[ISEA2018] Artists Statement: Russel Hlongwane & Tegan Bristow — A Vocabulary for Vernacular Algorithms

Artists Statement

Other Realities sub-programme

At the heart of the debate where digital is assumed as a product of the West, KwaZulu-Natal presents an interesting body of works that contribute to the growing evidence that Africa has been an active agent of coded practice for much longer than has been recorded by the West and at times shows a deeply entrenched use of binaries through rich patterns, beadwork and localised subversive language.

Aligned to an exhibition of Zulu beadwork and cultural artifacts with a view to understand a lexicon of the Zulu people, this workshop is a series of exploratory conversations that will engage a cross-generational encounter with these forms and their qualities as computational and algorithmic vernacular knowledge. The conversation series will act to communically develop a vocabulary and aesthetic language around regional algorithmic pattern-making.

  • Russel Hlongwane is a cultural producer based in Durban, SA. His work is located at the intersection of Heritage, Modernity and Culture/Tradition as it applies to various disciplines of artistic practice. His said practice includes cultural research, creative producing and curating. Within the built environment, he worked on the Union of International Architects (2014) and is currently undertaking a research project (ekhaya nomkhaya) commissioned by the Urban Futures Centre at Durban University of Technology. He is a member of the Creative Producers International platform which is a cohort of creative producers sourced from 15 cities across the world.
  • Dr. Tegan Bristow is a South African artist and developer of interactive digital installations; Senior Lecturer at the Wits School of Arts,  and Director of the Fak’ugesi African Digital Innovation Festival. In 2017 she completed her PhD on Decoloniality and Actional Methodologies in Art and Cultural Practices in African Cultures of Technology. In 2015 Bristow curated the Post-African Futures exhibition with the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg, in extension of this research. Outside of her curatorial and development practices with art, culture and technology in Africa, Bristow has exhibited her own practice widely – most prominently “Meaning Motion” at the Wits Art Museum.