The so-called Centennial Light has been burning for 113 years. It graces the ceiling of the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire station (in California), has its own live cam and is often cited as evidence for the existence of planned obsolescence in later-produced light bulbs. It also provides me with a fairly simple way to ease into the concept of 'disnovation'...

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The Livermore Centennial Light Bulb, at Disnovation Exhibition @ accès)s( Festival & Bel Ordinaire, 2014. Photo by Nicolas Maigret.

A few months ago, the festival accès)s( in Pau (France) invited the audience to take a critical look at the idea of a techno-driven progress, at a propaganda machine that promise that new 'advances' in information and communication technologies will solve our problems and fulfill the dreams we don't even know we had. All we need to do is update, upgrade and replace our devices.

The problem is that this quest for the new, this confusion between 'innovation' and 'progress', has been seeping into other areas of the public sphere: politics, economy, eduction and art. This global phenomenon has contributed to institute techno-sciences as the core of modern dogma and the consommation / innovation pair as the driving force for the economics.

This 'Disnovation' (a term coined by Gregory Chatonsky), this techno-capitalist innovation that feeds on our fear of obsolescence raises a series of questions:

Are the continuous flight towards novelty and the negation of preceding values a human obligation, an intuitive tendency, an end in itself, a salutary value? Is innovation the expression of an ideal whose purposes are dictated by mere economic and industrial choices? How can artists become tacit actors for the spreading and popularization of innovations? How does this context result as counter-relief in hijacked, critical, poetic, alternative practices?

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Nicolas Floc'h, Grand Troc Chili, 2008

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A performance by Yann Leguay at Disnovation Exhibition @ accès)s( Festival & Bel Ordinaire, 2014. Photo by Nicolas Maigret

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Julian Oliver, The Transparency Grenade at Disnovation Exhibition @ accès)s( Festival & Bel Ordinaire, 2014. Photo by Nicolas Maigret

The curators of accès)s(, artists Nicolas Maigret and Bertrand Grimault, invited artists and thinkers who question, comment on, fight or reveal this culture of disnovation. The festival was a breath of fresh air in my peregrination of media art events which often seem to celebrate far more than they challenge technology. The programme of exhibition, talks and performances Grimault and Maigret devised was by far one of the most exciting moments of the year 2015 for me. Sorry, i meant 2014. I am, as often, a bit behind schedule with my reviews.

I did blog about some of the works on show a few months ago but allow me to add a couple more key pieces in the exhibition:

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RYBN, The Algorithmic Trading Freak Show, 2014 at Disnovation Exhibition @ accès)s( Festival & Bel Ordinaire, 2014. Photo by Nicolas Maigret

RYBN.ORG has spent the past few years studying obsolete trading algorithms. These automated traders execute pre-programmed instructions based on forecasts that become obsolete as soon as conditions change (in times of crisis, for example.) Some traders actually believe they might have as much chance of getting it right if they based their operations on blindfolded monkeys playing darts.

RYBN.ORG dissected and analysed the mechanics of these algorithms. Then, they selected the wackiest and ogranised them into a kind of cabinet of curiosities.

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Nicolas Floc'h, Grand Troc Chili, 2008. View at Disnovation Exhibition @ accès)s( Festival & Bel Ordinaire, 2014. Photos by Nicolas Maigret

Nicolas Floc'h was showing a brilliant project called Grand Troc Chili. He invited people living in an underprivileged community in Chile to a 'workshop of desires' and asked them to use discarded material and craft the objects they most needed but couldn't afford to buy. The pieces were then exhibited the objects made and even offered for barter: anyone interested in buying the sculpture made during the workshop could trade it for the actual object, which was then given to its author.

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Disnovation Exhibition @ accès)s( Festival & Bel Ordinaire, 2014. Photo by Nicolas Maigret

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Clémence de la Tour du Pin, Computer store original, 2013 (Production accès)s( @ IFF inc). Photo by Nicolas Maigret

Clémence de la Tour du Pin worked with professional perfumers to capture the smell of «the brand new». Visitors of the show could take away a little sample of liquid that has the typical smell you detect as you enter a computer store.

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General view of the Disnovation exhibition. Photo by Nicolas Maigret

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Sloan Leblanc, Hoover contre Kaisui, 1997 at Disnovation Exhibition @ accès)s( Festival & Bel Ordinaire, 2014. Photo by Nicolas Maigret

Hoover contre Kaisui are two vacuum cleaners, one from a U.S. brand, the other French. They intermittently powered up and fought each other above the head of the visitors.


Julien Prévieux, Anomalies construites (extrait)

In his video Anomalies construites, Julien Prévieux highlights the tension hidden within Google Sketchup. The 3D modeling computer program allows users to create 3D buildings inside Google Earth. The software is free. Is building architectural or civil engineering structures a form of creative leisure? Or is it a camouflaged (albeit entertaining) way to work unpaid for the corporation?

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Melle Smets and researcher Joost van Onna in collaboration with the community of Suame Magazine, Set Up Shop, Turtle 1, 2013 at Disnovation Exhibition @ accès)s( Festival & Bel Ordinaire 2014. Photo by Nicolas Maigret

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Performance by Jon Satrom at Disnovation Exhibition @ accès)s( Festival & Bel Ordinaire, 2014. Photo by Nicolas Maigret

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James Bridle, DIY Drone Shadows

The 14th edition of the festival closed on November 16th, 2014. If you've missed it, you can still follow the research on the Disnovation tumblr.

