Dundee Contemporary Arts NEon 2016

November 13, 2016 No comments »
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The artwork reforms this information and data creating parallel realities. At the heart of this work lies an interest in the urban environment, the networks of cameras and sensors to be found there, and the associated issue of privacy and alienation. The work sits in the middle of concepts for smart cities, The Internet of Things( IOT) and the new technologies that monitors the real time environment. In appearance, the Nemesis Machine is like Big Brother parsed through the lens of the Internet of things. It gives visitors a bird’s eye view of a cybernetic cityscape, where skyscrapers are constructed of silicon and circuit boards.

stanza_neon 284-web The Nemesis Machine stanza_neon-299-web

The Nemesis Machine

 

Exhibition in Ghent Belgium at Zeebrastraat

October 15, 2016 No comments »
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Stanza is presented at New Technological Art Award (NTAA), an international art competition of the Liedts-Meesen Foundation which is part of the biennial update of Zebrastraat. The exhibition update_6 / NTAA 2016 will take place from November 5th to December 4th, 2016 at Zebrastraat Ghent and the Centre for Fine Arts Brussels, Belgium.

Stanza art

The 19 nominated works were selected by an international jury: Head of the jury Martin Honzik (Head of Department Prix/Festival Ars Electronica) together with Peter Weibel (Director, ZKM Karlsruhe), Jean-Marie Dallet (Artist, research professor at the Université Paris 8), Liedts-Meesen Foundation, Stef Van Bellingen (Consultant for Zebrastraat – Artistic leader of WARP), Paul Dujardin (CEO & Artistic Director BOZAR), Nick Ervinck (Artist, winner of the update_2 public award), Alain Thibault (Artistic Director of Elektra), Edwin Carels (Curator New Media exhibitions), Karen Helmerson (Program Director for Electronic Media, Film & Visual Art at the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA)) and Ralph Dum (Scientific officer and senior expert of the European Commission).

Stanza art

 

Exhibition In Scotland At Centrespace at the Visual Research Centre Dundee

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NEoN, now in its seventh year,  will feature The Nemesis Machine – From Metropolis to Megalopolis to Ecumenopolis. Date – 9th – 30th November 2016

The internet of things meets a smart city head on in The Nemesis Machine is a large installation which is adapted to each place where it is displayed.  The artwork represents the complexities of the real time city as a shifting morphing and complex system. It visualises life in the metropolis on the basis of real time data transmitted from a network of sensors.

The artwork you see is a city of electronic components that reflect in real time what is happening. Small screens show pictures of the visitors so that they become part of the city. The artwork lies within the themes of the urban landscape, surveillance culture, privacy and connected city spaces.

The artwork also explores new ways of thinking about life, emergence and interaction within public space. The installation goes beyond simple single user interaction to monitor and survey in real time the whole city and entirely represent the complexities of the real time city as a shifting morphing complex system.

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My wireless sensor network is set up to “visualize” the space all around us as ‘worlds’ full of data. These new data-spaces can help us understand the fundamentals of our outside environment.  The age of privacy is over. Imagine walking out the door, and knowing every single action, movement, sound, micro movement, pulse, and thread of information is being tracked, monitored, stored, analyzed, interpreted, and logged. The world we will live in seems to be a much bigger brother than the Orwellian vision, it is the mother of big brother.

 

 

 

Exhibition in Canada at New Media Gallery Vancouver.

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Surveillance based artworkThe Agency at the End of CIvilization

A sprawling collection of daisy-chained monitors, watchful orbs and speakers give voice to circulating, machinic narratives. The Agency at the End of Civilization, by British artist Stanza, presents a parallel future-present that combines real-time data with false narratives. In this world we are under constant surveillance; we are watched in precise detail, our movements are interpreted by machines. Yet the interpretation of what we are seeing and hearing becomes increasingly uncertain. The work links real video and information from hundreds of CCTV cameras in the south of England . Aligned to this are millions of car number plates from the UK car number plate recognition system (The Internet of Cars Project). Using predictive software the machine collects what it is seeing in real time, then begins to insert false narratives to create its own version of reality. The work speaks to our control of public space and our trust in technology.

