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Debord, Google and an HCI award – more confessions…

The presentation appeared to go well, and we were presented with a certificate as a response to winning a Best Paper Honorable Mention Award. It was really exciting to be recognised within another discipline for the work we have done on A Conversation Between Trees and that the resulting research is of use or interest to this community of computer scientists.

The conference and trip to Paris brought up some interesting thoughts which I hope to write in more detail. We are having a think about these ideas in terms of the future of Active Ingredient, now that Matt and I are both increasingly inhabiting new worlds – me the world of academia and computer science and him the world of new media and commercial enterprise with his role at Mudlark. Somehow in this all is a question over where AI fits, how can we continue to create artistic and cultural interventions, keep radicalised, critical and thinking, keep playing, whilst we inhabit these other worlds? How do we tread the line between collaboration and participation with these other sectors whilst maintaining the autonomy of being an artist? Im sure this a common conflict for artists with day jobs and interests in working across disciplines.

On the last day of the conference i sneaked off to visit the exhibition about Guy Debord which is currently on at the Biblioteque Francois Mitterand on the left bank. A physical journey from Port Maillot, the commercial and conference centre of Paris in the North West, across the Seine to the area where radicals and artists once explored the city, with cameras and homemade maps, inventing psychogeography, conceptualising narratives of space and the society of the spectacle. Fighting in the streets in the 60s, believing in the Paris commune.

I had a Google flask in my bag, that i had picked up from the Google stall at the conference by adding my personal details to their database and signing up for information about the company.

There is something about the connection between Google and Debord. The big corporation that has mapped our world from above and entered our psyche and language and now manages our quest for information and learning, that has become the word for finding something out. Somehow it seems very linked to the Situationists mapping the city through passion and radicalism, something about the changing of language, manifestos now that is now just the word for a report that contains no action and psychogeography, the inspiration for a mobile phone app sold on Google’s app store.

I arrived at St Pancras and jumped straight into a meeting with Bronac Ferran and Felipe Fonseca, a leap back into the art world, talking about our changing landscape, our changing language, future residencies and collaborations in Brazil and UK. My Google flask weighs heavy in my bag, this is not the time to stop asking questions.

…and of course, I have just made a small installation about how AI’s work has been represented on Google, it seems Google is everywhere. maybe this is where the spectacle happens now… is it time for us to create un-google-able spectacles?


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