Programme curated by Nicolas Maigret and Bertrand Grimault.

Previously: How to build an African concept car in 12 weeks, The Terminator Studies and Retail poisoning, a disruption of consumerism.
accès)s('s photos of the exhibition and of the talks and performances. My photos.

Sponsored by:





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Anthony Clair Wagner. Photo: Fanny Carinasdotter

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Umeå Skafferi / Umeå Pantry at Pilgatan 16 (photo)

It's almost 2015 and i still have to write reviews of a couple of festivals i've visited over the Autumn. The first one that was languishing in my draft is the very smart, very socially-engaged and exciting Survival Kit festival in Umeå, Sweden. The event explored the theme of local and global survival through the lenses of visual art, music, food, discussions and lectures.

How can we look at issues such as ecology, economy and human survival at large? And on a more personal level: how can I navigate as an individual in this new and complex world?

Wherever we look, there is a feeling how being disconnected, of living in the midst of uncertainties regarding our economic and political systems, social structures, and ecological future. The Survival Kit Festival looked at what can be done to regain some control. The artists and activists selected don't stop at denouncing what is wrong with society and the world at large, they also document or implement small, practical solutions that might ensure our survival. These experiments go from building a biodome with an aquaponic system for fish and vegetable cultivation to converting a parking lot into a collective garden. From proposing a new currencies for culture to inviting the public to a cup of chaga mushroom tea.

I had never been to Umea. It's a small city and it was pissing rain all along. Yet, i found that place amazing: strong leftie values, free wifi on public buses, a culture of veganism and cheerful cut-out figures greeting you at the entrance of supermarkets:

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Also i slept inside a prison cell. So what was not to love?

Here's a small selection of the works i discovered at the festival:

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Joost Conijn, Wood Car, 2002

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Joost Conijn, Wood Car, 2002

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Joost Conijn, Wood Car, 2002

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View of Joost Conijn video installation inside John Söderberg's caravan, at Verkligheten. Photo: Fanny Carinasdotter

In 2001 Joost Conijn spent the Summer riding a car he had built himself through Eastern European countries. The car is made out of wood, it runs on wood and because the world economically runs on oil, the artist wasn't going from petrol station to petrol station (like we normally would) but from rural area to rural area with no specific destination nor itinerary.

His objective was to use the plywood-clad vehicle as a ploy to generate unexpected situations and meetings across the road. The film of his expedition shows people in small villages guiding him to local saw-mills, offering him spare wood and inviting him to a picnic.

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John Söderberg at Verkligheten. Photo: Fanny Carinasdotter

Conijn's film is screened inside John Ola Söderberg's caravan. I really REALLY like that one, it is simply a caravan made out of a caravan.

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Siri Hermansen, Chernobyl Mon Amour, 2012 (video still)

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Siri Hermansen, Chernobyl Mon Amour, 2012 (video still)


Chernobyl Mon Amour, 2012 (Extracts)

Siri Hermansen's films shows what might emerge from complete despair and devastation. The festival was screening two videos that document the survival strategies developed by local communities and individuals who have chosen to live in Chernobyl and Detroit.

In Chernobyl Mon Amour, the artist follows two state-employed guides who take catastrophe tourists, journalists and scientists to the exclusion zone of Pripyat, a city built for the families of power plant workers and evacuated at the time of the disaster in 1986.

In the interview, they talk about their fondness of the area. One of them even describes how he believes that his body is now accustomed to the radioactivity and how, after five years in the zone, his body actually gets ill when he enters the normal world. They both stay longer and longer periods in Chernobyl, ignoring the breaks their doctors advise.

They add that if you look around, it appears as if the whole nature is thriving in this radioactive environment. More and more animals are moving into it and vegetation grows unrestrained.

To them the zone offers a unique situation of hope, freedom and possibility within the hardships of Ukrainian society, and they describe Chernobyl as their "paradise".

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Siri Hermansen, Land of Freedom, 2012

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Siri Hermansen at Verkligheten. Photo: Fanny Carinasdotter

In the other film shown in the gallery, Land of Freedom, Hermansen follows the members of The Yes Farm, an artistic/activist community that moved from San Francisco to Detroit where they repaired and settled in one of the city's many abandoned buildings. The members of the collective see Detroit as an opportunity to explore new ways to live a more sustainable and socially-conscious life, through farming, gardening and a return to skills that the Fordist economy made obsolete.

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Gunilla Bandolin, Bi installation at Verkligheten. Photo: Fanny Carinasdotter

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Gunilla Bandolin, Bi installation at Verkligheten. Photo: Fanny Carinasdotter

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Gunilla Bandolin, Bi installation at Verkligheten. Photo: Fanny Carinasdotter

If the earth was destroyed, Gunilla Bandolin would start building up the whole survival process with a bee-hive. Bee hives provide you with honey and pollen, the bees would pollinate the few plants that subsisted and new crops would grow. A beehive also produces surplus warmth, and thus cheap, retrievable energy.

It is a prototype like this, or the beginning of it, that I have tried to create in this exhibition. I want the bee-hives to be made in a transparent material and preferable place them in a shopping centre to remind people of the conditions of our existence. It is calculated that about 70% of what we have on our daily plates is dependent on pollinating insects.

