Dear data miners, beloved eyes of the Cloud,
You used to read it on your cell phone. Mostly two-eyed, leashed to the Cloud, a phone in your palm “contains minerals and metals sourced from every continent”[i]. It is a small model of the globe itself. Your phone—a heterotopic space that lets you be at two or more space-times at the same time. As a mirror is (another heterotopic space), to use a well-known example. It’s just a surface, but also it’s a space where the reflection of your eyes meets your eyes.
However, your eyes aren’t yours anymore. Multiple concepts, stories of an eye, of eyes. “The eye is the most deceptive organ in the body.”[ii] An eye as a ball, bladder, testicle, as an art object, tool, telescope, GoPro camera, even a Kunsthalle (also as camera obscura); a sensor, sputnik, satellite, drone; an eye as a surveillance (killing) machine, or the Cloud itself, full of smaller clouds.
Maybe you are on a double-decker. You catch a Pokémon. Ok, you don’t. You install a mirror app. You take selfies of your make up, just to be sure you have a look. Or you are at some dark ecology meets left-occult chaos writing conference. Your eyes in a video stream, from the conference, searching for friendly eyes in the audience, likes on Facebook, friendly comments on YouTube. Or maybe you look for critical opinions. You demand a serious discussion. Your eyes meet. All of them.
Someone says “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the darkness at Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain. Time to die.”[iii]
Someone comments “Its NATO art, isn’t it?” The image collapses into an ironic laugh and the laugh breaks down into hybrid space.
The eyes, the gaze as the hybrid space. One eyelash may be stuck in a live broadcast from a cuckoo’s nest, with breaking news ticker from hot spots around the world, while another may be watching a YouTube video with artist Cécile B. Evans saying that “I just don’t believe in the word ‘virtual’” and that in today’s society, where drones are used for warfare and romantic relationships begin online, we can no longer distinguish between the so-called real and the virtual.[iv]
You take your Oculus Rift off. It’s Berlin, Art Academy, boring, you put Oculus back on, you put even more eyes on.
The stack of eyes, the stack of layers, another metaphor for the Cloud.
In his book “The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty” (MIT Press, 2016) Benjamin Bratton proposes that new different genres of computation—smart grids, cloud platforms, mobile apps, smart cities, the Internet of Things, automation—can be seen not as so many species evolving on their own, but as forming a coherent whole: an accidental mega-structure called “The Stack” that is both a computational apparatus and a new governing architecture. Discussing similar ideas and drawing a parallel between the Stack and the Cloud, artist and writer James Bridle concludes his recent article “Cloud Thinking” with the thought that “In place of computational thinking, we must respond with cloud thinking: an accounting of the world which reclaims the recognition and the agency of unknowing. Aetiology is a dead end. The Cloud, our world, is cloudy: it remains diffuse and forever diffusing; it refuses coherence. From our global civilisation and cultural history arises a technology of unknowing; the task of our century is to accommodate ourselves with the incoherence it reveals.”[v]
Here we met again, dear data miners. As eyes of the Cloud or the Stack are taking over the world, what about using this cloudy space as an exhibition space; what about accommodating us and the way we organise exhibitions “with the incoherence it reveals”?
“The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty,” Benjamin Bratton, MIT Press, 2016. [ii] “Electrons” The eye chews the apple, […] By Ruth Madievsky. [iii] Roy Batty (portrayed by Rutger Hauer) in the Ridley Scott film “Blade Runner”, 1982.
sends the brain
an image of the un-apple. Which is similar
to the way I throw my voice
like a Frisbee, like salt
over a shoulder, a birthday party
where someone’s brother
is grilling hot dogs, a little speed
in his blood,
some red balloons. The eye
is the most deceptive
organ in the body.
“The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty,” Benjamin Bratton, MIT Press, 2016.
The eye chews the apple,
By Ruth Madievsky.
[iii] Roy Batty (portrayed by Rutger Hauer) in the Ridley Scott film “Blade Runner”, 1982.
List of works:
1, 2, 3. Rūtenė Merkliopaitė. “Sygiz”, 2016. Oil on canvas 128 × 94 cm. A portrait of writer’s quill. / PrintScreen / “Greta”, 2015. Oil on canvas 131 × 101 cm. “Greta” is a portrait of Aki Ross, she is a rendered character from the ﬁrst photo-realistic computer-animated science ﬁction ﬁlm inspired by RPG game “Final Fantasy”.
4. Kah Bee Chow 圈. Tube, water, air, water pump, plastic container, laser cut acrylic stands, engraved acrylic coins. 2016. The title is the Chinese character 圈, which means, among other things, a circle, ring, loop, to encircle, enclose. As shown at Goya Curtain, Tokyo. 2016.
5. Thomas Geiger. “I carry a hand full of sand with me until the sand has disappeared completely.” 2016
6. Angelo Plessas, promo for “The Eternal Internet Brother/Sisterhood 5”, 2016
7. Pakui Hardware, “Soft Encounters”. Soft foam, backpack. 2017