The New Museum and Rhizome jointly present the second edition of Open Score, an annual symposium that explores the state of art and technology today. Convening luminary artists, writers, activists, and scholars to discuss how technology is transforming culture, Open Score will consider how, in light of our precarious and violent political moment, technology is called upon to assist us with tasks that range from the banal to the most urgent. This year’s program is co-organized with artist and curator Aria Dean, activist Grace Dunham, and writer Nora N. Khan, and will examine the relationship between blackness and meme culture, the transformative potential of activist platforms that combat social isolation, and the gendered and racial dimensions of artificial intelligence.
1:30 PM: Introduction by Lisa Phillips, Toby Devan Lewis Director, New Museum
Remarks by Lauren Cornell, Curator and Associate Director, Technology Initiatives, New Museum, and Michael Connor, Artistic Director, Rhizome
1:45 PM: Blackness in Circulation
What is the relationship between memes and blackness?
As the meme has migrated from the fringes of internet culture to—some might argue—its epicenter, so too has blackness taken center stage, often through the circulation of cultural and political events that travel virally. This panel sees discussing the meme as an opportunity to take stock of how blackness circulates in 2016, aiming to renew and build upon existing conversations around the increasing hypervisibility of blackness online, and the widespread appropriation that comes with it. Bringing together artists and thinkers whose work explores blackness, its representation, and its circulation historically and in the contemporary social media sphere, the panel will ask: what are new approaches or frameworks, in 2016 and into the future, through which we might escape the regime of visibility? Does something exist beyond the binary of representation, or the withdrawal from it that has dominated conversations in the past?
Speakers: Manuel Arturo Abreu, writer; Hannah Black, artist and writer; Devin Kenny, artist; and Mendi and Keith Obadike, artists
Moderator: Aria Dean
3 PM: Break
3:15 PM: Together in Electric Dreams
How can artists open up new ways of relating to AI systems?
Machine intelligence is often figured in popular culture and software applications in the form of the virtual assistant, often female, performing automated emotional labor on behalf of a user. This anthropomorphized, gendered, subservient form of AI bears little resemblance to the diverse forms of machine intelligence that will one day organize many facets of our world. Computation already allows for the automation of crucial aspects of cognitive labor under capitalism, making the task of understanding new theories of mind, and their implications, all the more imperative. Speculating about and planning for the effects of new kinds of intelligence requires greater leaps of the imagination. The panel will ask: how might artists develop new images, new language, and new ways of relating to machine intelligence? What new forms of identity and intersubjectivity might emerge from this process?
Speakers: Katherine Cross, writer; Ian Cheng, artist; Sondra Perry, artist; and Patricia Reed, artist.
Moderator: Nora N. Khan
4:30 PM: Break
4:45 PM: Out of Isolation
What is the internet’s potential for creating new social infrastructures?
Amid the claim that society has never been more interconnected, many continue to be hidden or to hide—within the walls of prisons, through the apparatuses that sequester the sick and disabled, because public life is too dangerous and too hostile, because colonization and globalization have rendered communities diffuse and divided. Even those with relative access and security can understand themselves to be alone. Yet, against and out of the institutions and ideologies that structure isolation, artists and activists seek to connect people and communities. This panel will ask a group of artists, all of whom take social life as both their medium and subject: How might we use digital space to create networks of care and interdependence, as well as structural transformation and economic redistribution? What digitally-driven strategies do we have for reducing the harm of systemic physical and emotional isolation? Why is art (as it is inflected by technology) still a space for seeking liberatory possibilities, even as the state attempts to foreclose the possibility of liberation for so many?
Speakers: Christopher Glazek, activist and writer; Jamal T. Lewis, filmmaker and artist;Elizabeth Mputu, artist; and Christopher Kulendran Thomas, artist.
Moderator: Grace Dunham
Cover Image: Hannah Black, My Bodies (still), 2014. Single-channel video, sound, color; 3:30 min. Courtesy the artist