process==structure in The Computer as Seen at the End of the Human Age


Produced for the book The Computer as Seen at the End of the Human Age. Edited by Olle Essvik. Göteborg: Rojal Förlag, 2022

This work explores how algorithms structure the visual. It uses a simple program to produce potentially endless amounts of new compositions, drawing from an archive of all images analysed during my PhD research. The page layout of the book is also determined algorithmically, with no two copies of the book being the same.

The Computer as Seen at the End of the Human Age

Description by Olle Essvik:

The title of the book, The Computer as Seen at the End of the Human Age, is a reference to the exhibition “The Machine as Seen at the End of the Mechanical Age”, curated by Pontus Hultén for MoMA in 1968, highlighting how technology was influencing art at a time when mechanical machines were increasingly replaced by electronic and chemical devices. Through its selection of contemporary art works the exhibition thus came to function as a recording of technological history.

I never got to see the exhibition since I wasn’t born at the time, but a couple of years ago I came across a curious book with a tin cover. The book was published in connection to the exhibition, and the history recorded between its covers ends at approximately the same time that early computers start to make their way into the art world. In the fifty years that followed, art came to be marked by a digital presence.

It was that book, along with an interest in dead media, and a curiosity for art aided by algorithms, that sparked the idea for The Computer as Seen at the End of the Human Age.

Here you will encounter new works by a selection of artists, specifically invited to use algorithms/AI to contribute to a continuous, self-reproducing, anachronistic, machine aided recording of history. A way to preserve, revise and/or comment upon digital history from the vantage point of present-day technology or through the lens of imagined future media, perspectives and technologies.

The works have been created specifically for the book. Some are based on works by other artists, made in another era, repurposed for our time and technologies. Others are based on redundant technologies, revived and given new functions. Some adopt a critical or political approach to the algorithm and its impact on society. Several utilize it as an opportunity to create unique works for each separate copy of the edition. Thousands of files eventually compiled into 200 unique books, each with a different cover and different contents – generated, aided or influenced by algorithms.

Participating artists: Geraldine Juárez, Cornelia Sollfrank/Winnie Soon, Mishka Henner, Shane Hope, !Mediengruppe Bitnik, Rosa Menkman, Rosemary Lee, Olle Essvik, Evan Roth, Jonas Lund, Darsha Hewitt, Carl-Johan Rosén, Linda Hilfling Ritasdatter and Jacek Smolicki.

Editor: Olle Essvik


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