Refik Anadol’s Unsupervised—an AI-based digital work that in real time interprets and renders data from more than 200 years of art at MoMA—has been a tremendous crowd pleaser. “I am trying to find ways to connect memories with the future,” the artist said, “and to make the invisible visible.”
Notwithstanding its significance, data presents a great deal of uncertainty. From a material standpoint, it is both real and invisible; it is something that, in the process of being understood, both shapes and renders the world. Some see it as the pinnacle of human intellect, while others regard it as nothing more than an exploitative and monitoring system. In 2013, well before AI took the artworld by storm, New York Times political commentator David Brooks coined the term ‘dataism’. In his article ‘The Philosophy of Data”, Brooks posited that in an ever more intricate world, the utilisation of data could mitigate cognitive biases and shed light on latent behavioural patterns. More recently, according to scientist Albert-László Barabási, “Dataism is an artistic practice that acknowledges how data has become humanity’s principal means of understanding nature, characterising social processes, developing new technologies, and, increasingly, probing what makes us human. This approach to art making is fuelled by the conviction that art cannot escape, ignore, or bypass data if it wishes to remain relevant to the post-visual processes that shape our society”. Meanwhile, artists across the globe are joining forces to block AI appropriation of their work and to reframe the current configurations of copyright laws that fail to truly protect intellectual property. Most notably, AI might usher in a new, self-substantive, machine-produced order of unempathetic rendering, capable of displacing the importance of the creative process that lies at the core of art practices.
Antennae’s ‘Dataism’ issue will focus on the impact that AI and other forms of data analysis and rendering are having on art making, curatorial practices, and writings that focus on ecocritical themes. Which applications, modalities, engagements, and manifestations can be seen as productive? How can data analysis manifest what might otherwise remain idle? How can it expand our thinking remits and ability to connect? How can it instil empathy or promote alienation? We welcome interviews, roundtable discussions, artist portfolios, fiction, poetry, and other expressive forms that centre on past and present genealogies of data analysis across the arts.
This issue of Antennae: The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture invites original, accessible, and engaging submissions from artists, scholars, curators, and practitioners of all kinds.
Please send a 250 word abstract outlining your proposed contribution and up to three images to Giovanni Aloi (Editor and Founder of Antennae at firstname.lastname@example.org) by January 31st 2024. Acceptance notices: February 15th.
Final submissions by June 1st, 2024. ‘Dataism’ will be published in November 2024.
Academic essays = length 4000 words max
Artists’ portfolio = 10 images along with 1000 words max statement/commentary
Interviews = maximum length 5000 words
Fiction = maximum length 5000 words
Roundtable discussions = 4000 words