-native to New York I didn’t understand that the trees were unsuited to the climate (palm trees in New York pass my radar).

There was  a really nice video Wolf Nation (2018) by Alan Michelson on display inside the exhibition center. Michelson had found a remarkable stretch of footage from a disregarded wildlife film, which showed a pack of wolves observing their territory on top of a small hill for 10 minutes. They choreographed different kinds of collective arrangements, reacting to other inhabitants of the site and moved in an out the frame periodically. The wildlife film was found footage and Michelson had connected it with a soundtrack. The work referred to the New York Lenape people (Wolf Tribe).

Visited Remy Jungerman’s Based In exhibition at robert henry contemporary on Friday. I had no prior knowledge of his work and decoding its visual language took a while. Luckily Jungerman gave visitors short introduction to the works. As I understood the pieces were tools for identifying blind-spots that modern art and modernistic thinking has in relation to spirituality and otherness. The sculptures in the gallery felt like miniature models of modern cities or container ships. Each had a few iron-nails hammered into it. At first I thought that this was reference to the absence of materiality (in modern design) but the nails were possibly referring to religious practices in which nails are hammered into figurative sculptures as a sacrifice.

Participated in a Lorre-Mill uTone build workshop at Control yesterday. The uTone “uses CMOS logic, a resistor ladder, and a few other simple pieces to create audio forms. The scale inherent in this instrument is the undertone series, giving divisions of the main clock frequency”. Here is more about the design. We build our uTone units in four hours, hooked them together for a jam and chatted briefly about the topography of the circuit. I learned how to read resistor values from color codes a little better. Unfortunately the workshop was too short, we didn’t learn more about Will Schorre’s views on design and sounds (here is an interesting post on his website on prototyping). I would have also liked to learn more what the uTone is capable of. It has two inputs. I’m in the process of adding an 3,5mm TS Jack -> Banana Jack port/adapter to the device to integrate it with other gear.

We drafted a proposal with Ilari to have a publication on land- and environmental art conservation (Working title: Notes on Land and Environmental Art Conservation – Critical Approaches to Denes, Holt and Smithson) co-published by the Finnish Cultural Institute in New Yorks and the Fine Art Academy of Helsinki.

Synths and eurorack modules we proposed through the Oodi-modular initiative are currently being acquired by the library staff! We are on our way to a people’s-public-modular of Helsinki.

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Saw Adinkras perform at the Helsinki Day Kontula Mall festival. The band was called “The Kontula Electronic band” by accident. The gig offered a modular vaporwave vibe. The drunken crowds cheered the bass sounds. Passed the Oodi modular synthesizers to Viktor.

Partisipated in Bändi by Johannes Vartola and Mikko Niemistö (for Urb festival). Had a fun experience playing samples together with people I didn’t know from before. The tempo, soundscapes and composition of the gig were similar to my the Wavelings performance (for NPTurku).

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Jade Rose aka The Library (Modular) Girl has released her first album record on bandcamp. Some songs were composed using the Lawrence Public Library modular systemHer videos on youtube were an important reference for developing the Oodi modular proposal. My favourite song is Olivine (7min), here is a video of Rose recording it live at the library.

Fixed my Leatherman Wave (which broke a few years back because I forced the locking mechanism of a blade and a design error). I had to brute-force a 6mm (metre) bolt into a 16/64?? inch (imperial) hole. Succeed by grinding both the bolt and the hole with a file. The bolt is now ~5,9,mm and the hole ~15/64 inch. The size of the bolt&holes no longer work within any known measurement system… I’ll call this new system the “post-transatlantic system”. It’s the system of fitting metre size stuff into imperial stuff using brute force.

Ready Player One (2018) is a necessary movie for understanding the loop that visionaries of early globalisation have placed western lifestyles in. The movie is what the people who ended history have left us with. In the movie a group of avatars (who have money for blood) try to figure out the testament of a corporate overlord called Mr. Holliday (Who is compared to Steve Jobs). The movie manifests a Spielbergian fixation with word games: The avatars try to solve puzzles, discover truths within words from pop-culture references (which is used like kabbalah) and this determinism (that words have hidden meanings in them) makes the story very cynical. The movie is aware that its a game save from 1989, there is even a lead figure with a birthmark similar to Gorbachevs. Contemporary culture is a game save, every trail of thought that breaks the game – Returns us to the save. The movie helped me understand that history didn’t end in 1989. History starts in 1989! Majority of us learn about history before the collapse of communism trough digital recourses: This means that there is no history before victory. We are not stuck in the past, we are stuck in a future. #☭

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I can’t have the unofficial page which Facebook has autogenerated in my name removed using the Report an Impostor Account tool! The page is not recognised as a “Profile” so I can’t report it. The tool would have required me to send a scan of my ID or passport to them – Which I wouldn’t have done anyway. Having the page removed is complicated. I’d need a have a facebook account to communicate with their support center and to “reclaim the page”. They have ripped all of the content from my wikipedia entry, which is distributed using the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike license. This means that they have the right to use my face and the texts. I’m trying to report the page as a copyright infringement by claiming that they use my name without permission but I guess they are not legally obliged to remove it. My complaint number is “244899592919672”.

Got a response from fb:

A Community Page serves as the best collection of shared knowledge about a topic and is automatically generated based on what Facebook users are interested in. It is not intended to be the official presence of a brand, public figure or organization. Community Pages can be populated by content licensed from external sources.

[…] Under these circumstances, it’s unclear to us how the reported content, used in the manner depicted, would violate or infringe your legal rights.

If you continue to believe your rights are being infringed or violated, you may wish to seek legal guidance.

They have no intention of removing the site. Other people are struggling with similar issues. I guess this case is evidence that people can no longer decide if they want to serve big-data corporations – They can only decide how they serve them and how corporations portray them. #☭

Got a new reply:

A Community Page is automatically generated based on what Facebook users are interested in. It is not intended to be the official presence of a brand, public figure or organization.

If you object to the content on the reported Community Page, you may access the source of this information by visiting Wikipedia.

They want me to join wikipedia and change details of my the entry there or to join facebook and claim the page they’ve made in my name. I think the customer service personnel I’m negotiating with are bots. I’ve talked to Fleur and Gigi (these have to be fake names!). I wrote to them a reply:

Please understand that I’m not a public organisation, a brand or a public figure. I’m a human being, a person practising my craft to the best of my ability. I’ve been lucky to contribute to some public events and to give the occasional interview for our local news here in Finland but I’m not a public figure (as defined by wikipedia). Please Fleur, please remove the autogenerated page facebook has made in my name. I have no intention to join facebook and I don’t want the company to represent me using a Community Page.

Recovering from the Kontula Electronic, Oodi modular presentation. Kontula was fun but I was too tired to stay for the late night gigs.

Valentin Dikul remarkable power-gym-moves for the future.