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Kaspars Lielgalvis, Non-convertible culture currencies

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Kaspars Lielgalvis, Non-convertible Culture Currencies in Trailer Gallery, at Umeå University. Photo: Fanny Carinasdotter

Artist and art manager Kaspars Lielgalvis proposes the use of a new culture currencies as a possible solution to the situation of funding culture which has suffered greatly from the ongoing financial crisis.

This new medium of exchange, called Non-convertible Culture Currencies, would be used only in the cultural context. The first Culture currency - Dobžiks is already in use since March 2012 as a valid payment for entering events at the Totaldobže Art Center in Riga. There is a plan to create a worldwide network of those organizations that will accept Culture currencies and use Culture currencies as a payment for work which is done in cultural field and in most cases is paid too less.

Other works and images from the festival:

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Anthony Clair Wagner. Photo: Fanny Carinasdotter

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Anthony Clair Wagner. Photo: Fanny Carinasdotter

Isabelle Fremeaux, John Jordan and Kypros Kyprianou, Paths Through Utopias (trailer)

Isabelle Fremeaux, John Jordan and Kypros Kyprianou spent seven months on the road visiting eleven Utopian communities across Europe, documenting a parallel universe where money is worthless and private property has been abolished.

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Antti Laitinen at Verkligheten. Photo: Fanny Carinasdotter

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Lisa Busby. Photo: Fanny Carinasdotter

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Emma-Lina Ericson, I Still Have an Other-Ache at Kungsgatan 92. Photo: Fanny Carinasdotter

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Atsuko Otsuka's photo showing animals living in the "no-go zone" in Fukushima. Photo: Fanny Carinasdotter

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Erik Sjodin, installation with aquaponics system

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Erik Mikael Gudrunsson's work

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Chto Delat, The Tower

The festival, which ran in collaboration with Survival Kit 6 in Riga, was organised by Verkligheten, a non-commercial and artist-run gallery that explores various kinds of art expressions.

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Exhibition DocLab 2014. Photo by Nichon Glerum

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Exhibition DocLab 2014. Photo by Nichon Glerum

I was supposed to publish this post yesterday. Only i started exploring Serial, one of the works selected for the 2014 IDFA DocLab Award for Best Digital Storytelling and i couldn't stop myself, i went from one episode to another, talked about each of them with The Boyfriend and the whole afternoon flew by.

So here i am 24 hours late with the follow-up of my notes from the DocLab: Interactive Conference 2014, a day of talks about the way artists, film makers, designers and entrepreneurs are exploring digital behaviour and redefining the documentary genre in the digital age.

The DocLab talks took place at The Flemish Arts Centre De Brakke Grond and so did the exhibition. The nominees for the Best Digital Storytelling award were lined up in one room and the curated exhibition DocLab Expo: Immersive Reality was spread into the rest of the building.

I was ready to shun the The Virtual Reality Screening Room because i really, really, don't like the idea that i can be seen looking like this. Also i never regarded myself as a germaphobe but having half my face eaten up by a device that dozens of people have worn before me makes my skin crawl. I did it though. I wore the unhygienic headset. Because i'm brave and i believe in taking risks in order to write my blog. I even liked some of the works....

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Felix & Paul Studio, Strangers with Patrick Watson

In particular Strangers with Patrick Watson by Felix & Paul Studio. You put the unsanitary Oculus Rift goggles on (seriously, am i really the one who's got a problem with oculus hygiene???) and you find yourself transported into the studio loft of musician Patrick Watson in Montréal. He's attempting to compose some music and his dog is relaxing on the floor. And so was i. Relaxing, not on the floor. There is nothing to do for you, except look around and enjoy the scene. It's peaceful and pleasant, there is no need for awkward keyboard manipulation in the dark.

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Dries Depoorter, Trojan Offices. Exhibition DocLab 2014. Photo by Nichon Glerum

The retro-looking Trojan Offices installation brings us back to the early nineties when computer scientists at the University of Cambridge scientists rigged up a camera to monitor the coffee pot located in the main computer lab and casually invented the webcam.

Nowadays, countless numbers of webcams are streaming live to the internet, indexed by search engines without permission. With a simple hack, artist Dries Depoorter gained access to them, selected half a dozen of them in order to give us a live glimpse into unsuspecting coffeepots and offices from all over the world.

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Exhibition DocLab 2014. Photo by Nichon Glerum

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Exhibition DocLab 2014. Photo by Nichon Glerum

The most compelling part of the day for me was when i discovered the nominees of the Digital Storytelling competition. Because the focus of the selection is as much on new forms of interactivity as it is on strategies to weave a compelling story, all the projects were deep, multi-layered and compelling. Some took me ages to explore. Cue to...

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Julie Snyder, Sarah Koenig, Serial, 2014

Serial is a weekly podcast that investigates the true circumstances behind the murder of a Baltimore high school girl. Hae Min Lee was found strangled in a park in 1999. Her former boyfriend Adnan Syed was sent to prison with a life sentence on the basis of one testimony only. No physical evidence linked Syed to the crime and he has always claimed he is innocent. In the podcast producer Sarah Koenig takes listeners back to 1999 and shares interviews with people involved in the affair, audio archives from the trial and snippets of conversation between the prisoner and the journalist. The website that accompanies the quest also presents maps, photos, copies of handwritten letters, etc. The audience discovers along with the makers of the programme that the story has multiple layers and inconsistencies.

