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Technical Lands

Sun 22 October // 20:00

Tickets: £5 (full)

Technical Lands 

Three new screen works by artists with intersecting themes. Constant by Sasha Litvintseva and Beny Wagner investigates in history of the standardisation of measurement and the resistance of lived experience to symbolic abstraction. Spectral Index by Stephen Cornford explores how the raw materials used for new technologies are mapped using equipment made from those same materials.  Richard Broomhall brings working in progress from the Walking with Grace project which explores the colonial routes of international internet cable routes. The evening will continue with a discussion with the artists led by media theorist Patrick Crogan. The films are relevant to the work of the Cube because they raise issues about media technics and apparatuses. They enable discussion about how these practices of communication create power relationships and understandings of nature through the production of technical lands. More details below.

Constant by Sasha Litvintseva and Beny Wagner

"Constant" is a journey through the social and political histories of measurement. For most of recorded history, the human body was the measure of all things. “Constant” asks what led measurement to depart from the body and become a science unto itself. The film explores three shifts in the history of measurement standardization, from the land surveying that drove Early Modern European land privatization, to the French Revolution that drove the Metric Revolution, to the conceptual dematerialisation of measurement in the contemporary era of Big Science. Each chapter traces the relationship of measurement standardization to ideas of egalitarianism, agency, justice, and power. Cinematic and technical images that begin as products of measurement systems are stretched beyond their functions to describe the resistance of lived experience to symbolic abstractions.

Sasha Litvintseva is an artist, filmmaker and writer, whose work is situated on the uncertain thresholds of the perceptible and the communicable, organism and environment, and knowledge regimes and power, at the intersection of media, ecology and the history of science. Since 2018, much of her work is produced in the context of the ongoing collaboration with Beny Wagner.

Spectral Index by Stephen Cornford

Digitisation has shifted the materials on which our media technologies rely. The minerals and metals required for digital imaging are the same as those now required for energy transition away from fossil fuels. These converging pressures are triggering a new resource race, with nation states and political blocks scrambling to ensure secure supplies of these suddenly ‘critical’ raw materials. This race is both driven by and reliant upon visual cultures, producing a recursive circularity in which images are used to produce minerals which are used to produce images.

A ‘spectral index’ is a mathematical image function in which different wavelengths of the visible and infrared spectrum are combined to produce false colour images that analyse different terrestrial conditions. In the prospecting projects currently underway in search of critical minerals, these indexes are a vital tool in locating and identifying novel deposits. This single-screen video work considers how these spectral indexes frame our relationship with landscapes perpetually surveilled by orbital satellites and aerial drones. To gaze at the earth through these instrumental lenses both presumes ownership and assumes the future functionality of the planetary surface below.

Stephen Cornford is a media artist who works within consumer electronics and scientific practices, critiquing the ideologies they embody and the constitutive role they have come to play in our lives. His current research is concerned with the toxic metallurgies of digital media, the belief systems embedded in scientific image cultures and relationships between planetary and photographic space.

Walking with Grace - Work in Progress by Richard Broomhall 

Richard is sharing a rough cut compromising of 2 out of scenes 9 scenes from his current project Walking with Grace. A nameless researcher forms a tempestuous friendship with an untraceable, temporally dislocated voice that hacks his research unit’s comms infrastructure. The ensuing dialogues, data packets, debates and provocations coalesce into an analysis of the political ecology of the Bude and Widemouth Bay network node. Walking with Grace is a climate fiction essay film that attempts to explore a 300 million year temporal slice through a critical node in the current formation of planetary scale computation.

Richard Broomhall makes films and installations, he is a 3d3/DCRC doctoral researcher and associate lecturer at UWE. His doctoral research project, Clouded Glass and a Politics of Light: Critical Network Aesthetics, uses film and installation making to explore the political ecology of transnational data network infrastructure in the southwest UK. Richard is committed to publicly owned, democratically governed and operated carbon neutral network infrastructure. We can and must collectively build new, equitable worlds inside the failing shell of the old. Imagining these new worlds is a vital first step. His film Got You Mouse won the Peninsula Arts Film Commission Prize 2018 and his solo and collective work has been screened & exhibited nationally and internationally including Stuttgarter FilmWinter, dokumentArt – European Film Festival for Documentaries, Baltic 39 and BBC 1.

Discussion chaired by Patrick Crogan

Patrick is an expert on the work of philosopher of technology and media, Bernard Stiegler, having written several pieces on his work’s relevance to film, media and cultural theory and translated some of his writings into English. He guest edited a special issue of Cultural Politics on Stiegler. He is working on a book about Stiegler's relevance to digital media and cultural studies. Patrick has written on AI, automation, algorithmic governmentality, video games. He is Associate Professor of Digital Cultures at UWE, Bristol.