slides for my final presentation are here.

What did you learn?

I built a theoretical foundation for creating within my newfound medium - video simulations. At the start of the semester I knew that I was seduced by this technology. However, I could not explain why - it seemed impulsive and aesthetic; perhaps even fetishistic. After engaging in my research across art and the digital humanities, I have developed a framework for problematizing and thinking about simulations as part of a growing network of cybernetic control systems. I experimented with a process around ‘digital ethnography’ - entering corporate simulated spaces, appropriating assets.

I have also done much work to ground the medium in its techno-military-scientific roots. There are fascinating connected histories of amusement technologies and industrial modernity.

I couldn’t say I have a mastery of the history, or the theory. Although, I have mapped out a terrain for exploration that I am passionate about. I am excited to keep going with this for thesis.

What would you do differently?

I would start making earlier. This was the first time that I had attempted to consciously and systematically incorporate theory and research into my practice. For a while, I was looking too much to the theory for answers about what to make. When I started making the video (forced by timelines), what I was trying to say fell out into the software.

I also got a little lost in the notion of the ‘simulation’ - it is a very elusive and slippery subject to try and pin down. Baudrillard went mad during his ‘Simulation-Era’, after all. I could have benefited from thinking about a specific kind of simulation - perhaps that of climate simulations; or simulations that create racist (or sexist) cybernetic feedback loops.

What feedback did you receive?
I received generally positive feedback for this project. A couple of people after watching it told me that they had ‘nothing to say’ and that it was ‘weird’. Some others seemed to draw connections from the imagery that I had not anticipated. The positive reviews seemed to suggest that the expression of corporate and military intensities were communicated through the video. It seems that the video was more effective than my paper at communicating my ideas.

Someone said that my work was lacking in representation of ‘Coloured Bodies’. I see where this is coming from. The simulation that I was working with - ‘FlexSim’ demonstrates its software through an entirely white male cast. It is these white male (virtual) bodies that are responsible for ‘crash testing’ corporate spaces for everyone else, and I wanted to tell a story of their dystopic, homogenous existence. I think this contributes to the ‘disturbing’ aspect of the video. The decision is made with intention.

What was inspiring? What parts?

The focusing of attention toward critical concerns has expanded my thinking. I think differently about technology and the systems it is entangled within. I have found all these connections between my area of interest and various other systems.

How did you balance research and experimentation?

This was a big challenge for me. My practice suffered somewhat during the semester as I became lost in the labyrinth of theory and readings. It can be difficult to juggle art practice and technological tools; adding research into the mix brought another level of left-brain complexity. At times I was tentative to create as I was burdened by it all.

What will you take with you going forward?

A more critically engaged art practice. Many new connections to systems and histories. A better understanding of my strengths and weaknesses. A better understanding of cybernetic control systems. I’d like to engage further with ‘digital ethnography’ to inform the creation of digital spaces that comment and critique digital spaces.

Next year I’d like to draw a connection between the rising of sea levels and of cybernetic control systems. I hope to create video works that contribute to a more critical discourse around technology and its influence on peoples lives.

Some References

Artists
Ian Cheng
Hito Steyerl
Jakob Kudsk Steensen
Laurence Lek
Nate Boyce

Readings
“Simulated Subjects: Glass Bead in Conversation with Ian Cheng and Hito Steyerl.”
Stefan Helmreich - Silicon Second Nature
Deleuze - Postscript for control societies
Galloway - Deleuze and computers (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBZPJNoJWHk)
Crogan - Gameplay Mode: War, Simulation, and Technoculture
Bratton- The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty.
Wendy Chun - On persistence of visual knowledge
Baudrillard - Simulations.
Yuk Hui - On the Existence of Digital Objects
Galison - “Computer Simulations and the Tradig Zone.”
Galloway - “Computers and the Superfold.”
Alexander R. Galloway - Protocol: How Control Exists After Decentralization
Alexander R. Galloway - The Interface Effect