A series of lectures on technology and the spirit world / Une série de conférences sur la technologie et le monde spirite
A Constructed World - Speaking to eels
A Constructed World began Explaining contemporary art to live eels in 2003, inviting art experts from across the world to explain their research to eels temporarily inhabiting museums and art centres. The live eels (Anguilla anguilla) have now, due to their dastardly decline, been exchanged for a speaking, robotic eel. Did we at some point, decide the image has duly replaced the-thing-itself? Has the image replaced logic in the same way logic exceeded and displaced rhetoric before it, if so what use are intellectuals? What is to be examined when everyone knows how to read the image in a lively often disingenuous way? In this performance of absence, where is speech coming from. What difference does it make who is speaking? Who really spoke? Bruno Latour says something like there may be a space that we could deal with as empirical but we would first need to understand what part is human. 'We put ourselves in a position to realize that it is ourselves and not reality that is responsible for what we know'. When talking to others, objects and other species are always near. Ready-to-hand. Richard Rorty opines that that getting authority over oneself means hearing 'your own statements as part of shared practice.'
This part of the seminar will take place over two days the first will be a lecture about how speech aggregates and ACW’s work and experience talking to eels, the second will be a group workshop to consider, what that group proposes, the voice of the eel might be and how an actual voice might be produced.
A Constructed World work with actions and methodologies that bring attention to diverse modes of artistic practice. They are well known fortheir lengthy performances which include up to twenty performers presenting speech, conversation, philosophic al texts, music and singing, incorporating high levels of specialisation and not-knowing as a shared space. In their ongoing project, Explaining contemporary art to live eels, they invite art specialists to speak to live eels that are later released back into the water. These projects accumulate a research concerned with transmission and reception, satisfaction-without-delay.
Nicolas Giret - What songbirds teach us
Almost half of the bird species on Earth are songbirds. The diversity of songbird species implies a huge diversity of songs. The tit warbles, the sparrow chirps, the blackbird whistles. Common to gardens as well as rainforests, songbirds fill up the soundscape and have intrigued humans over the ages. Only since the mid-twentieth century, and its technical advances, have songbirds and their singing behavior been investigated. The songs of songbirds are socially learned by imitation. An individual, usually a juvenile, memorizes the song of a model, generally of an adult, before practicing its own song. Learning by songbirds is thus similar to speech and language acquisition in humans. It is a rarity within the animal kingdom, explaining why songbirds are now widely studied. The domains in which research is conducted on songbirds includes not merely thier behavioral aspects (such as function and use of songs, recognition amongst individuals) but also neurobiological aspects (what neuronal mechanisms are involved in song learning, its perception or its production?). During my presentation, we will discover various research projects and specific examples, with the aim of better understanding what and how information is exchanged not only between individuals while they are singing but also between neurons which ground the singing behavior.
Nicolas Giret is a researcher at the CNRS, based at the Neuroscience Paris Saclay Institute in Orsay. He first studied the cognitive abilities of parrots in the Laboratoire d’Ethologie et Cognition Comparées at the Paris Ouest University, mainly focusing on their vocal communication systems (2005-2009). He then moved to Zürich, to study systemic neuroscience at the Institute of Neuroinformatics, investigating the neuronal correlates of imitative vocal behavior (2010-2013). Studying songbirds, he demonstrated the existence of a population of neurons displaying mirror-like neuronal activity in a cortical-like brain area, i.e. similar patterns of activity when a bird sings or passively hears its own song (2014). Recently, together with his new collaborators at the Neuroscience Paris Saclay Institute, he has shown that the neuronal responses in auditory areas of songbirds are modulated by the presence and the sex of the surrounding individuals (2015-2016). Nicolas Giret is currently working on the mechanisms involved in the emergence of cerebral mirror neurons in songbirds.
Marie Lechner - Bots
Bots are our old network friends, present in IRC chats, on-line games, and on the web. "The first indigenous species of cyberspace", according to Wired journalist Andrew Leonard. They proliferate, are more and more complex, and cause as many problems as they try to resolve. Whether they operate in the background or demand our attention, they have colonized an incredible variety of environments. They represent the armed wing of our data society, increasingly more efficient, to such a point that certain voices sound the alarm of the rise of a vast inhuman machine on auto-pilot.
