storytelling the future
displacement, translation and relocation

displacement, translation and relocation

As I mentioned before, despite the diversity of topics proposed by the projects featured in this year’ festival edition, the similarities are stunning.

it is as if the works by the most disparate artists/scientists/geeks were engaged in a sustained and coherent dialogue.
In general, in all the presentations, beside a certain propensity and desire to question  and re-elaborate established discourses about  current art, technologies and science, one could identify specific directions towards displacing such given tools or discourses and relocating them somewhere else through a sometimes simple, though unexpected mechanism of translation. such mechanism is able to shed a novel light on technologies and scientific phenomena that we usually take for granted and that we would probably never think of re-shaping to perform completely different, or even disruptive tasks.

This was the case of Jennifer’s Willet, who developed her idea of ecology by physically relocating organisms from an enclosed controlled world to a hybrid and diverse environment; it was the case of Phenomena whose collection of video transformed the way we see natural phenomena, mathematical formulas and chemical reactions, by passing them through the eyes of the artists.

It is also the case of Julian Oliver‘s new work, Newstweets, which has recently awarded the Golden Nica at Ars Electronica. the idea here is simple, as it simultaneously manages to jam the news and to encourage a more attentive and proactive approach to todays ubiquitous media .  His work is a word of caution that draw attention to the way networks are anything but trustworthy.


A simple device taking the form of an innocuous wall plug casually inserted in the walls of hotspot locations (such s Starbucks coffee and other locations that provide free access to the Web), Newstweek allows to produce and disseminate manipulated news red on a variety of portable devices. In addition to potentially generating news chaos, this device makes us reflect on today’s confidence in the information that flows online and on the sense of security and lack of awareness that we have developed when we innocently check our phone messages or browse news and other websites. Furthermore, by encouraging the user to build his/her own plug out of fairly simple material, it fosters a DIY culture committed to  challenging the authority of free information flow: a perfect device able to shatter our ignorance regarding the way technologies really work and their manipulative function and sneakyness.

On a different topic, but maintaining a similar attitude, and surprisingly resonating with the issue of species transference and, thus, to Willet’s earlier intervention, Patrick Lichty‘s (a.k.a Man Michinaga) art historical exploration of the art projects produced in virtual worlds such as Second Life, asks how we can use a virtual space that provides a number of potentials in ways that the physical space won’t allow.