Serial is more gripping than many lavishly produced tv series or movies. One of the characteristics of the show is that it remains ambiguous, you have the feeling that the journalist doesn't have an agenda, she slowly uncovers evidences along the way. Like her, you might not be able to make up your mind and figure out whether Syed was guilty or innocent. I'm glad the podcast is the winner of the 2014 IDFA DocLab Award for Best Digital Storytelling.

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Owen Mundy, I Know Where Your Cat Lives, 2014

Owen Mundy, I Know Where Your Cat Lives, 2014

Every day, hundreds of thousands of cat owners upload photos of their pet on photosharing websites. I Know Where Your Cat Lives collects the images, retrieves the latitude and longitude coordinates embedded by many cameras and visualizes the location of the cats. The databank is charming, cats are so irresistible that in some countries feline photos are more popular than selfies. But as the title of the work suggests, there is also a slightly creepy dimension to the project as it makes you realize that once a piece of personal data is online, you lose control over it.

The option "Cats by country" shows how many cat photos have been uploaded in a given nation. This is why the makers themselves say that "the maps are perhaps a better representation of globalism, access to smart phones, and relaxed consideration for individual privacy."


Empire: 7º00 N 81º00 E (excerpt)

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Eline Jongsma and Kel O'Neill, Empire Interactive, 2014

Indonesia, Brazil, South Africa, Ghana, etc. Dutch colonialism has left its marks across the world. With Empire Interactive, Eline Jongsma and Kel O'Neill investigate into the aftershocks of the first global capitalist endeavor, Dutch colonialism. The multi media works shows how little known enclaves of post-colonialism are geographically distant from each other, yet strangely united by their past exposure to colonial imperialism.

As the videos posted on vimeo demonstrate, the long-term impact of Dutch colonialism is truly astonishing: from the private town for white people in South Africa and other signs of a nostalgia for the Apartheid era, to the man seen as a god by the inhabitants a full-size replica Dutch village built in the middle of the Sri Lankan jungle, and the WWII enthusiasts who dress as members of the Waffen SS and proceed to military maneuvres on the island of Java.

Empire is an online, portable version of an exhibition. As the artists explained in an interview with Indiewood: Originally, in installation form, the project allows viewers to wander from installation to installation, and from story to story. As a viewer, you get to be a bit more autonomous than you are used to: we give you the parts, but you do the labor. We are trying to use the same principles in the interactive online version. In that sense, we think that transmedia art broadens the horizon of visual storytelling and gives both the creator and the audience more power to experiment than they may have with other art forms. It doesn't replace "traditional" film, it just offers a different way of going about things.

The Empire project also exists in the form of a limited edition book.

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Exhibition DocLab 2014. Photo by Nichon Glerum

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Owerri Nigeria (contributed by Asonzeh Ukah)

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New Delhi (contributed by Metropolis)

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Uyo, Akwa Ibom State Nigeria (contributed by Asonzeh Ukah)

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Bregtje van der Haak, Richard Vijgen, Atlas of Pentecostalism, 2013. DIVINE INTERVENTIONS map that shows the global distribution of manifestations of the Holy Spirit as reported on Twitter. The map is produced by a computer program that searches for tweets reporting #miracles, #blessings and #healings worldwide and is updated daily

Pentecostalism claims that the Holy Spirit is here and now. I've no idea what that might mean but i must be in a minority because Pentecotalism is believed to be the fastest growing religion in the world.

Atlas of Pentecostalism, by documentary filmmaker Bregtje van der Haak and information designer Richard Vijgen, aims to develop a reusable model for reporting on dynamic global trends and crises, incorporating crowdsourcing, big data, interviews, academic research and visual information.

The work allows you to investigate the religion through photos of church buildings and logos, maps of belief in the devil, interview with experts in anthropology, etc. Anyone can contribute photos to the permanently expanding Atlas of Pentecostalism. You can also 'download the website' as an e-book or print-on-demand book, which freezes the dynamic data at the moment of ordering.

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Dirk Jan Visser, Jan Rothuizen, Martijn van Tol, Refugee Republic (detail), 2014

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Dirk Jan Visser, Jan Rothuizen, Martijn van Tol, Refugee Republic (detail), 2014

Refugee Republic challenges our view of refugee camps. They are places of displacement, misery and distress but that's only part of the story. Life rebuilds itself in a refugee camp: bakers prepare the bread, children go to school, people fall in love. Skipping from photo to video to drawings to text in a very fluid way, the interactive documentary allows you to step inside Camp Domiz, a refugee camp in northern Iraq where some 64,000 inhabitants, mostly Syrian Kurds, live.

More images from DocLab 2014:

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Exhibition DocLab 2014. Photo by Nichon Glerum

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Zilla van den Born, Oh My Gosh, Zilla. Photo by Nichon Glerum

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Exhibition DocLab 2014. Photo by Nichon Glerum

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Cucalu: Rediscover Reality. Exhibition DocLab 2014. Photo by Nichon Glerum

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BeAnotherLab, Machine to be another. Photo by Nichon Glerum

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BeAnotherLab, Machine to be another. Photo by Nichon Glerum

DocLab expo took place at The Flemish Arts Centre De Brakke Grond in Amsterdam. The exhibition is over, alas! but the show Pieter Van den Bosch. Aanslagen zonder gevolgen opens tomorrow and it looks really good.

More images on Brakke Grond facebook page.

Previously: James George's talk at the DocLab Interactive Conference and My notes from DocLab: Interactive Conference 2014.

Finally! I found some time to type down my notes from the DocLab: Interactive Conference, a one-day event that looked at how artists, film makers, designers and entrepreneurs are exploring digital behaviour and redefining the documentary genre in the digital age.

