An art program to imagine new paths towards a more sustainable and humane future, in partnership with Eyebeam in New York and La Becque in Switzerland.
Image credit: Taehee Whang

Rapid Response for a Better Digital Future


Following our joint goal of lifting the voices of artists in a time of crisis and systemic collapse, swissnex Boston and swissnex in New York are partnering with the artist residency programs Eyebeam in New York and La Becque on lake Geneva between Vevey and Montreux, Switzerland. This initiative arose quickly from conversations around the outbreak of the global pandemic, when both residency programs had to  pause their highly physical programming for artists.

In the hope of invigorating artistic creation of digital futures at this moment of systemic collapse, we specifically chose 3 alumni from both residency programs to join the additional 30 daring challengers and transformers from around the world who will participate in phase 1 of the program Rapid Response for a Better Digital Future at Eyebeam, where they will carve out a path towards a more humane vision for the future from July to mid October 2020.

 This type of international and interdisciplinary exchange is at the core of our Arts+ program at swissnex and exemplifies the ways we strive to make connections. We are proud to support the outreach and active engagement of partners like La Becque and Eyebeam in the global exchange of knowledge, ideas and talent. By crossing conventional boundaries, this program offers a platform to foster collaboration and creativity for inspiring research, challenging art projects and groundbreaking innovation.

Eyebeam and La Becque and swissnex Boston are like-minded organizations in support of visionary artistic practices who came together this year to bring three talented alumni of their respective organizations into the Rapid Response working group. The three organizations share an ethos to use digital tools for the creation and distribution of art and support the production of physically distanced work that questions who controls dialogue and discussion in the 21st century.


2020 Residents

Aladin Borioli (CH)

La Becque Alumnus
Work: aladinborioli.ch | Swiss Design Awards

Q&A with Aladin:

What do you plan to do during Phase 1 of Rapid Response?

During Phase 1, I will develop a web platform which is nominal idea of the project and the platform will be the art piece itself.

How does your work relate to the theme of the open call?

This particular work aims to create a space, a refuge in the biological sense of the term, where humans are able to encounter bees on a more egalitarian basis without the need of proximity. « Intimacy without proximity » is an idea developed by Jacob Metcalf while studying grizzly bears and I believe that it is how great value today. While the need to avoid proximity with giant bears that can eat you alive seems quite obvious what about when the danger comes from us? Are certain types of relationships need to avoid physical proximity? And in this case, how can keep we develop intimate relationships without physical proximity. Broadly speaking, « The Intimacy Machine » is the idea of turning upside down a profit-driven technology used for managing bee colonies into a machine which will create a space on the Internet where we can develop aesthetic encounters with bees. However, why should we get interested into such thing, technological apparatus that develop the risk to break an ontological dance beekeepers are conducting with bees for thousand years? I would use the words of Anna Tsing and say because there is politics in the making of these technologies and we should not leave private companies and profit-driven ideologies decide for us. Simultaneously, the idea is to reimagine the digital representation of non-humans. Their digital representation is ambivalent, at the same time, they are what we can call digital obese they are on our computer background for their beauty or they make us laugh on videos; on the other hand, they truly lack proper representations outside classical metaphor and clichés. How can we allow humans to create more intimate and thoroughness interspecies relationships. My work precisely aims to explore the possibility of finding spaces within these digital technology, spaces not yet inhabit by technocapitalist ideology, and through these spaces propose new way of living with non-humans.

What does the future look like to you?

I believe we are at a tipping point in history and to be honest we are mostly doomed. However there are some hopes to emerge in the ruins around us (see Eben Kirksey and Anna Tsing). The question now, is how can we, locally and in collaboration with humans and non-humans, do something? The following quote, I believe, sum-up a really important point nowadays: ‘In this context, it does not seem to be enough to say that ‘we are all bound up in a relationship of dependence in a multispecies world.’ The brand of holistic ecological philosophy that emphasises that ‘everything is connected to everything’ will not help us here. Rather, everything is connected to something, which is connected to something else (Rose 2008:56). While we may all ultimately be connected to one another, the specificity and proximity of connections matter–who we are bound up with and in what ways.’ (van Dooren, Thom. 2014 (2016). ‘Flight Ways: Life and loss at the edge of extinction.’ Columbia University Press; 60) (Rose, Deborah Bird. 2008. ‘Judas Work: Four Modes of Sorrow.’ Environmental Philosophy 5, no. 2:51-66) So how can we value and help specific relations to flourish?