 

WITNESS

Originally the word Witness meant knowledge, in the sense that you must see, observe or know by personal presence. Over time it became understood as a means of establishing identity and thus the notion of the eye-witness was established: one who testifies to what they have perceived through their senses; tasting, touching, hearing…and seeing. The seeing, witnessing machine, is something that has been imagined and alluded to for centuries. This exhibition contemplates the seeing machine.

Surveillance based artwork

There are five works of art in this exhibition. Each sets up an interplay between the perceiving machine, the world that is perceived by the machine and we, who are both perceiving + perceived bodies. A symbiotic relationship is formed between organic and non-organic systems. There are many ways of seeing. One process of controlled watching is surveillance; a monitoring of behavior for the purposes of influence, discipline, protection or control. It has been said that surveillance is as old as civilization itself. In this exhibition we encounter deeply coded, multi-layered processes of seeing, recognition and surveillance.

Machine vision can often outperform humans. Like humans, machines can distinguish light from dark. They form visual images. They understand their surroundings and have knowledge of the world. They follow our movements, predict our behavior, captivate us and bond with us. Perhaps more importantly we bond and enable them. This exhibition allows us to imagine futures and recall why sight developed.

Surveillance based artwork

Hacking Habitat In Utrecht

March 3, 2016 No comments »
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Curated by Ine Gevers, Hacking Habitat witnesses  “the rise of a ‘remote control society’ colonizing and infiltrating increasing realms of daily life for the sake of safety and risk- management. Monitoring cameras and smart gateways are installed everywhere, while we are classified and atomized by automatic face recognition. Software and algorithms define who deviates or contributes too little to our economy. ”

Featuring Joseph Beuys (DE), Melanie Bonajo (NL), James Bridle (UK), Felix Burger (DE), Centre for Political Beauty (DE), Johan Grimonprez (BE), Susan Hiller (USA), Samson Kambalu (MW), William Kentridge (SA), Laura Kurgan (USA), Cristina Lucas (ESP), Metahaven (NL), Pedro Reyes (MX),  Stanza (UK), Timo Arnall (NO),  and many others.

 

Stanza_book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Nemesis Machine is a miniature city, made up of wires, chips, computer parts, switches and specially designed electronics. The installation shows the current data flow of Smart City London, complete with environmental sensors and surveillance cameras, as well as data from traffic information and environmental monitoring systems. The work responds to the temperature, light, pressure and sound of the simulated city. If something changes in London, it’s registered directly in motion, sound and light in the miniature city of Utrecht. The Nemesis Machine is like the avatar of London and is not only driven by the real city, it is entirely dependent on it.15-STANZA-0414b-mj9m0abah8kt7ms5qmn5wpy6cqlj20tpijnm1zlokg

The Nemesis Machine is een miniatuurstad, opgebouwd uit kabels, chips, computeronderdelen, schakelaars en speciaal ontworpen elektronica. De installatie toont de actuele dataflow van Smart City Londen, gemeten met omgevingssensoren, bewakingscamera´s, verkeersinformatie- en milieumonitoringsystemen. Het werk reageert op o.a. temperatuur, licht, luchtdruk en geluid van de nagebootste stad. Als iets wijzigt in Londen, zie je dat direct terug in beweging, geluid en licht in de miniatuurstad in Utrecht. Nemesis Machine is als het ware de avatar van Londen en wordt niet alleen real time bestuurd door de echte stad, maar is er volledig van afhankelijk.

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Exhibition Titled. Herd Above The Noise. Installation of city sounds on 170 speakers

September 9, 2015 No comments »
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Soundcities – Herd Above The Noise. Installation of city sounds on 170 speakers.

The installation can play thousands of sounds from around the world and is arranged like a map of the city the artwork is installed in. What you see and experience is a map of wires and cables including over 170 speakers, a custom made amplifier that are all used to make the installation. The installation can be changed to just focus on any given city ie London , Paris, Rome or the whole world. The installation features the use of soundcities.com database and live feeds with a new software system. The system works in auto mode if no one uses it or can users can interact and choose the sounds that get played on the speakers. (Its both interactive and generative)

Soundcities was the first online open source database of city sounds and soundmaps from around the world, using found sounds and field recording. The concept started in 1995 with various interactions. Stanza’s soundmaps have been online since 2000 and the Soundcities database since 2004.

