Opening Friday, June 15, 7–9pm
Conversation with Yvette Granata and Maiko Tanaka at 7:30pm.
On view through August 25, 2018, Tue–Sat, 12–5pm
Free and open to the public
See a review of the exhibition in Canadian Art magazine here.
Squeaky Wheel is proud to present the first solo exhibition of media theorist/artist Yvette Granata. The exhibition poses the concept of a ‘post-cyberfeminist datum’ as a type of data that has been banned in the future. Works in the show include performance video works, immersive 360 videos, AI devices in conversation with each other, and more.
Join us on Friday, June 15th for the opening reception of the exhibition at Squeaky Wheel at 7pm. A newly commissioned essay on Granata’s work by scholar Bogna M. Konior accompanies the exhibition.
Public programs presented as part of this exhibition
June 15, 7–9pm: Opening reception, with conversation between Yvette Granata and Maiko Tanaka at 7:30pm.
June 29, 7pm: Performance: XENOYOGA((I REALLY WANT SOME)) by DJ xenoyoga
July 6, 9pm: Locative Media Tour with Yvette Granata at secret site. RSVP here.
August 18, 3pm: Curator’s Tour with Ekrem Serdar of d8e0ea
There is no freedom celebrated here. Everything is deliberate, made to function within the same constraints evoked by the materials: disease, depression, fear, fever, bondage, torture, addiction, the life of “a one-legged glowingly beautiful ex-whore. . .” It’s a far cry from the corporate dream of a cheerful interactivity which lets users choose, not lose control. . . She isn’t making pictures: these are diagrams. She isn’t an artist, but a software engineer. —Sadie Plant (Zeros and Ones)
Can we exploit the fact that our techno-social systems suck? Or is the future already prescribed by the obsessive intrusion of social media platforms, machine recognition bias, and the AI arms race to come?
Data is no longer just captured; it is used to predict a particular slice of the future, to move beyond the 180 degree limit of human linear space-time. Social intelligence is now energy intelligence. Everyone is a data farm. Machine learning systems consume vasts amount of data in order to learn the decisional arc of human-mindsteps. But are we building data walls that make intel-silos? Are we building AI assistant gender-tyrants? Are recognition systems making us into boring products for a shelf? What can we do with the empty silos of this data wasteland?
The show thinks through these questions by positing (and depositing) a cyberfeminist data form. It imagines electronic torture chambers in the future used for the policing of data-bodies and poses the concept of a post-cyberfeminist datum as a type of data that has already been banned in the future. From the age of technological reproduction to the age of data reduction, the topology of cyber-feminist data bytes are an endless VR day, confined and trapped already.
Works include: a webVR essay that explores Google’s Machine Vision API in a fictional cyberfeminist design office, a series of dead drops that contain intersectional cryptographic syn-sets for machine learning models for training future non-targets (human-bots and/or creatures-fems and/or slime-minds), a cyberfem sound sculpture of an AI named ‘Evie’ in conversation with Siri and Alexa (broadcast on the sidewalk), and a secret exploration of a possible factory.
#D8e8ea thinks through a possible fall-out shelter for social intelligence, a new information ontology that re-spins humans and data, and performs an interface of zero a user-experience. – Yvette Granata
Yvette Granata. XDDDDDDD, 3 minutes, HD video, 2017-2018
Yvette Granata. Womxn with a Google API (mobile version), webVR, 3-D prints, 2018
Yvette Granata. Hello Evie, AI assistant sound sculpture, Alexa, Siri, HD video, 2018
Ancestral Cyberspace: On the Technics of Secrecy
By Bogna M. Konior
‘Hiding the self through a faithful mapping of the universe is the only path to eternity.’ – Liu Cixin
It was women’s fingers that enfolded the data-corpse into the fabric of the world. Sadie Plant tells us that these fingers are like a spider’s spinnerets, extruding digital silk, weaving the history of networked technology, which at its core is a cunning practice of emasculation: ‘cyberspace is out of man’s control, [it] destroys his identity…at the peak of his triumph, the culmination of his machinic erections, man confronts the system he built for his own protection and finds it female and dangerous.’ For Plant, man sentenced himself to annihilation when he let the feminine hydra of digital technology out of its black box. Now, it is everywhere, slyly completing its task.
