Brett Wallace (2018)

Critic: Brett Wallace

From warehouse robots to autonomous cars, advancements in robotics and artificial intelligence enter our news feeds everyday. It seems every company is building some form of AI, real or imagined, into its strategy and products. Spectacular Hollywood narratives envision impending doomsday scenarios in which we encounter the singularity or a superintelligence turned against humanity.

The hype surrounding human productivity and singularity through AI, however, is a distraction from the impact that AI and robotics are already having for workers today. A recent report conducted by the McKinsey Global Institute last November found that about half of the work activities people perform could be automated with the current machine-learning algorithms underpinning AI. The workforce is unprepared and untrained for the AI world. Furthermore, those algorithms underpinning AI are critically flawed. Challenges such as these are contributing to marginalization and inequality for workers.

When it comes to the algorithms themselves, Kate Crawford, co-founder of AI Now, noted at a recent MoMA R&D Salon that if you do a search for CEO in any search engine, “you’ll find a lot of images of white men in suits.”

“Depending on which way the algorithm is blowing that day," Crawford continued, "the first woman that you’ll see is, quite often, CEO Barbie.” 

Here's another example of an at-best ill-designed algorithm: When MIT professor Joy Buolamwini was researching facial detection software, she noticed a problem: the software didn't detect her face. The algorithm had not been programmed to recognize a variety of skin tones. The “coded gaze,” as Buolamwini calls it, was biased toward the predominantly white images fed to the algorithm.

Bias in coding is downstream from the systemic bias in our academic, government, and corporate institutions. Depending on who gets to make the rules, AI could sustain or exacerbate these systematic biases.  This is certainly a question to pose to the large four or five technology firms that are leading the development race of AI.

Read the full editorial on NEW INC STREAM.

 

Lisa Park (2018)

Contributor: Lindsay Howard
Source: Lisa Park

"Can we use biometric sensors, such as heart rate and brain wave sensors, to create intimate environments and experiences that excavate hidden emotional states such as vulnerability, intimacy, and confrontation? While our digital, globalized world allows us to always stay connected, what is lost when our most meaningful relationships are mediated through screens?"

These are, among others, the questions artist Lisa Park poses, both in her practice as well as in her forthcoming group exhibition at Mana Contemporary, "Only Human." Her contribution to the show, which opens Sunday, April 29, is the culmination of her year-long residency at Nokia Bell Labs. Throughout the course of her tenure, Park collaborated with in-house engineers to advance her ideas and workshop her prototypes.

The following interview was conducted on Monday, February 26, 2018. From the day-to-day minutiae of working with the engineers, to imagining the future of human communication, the conversation that follows aims to enrich the dialogue surrounding the intersection of artistic production and technological innovation, and serves to document the unprecedented possibilities that fusions between these fields are able to yield.

Read the full interview on NEW INC STREAM.

 

Sougwen Chung (2018)

Contributor: Lindsay Howard
Source: Sougwen Chung

“Are we at the onset of a new, collaborative imagination of radical new inter-subjectivities? What does it mean to collaborate with the spaces we inhabit, the tools we build? Where does “I” end and “we” begin?”

These are, among others, the questions artist Sougwen Chung poses, both in her practice as well as in her forthcoming group exhibition at Mana Contemporary, "Only Human." Her contribution to the show, which opens Sunday, April 29, is the culmination of her year-long residency at Nokia Bell Labs. Throughout the course of her tenure, Chung collaborated with in-house engineers to advance her ideas and workshop her prototypes.

The following interview was conducted on Friday, March 23, 2018. From the day-to-day minutiae of working with the engineers, to imagining the future of human communication, the conversation that follows aims to enrich the dialogue surrounding the intersection of artistic production and technological innovation, and serves to document the unprecedented possibilities that fusions between these fields are able to yield.

Read the full interview on NEW INC STREAM.

 

Someplace Studio (2018)

Reporter: Annie Armstrong
Sources: Carmen Hermo, Paddy Johnson, Bika Rebek

Turns out museum technology isn't as sophisticated as appearances would lead us to believe. High-tech capabilities aside, art museums and galleries are, like the rest of us, neither immune to nor exempt from the headaches of low-tech glitches—any number of which can and do prevent artworks from being experienced as intended.

Take, for example, a headset that breaks down on a regular basis, or GIF-based pieces that seem all but impossible to troubleshoot. That installation running on custom-built programming? Refuses to cooperate. Behind the scenes, the administrative programs that support curators, archivists, and other museum workers rarely fare any better, the vast majority of which are outdated, difficult to manage, and equally temperamental. 