French Text:

Le projet d’installation Soundcities s’inscrit dans le prolongement de la base de données interactive éponyme initiée par Stanza en 1995, pour apparaître sur le web en 2004 dans sa version actuelle, renouvelée en permanence. http://www.soundcities.com/ est la première base de données en open source rassemblant les sons des villes grâce à des captations sur le terrain, à des compilations de sources existantes, et ouverte aux contributions en ligne.

Soundcities By Stanza

Stanza Paintings

The Intelligent City. Data, Privacy, Surveillance. Exhibition at Bruges Museum May 2015

March 19, 2015 No comments »
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The Nememis Machine By StanzaStanza The Intelligent City Arentshuis Bruges Museum 17 March to 10 May 2015

In the run-up to the 2015 Bruges Triennale (20 May to 18 October), the Arentshuis . The work of this internationally esteemed artist has been shown in about fifty exhibitions since 1984, from Tate Britain, the ICA and Victoria & Albert Museum in London and the Plymouth Arts Centre to Mundo Urbano in Madrid, the Venice Biennale, the Sydney Biennale, the Sao Paulo Biennale, the Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo in Mexico and the State Art Museum in Novosibirsk.

At the heart of Stanza’s work lies his interest in the urban environment, the networks of cameras and sensors to be found there, and the associated issue of privacy and alienation. He is particularly interested in the patterns we leave all over the place. In how we consciously or unconsciously influence each other, and also the degree to which technology may in future take over control of our own bodies and our presence in the city.

Stanza studied at Goldsmiths College, Greenwich University and Central Saint Martins College of Art in London.

At the Arentshuis he will be showing an installation, a series of paintings and a sculpture.

The Nemesis Machine – From metropolis to megalopolis to ecumenopolis

The Nemesis Machine is a large installation (adapted to each place where it is displayed) that is a miniature city. It visualises life in the metropolis on the basis of data transmitted from London. So the city constructed in Bruges using electronic components reflects in real time what is happening on the other side of the Channel. Small cameras show pictures of the visitors so that they become part of the city.

The Nememis Machine By Stanza

Complexities. Surface Scars and Cuts – paintings

Stanza’s paintings show the complexity of the city. When they are scaled down, roads and rivers are reduced to an inextricable tangle of lines, curves and scratches. In this way, the grids and patterns make every city into something universal. Cities look like each other, cities grow towards each other, cities become one: the metropolis becomes a megalopolis and then an ecumenopolis. Cities look like colonies of insects with gigantic towers that look down ominously on wasteland and empty spaces. In his paintings, Stanza combines existing and imaginary cities to form a new ensemble of structures.

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New Commission For Wolverhampton Art Gallery using networked cameras feeds

September 22, 2014 No comments »
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Title: Parallel Realities: Entropy Through Black Matter: By Stanza 2014. Commissioned by Wolverhampton Art Gallery to celebrate the Black Country Echoes Festival.

The artwork creates what the artist Stanza calls a “Parallel Reality”, merging multiple experience of the same place into one fused experience. What you see and experience is a constantly changing, ongoing series of images moving forward in time. The artwork creates what the artist Stanza calls a “Parallel Reality”, merging multiple experience of the same place into one fused experience.http://stanza.co.uk/blackcountry/index.html

Parallel Realities: Entropy Through Black Matter: By Stanza 2014.

 

 

 

New Commission At Winchester Science Centre using transport data and surveillance cameras

August 22, 2014 No comments »
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The artwork “The Agency At The End Of Civilisation” is a real time interpretation of the data of the Internet of Cars project using the UK car number plate recognition system aligned with real time images from one hundred CCTV cameras in the region of South of England. The installation presents all this as a spatialised audio experience of spoken texts and generative visuals. The audience engages with the work as observer (of the surveillance and recorded space) looking at 24 screens, a dozen speakers, and a labyrinth of CCTV cameras built as an art installation presented on a plinth. http://stanza.co.uk/agency/index.

The Agency At The End Of Civilisation. By Stanza

The Agency At The End Of Civilisation. By Stanza

The Emergent City. Data from the city as hybrid artwork. Centre des Arts d’Enghien-les-Bains. Paris. France. 2014

July 22, 2014 No comments »
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The Emergent City. By Stanza

The Emergent City. A Life From Complexity to The City of Bits. By Stanza

The Emergent City. A Life From Complexity to The City of Bits. By Stanza

The Emergent City. A Life From Complexity to The City of Bits. By Stanza

The Emergent City. A Life From Complexity to The City of Bits. By Stanza

The Emergent City. A Life From Complexity to The City of Bits. By Stanza

The Emergent City. A Life From Complexity to The City of Bits.