IDFA DocLab is part of IDFA, the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam. I didn't have the time to see any of the 'traditional' documentaries (alas!) but i did get to try some smart interactive and/or immersive virtual reality works in the exhibition. I'll probably publish tomorrow my thoughts on that show and the conference notes below might provide a good introduction to it.

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Entrance to De Brakke Grond. DocLab: Interactive Conference. Photo by Nichon Glerum

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The audience at the Immersive Reality Conference. Photo by Nichon Glerum

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Picnic at the Immersive Reality Conference. Photo by Nichon Glerum

The Interactive Conference surprised me. In the best possible way. I was expecting to be entertained by the artists' talks and bored by anyone else who stepped on stage before or after them but it turned out that i didn't have one dull moment that day (I did sneak out of the auditorium as the 'Financiers Round' was starting though.)

There was a genuine sense of excitement and wonder in the room. Virtual reality and other new media are about to break into the mainstream and most speakers still have the feeling that they are experimenting and pioneering new ways to engage audiences.

I've already told you about James George's talk at the conference. The following notes are far drier and don't cover everything i heard that day. I'm not even going to mention every single contribution to the event. I've just picked up my favourite moments:

Monique Simard, president and CEO of the Development Corporation of Cultural Enterprise for Quebec (SODEC) noted that people consume culture in different ways than in the past. Nowadays, i's much less television that entertains us than mobile phones. Yet, while TV channels still invest in developing new creative content, mobile phone companies hardly invest in content. There has to be a re-balance of the financing of culture.

Juha van 't Zelfde, artistic director at the Lighthouse in Brighton, talked about How the web lost its innocence. An incomplete index. He shared his observations about the dark side of the internet and illustrated the collateral damage of technological innovation through 5 artworks:


Holly Herndon, Home

1. Total Surveillance
Holly Herndon's video, Home. Directed by Metahaven. The musician spends most of her time on her laptop. So much that it feels like home. The NSA scandal has altered the relationship she had with her computer and her song is a musical response to the NSA agent, it is a love letter as much as a break-up song.

2. Predatory Capitalism. Apple, google monetizing on anything.
Random Darknet Shopper, by Mediengruppe Bitnik, is an automated online shopping bot which uses a budget of $100 in Bitcoins per week to randomly buy an item on Darknet.

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Mediengruppe Bitnik, Random Darknet Shopper, 2014

3. Non-state Terror.
Metahaven looked at the political use of memes by both state and non-state actors and at the weird propaganda tools found on social media.

Example: The mocked-up Grand Theft Auto-style trailer that features virtual fighters shouting "Allahu Akbar!" as they attack U.S. troops.

4. State Terror
Terminal Beach looks at the non-sensical experience of drone attacks. From afar, they might look like a video game but they are traumatizing generations of children in other countries.

Their work BLIND DATA, for example, recombines images and sounds sourced from youtube and other platforms, subtracting them from the flux of communication as a way of "decommissioning" an increasingly weaponized infotainment complex and contributing to a more general disactivation of the ideologies and affectologies of vision, knowledge and power that underpin drone warfare.

5. Disconnecting People
That's the paradox of the web. It was imagined as a platform for democratic ideals and has turned into an infrastructure of total surveillance.

Hito Steyerl's How Not to be Seen: A Fucking Didactic Educational .MOV File is a caustic educational video instructing you on how to avoid being seen. From going off-screen to being female and over 50 years old.

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Francesca Panetta at DocLab: Interactive Conference. Photo by Nichon Glerum

Francesca Panetta, multimedia special projects editor at The Guardian, talked about the newspaper's experiments in storytelling. She briefly explained some of these new exercises in storytelling:

The Shirt on Your Back: Video, texts and photos that document Guardian the human cost of the shirt you are wearing.

While The Guardian's interactive NSA Files: Decoded was linear, The Seven Digital Deadly Sins is not. The short series asks what pride, greed, gluttony and other deadly sins would become in our digital era. The work is based on video interviews but it also features voting polls asking you whether or not you condone the digital deadly sin exposed.

Why? The Guardian feels the need to reinvent itself because the traditional newspaper industry is dead.
How? By adding to their own pool of journalists and photographers, a multimedia desk of filmmakers, designers, developers, etc.

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Jan Rothuizen at DocLab: Interactive Conference. Photo by Nichon Glerum

Visual artist Jan Rothuizen draws by hand huge maps of locations as different from each other as the worst hotel in Amsterdam and a refugee camp for Syrian Kurds. These maps are less about topography than about presenting a whole narrative in a very open way. It's non-linear and non-scripted, it's layered and you're the one who has to retrieve all the clues in the drawings and weave the whole story.

Examples:

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The Red Light district in Amsterdam (detail)

The detention center located right next to the runway at Schiphol airport is off limit to photographer but, as a drawer, Rothuizen was allowed to enter and sketch around.

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Schiphol Detention Center (detail)

Thomas Wallner, founder and owner of DEEP Inc., opened the afternoon talks about VR creativity.

He showed DEEP 360, an experiment that uses early non-3D spherical camera prototypes to create immersive cinema. One of the works in the series is The Polar Sea, the first 360 documentary shot in the Arctic. The work follows the film crew as they are sailing through the Northwest Passage and experiencing the effects of climate change.

