Unmanned, playing tolerance to reality

Unmanned, Molleindustria, unmanned_molleindustria.jpg







[short review for neural]

Molleindustria’ s games have traditionally aimed to put the player in a rather uncomfortable or unusual position. Previous games have asked users to run McDonald’s businesses, to hide church scandals in Italy, or to supervise child labour in Congo. The team of radical Italian game designers have launched their latest challenge: ‘Unmanned‘ invites you to become a UAV pilot and follow the character throughout his daily routine. Players attempt to not cut themselves shaving (and that’s the only ‘real’ blood you will see) and to be a good husband while talking on the phone; to try not to miss a moving living target via a radar at work and play first person shooting games with sons at home. Every time you succeed in your role different medals await you. But as with all Molleindustria’s games, this is not the point. Unmanned is not about checking or developing your skills and competencies but rather about realising your indifference and tolerance to an existing reality. The game will remind you of the Collateral Murder video, leaked by wikileaks two years ago and it will most likely freak you out. It will make you wonder about the sense of playing it in the first place. But that’s only because Unmanned shows the power video games have as a medium for addressing human sensibilities. Games are about choices, just like life itself. Imagine what happens when fiction and real terror come so close.

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Data Bodies Networked Portraits

Critical reflections on today’s interconnected self

Fundacion Telefonica, Lima, Peru
As part of the MMcLuhan100 program
July 7 – August 28, 2011

We have been living in a networked world for 15 years now. Interconnected sets of nodes, as sociologist Manuel Castells described networks, seem to have progressively become the context of our everyday life, of our work, leisure and socialization. Our thoughts, interests and desires have moved to immaterial spaces of the digital sphere that have opened accordingly the way for new challenges, experiences and modes of being. While participating, communicating, sharing and collaborating in the digital social networks today, our identities are being shaped within them. Networks have become the new homes, the new environments of intimacy and belonging, which are located nowhere and everywhere at the same time. Dispersed and interweaved, with no here or there, no inside or outside, the reality of the networks became the new common reality the connected world shares. Heterogeneous, polyphonic and multicultural, this   charming networked condition is based on two fundamental elements: on the growing wealth of data being provided, controlled and exchanged on one hand and on the multitude of users contributing this data on the other.

The exhibition Data Bodies – Networked Portraits aims to explore the ways identities are being formed, captured and portrayed in the networked sphere. Two notions complementary to one another, the data body and the networked portrait, become the reference for this examination as they can present the important duality and ambiguity existing behind every online persona being built nowadays: for every feature assigned or attributed to us, a trace is left behind. Our profile pictures, our interests, our friends as well as the places we bookmark, the photos and videos we upload or vote for, are all part of databases forming today’s networks. In this context, the networked portraits are formed by us, the users. They represent how we want to be seen and how we see the others, revealing our need to appear interesting, popular and attractive towards a community of users. The data bodies, on the other side, are a direct outcome of the informational society. They are based on mechanisms of aggregation and control. They are fed by the manifestations of our networked self, by marks of our communication, of our transactions and movements.  The networked portrait and the data body are thus two different sides of the same coin, of images of a self shaped by us and of descriptions formed by systems of data. But do we realize their particularities? Do we really recognize ourselves through them and how secure do we feel in this duality?

Aiming to situate and highlight the particular aspects and features of today’s connected realm, the exhibition proposes a reading of the networked sphere  through a rich variety of portraits, as seen through the artists’ eyes. Through data aggregations, visualizations, hacks or re-appropriations, “personas” are being revealed and are critically approached. Group portraits, networked heroes, maps of digital identities, as well as violations and identity thefts seem to all address a central question: What does our digital identity at the end depend on? On ourselves, on communities of users, or on informational systems of control? The artists as an antenna of society, as Marshall Mcluhan once said, may be the ones – once again – that can offer new modes of perception for the environments proposed by media and technology; this time by emphasizing and reclaiming the elements that mostly become the objects of controversy and power, our data.

Daphne Dragona

Participating Artists: Christopher Baker (US), Heath Bunting (UK), Paolo Cirio & Alessandro Ludovico (Italy), Gabriela Florez del Poso (Peru), Matthias Fritsch (Germany), Aaron Koblin & Daniel Massey (US), Men In Grey, MIT Sociable Media Group with Alex Dragulescu, Aaron Zinman, Fernanda Viegas & Scott Golder (USA) and Jon Rafman (Canada)


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Codes of Disobedience & Dysfunctionality

The National Museum of Contemporary Art in the framework of its collaboration with the University Research Institute of Applied Communication (U.R.I.A.C) of the University of Athens presents from the 5th until the 25th of March 2011 the project Codes of Disobedience & Dysfunctionality realised by British artist Martin Rieser and an interdisciplinary team of students, researchers and artists. The project will be based on the outcome of a preceding workshop, organised by the University Research Institute of Applied Communication of the University of Athens. The workshop is part of the action “Global Gateway” and of the EU funded program “Civil Society Dialogue – Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture” in which U.R.I.A.C participates.