The Emergent City. A Life From Complexity to The City of Bits.

New Commission – Software system manipulates the real time transport data in London

May 6, 2014 No comments »
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Syncronicity: Layers of Infinite Possibilities In A World Of Closing Borders

Syncronicity: Layers of Infinite Possibilities In A World Of Closing Borders

Syncronicity: Layers of Infinite Possibilities In A World Of Closing Borders.” manipulates the real time transport data to re-interpret the city fabric as an organic pattern based system. Synchronicity becomes a hybridized maze, a cellular and organic system which is presented to the screen. The artwork uses real time bus and tube data from real time transport data London. 3d portrait of Stanza  inside live London data.How will big data empower the system and does this added value allow more freedom or does it seek a more subversive form of control?

http://stanza.co.uk/sycronicity1/index.htm

stanza_body2stanza_data1

Syncronicity: Layers of Infinite Possibilities In A World Of Closing Borders

Syncronicity: Layers of Infinite Possibilities In A World Of Closing Borders

Exhibition at TSSK Metamorf Trondeim Norway. The Emergent City By Stanza.

May 5, 2014 No comments »
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TSSK Metamorf May 1 2014. The Emergent City By Stanza. Live data from across the city used to connect city spaces.

The Emergent City By Stanza

Photo of Installation By Stanza TSSK

Photo of Installation By Stanza TSSK

http://www.artlyst.com/articles/stanza-real-time-city-of-bits-installation-unveiled-in-norway

http://trondheimkunsthall.com/news/Hacking-Access-A-conversation-with-Stanza

http://www.adressa.no/kultur/article9593901.ece

http://metamorf.no/?p=72 http://www.samtidskunst.no/

I make artworks that arise from my research into the themes of  ‘control space’ and ‘surveillance space’ and issues with privacy. What I’m doing, which is sort of new ground, is that I’m hacking access to a network and re-appropriating the data and information, and I’m re-contextualizing it to give it a wider meaning. I want to show that you can do something positive with this data. And as I say data is the medium of the age.

Where do you see net art is going from here? Increasing complex divergent and data driven experimentation might cause a reliance on other peoples systems of ownerships (i.e. apis, code bases, gateways) that will only have a certain longevity. As net art there are now several important levels of investigation and pathways. By researching current systems, software and artworks one can come to an understanding about the social and ethical implications of such technologies, both in artworks as well as public domain, and to speculate where these technologies could lead us in the future. The path I am taking is to connect virtual spaces online creating what I call “The Third Space”. Future cities/spaces will be merged into real time connected up data cities. A connection of networks of real time information flows. The results created lead to mashed up cities and real time performative city experiences.

TSSK Metamorf May 1 2014. Sonicity By Stanza

Sonicity

Stanza er en av kunstnerne som stiller ut under kunst- og teknologibiennalen Metamorf. Her er tradisjonelle intervjuredskaper avleggs.

May 3, 2014 No comments »
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The Emergent City. A Life From Complexity to The City of Bits. By Stanza

The Emergent City. A Life From Complexity to The City of Bits. By Stanza

Lyden av Trondheim

– Penn og papir? Du gjør det på gamlemåten, ser jeg.

Stanza er en av kunstnerne som stiller ut under kunst- og teknologibiennalen Metamorf. Her er tradisjonelle intervjuredskaper avleggs.

Det blinker og durer fra titalls små lys og propeller inne på visningsrommet til Trøndelag senter for samtidskunst. På gulvet ligger det et nett med ledninger, høytalere og elektroniske komponenter som sammen ligner en storby sett fra fugleperspektiv.

Britiske Stanza er en internasjonalt anerkjent kunstner som blant annet var en av de første til å bruke internett i kunstnerisk øyemed. Han har brukt ti år på å utvikle skulpturen «The Emergent City» til det den er i dag.

Gjør bylivet til kunst

– Skulpturen mottar informasjon fra sensorer jeg har plassert på forskjellige steder i Trondheim sentrum. Sensorene registrerer endringer i bymiljøet, det kan være lyder, lys, luftfuktighet og vibrasjoner, forteller han. Denne informasjonen visualiseres gjennom den elektroniske miniatyrbyen. Det er altså data, ikke maling, stein eller tekstiler, som er materiale hos Stanza.

