Annie Machon is an intelligence expert and author who worked for 6 years as an intel­li­gence officer for MI5, the UK domestic counter-intelligence and security agency. Together with her ex-partner, David Shayler, she resigned in the late 1990s to blow the whistle on the spies’ incom­pet­ence and crimes

A week or so ago, i was in Eindhoven for the Age of Wonderland festival and realized the city was in full Dutch Design Week swing. There was far far too much to see for someone like me who has only a mild interest in design. So i went for the blockbusters. One of them was the Graduation Show of the students from Design Academy Eindhoven.

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The 56th Biennale is thus set against the backdrop of economic, ecological and humanitarian crises. Any kind of art or design event has to pretend you care for the state of the world these days (unless you’re at the Frieze art fair of course) but somehow this edition of the biennale demonstrates far more energy, determination and spirit in tackling the sufferings of our world than many much younger and openly socially-engaged events i’ve attended recently

I finally made it to the Venice Bienniale this week. I hadn’t set foot there for years. My number one preoccupation was to locate the Pavilion of the Indonesian Republic. It’s at the Arsenale, I had seen a photo of it. Some kind of rusty dinosaur with angels flying around it.

It turns out there was no dinosaur but a cross between the Trojan Horse and a Komodo dragon, a large species of lizard found in Indonesia

The piece is made of Exxon, Shell, BP, and Mobil oil cans, but overnight, the local gallery staff had them secretly changed to Petronas labels. Though this violates the contract, I decided to keep the piece in the show because of the strange situation this tampering creates–a nationally owned oil company rushing to put its logo on a piece of art that is highly critical of the oil industry and what it appropriates and extracts

Project Nimbus is the outcome of 5 years of collaborative research by artist and inventor Dave Lynch and Chemical Physicist & Laser Expert Mike Nix. Using off-the-shelf technology, the team built an experimental device that projects moving images onto clouds. Onto pretty much anything cloudy actually: clouds of course but also cooling towers or urban vents.

Project Nimbus is based on the zoopraxiscope developed by Eadweard Muybridge in 1879 and regarded as the first movie projector

Simon Farid is a visual artist interested in the relationship between administrative identity and the body it purports to codify and represent. In practice, this means that the artist is ‘squatting’ identities that have been constructed by other people for surveillance, marketing or institutional purposes and then discarded.

He notoriously ‘inhabited’ the identity of an undercover police officer and the one of a politician who moonlighted as a web marketing guru

Pater is a graphic designer who gave himself the mission to create visual narratives about complex political issues. He is not only interested in flying machines of death but also in disaster floods caused by global warming, Dutch sweets that evoke everyday racism, fishermen vs oil tankers, citizen journalism in countries with censorship, digital surveillance, etc

Moritz Simon Geist is a classical musician and a robotics engineer who builds his own musical instruments. The most famous of them is the MR-808, an oversized replica of the TR-808 produced by Roland to reproduce drum sounds. This 1980s electronic drum machine imitated the drum so inadequately that it actually created its own sound. The distinctive ‘thump thump’ became an integral part of hip hop music, gained iconic status with Marvin Gaye’s Sexual Healing and reached such a cult position within the music industry that even Kayne West paid tribute to the machine in one of his hit albums

The quality of groundwater is heavily affected by human industrial activities. Looking for innovative ways to get clean waters to irrigate agricultural fields, artist Rihards Vitols is currently experimenting with a new type of agronomy that relies on “cloud-farming”. In his scenario, people will raise thousands of helium balloons over their land to collect water from the cloud

CTM’s work combines appealing aesthetics, humour and language with actions that invite people to think, question and reclaim their civil rights. Their most famous project is the Tactical Ice Cream Unit, a truck distributing free ice cream along with propaganda developed by local progressive groups. Another of their initiative saw them launch a bank heist contest…

For 5 years, the Gulf Labor Coalition, a group of artists and writers, has been pressuring Saadiyat’s Western cultural brands to ensure worker protections. Gulf Labor has coordinated a boycott of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and pioneered direct action that has involved spectacular museum occupations. As part of a year-long initiative, an array of artists, writers, and activists submitted a work, a text, or an action

One of the reasons why i like the magazine so much is that it mixes and matches efficiently short articles about media artworks, music or books with long, insightful essays and interviews as well as thoughtful reports from media art events that took place in various cities around the world. So that’s the fast and informative formula of a blog combined with the lengthy and reflective pace of a magazine

Fire and Forget is military jargon for a type of missile guidance that can hit its target without the launcher being in line-of-sight. The expression is symptomatic of a new type of warfare in which the people firing, killing and destroying are emancipated from the fear for one’s own life and the direct physical -or sometimes even visual- contact with the victim(s) of their shooting

The exhibition is what you would call a crowd-pleaser (although the £15.00 entrance ticket is definitely not crowd-pleasing.) Which in conservative art speak is a bit of an insult. It shouldn’t be. Because art doesn’t need more snobs and because if gigantic slides, bouncy Stonehenge and rain rooms are what it takes to get everyone to experience and discuss contemporary art, that’s good enough for me

The OpenSurgery initiative investigates whether building DIY surgical tools, outside the scope of healthcare regulations, could plausibly provide an accessible alternative to the costly professional healthcare services worldwide.

By presenting a semi-functional DIY surgery robot, theoretically capable of assisting in domestic keyhole surgery, the project provokes alternative thinking about medical innovation and aims to challenge the socioeconomic frameworks healthcare currently operates within

Over the past 45 years, the members of the collective have been documenting the industrial communities living along the river Tyne, the fishermen, the shipbuilders, the people working in the coal and steel industry, but also their families, the unemployed and the marginalized communities. The result is a vast archive of photos and films that present both both artistic and historical value

The works on show range from a robotic soccer robot to the Soccket energy generating football, from the ever irresistible and painful Leg Shocker to the world premier of Jer Thorp’s immersive installation The Time of the Game. The result is an exhibition that brings into a highly popular museum an entertaining but also critical and provocative view of the impact that technology has on ‘the beautiful game.’

Two of the presentations i enjoyed covered the representation of intelligence agencies in films and tv fiction, another was about the influence that new forms of surveillance are having on the rise of home-grown (‘home’ being the U.S.A., the symposium was organised by the Institute of North American Studies) white extremist groups. And a fourth talk commented on the delusory quest to control State information

Aernoudt Jacobs is an artist fascinated with sound in all its forms and possible expressions. He collects fields recordings around the world but he also creates installations based on Bell’s photoacoustic effect that reveals the sonority of any material hit with a strong beam of light, builds sound microscope that magnifies the freezing and melting process of water or suspends coils, magnets and 1000 tin cans into the air to play with the laws of electromagnetic induction and create tiny vibrations that produce sounds