“Codes of Disobedience & Dysfunctionality” proposes a different trail and a new narrative for the city of Athens and its contemporary transformations. Inspired by the posters and the graffiti of the city and taking advantage of the possibilities given by mobile communication technologies (GPS, QR codes etc) and the internet, Martin Rieser and the workshop team will aim to connect the urban surroundings of Athens to opinions and statements of its inhabitants regarding the challenges imposed by the current social, political, and financial circumstances. Anger, disobedience, opposition, dysfunctionality. The features of the contemporary metropolis in the midst of a period of crisis will be the main focus of the project. Can the new possibilities offered by technology really capture the needs and the atmosphere of a city like Athens? Can they embrace life itself?

From the 5th of March onwards, in the premises of the National Museum of Contemporary Art, on the internet and at the centre of the city (in the streets of Skoufa – Navarinou – Tzavela), the museum visitors and inhabitants of Athens, will be invited to follow the project’s trail and discover the spots where parts of the narrative are hidden. Special QR codes will be placed in selected locations of the city and by scanning them with a mobile phone, access to the audiovisual material created during the workshop will be given. Combining elements of installation art, urban intervention, gaming and performance, “Codes of Disobedience & Disfunctionality” reflects Rieser’s long term practice on art and technology.

Professor Martin Rieser is joint research Professor between the Institute of Creative Technologies and the Faculty of Art and Design at De Montfort University.  He has always been fascinated by the possibility of creating fragmentary narrative structures and interactive stories using new technology. As an artist and researcher this has led him into his current explorations using mobile and locative technologies and large-scale interactive video experiences. Professor Rieser’s art practice in mobile and internet art and interactive narrative installations have been seen around the world including China, Australia , USA  and Greece, France, Austria, and Italy.


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Mapping the Commons, Athens

Mapping the Commons, Athens is a collective study, a contemporary reading and an open cartography of Athens and its special dynamic. In a difficult financial period in which the contemporary metropolis seems restless and vulnerable, the Hackitectura collective in collaboration with an interdisciplinary group of young researchers and students seeked for, examined and documented the points of the city where a new form of common wealth can be located. Seeing beyond the “public” and the “private”, new types of commons were mapped which were based on collectivity, sociability, open and free access, gift economy or peer to peer practices. During a seven day workshop a different image of the city was thus formed full of promises, but yet fluid and unstable. Although the new common resources and places that were located within the urban environment are outcomes of the knowledge and the ideas that the multitude of the metropolis possesses and shares, at the same time it was noted that the new common wealth can not easily escape cases of exploitation and appropriation. Contradictions and questions occurred while examining and processing the material of the workshop: How can the commons be secured? Why do they sometimes serve the interests of a new “creative” city? What role do they really play in times of a global financial crisis? How can the citizens re-appropriate the commons, and form through them a new type of resistance? The online collaborative map that was created and the audiovisual material accompanying it, aims through representative examples and case studies to comment on such issues, making clear the need for a re-invention of a new common experience and memory, which can only be born through collaboration and sharing


After the completion of the workshop which took place from the 1st until the 8th of December, the following outcomes are presented in the Project Room of the museum and on the internet:

– The Open Research Map of the workshop including categorized entries for the commons located in the city of Athens.


– The non interactive AutoMap which presents video case studies on the commons selected, modified, or directed by the participants for the project Mapping the Commons, Athens.


– The blog which presents in detail the concept, the structure and the program of the workshop as well as contributions, updates, photos and videos that capture its process.