– Gjør det at kunsten din fort kan bli veldig abstrakt?

– Egentlig ikke. Jeg skjønner at det kan oppfattes slik, men skulpturen behandler dataen den mottar og gjør denne lesbar, sier han, og forteller at skulpturen opererer på to nivå: Det første er det rent estetiske, det skulpturelle. Det andre nivået er det performative, hvordan Trondheim og byens innbyggere påvirker kunsten.

– Det er ikke selve teknologien, men det den registrerer, som er viktig. Kunsten er ikke her inne i dette visningsrommet, den er der ute, sier kunstneren og peker mot glassfasaden og gatelivet utenfor.

 

Større enn storebror

Et viktig aspekt ved Stanzas kunst blir dermed at den foregår i sanntid.

– Dette blir noe annet enn det å se «Mona Lisa», for eksempel. Der har du et uforanderlig verk i fastsatte omgivelser. Jeg bruker blant annet overvåkningskameraer fra London i denne installasjonen, som gir direkte bilder av hva som skjer i byens gater, forteller han.

Et annet sentralt tema er nettopp overvåkning og skillet mellom det private og det offentlige rom. Ideen om panoptikon, det at én eller få personer kan overvåke mange, blir aktualisert.

– Verkene mine kommenterer forskjellige fremtidsrettede scenarioer. Mennesker overøses i stadig større grad med informasjon, hele tiden. Jeg mener at vi må bli flinkere til å lese denne informasjonen fortere og forstå hvilken rolle hver enkelt spiller i denne sammenhengen, sier Stanza. Han beskriver et scenario der alt en person foretar seg når hun går ut av døren, hver eneste handling, bevegelse, lyd og vibrasjon, blir sporet, overvåket og kartlagt.

– Verden vi lever i er mye mer kompleks enn George Orwells opprinnelige visjon om at storebror ser deg. This is the Mother of Big Brother, slår Stanza fast.

Blikk for detaljer

Kunst- og teknologibiennalen Metamorf arrangeres nå for tredje gang. Temaet er «Lost in Transition».

– «Transition» betyr overgang. Små overganger skjer hele tiden i hverdagen vår, men vi legger ikke så ofte merke til forandringens gang. For eksempel ser vi at en blomst vokser, men vi er ikke i stand til å observere selve prosessen, forteller kurator Espen Gangvik. Biennalen foregår på Trøndelag senter for samtidskunst, Babel visningsrom for kunst, visningsrommet Rake og på Gråmølna, med 16 utstillinger i tillegg til konferanser og konserter.

– Utstillingen på Gråmølna er i stor grad orientert mot å undersøke mulighetene som teknologi kan tilføre kunsten. En av kunstnerne som stiller ut her er nederlenderen Marnix de Nijs, han har laget en interaktiv reise gjennom et landskap som er generert av fotografi folk har lagt ut på internett. Publikum beveger seg gjennom dette landskapet, som projiseres på en stor skjerm, sier kuratoren.

Et kunstnerpar som bokstavelig talt belyser små endringer vi ellers ikke legger merke til, er Evelina Domnitch og Dmitry Gelfand. På Babel viser de «Hydrogeny»; en installasjon bestående av en vanntank det strømmer hydrogenbobler ut av. Mens tanken produserer hydrogen, projiseres et laserlys mot den, noe som gjør at hydrogenboblene blir synlige for publikum, i et vidt fargespekter.

– Det ligger noe vakkert i dette med overganger. Det sies at det eneste som er konstant i universet er forandring. Vi er fortryllende fortapt i forandringens rom, mener Gangvik.

http://www.adressa.no/kultur/article9593901.ece

 

 

The Emergent City. A Life From Complexity to The City of Bits. By Stanza

The Emergent City. A Life From Complexity to The City of Bits. By Stanza

 

Stanza’s Object-Oriented Aesthetics By Charlie Gere

December 5, 2013 No comments »
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Stanza’s Object-Oriented Aesthetics Charlie Gere

Stanza may be one of the most prolific and productive artists working today. For three decades he has been making work ‘about cities, landscape, surveillance space, and urbanism. These installations are often networked data experiences, fusing networks of live real time environmental data, live CCTV feeds, or live media visualisations’, as his website puts it.  Much if not most of his work over the last twenty five years has been concerned with the city and with real-time technologies of surveillance and information and has often involved using and even making electronic devices. What is particularly interesting about Stanza’s work is that he understands how to use in creative and novel ways a whole range of tools and technologies, which, along with his prodigious rate of production, means that his output is a kind of map of shifting technological realities and possibilities.