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Deep 360 founder Thomas Wallner launches a camera-equipped drone to film an online companion piece to the TV documentary The Polar Sea. Photo The Canadian Press/HO-TVO (via)

According to Wallner, the arrival of the Samsung's VR headset that uses the new Galaxy Note 4 as its main display will further mass market virtual reality. However, he also firmly believes that a technology that can't tell a story is doomed to fail.


Lady In The Lake - Trailer

He gave the example of 1947 MGM' film Lady in the Lake which attempted to create a cinematic version of Chandler's first-person narrative style of Philip Marlowe novels. The audience could only see what the detective did. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer promoted the film as 'the most revolutionary style of film since the introduction of the talkies.' It didn't meet with much critical success.

For Wallner, it's tricky to simply try to replicate a classic cinematographic experience in virtual reality. In cinema, we create an empathic relationship with the characters but it's difficult to find this relationship when you are wearing VR goggles and are at the center of the experience. Therefore we need to find new kinds of languages to tell the stories.

He also pointed to the fact that cinema, as we know it now, is part of a continuum and tomorrow's cinema still has to be invented.

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Panel about virtual reality. Photo by Nichon Glerum

Next there was a panel about virtual reality. Panels tend to be a bit bland. Not this one. Here's what i learnt from panelists Danfung Dennis (a film maker who founded a company that combines advanced 3D graphics with high-res video to create immersive video applications), creative developer Brian Chirls, Thomas Wallner, one of the developers at BeAnotherLab and media artist Oscar Raby:

- many developers approach VR from a game perspective or a cinema perspective. This involves peculiar expectations about what the experience should be like. But we need to see VR as an open field to explore as its own unique medium.
- it's too early to actually make mistake. We are at a stage where we have a lot to learn from every experiment.
- there is a fear that big studios (like Pixar) are going to use VR to make more spectacular versions of Marvel comics, instead of investigating new possibilities. Independent creators can't compete in money and power so they should create their own art forms and make the best of existing shortcomings in the technology instead of trying to perfect a technology (you need lots of money to do that.)
- the political applications of VR: using VR as a tool for propaganda and brainwashing, to replicate the existing status quo and ideas.
- VR can be used to understand other conscious beings like animals, VR can connect us to other beings in emotional, empathic ways and thus could be a tool to make us feel more connected to the other.
- we don't know yet how the VR content will be distributed but it is possible that it will be distributed through a model similar to the one of the Apple store. Which reminds us of the web that was created as an open, distributed platform. And not as a network that depends on a central authority.

Someone in the audience asked the panel if the only way to make VR was to be incredibly well funded. BeAnotherLab is an example that you don't necessarily need a big investment to start. They worked without funding for 3 years. The panelists advised to start with a computer and a head mounted display. Some are really affordable now. E.g. Google Cardboard.

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Rainforest Connection (image)

Next came Liz Cook. The film community manager at Kickstarter listed projects her team is particularly fond of. Magzine.it helpfully uploaded the video of her talk. In case you want the short version of her talk, the projects she mentioned are: Radiotopia, the video game Nevermind, Blast Theory's Karen app, Rainforest Connection and Lunar Mission One.

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Unfold, KIOSK

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Unfold, KIOSK

One of my favourite talks of the day was by Dries Verbruggen from Unfold. It's always uplifting to see that a designer whose work you're admiring turns up to be a fantastic speaker. Verbruggen 'loves the fluidity of the digital but not the rigidity of the screen' and it's only fitting that his studio would work a lot with 3D printing.

Kiosk, for example, is a cart to 3D print in the street. Pick an object you covet and Kiosk can copy or customize it on the spot. During the Salone del Mobile Unfold made 3D scans of the new objects presented at the fair and started to appropriate, sample, remix, improve, up/downscale or copy new objects 3d-printed on the spot.

The performative work echoes a Tate debate that discussed when 3D printing was ok. Unfold did not 3D replicate to offend or steal but to start a discussion. And as Verbruggen concluded, Unfold might not steal other designers' works but others are doing it already and they are selling designers' ideas on 3D platforms.

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Kyle McDonald at DocLab 2014. Photo by Nichon Glerum

Kyle McDonald gave the final keynote. The media artist showed his works and the trouble some of them got him into. I'm sure you know most of his works (if not, this is the place to go!) I particularly like his Social Roulette, an app that give you one in 6 chances to delete your Facebook account. Facebook was not amused.

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The day ended with an amazing kale mustard with pretzels (that didn't look like pretzel but whatever). Photo by Nichon Glerum

DocLab: Interactive Conference was presented by Ove Rishoj Jensen, Caspar Sonnen and Veerle Devreese. It took place on Sunday 23 November at The Flemish Arts Centre De Brakke Grond in Amsterdam.

More images on Brakke Grond facebook page.

Previously: James George's talk at the DocLab Interactive Conference.

A few days ago, the Haus der elektronischen Künste Basel (House of Electronic Arts) inaugurated its new premises with a three-day festival of drones, music performances, immersive data explorations and giant mushrooms.

HeK space is a cultural center dedicated to the new art forms of the information age. The programme is as sleek and geek as its buildings but its spirit is critical and inquisitive. HeK takes technology out of consumer culture and looks at its more meaningful, socially-engaged or aesthetic uses.

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Ryoji Ikeda

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The first show in the programme is a solo of Ryoji Ikeda, an artist and musician whose immersive installations and sculptural works give data a tangible physical presence.