This pain point is where Bika Rebek is taking aim. A former exhibition designer for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rebek, along with a team of three other designers, is working to streamline both backend and frontend museum technologies with a project called "Tools For Show." The full scope of its applications is still forthcoming, but the software is purportedly able to tackle common museum inefficiencies.

At its core, Tools For Show is a software that facilitates proposals completely online by using 3D-models that visualize a collection. With that information centralized in one place, curators and designers gain access to a single organized vision, allowing for functions like maintenance and foresight. What's more, curators will have a unique opportunity to learn together as technological hiccups surface, starting from the backend and into the galleries.

“The reason it's so difficult and expensive for many museums to integrate technology in their shows is because all the processes leading up to it are essentially analog,” Rebek told us in a recent interview. “I think it will soon be necessary for museums to start building their own digital experiences and engagement tools. Maybe twenty years ago, museums didn’t think they needed a digital department, or ten years ago they thought they [didn't] need a social media manager. Now, these jobs seem indispensable.”

Read the full feature on NEW INC STREAM.

 

DIS.ART (2018)

Reporter: Annie Armstrong
Source: Lauren Boyle

Since DIS hit the scene in 2010, the collective of four—comprised of Lauren Boyle, Solomon Chase, David Toro, and Marco Roso—has developed an electrifying reputation for transformation. Tracing its lineage, the group initially debuted as an interactive digital magazine critiquing culture from a "horizontal" framework; then, as DISimages, they adopted a mischievous take on stock images. In the physical realm, the group launched DISown, a pop-up shop peddling items that ranged from a tech-fit shirt with philosopher Slavoj Zizek on it, to a folding chair designed to “maximize intern productivity."

In its latest form, DIS has morphed into something of a video production house, calling on the likes of Mackenzie Wark, Aria Dean, and Casey Jane Ellison to build out an online television channel streaming under dis.art. But unlike Netflix or Hulu, the videos on offer are far cries from your usual programming. The point, after all, as co-founder Lauren Boyle told us in a recent email interview, is "to de-categorize and recognize the productive messiness and necessary hybridity that shapes today." 

"While more and more people learn to read each day, the world gets closer to the post-literate," Boyle elaborated. "Videos, podcasts, audiobooks, and learning channels are growing rapidly, indicating we want more knowledge—we just want it delivered differently. All this tells us what we already knew: That the tools have changed."

The channel, which debuted Sunday, January 13, only exists online, and is billed as an "edutainment" platform delivering fresh content on a weekly basis. In our interview below, we dive into the collaborative nature of their new venture, unexpected roadbumps they've encountered so far, and what edutainment programming looks like in the “post-literate" age.

Read the full interview on NEW INC STREAM.

 

 

A1BAZAAR (2017)

Reporters: Evan BerkAdriana Herrera-Perhamus
Sources: Anuva Kalawar, Jasmine Vasandani (A1BAZAAR)

With north of one billion residents living on the Indian subcontinent alone—joined by some twenty-four million South Asians from across the globe—artists Anuva Kalawar and Jasmine Vasandani decidedly belong to the world's largest diaspora. But where the networks that connect these populations are concerned, viable routes to authentic representation, meaningful engagement, and critical support remain staggeringly limited for artists and creatives-at-large.

Acknowledging this deficit, the New York-based team set out to build a platform that lets South Asian creatives and entrepreneurs share their work on their own terms. In a recent interview for NEW INC, Kalawar said that the resulting project, A1BAZAAR, has been in "psychic development" for some time. "Living in diaspora is what defines both of our existences," Kalawar said. "We navigate the world through a lens of migration and cultural experimentation and re-negotiation.” 

In their search for inspiration, the pair said they turned to the marketplaces that are all but ubiquitous to South Asia and their communities in diaspora. "They are multi-sensory and defined by fluid categories," Vasandani explained. "'Bazaars,' from the Persian word 'bāzār,' are places where you not only exchange goods and services, but also experiences. Bazaars are sites where culture is created, remixed, and dispersed.” In short, the project takes its cue from (and emulates) the logic of the bazaar.

Related: Afripedia: Our Mission Is To Unlock Potential African Talent

Artists and inventors of all practices are invited to create accounts and engage with fellow users in an international ecosystem, where work is presented, exchanged, and supported in kind. According to Vasandani, the pair conducted "user-centered" research to ensure that the platform supports their community-first approach. "Of course, A1 is something that we know will make it to market because we’re creating it with our community in mind,” Kalawar noted.

Vasandani and Kalawar describe the project as serving dual purposes: First, to offer South Asian creatives a public forum designed by and for them; and second, to open up the dialogue, which they hope will complicate and change the prevailing (and often times harmful) popular narratives that describe South Asian experiences.

