[ISEA2020] Panel: Nans Bortuzzo, Alexandre Castonguay, Jean Dubois, Alice Jarry & Guillaume Pascale — Sentience in the Context of Operative Images

Panel Statement

Keywords: operative images, selfies, visualization, ego-localization, the politics of sentience, the planetary, matter’s mattering, data-mining

As a follow-up to the operating image concept defined by Harun Farocki in 2004, this round table will address a series of aesthetic and critical approaches that endeavour to probe the global visioning system that today conditions the perception of our physical, social, and political environment.

Since the end of the twentieth century, cameras no longer capture images for human vision only. Some of them are now exclusively dedicated to the operation of autonomous devices. It is no longer a matter of simply conceiving vision machines, but a vision for machines. Today, one can say that the images we see are now supplemented by images that see. Filmmaker and essayist Harun Farocki in fact called them “operative images,” stressing the fact that they are more participants in automated operations than objects for contemplation in themselves. The operations involved are performed in opaque systems, at such a speed and such a complexity that they elude not just human sight, but human attention altogether. These images have now permeated our lives and can inform the critical examination of other visualization technologies, encompassing digital imagery, contextual data sampling, and computer processing algorithms. Operations related to geolocation, automated image indexing, photogrammetry, or biometric quantification are thus fuelling a new infrastructure for visualization that is progressively organizing our environment. It is then no longer a matter of simply examining how technology endows machines with sight, but especially of seeing how these machines may also suggest to humans new ways of looking at the world and, more generally, experiencing it. At a time when our conception of the world is influenced by an operative intensification of sensory experience, this round table will address a series of aesthetic and critical approaches that endeavor to probe the global visioning system that today conditions the perception of our physical, social, and political environment.

  • Alice Jarry is an artist-researcher and professor of Design and Computation Arts at Concordia University, Montreal, Canada. She specializes in site-specific responsive works, sci-art practices, socio-environmental design, and tangible media. Her research brings concerns about sustainability, aesthetics, and politics to bear critically upon materiality and urban infrastructure. Her current works focuses on residual matter and smart and biomaterials for the built environment. She examines how materiality – engaged in processes of transformation with site, technology, and communities – can provoke the emergence of adaptive forms and resilient socio-environmental relations. She is the director of Milieux Institute’s Speculative Life Biolab and member of the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Next Generation Cities (Concordia); Kheops – International Consortium on the Governance of Large Infrastructure Projects; Hexagram – International Network dedicated to Research-Creation in Media Arts, Design, Technology and Digital Culture; Topological Media Lab, the Living Architecture Systems Group, and collective Perte-de-Signal. Her works have been presented – among other locations – at Centre George Pompidou (Paris), Vox (Montréal), Biennale Nemo (Paris), Leonardo Da Vinci Museum of Science and Technology (Milan), International Digital Arts Biennial (Montreal), Device_Art Triennale (Zagreb), Invisible Dog Art Center (New York), and Mons 2015, European Capital of Culture (Mons).
  • Alexandre Castonguay approaches different artistic forms suggesting modes of exchange and interaction inspired by the relational dynamics of information flows. He is a professor at the École des arts visuels et médiatiques (EAVM) of the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) and a member of the Hexagram network. His creations have circulated, amongst other places, at Piksel (Norway), the 11th Transmediale (Berlin), the Festival International d’Art Vidéo de Casablanca (Morocco) and Montreal’s Museum of Contemporary Art. http://artengine.ca/acastonguay
  • Guillaume Pascale explores the unstable and speculative nature of forms and objects produced in the era of new information technologies. Considering the data in its undetermined and fluctuating forms, he creates anticipation artworks combining audiovisual production, programming, electronics, robotics, sound, musical and graphic creation. His work questions, in particular, our way of being in the world and our perception of the terrestrial environment according to the conditions suggested by digital environments and the operative ways of making an image today. After a degree in film at the University of Lyon 2 (France), he obtained a B.F.A. degree and a M.A. degree in visual and media arts at UQAM (Quebec). His work has been presented at InterAccess (Toronto), l’ENSP (Arles), Perte De Signal, VOX centre de l’image contemporaine (Montreal), the Georges-Émile-Lapalme cultural space at Place Des Arts, the Cinémathèque Québécoise (Montreal), and the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Caen (France). errorishuman.com
  • Jean Dubois is a professor at the School of Visual and Media Arts of the Université du Québec à Montréal. The subjects of his artistic practice and research range from digital devices, random structures, intersubjective reflections, textual imagery and in situ approaches. His creations structure themselves from the material location, from implicit significations and from the potential decay of the work of art. He is especially preoccupied with corporal and multisensual experiences which he stages through body posture, touch and breath in order to produce an amplified intimacy. He also addresses art in the public sphere with media installations displaying unstable monuments of random and interactive forms. hexagram.ca
  • Nans Bortuzzo, Student, UQAM, Canada