The entrance space is all luminous, white and empty except for a speaker on the wall. The sound emitted by the directional speaker can be perceived at one point only in the room. You can walk through the space 10 times and never notice it. Or you might stop at the exact spot of the sound and be able to listen to it.

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Ryoji Ikeda, Untitled, 2014. Photograph: Franz Wamhof. Copyright: HeK (Haus der elektronischen Künste Basel

The main exhibition space, made of pure blackout and pure data, is the exact opposite. The data.tron projection drowns you into pixels of image composed from a combination of pure mathematics and various sets of data that define and control our world.

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Ryoji Ikeda, data.tron, 2008. Photograph: Franz Wamhof. Copyright: HeK (Haus der elektronischen Künste Basel

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Ryoji Ikeda, data.tron, 2008. Photograph: Franz Wamhof. Copyright: HeK (Haus der elektronischen Künste Basel

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Ryoji Ikeda, data.tron, 2008. Photograph: Franz Wamhof. Copyright: HeK (Haus der elektronischen Künste Basel

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Ryoji Ikeda, data.tron, 2008. Photograph: Franz Wamhof. Copyright: HeK (Haus der elektronischen Künste Basel

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Ryoji Ikeda, data.tron, 2008. Photograph: Franz Wamhof. Copyright: HeK (Haus der elektronischen Künste Basel

Nine monitors across the room form data.scan, a more intimate installation that continues the artist's exploration of data. The work presents an audio-visual relationship relating to large sets of data from two recent meta-scientific investigations that have mapped the human body and the astronomical universe. The horizontal field of the monitor-based data.scan is registered intimately in relation to the viewer's body.

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Ryoji Ikeda, data.scan, 2014. Photograph: Franz Wamhof. Copyright: HeK (Haus der elektronischen Künste Basel

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Ryoji Ikeda, data.scan, 2014. Photograph: Franz Wamhof. Copyright: HeK (Haus der elektronischen Künste Basel


Ryoji Ikeda, data.scan [nº1-9]

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Ryoji Ikeda, systematics, 2012. Photograph: Franz Wamhof. Copyright: HeK (Haus der elektronischen Künste Basel

The opening weekend also involved a performance of REMOTEWORDS by Achim Mohné and Uta Kopp. The duo painted BILD ≠ KUNST (image ≠ art) in huge red letters on the rooftop of HeK and used a small semi-professional drone to show us what it looked like from above. Over the past few years, Knopp and Mohné have painted similar permanent texts around the world, waiting for satellite image tools such as Google Earth to update their images and visualize the messages for everyone to read. 


The text of this one, BILD ≠ KUNST, is a reference to the book "The Myth Of Media Art" by philosopher and art historian Hans Ulrich Reck. His wording mirrors the paradigmatic shift in the meaning of images by digital media. Images no longer stand solitarily at the center of art but are defined by artistic strategies. The House of electronic Arts, Basel (HeK) stands symptomatically for this relationship between (electronic) image and art, a relationship that is subject to constant change.

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There's actually quite a lot of rooftop action at HeK...

Huge mushrooms are sprouting on its roof. Titled, A Band of floating Mushrooms, the artwork is a 6.5 meters high group of music-making mushrooms by Monica Studer and Christoph van den Berg. If you want to listen to the sound randomly generated by the sculpture while you're at HeK, just ask for a set of headphones. Or just click this way.

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The wires so noticeably attached to the mushrooms (they are not functional) made me realize that you see no wire nor trace of technological structure at Haus der elektronischen Künste Basel. There's just you and the artworks.

But HeK is more than just an exhibition space. Its strong education programme makes it a place for media literacy and critical analysis of technologies. When i visited the space for the inauguration, there was a workshop to build robots for kids and another one to create photos using yeast. In the coming month, the team will organise workshops to learn Processing, build a mobile charger powered by bikes and make theremin instruments.

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Workshop with viennese artists group Pavillon_35 during the opening weekend of HeK. Image: HeK (Haus der elektronischen Künste Basel)

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Robot workshop with Karl Heinz Jeron. Image: HeK (Haus der elektronischen Künste Basel)

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Robot workshop with Karl Heinz Jeron. Image: HeK (Haus der elektronischen Künste Basel)

The Ryoji Ikeda show remains open until 29 Mars 2015.

Other events coming up at Haus der elektronischen Künste Basel:
December 04, 2014 and January 22, 2015: Screensaver like Ikeda, Processing Workshop for adults; December 7, BitBadge Christmas Workshop; February 22, 2015: Do it Yourself Workshop „DIY Ikeda", 8Bit-mixTape Workshop for children, adults and professionals.

Photos of the opening at HeK flickr album and mine but it contains all sorts of Basel images.

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Sabine Keric and Yvonne Bayer, Urban Camouflage

I'm just back from a few days at accès)s(, the festival of digital culture in Pau. It was packed with good ideas and i'll definitely blog more about it next week (or the one after considering that i still have to publish reports of events i attended in September!) but right now i need to decypher the grubby notes i took during the talk that artist and researcher Benjamin Gaulon gave on Sunday. It was a fun one and should provide you with some inspiration for your Christmas shopping chores.

The focus of his presentation was Retail poisoning , a term directly inspired by the strategies of torrent poisoning used by the entertainment industry to hack into p2p networks.

Retail poisoning is a disruption of consumerism that injects critical actions into the market. The methods of attacks are similar to those used by anti-piracy organisations to prevent file sharing of copyrighted content.