Cyberfeminism is an occult form of warfare. It understands about ‘cyberspace’ what Liu Cixin’s ‘dark forest’ theory understands about the cosmos: all existence is determined by hostility and so the highest form of intelligence lies in occluding one’s coordinates. The hypothesis explains why the universe, statistically full of life, is dead silent. It is not because, as is commonly thought, life has not found a way to communicate, but because it understands that silence is the most advanced form of intelligence. Our physical and virtual spaces, which are increasingly inseparable, are alike a dark forest, where every step must be taken with care, as revealing one’s existence portends annihilation. The most desirable skill, the most coveted trick, and the most longed for disposition can only be this – a fluency in the trading of secrets. The skills we need to strategically deploy concealment, de-concealment and re-concealment.
In this secrecy lies a genealogy of a post-cyberfeminism that always has been: an ancestral politics of cyberspace. Any feminism is a practice of genealogy but also of desecration – so much technical knowledge has been buried and its practitioners eliminated that a post-cyberfeminist must engage in the excavation, encoding and decoding of data-corpses, buried in wet soil of the earth and in the knots of submarine communication cables.
Decrypting ancestral secrecy trade and a cyberfeminist ancestry, one might find the corpse of Caterina Sforza, the progenitrix of the Medici family and one of the women who defined the burgeoning scientific culture of the Italian Renaissance. Remembered for her military genius and personal bravado (in response to an enemy threatening her with the death of her children, she grabbed her crotch and retorted that she could easily make more), she held a keen interest in the trading of secrets, especially pertaining to natural philosophy, medicine and alchemy. In Daughters of Alchemy, Meredith Ray describes the specular economy of secrecy in the early modern Italy, where secrets circulated in letters, manuscripts – libri di segreti – and through word of mouth. Secrets were a valued gift and a fitting expression of loyalty.
This arcane internet was a networked web of secrets, where the exchange of occult data between women formed a clandestine practice of science. From beauty recipes to alchemical attempts at the transmutation of matter into gold (believed to mirror the forming of a fetus in the womb), Sforza’s research into concealed knowledge served her in military, intellectual and political endeavors. In her notebooks, never intended for publication, she recorded recipes for poisons distilled from scorpion venom as well as instructions for concealing written text with slowly disappearing, ‘invisible’ ink. This non-formal practice of science was a way of interacting with the unknown not for its presupposed sanctity but its pragmatic utility.
Secrets, Ray writes, were synonymous with experimentation, ‘referring not to something unknown but rather to something that was proven.’ The most prized secrets were those that, when deployed, produced the desired results. A post-cyberfeminist secret is the proven unknown that loses none of its stealth: a secret is the instruction built for calculated obfuscation, a mechanism of encryption. Books of secrets, Ray tells us, could be deciphered according to a ‘generic code,’ meant for distinguishing valuable information from mere noise. Reading, writing, and circulating libri di segreti was a form of data analysis, a structural technique of (de)classifying information, contingent on maintaining the balance between obfuscation and analysis.
This cryptic practice of science was also an alternate economy. Secrets were a non-monetary currency used to establish debt and political influence. This specular economy of occluded knowledge built extended social, technical and publishing networks between women during the Scientific Revolution. Camilla Erculiani, an apothecary from Padua, attracted the attention of the Inquisition for her visibly public contribution to the scientific community and her heretical interpretation of theology. She later found protection with Anna Jagiellon, the queen of Poland, herself an intellectual and a potion mistress. Women’s work is a priori heretical by the very fact of its existence. Secrecy thus becomes a necessary form, both in the web of political life and in the approach to technology and knowledge. Post-cyberfeminist data is a priori banned in the future and exists in a banished land. Predicting its own illegality, it nevertheless codes a possibility: une autre fin du monde est possible (another end of the world is possible), as an anonymous French graffiti recently proclaimed. What post-cyberfeminist data has been already imprisoned in the future?