Workshop Team:

Concept, workshop and project development:

José Pérez de Lama de Lama & Pablo de Soto (Hackitectura) in collaboration with Jaime Díez and Carla Boserman

With the support of cartografiaciudadana.net

Curated by: Daphne Dragona

Participants: Efi Avrami, Elena Antonopoulou, Mariana Bisti, Maya Bontzou, Dimitris Delinikolas, Eleni Giannari, Aliki Gkika, Anastasia Gravani, Alexis Hatzigianis, Dimitris Hatzopoulos, Melina Flippou, Zaharias Ioannidis, Angela Kouveli, Veroniki Korakidou, Daphne Lada, Olga Lafazani, Natalie Michailidou, Yiannis Orfanos, Stratis Papastratis, Maria Dimitra Papoulia, Yorgos Pasisis, Carolin Philipp, Maria Pitsiladi, Manos Saratsis, Athina Staurides, Iouliani Theona, Eleana Tsoukia, Sonia Tzimopoulou, Antonis Tzortzis, Dimitris Psychogios

Scientific Advisors: Nelli Kabouri (Political Sciences, Panteion University), Dimitris Papalexopoulos (Architect, Associate Professor NTUA), Dimitris Parsanoglou (Sociologist, Panteion University), Dimitris Charitos (Assistant Professor, Department of Communication and Mass Media, University of Athens)

The work Mapping the Commons, Athens by Hackitectura was  realized in the framework of the series EMST Commissions 2010 at the Project Room of the museum, with the kind support of Bombay Sapphire gin.

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Τhe 9 eyes of Google

Sorry. This post in not available in english.

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Global Safari (Powered by Google), the formation of the world’s image

From Neural

Images are meant to render the world accessible and imaginable to man Villem Flusser wrote in his well-known book “Towards a Philosophy of Photography”  back in 1983 where he analysed the transition from prehistoric, traditional images to posthistorical, technical ones. No longer formed by authors, but by anyone who operates a camera, an apparatus, technical images have been opening windows to our contemporary world. Images meant to be maps for the world, became screens according to Flusser and one thus learnt to trust these images and the situations captured as extensions of one’s eye.

But, how were technical images to change our perceiving and imagining of the world when they would become maps, screens and interfaces at the same time? How was our view of the globe to be modified when a geographic information program would take over the role of the apparatus operator? Global Safari by artists Wellington Cancado and Renata Marquez is an exploration and a deep dive into one of the most popular contemporary apparatuses, Google Earth.

A navigation film shot within the program itself takes us to a journey in 10 different cities around the world in 12 minutes. Starting from Chicago, ending in Tokyo, moving vertically and horizontally, zooming in and out in city locations as Google Earth allows, the film is at the same time a visual narration and a  documentation of a performative mapping. It is a safari of images, where the artists discover the possibilities and the limits given for seeing places and moments in the internet reality of our times.

“What is the meaning of making a photographic safari without a camera in the streets chasing the capture of the decisive moment?” the artists ask while remembering the magic and unique moments saved in time by photographers like Henri Cartier Bresson[i]. What do the satellites, aircrafts and cars of Google really haunt and capture? There is no author, no specific photographer deciding for the images forming the world within Google Earth; there is instead an automatic trustworthy process of capturing images as well as a matrix of user generated images related and attached to it.  In this frame, where Google programs seem like the outmost sovereignty of Flusser’s automata for their imagery, Global Safari seeks for situations and moments that entail intimacy within them. Passengers at the streets, people playing tennis photographed by chance and appearing as the closest zoom in a city life through Google are being re-captured by the artists. Their moments are being re- froze on purpose and the presence of the eye taking the picture returns, questioning a new authorship on a found photo through a program.

Global Safari is a project on the changes on the formation of the world’s image, its influence by the continuous advance of technology as well as on the demolition of the value of scale. The project reminds us of “Powers of Ten” (1968/1977), a film by Charles and Ray Eames which if watched today  seems like an omen of  Google Earth. The camera in Eames’ film also moves steadily far back and then forth, zooming in and out, with the aim to show the relative size of things. From the human scale of a man lying at a park, to the image of the globe, “Powers of Ten” like Global Safari was a film about our desire and capacity to imagine the world. Cancado and Marquez referring directly to Eames’ film wish to show as they say how the possibilities for this imaginary world journey changed in the era of googols. While the technologies of Google have made a journey to the world possible for anybody with a computer and an internet connection, at the same time Google earth territories follow a new form of scale and pose new questions around what the artists call Myopia Index. “The scale of cloudiness varies in the different territories captured; resolution changes from centers to peripheries.” How is this defined? Which geopolitical mechanisms finally influence our view on the world today? Why is the world accessible but filtered?

In the networked era, the roles of photographers, cartographers and explorers interweave but can they/we influence what we see? Maybe we are still in the need of the critical awakening and approach that Flusser was discussing. Global Safari’s artists take such a stance, one that implies a need of critical attitude towards digital culture itself, that questions the liberation we are faced with when navigating within virtual geospatial environments. A call for restructuring, rethinking while being involved is what today we are in need for.

“Freedom equals playing against the apparatus”.

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