We will retrace the history and try to outline a taxinomy of these "narrow artificial intelligences". From Eliza, the grandmother of all chatterbots to the silent bot army of Wikipedia, from bot wars in IRC networks to Twitterbots employed by the Mexican government to silence opposition, from seductive bimbots of online dating sites to high-frequency trading bots, from criminal botnets to artistic bot projects.
Marie Lechner is a french journalist, she writes extensively about digital art and culture. She has worked for the newspaper Libération and as free lancer for Arte Creative,Magazine des cultures digitales (MCD), Le Monde. She is also a researcher in media archeology at PAMAL (Preservation and Art - Media Archaelogy Lab), at the Ecole supérieure des arts in Avignon. She has been organising conferences on web folklore at the Gaîté Lyrique and created a "Supertalk" called "Le Wi-Fi - de l'Antiquité à nos jours". She co-curated the following shows - Speed Show number 5 (Open internet) in Paris (2011), the Cacophony Society section in the Evil Clowns exhibition at the center for media art Hartware MedienKunstVerein in Dortmund (2014), and collaborated in Welcome to the future, at the Centre for digital cultures and technology (IMAL) in Brussels (2015). She is currently working as the french curator for the european project Streaming Egos, on digital identities, launched by the Goethe Institut.
Nicolas Maigret - The Experimenter Effect
For his talk, Nicolas Maigret will present his current research which attemps to shed light on various invisible or discreet aspects of digital machines. Using a mediumistic or pseudo-scientific point of view, he will address a set of experiences, from the laying bare the inner workings of these machines to the invocation of a technical afterlife, which seems to emanate from all machinery that has reached a certain level of technical complexity.
During this dérive he will present – An attentiveness to binary code, revealing the structure of different encodings, languages and contents – Different ways of listening to the Internet's background noise, revealing the materiality and dynamics unique to the Internet – Recording the activity of the “global brain” using the model of seismic activity – Listening to topographic relief maps made by NASA – A set-up for intercepting exchanges on peer-to-peer networks. He will also talk about more recent projects convoking the specters of the military heritage inherent to the most ordinary technical systems.
Nicolas Maigret exposes the internal workings of media, through an exploration of their dysfunctions, limitations or failure thresholds which he develops sensory and immersive audio visual experiences. As a curator, he initiated the disnovation.net research, a critique of the innovation propaganda. After completing studies in intermedia art, Maigret joined the LocusSonus lab in Aix France, where he explored networks as a creative tool. He teaches at Parsons Paris and cofounded the Art of Failure collective in 2006.
Emmanuel Guez - Machines d'immortalité_s
In Friedrich Kittler’s book, Grammophon, Film, Typewriter (1986), he demonstrates how, during the 19th century, the imaginary of analogical (new) media (from literature to advertisements extolling the powers of machines) coalesced around the idea of communication with the afterlife and the netherworld. At the same time, the century also saw the birth of a number of sciences and practices, such as psychoanalysis, telepathy or parapsychology, which sought to attain the outer limits of human communication. Did the transformations of inscriptive technologies directly affect the way in which Western thought conceptualized the afterlife and immortality? Today, how are digital machines and their respective imaginaries reconfiguring these notions, and what transformations have they brought on the idea of the work of art and the the artist's signature?
Emmanuel Guez is an artist and philosopher. He directs the research laboratory PAMAL (Preservation – Archaeology – Media Art Lab) at l'Ecole Supérieure d'Art d'Avignon.
Pierre Cassou-Noguès - Gödel, Wiener, la cybernétique et les fantômes
Norbert Wiener, one of the greatest mathematiciens of the 20th century, is also the founder of Cybernetics, which investigated the social and human benefits and risks linked to the emergence of automation and computerisation. His archives, largely unpublished, revealed strange detective stories (among which , a short story based on the murder of a scientist), in which Wiener develops his analyses and poses a fundamental question – How does one continues scientific research when it led to the atomic bomb ?
This approach positions Cybernetics in the interval between science and fiction, and explores the ways in which its now familiar and problematic creatures, robots and cyborgs, shed light on its social and political underpinnings.
Pierre Cassou-Noguès, philosopher and professor at the Université Paris 8, is the author of a number of essays which blend philosophy, literature and sciences including .