Meltdown_2004_.120-90

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He groups many of his artworks over the last twenty five years under the rubric The Emergent City Projects. This goes back to work in the mid-1980s when he was making music videos about ‘cities, networks and urban situations’ using ‘VJ decks and experimental TV techniques’, and has continued to this day. Stanza’s prolific rate of production, and his continuous exploration of the possibilities and meanings of media and the environment make it almost impossible to track and map all his work, or even to gain an overview that would make it possible to grasp its totality. In this regard his work resembles the cities with which much of it is concerns, inasmuch as they too defy such a grasp.

Despite this, ‘Emergent City: From Complexity to the City of Bits’, the exhibition of Stanza’s work at the Waterman’s Centre in Brentford looks at first like a more or less conventional display of art. It occupies a white cube space, which is filled with both sculptural and painterly objects, as well as projections. Yet, unlike much conventional contemporary art, and in keeping with the complexity of Stanza’s work, it is oddly reticent inasmuch as it is hard to tell at first what is going on. Things are happening, both on the floor, and on the walls, but what they are is not immediately apparent. Far from being a problem I suggest that this opacity is the work’s great strength. Its very refusal of easy understanding is a profound reflection on the world itself, and the degree to which it is available to us.

Stanza’s art is consonant with a new philosophical position, or rather set of positions, that has recently emerged, that seeks to develop just such a complex understanding. There are a number of names associated with this, including Speculative Realism, Object-Oriented Ontology, and the New Materialism. Among its major figures are Quentin Meillassoux, Graham Harman, Levi Bryant, Ian Bogost, Jane Bennett, Vickie Kirby, and Timothy Morton, though it must be said that there are many others also working in the same are, and also that this is not to ascribe any overly unified character or set of beliefs to these thinkers. Nevertheless they offer a new way of thinking about the world, one that does not reduce it to what is available to human consciousness.

Art does not, indeed cannot tell us about things in the way that science or philosophy does, but it can tell us something about how we can come to know and understand the world into which we are flung. To put it another way it offers us an insight into the act of knowing and the way that that knowing is structured and determined. Works of art set us up us as observers of different sorts, according to the dominant epistemologies of the context in which they are made. Thus to look at a work of art made in a context different to that in which we find ourselves is to be given a potential insight, however partial, into a different way of thinking about and representing the world. Take, for example, the development of regimes of representation in painting in the West, from the Middle Ages to now. In the former period representation was organized according to a theocentric understanding of the cosmos, one that was coterminous with the dominant scholastic epistemology. Accordingly the visual regime of painting evinced a particular spatial arrangement, in which the size of those represented was structured in relation to their status within this divine economy.

Portraits Of The Artist Stanza

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the emergence of modernity, the disappearance of God as active participant in the world, and the concomitant rise of the human subject as source of knowledge, pictorial representation was ordered according to a different spatial logic, that of the viewpoint of such a subject, a static, monocular viewpoint, separate from that which is being observed. This form of representation was of a piece with the emerging understanding of the world from the perspective of the human subject, which found its most cogent expression in the work of Rene Descartes. Martin Jay goes so far as to describe the parallels between philosophical understanding and pictorial representation as ‘Albertian-Cartesian Perspectivalism’, acknowledging that Descartes’ thought was prefigured by the architect Alberti’s theories of how to represent the built environment. Perhaps the culmination of this kind of thinking was the Kantian division of the things of the world into noumena, the things as they are in themselves, and phenomena, the things as they are appear to us. For Kant our speculative reason can only know things as they appear to us, therefore the world can only be understood in terms dictated by its availability to human consciousness.