What is your grounding ethos?

Basically, I’m coming from an art field, and I quickly realised that art wasn’t enough, at least not for me. Hence, I decided to develop and get my work closer to the humanities, in order to be able to ground it to something more theoretical and at the same time more concrete in a certain way; humanities allow me to develop a discourse and then being listen to, even if it’s at a really low level. I keep doing art because I believe that it helps me to spread the thinking and my ideas into other fields and to a broader audience. I would say that my ethos would be to try as hard as possible to develop research/projects.. however we want to call them, that could help to think, help to create refugia where we can privilege certain ideas over others.


Brandon ‘B’ Covington Sam-Sumana (US)

La Becque Alumnus
Work: FACT.co.uk | SoundCloud

Brandon Covington Sam-Sumana was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina during the mid-1990s. They work to interrogate matters related to currency, transience, narratology, and system metabolism. Their interrogations have spawned sound projects, objects of generative design, forays into speculative finance, video, text, and visual art. Covington has presented works of music composition, performance, and installation at institutions such as The ICA London, The New Museum, Tate Modern, and The Atlanta Contemporary. In 2019 they released their first collection of essays,  i was born in ww3: the exorcism of Kaye – fifteen laws of virtuality, violence, and asymmetry told in fifteen awful phrases.

 Q&A with B:

What do you plan to do during Phase 1 of Rapid Response?

In immediacy – I’ll be developing a digital almanac consisting of a small battery of different timekeeping utilities and multimedia editorial content.

How does your work relate to the theme of the open call?

Part of my objective here is to de-emphasize economies of surveillance and extraction in favor of those of curriculum and craft.

What does the future look like to you?

Full of water. It’s my hope that water evolves us past paradigms of sacrifice and into paradigms of pooling and generation. Humanity has what it now needs to return to the site of its own genesis so as to right its wrongs.

What is your grounding ethos?

I am a sound artist. Much of my work has been about the embrace of sound’s multiphenomenality – the ability for the sonic to make manifest in material, in image, in the biogenetic. All aspects of my labor link back to this.


Mimi Ọnụọha (NI/US)

Eyebeam Alumna
Work: mimionuoha.com

Mimi Ọnụọha is a Nigerian-American artist and researcher whose work highlights the social relationships and power dynamics behind data collection. Her multimedia practice uses print, code, installation and video to call attention to the ways in which those in the margins are differently abstracted, represented, and missed by sociotechnical systems.

Q&A with Mimi:

What do you plan to do during Phase 1 of Rapid Response?

Work with a team to create an original dataset related to land and racial violence in the US.

How does your work relate to the theme of the open call?

Surveillance capitalism is an extension of capitalism, and capitalism is but one aspect of the matrix of domination that the US has participated in and which predominantly targets Black, brown, indigenous and other folks who fall outside of the field of power.

What have you been working on and plan to continue to work on during this fellowship?

Work with a team to create an original dataset related to land and racial violence in the US.

What does the future look like to you?

Black.

What is your grounding ethos?

To be known on our own terms, not those that rely upon our subjugation.


About Partners

About Eyebeam
Eyebeam provides both space and support for a community of diverse, impact-driven artists. The residency program brings artists’ work to life and into the world by providing access to advanced tools and resources and launching dynamic public events, assisted by an engaged community of former participating artists.

 

About La Becque
Located on an exceptional slice of lakeside land on the shores of Lake Geneva between Vevey and Montreux, in proximity to all cultural and natural points of interest of Switzerland, La Becque | Artist Residency hosts and fosters the creativity of artists of all backgrounds and disciplines. Residents benefit from an exceptional site and infrastructure, conducive to accomplishing the project they have been selected for, whether it is focused on in-depth research or on production.