With a soft-launch around the bend in January, along with a series of programs throughout the year, NEW INC invited A1BAZAAR to discuss their work in deeper detail. From the premium they place on community, to their future ambitions, read up on the project in our interview below.

Read the full interview on NEW INC STREAM.

 

Noa Raviv (2017)

Reporter: Annie Armstrong
Source: Noa Raviv

Noa Raviv is perhaps best-known as the early adopter of 3D printing to do 3D printing in fashion well. Over the last three years alone, Raviv has prompted the likes of VogueVICE, and Forbes to tout her as one of the fashion industry's brightest up-and-comers—a claim that intensified, in beats, surrounding her involvement in The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s record-breaking exhibition "Manus x Machina."

But these days, Raviv tells us she's turning her attention to sculpture and installation; and in the case of an artist noted for letting her work descend into chaos, the resulting expierments are taking elaborate and curious turns.

“As an artist, letting go is often the hardest thing,” Raviv said in a recent email interview. The comment was made in reference to her newest series of digital sketches, A Matter of Form. At first glance, the works in question—a loose assemblage of abstract sculptures—appear algorithmic: a collection of gridded objects floating like satellites through empty space. Look a little closer, and the forms appear to have a lace-like haze over them, as though mildew or rust is coating their bodies.

Raviv sent her digital sketches to a 3D-printing lab in Toronto, where the objects were printed without her present to supervise or control the process. The subsequent wireframes were then put through a crystallization process, coating the objects in artificial crystals that simulate the chemical phenomenon.

The abstract sketches in A Matter of Form blend the controlled and the disordered, the hand-made and the computer-made, the antiquaited and the futuristic. We spoke with the artist on why she thinks the series fits into the post-digital art narrative.

Read the full interview on NEW INC STREAM.

 

Stephanie Dinkins (2017)

Critic: Stephanie Dinkins

Artificial intelligence has already arrived, infiltrating our civic and personal lives, and quietly reshaping the ways we live, love, work, and interact. AI’s ever-growing computational potential, powered by wellsprings of near-limitless data, has resulted in significant turning points over the course of the technology’s development.

It's reasonable to declare that humans and learning machines are on the precipice of a new epoch. (Skeptics of the claim are invited to remember that the iPhone has only been around since 2007.) The imminent wave of artificially-intelligent carshomesmedical interventions, and the like is set to alter human life all over again.

Rather than fear the impending AI revolution, we would be wiser to get involved—even those among us who can’t code, design, or even comprehend AI's prismatic complexities. The importance of transparency in the creation and use of algorithmic systems—particularly those employed to make life-altering decisions (like the length of jail sentences, or the depth and breadth of medical care)—cannot be understated. We must be aware of the decisions artificially-intelligent systems are making, understand how they are making them, and realistically anticipate the ramifications these decisions will yield.

That bias and discrimination can be and already is encoded in AI systems is no secret. One need only recall a scandalous episode from 2015, in which a Google photo search tagged an image of two black friends as 'gorillas.' By most published accounts, the search engine's classification was concluded to be unintentional. Deliberate or not, the incident points to a disturbing and systemic problem that persists today. Algorithms, like the ones used in the photo search, were created by a largely homogeneous pool of programmers applying a limited dataset that did not represent or describe the diversity of the human family.

Read the full editorial on NEW INC STREAM.

 

Taeyoon Choi (2017)

Critic: Taeyoon Choi

I've been telling my friends that NEW INC, the New Museum's incubator for art, design, and technology, feels like a postgraduate program. Despite visiting numerous times as a mentor since it opened in 2014, it’s only recently, after participating as a resident in the 2016–2017 cohort, that I realized the depth of the program’s focus on education.

Since education and social justice advocacy are common threads for many of the members at NEW INC, I'd like to share what I learned at a remarkable gathering of alternative educators that happened a few months ago.

Last November, Brooklyn-based non-profit Pioneer Works hosted the first Alternative Art School Fair. Catherine Despont, the fair's lead organizer and co-director of education, invited me to present two of my pedagogic collaborations: School for Poetic Computation and Uncertainty School.

With fifty schools in attendance, many of which arrived from out of town or from overseas, the event featured information booths, lectures, and workshops along with stimulating conversations, provocations, and community-building moments.

Pioneer Works' giant gallery space was filled with an energy similar to an Art Book Fair, and featured an array of flags representing the participating organizations that were reminiscent of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. There, I met with practitioners in alternative education that inspired me to dig deeper.  

Read the full editorial on NEW INC STREAM.