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Benjamin Gaulon at the festival accès)s(

Gaulon gave lots of examples for each strategy and you can see all of them on the video of his talk. I've selected only a couple of them for these notes:

1. Decoy insertion (or content pollution) is a method by which corrupted versions of a particular file are inserted into the network.

Examples:

Cildo Meireles modified Coca-Cola glass bottles. When empty they look ordinary, but political statements printed on the glass in white are revealed as the bottles are filled with the brown liquid. They range from 'Yankees Go Home' to instructions on how to make a Molotov cocktail. The empty bottles with the messages were then recycled back into the Coca-Cola distribution system.

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Cildo Miereles, Insertions into Ideological Circuits: Coca-Cola Project 1970. © Cildo Meireles

The Barbie Liberation Organization swapped the voice boxes on hundreds of talking G.I. Joes and Barbie dolls. The BLO then returned the toys to the shelves of stores, an action they refer to as shopgiving.


Barbie Liberation Organization, 1993

John Osorio-Buck buys stuffed animals in thrift stores and then dissects and reassembles them to make new creatures. The new animals are then placed back onto the shelves of the thrift store.

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John Osorio-Buck, Catch and Release

Provoked by the offer of a pedometer with the Go Active! Happy Meal at McDonald's, the Meat Helmet by SWAMP Meat Helmet is an exercise machine that forces you to chew until you have consumed the amount of calories contained in your fast food meal.


SWAMP, Meat Helmet

For Urban Camouflage, Sabine Keric and Yvonne Bayer wore Ghillie-style camouflage suits to mimic common goods bought in supermarkets.


Sabine Keric and Yvonne Bayer, Urban Camouflage #4

Antoine Lejolivet and Paul Souviron of Encastrable take self-assigned 'residencies' in DIY and gardening stores where they build temporary sculptures

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Encastrable, Résidence 11

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Encastrable, Résidence 10

Benjamin Gaulon went to Apple stores, downloaded the Corrupt.desktop app and installed it on the computers to glitch the desktop image of the monitors.


Corrupt.desktop [Apple Store Chicago] @gli.tc/h festival

2. Index poisoning makes search difficult for users of the p2p network.

Examples:

Banksy doctored 500 copies of Paris Hilton's debut album in 42 record shops across the UK, filling it with his own remixes and changing her portraits in an action that questions the vapidity and idiocy of celebrity culture.


Banksy, The Punking of Paris Hilton, 2006

Dumb Starbucks is "a parody about the power of corporate branding" as well as an exploration of the concept of parody law. According to Nathan Fielder, the law "allows you to use trademarks and copyrighted material as long as you're making fun of them."


Nathan Fielder, Dumb Starbucks, 2014

3. Spoofing: companies that disrupt p2p file sharing on behalf of content providers build their own software in order to launch attacks.

Examples:

Without asking for the store permission, Bad Beuys Entertainment shot a 'sictom' inside the IKEA showroom.


Sictom épisode 2_Bad Beuys Entertainment

Re-code.com, a collaboration between Conglomco and The Carbon Defense League, is a barcode database and web-based application that enables customers to "name their own price for the products they want to buy."

Re-code.com on CNN

A Mannequin Mob entered the 5th Avenue Gap in Manhattan dressed in white spandex Morphsuits and posed as mannequins. Gap security called 911. The police handcuffed many performers, but eventually allowed them to leave the store.


Improv' Everywhere, The Mannequin Mob

In July 2009, IOCOSE and friends offered the Søkkømb guillotine kit to the customers of IKEA.


IOCOSE and friends, Søkkømb, IKEA, Barcelona

4. Interdiction prevents distributors from serving users and thus slows P2P file sharing.

Examples:

The Buy Nothing Day launched by adbusters in 1992 as an international day of protest against consumerism.

Reverend Billy and his Church of Stop Shopping.
Just ask yourself: What would Jesus buy?


Reverend Billy's Church of Stop Shopping performs a credit card exorcism

Artist The Vacuum Cleaner and accomplices invade supermarkets and proceed to walk around the aisle pushing empty shopping trolleys.


The Vacuum Cleaner, Whirl-Mart Ritual Resistance

Evan Roth, Available Online for Free stickers:

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5. Eclipse attack (aka routing-table poisoning) targets requesting peers directly by taking over a peer's routing table so that they are unable to communicate with any other peer except the attacker.

Examples:

GWEI (a system that uses google ads to eventually buy the whole company) and Amazon Noir (an automatic algorithm allowing you to download a whole book from amazon ). Two of my favourite projects ever. Both by UBERMORGEN.COM, Alessandro Ludovico and Paolo Cirio

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Amazon Noir

Darius Kazemi made a bot that randomly buys items for him on Amazon. Similarly, the Random Darknet Shopper, by Mediengruppe Bitnik, is an automated online shopping bot which uses a budget of $100 in Bitcoins per week to randomly buy an item on Darknet.

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Mediengruppe Bitnik, Random Darknet Shopper, 2014

Photographer Alexis Jemus multiplied himself in an IKEA in Montreal, creating an eerie army of Jemuses inside the Street View virtualization of the store.

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Alexis Jemus, 2014

Far more examples in the tumblr archive. Don't hesitate to contact Benjamin if you know of any practice of retail poisoning that hasn't been mentioned on the tumblr yet.

The accès)s( conference is over but you can still visit the exhibition Disnovation at Le Bel Ordinaire until 6 December 2014.

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