With the new understandings of the world brought about by Nietzsche, Freud, Bergson, Einstein and others in the late nineteenth and earlier twentieth centuries, new forms of representation emerged, including Impressionism, what came to be known as Post-impressionism, Cubism, DADA, Surrealism, and so on. With such movements new forms of seeing and knowing were enacted that took account of a more complex and fragmented universe than that supposedly available to the subject of modernity. This continued with the postwar avant-garde which engaged in a radical investigation into the very nature of representation, where and how it took place, and for whom it was intended. As such it paralleled philosophical movements such as Deconstruction which attempted the same for thought.

In the last thirty or so years it is arguable that art appears to have lost its sense of critical engagement with the world. Instead the imperatives of the market seem to be the determining factor in the production of art. But we cannot blame the failure of such work solely on the overly close relation between the art market and neoliberal late capitalism. There is a more complex issue at stake, which is the impossibility of reflecting on the world through purely visual means. Vision itself presupposes a certain subjectivity. To be able to capture the entire meaning of an artwork in the visual field is to be set up as an autonomous subject, capable of mastering what she sees. Yet, as theorists such as Fredric Jameson and Michel de Certeau pointed out many decades ago, the world is not amenable to such visual mastery. This is particularly true in our massively networked culture, in which the means by which power is wielded are largely concealed from us.

Jameson and de Certeau can be regarded as practicing a ‘hermeneutics of suspicion’, that critiqued modernist pretensions to visual and other forms of mastery. The moment in which they wrote the work cited above is often described as the beginnings of ‘postmodernism’, a crude term encompassing a wide variety of positions, but which can be seen as a general attempt to dismantle the edifice of philosophical modernity. As such it remained largely critical and even negative about that with which it engaged.nBy contrast the new philosophies mentioned above seek to go beyond this negativity. One idea that is shared by many of its proponents, that of a turn away from what has been named Kantian correlationism, the notion that the only world that is knowable is the one that is available to human consciousness. One of the consequences of this move has been an emphasis on the agency of non-human ‘actants’.

Perhaps the major figure in developing this line of thought is Bruno Latour, best known as a sociologist of science, but increasingly recognized as a philosopher for whom science offers a powerful set of exemplars of a more general understanding of the world. Latour was originally identified with the set of sociological methodologies known as Actor Network Theory (ANT). At the risk of oversimplification Latour’s dominating idea can be summed up as follows: nothing can be reduced to anything else. This does away with the modernist dualism in which a human subject stands apart from and stands over non-human objects. In Latour’s universe all entities have agency, and an equal say in how the world is and how it is understood. Latterly Latour has been taken up by thinkers connected with Speculative Realism, in particular Graham Harman, for whom Latour is the exemplary philosopher of post-correlationist thinking.

One of the crucial terms in Latour’s vocabulary is that of ‘black box’, a term originating in engineering to denote an element within a system whose effective working can be taken for granted, and therefore requires only input and output. For Latour the black box is the name for those elements within any set of theories about the world that we can take for granted. An example might be the structure of DNA as a double helix, something now almost entirely uncontested, and simply assumed in any discussions of genetics, but which once had to be argued for by assembling what Latour calls ‘allies’, both human and non-human, through which to defeat rival hypotheses.

stanza installation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This brings me back to Stanza and to the kind of art he practices, which I believe is the correlate of the philosophical ideas described above (without in any sense being illustrations of that work, or even evincing an awareness of it). This possibly reflects the fact that both the art and the philosophy emerge out of the same complex set of conditions, in particular the experience of living and working in a highly mediated ‘network society’, in which digital technology offers a powerful literal model of non-human, non-biological agency. It is worth noting that much of the discussion and debate in the philosophical circles described above bypasses traditional means of scholarly exchange, and takes place in the blogosphere. (Here it is important not to simplistically confuse or conflate digital networks with the actor networks talked about by Latour and others.)

That Stanza engages with the city as the main focus of his work is apt in this context, given that the urban environment can stand as a good model for the complex interactions and relations that thinkers such as Latour see as governing our world. Indeed Latour has written a small book, Paris: Ville Invisible, which makes this exact point. In this book Latour describes the highly interconnected and often hidden structures of the city of Paris, in order to demonstrate the degree to which what we see of a city is only a very small part of a far more complex situation.