Erculiani’s interest was in the material fabric of the world: ‘the causes of the universal deluge, the composition of rainbows.’
Among Caterina’s medicinal recipes [were] a number of distilled waters, unguents, and elixirs produced through alchemical procedures such as multiplication, a kind of progressive distillation whereby a substance assumes greater and more diverse powers during the course of preparation.
Encrypting data could be for a post-cyberfeminism a pata-political model. Just like pata-physics is a science of the imaginary realm beyond philosophical metaphysics, pata-politics is a political science of the coming data-wasteland, beyond current political practices. Treated as non-existent and excluded from history, women’s technology endures both in its erased past and its banned future. These technologies do not promise liberation – they instead assure our survival. Post-cyberfeminist data is a type of camouflage: an ancestral practice now augmented and automated with algorithmic technologies. From its genealogy of secrecy into the future, it mutates and updates itself: what once was a book of secrets now becomes machine vision, a camera for algorithmic secrecy.♦
Evans, Claire L. Broad Band: The Untold Story of Women Who Made the Internet. Portfolio, 2018.
Cixin, Liu. The Dark Forest. Translated by Joel Martinsen. Tor Books, 2015.
Ray, Meredith. Daughters of Alchemy: Women and Scientific Culture in Early Modern Italy. Harvard University Press, 2015.
Plant, Sadie. On The Matrix: The Cyberculture Reader. Edited by David Bell and Barbara Kennedy. Psychology Press, 2000.
About the artist and the contributors
Yvette Granata is a media artist and Phd Candidate at SUNY Buffalo in the Department of Media Study. Her work intersects new media art-research, design, theory, and philosophy. She explores techno-philosophical and socio-political technology, non-philosophy, cyberfeminism and feminist media tech art practice. She has presented her work at the Harvard Carpenter Center for the Arts, The Eye Film Institute in Amsterdam, The Kunsthalle in Detroit, Papy Gyro Nights in Norway and Hong Kong, and Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center and Squeaky Wheel Media Arts Center in Buffalo, among others. Her film design work has appeared on screens at the Sundance film festival, Tribeca film festival, Rotterdam, Cannes, Berlinale, the Rome International Film Fest, SXSW, and CPH:PIX. She has published in Ctrl-Z: New Media Philosophy Journal, TRACE: Journal of Writing, Media, and Ecology, NECSUS: European Journal of Media Studies, and the International Journal of Cultural Studies. She received a NYS Council of the Arts Grant in 2017 and was a visiting researcher at the Senselab at Concordia, where she developed some of the work included in the current exhibit. See more at yvettegranata.com
Bogna M. Konior is the Media and Technology editor at the Hong Kong Review of Books and the director of the Institute for Critical Animal Studies, Asia. She holds a Research Masters in Media Studies, a PhD in Cultural Analysis and was a visiting researcher in Media and Culture at the ICON Center for the Humanities at the University of Utrecht. Her recent work in media cultures and the Anthropocene is published in Transformations: Journal of Media and Culture and forthcoming in PostMemes from Punctum Press. She is the Polish translator of the Xenofeminist Manifesto. Her curatorial and collaborative work exploring theory in the Anthropocene has been exhibited internationally and can be viewed at http://www.bognamk.com.
Maiko Tanaka is the Executive Director of Squeaky Wheel. She holds a BFA from OCADU and a Masters of Visual Studies from the University of Toronto. For over ten years Maiko has curated projects with prestigious and widely recognized arts institutions in Canada and abroad, including Trinity Square Video, Nuit Blanche at OCAD University, Justina M. Barnicke Gallery (now Art Museum – University of Toronto), InterAccess, all in Toronto, as well as Casco – Office for Art, Design, and Theory in Utrecht, NL. Maiko also currently serves on programming committee of Gendai Gallery and editorial advisory of C Magazine. She is the co-editor of several catalogue publications including, The Grand Domestic Revolution Handbook published by Casco and Valiz, and Model Minority, published by Gendai Gallery and Publication Studio.
Banner image: Yvette Granata. Hello Evie, AI assistant sound sculpture, Alexa, Siri, HD video, 2018