Stanza might be understood to be doing something similar with his Watermans exhibition. The first work the visitor encounters is a screen showing a grid of live feeds from CCTV cameras across London. By showing a vanishingly small number of the multiple viewpoints available to the inhabitants of the city Stanza already allows to see how any panoptic view or unifying vision is impossible, and indeed that vision itself maybe almost entirely pointless as a means of understanding the city’s complexity. Turning round from this one is then confronted by a large installation occupying most of the gallery space, which is clearly the centre and focus of the exhibition. It is an accumulation of computer hardware arranged to look like a city. It is kinetic inasmuch as lights go on and off, and elements revolve at intervals. The spectacle is compelling in that what might at first just look like a model of a city exhibits some kind of autonomous activity that seems more than merely automatic. The various kinetic and light elements are in fact responding to Stanza’s own network of environmental sensors at his home and nearby. Relayed through the internet to a pair of Arduino microcontrollers the captured data determines the actions of those elements.

Stanza’s work not only performs the way in which non-human actants now appear to talk to each other, especially in relation to the so-called ‘internet of things’, but moreover how these conversations take place in literal black boxes, in other words the computers and networks whose operation is both largely hidden from us, and at the same time vital for our everyday existence. But this must not be seen merely as a comment on network technologies. Rather it should be understood as reflecting a more complex and widespread aspect of our existence, in short the degree to which we can now recognize that everything can and does communicate everything else. Much of this communication is not easily available to human subjects. Thus the opacity of Stanza’s and other new media work can be understood as the most profound artistic response to both our current mediated condition and to the new ontologies and philosophies it has engendered.

stanza sonicity

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mark Cosgrove, director of programme at Watershed, the Bristol venue where Stanza has recently shown work, has claimed that ‘Stanza may well be the Picasso of the Internet’. This may be a little tongue-in-cheek, as well as an acknowledgement of Stanza’s protean workrate and capacity for experimentation within his chosen media, and indeed his technical virtuosity. But it also suggests something else, equally, if not more important. Picasso was perhaps the artist who first understood the implications of radical developments in science and philosophy at the beginning of the twentieth century, and found consonant forms of visual expression. Working at the end of the twentieth and the beginning of the twenty-first centuries, Stanza is developing an artistic language that can reflect the new ways of thinking about the world that are currently being proposed and debated.

Recently the term ‘The New Aesthetics’, coined originally by designer James Bridle, has been bandied about to describe the new aesthetic sensibility available via the artefacts of digital technology and computer visualization. Recently Ian Bogost, one of the leading exponents of Object Oriented Ontology, took the idea to task for not going far enough or being weird enough. Taking his cue from his book Alien Phenomenology, or what it’s like to be a thing, Bogost declares the need for an object-oriented aesthetics, and suggests that

A really new aesthetics might work differently: instead of concerning itself with the way we humans see our world differently when we begin to see it through and with computer media that themselves “see” the world in various ways, what if we asked how computers and bonobos and toaster pastries and Boeing 787 Dreamliners develop their own aesthetics. The perception and experience of other beings remains outside our grasp, yet available to speculation thanks to evidence that emanates from their withdrawn cores like radiation around the event horizon of a black hole. The aesthetics of other beings remain likewise inaccessible to knowledge, but not to speculation—even to art.

Stanza’s work may be seen as offering something of what Bogost proposes, an object-oriented aesthetics, that enables non-human actants to participate in the processes of representation and art making, and in doing so finds a means of expression that is adequate to our complex, interconnected world.

For me Stanza does not conform to the traditional idea of the artist as someone who operates at the level of human aesthetics. It is rather as if he had taken it upon himself to be a channel for the expanded range of aesthetic experiences available beyond the human sensorium, and find some modes of expression that can make those experiences available to us. There is a sense, looking at and hearing his work, of it being a vanishingly small representation of a far greater set of possibilities, and it is only his human finitude that limits his production. Looking at the work on his ‘Central City’ website is overwhelming, perhaps deliberately so. In the end it may be that the most meaningful and challenging aspect of Stanza’s art is not to be found in individual works, or even in their collective existence, but in their excessive and overwhelming profusion, which hints at the almost infinite range of other outcomes that might also be possible.

Though it is clearly important to reflect upon the malign uses of new technologies, such as their use in state surveillance, and a role for art in doing so, Stanza’s work offers something different, which I can only describe as a joyful and even celebratory engagement in the possibilities of these new media, and in their capacity to offer new aesthetic experiences. This does not of course mean that he avoids the complex questions concerning technology and the environment that his work attends to, but that there is also a space for a celebration of what such technologies make possible.