ramblings / cartesian encounters

" johoka shakai "

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Truth and the information society.

On May 14th the New York Times ran a story on a ruling by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg to grant users the right to remove links about themselves. This case was prompted by a Spanish lawyer who wanted past records of his misconduct removed from search results. The “so-called right to be forgotten, or erasure” ruling poses some difficult outcomes and has some far reaching implications in terms of privacy, rights to knowledge and the miss-representation of our identities. While writing “from code to cortex to cognition” I went back to the link to check the reference but I was unable to find the original document. The link lead me to a different article where the content, title and authors had been changed. It seems content on the internet is forever changeable and it raises questions around the validity and authenticity of information and exposes some wider concerns around issues of confidence and trust.

What we leave behind is just as important as what we engage with in the present. The digital sphere forgets nothing, traditionally our sources of information were printed with ink, on machines made of steel and iron on substrates made from trees and organic matter, “the essence of objects”. The fragility of all those elements in synchronicity expressing the ideas and thoughts of humanity are vulnerable. The information society is vulnerable too, but to a different type of fragility, of being forgotten or being wiped away by the elements of nature, rather we are vulnerable not only to the dissemination of data, but also to how it is used and who controls these flows.

information shadows - a brief digest

updated as of : 2015.06


where is the interface? why can't a wall be an interface? how about a space, a void? is that not an interface? things are unfinished. some patterns seem to be emerging. talk is not about the things, object/images or otherwise, that occupy the wall but more about the ideas which surround them. the embedded meaning or rather the residual value which they impart. their place in the context of greater meaning or whether they even have a place within the space they temporarily inhabit? how to transport a viewer elsewhere? i enjoy encountering a space and making decisions in the moment. how much content to include? where should they be positioned? what is their relation to each other? is there one? a minimalist aesthetic? can one object/image carry that much weight? ...

... i was told to wait ...

images below from 'global / local' summer seminar whitecliffe college of arts and design mfa mid-course submission : 2015.02.16-22 : install at Pearce Gallery and SGBR Studio, 130 Georges Bay road, parnell, auckland

Information shadows

Our thirst for knowledge and our appetite for understanding is what has propelled humanity forward. As we continue to broaden the knowledge based economies of our interconnected lives the data and information we manufacture acts as a conduit where the content we exchange contains a new form of labour. This ‘user activated labour’ results from a transaction where the value of exchange is not immediately one of economics but rather an exchange of information ripe for harvesting. Objects and resources are embedded with an information shadow and as we engage with our data driven society we extend the value of any given resource beyond its sole purpose as a commodity. The information presented here acts as a mediating point and seeks to explore the possibilities where concepts and ideas might exist beyond the boundaries of their function and intent. The accompanying QR codes link to a digital space where ideas exist in another dimension. These black and white cryptographs act as an interface between a physical world and the digital universe.

You will need to download a QR reader to your device to scan and follow the links.


update: 2015.06

This project began as the Data Syphons project.01 on blended-theory. It has since been absorbed into the transparency in exile: eighty-eight or there abouts project. They straddle the same subject matter and as these projects continue to be refined they will migrate into more specific lines of inquiry.

in search of data

tangimoana_panels For centuries humans have been collecting data. Ever since the first scientists, cartographers and philosophers began to question the boundaries of their existence and to explore the possibilities of the unknown, humans have been collecting, classifying and documenting their observations.

Today we continue to explore the possibilities of pushing our boundaries further outward where we extensively collect the bits and bytes of our interactions. In a series of online projects, blended-theory aims to open up a dialogue around the function of data in the contemporary; who is collecting it, what is it being used for and how might it shape us as we unknowingly participate in a world immersed in the shift to a digital existence.


/ project . 01 encouraging a culture of : remix / sampling / sharing / zero copyright.

Benjamin Tiven and Triple Canopy

Tiven_M_Daniel-arap-Moi [image] Benjamin Tiven, Daniel arap Moi at a Public Presentation, Unknown Date, 2013, inkjet print 20" × 25".

Pixels, root properties, illusions, patterns, grids and cities

Michael Cowan, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at Carnegie Mellon University and Benjamin Tiven, artist and contributor to the online magazine Triple Canopy, engage in a fascinating conversation, titled How we see in which they discuss the role of the brain in the understanding of the sensory world. The conversation revolves around issues that relate to our visual systems and the role of consciousness, evolution, experiential and scientific influences in shaping a visual understanding.

The interview is part of Common Minds, a series of essays which investigate the intricacies of the brain and the growth of neuroscience in contemporary society and science. Interestingly, Tiven titles this interview as a collaborative work and not an interview. This approach highlights the multiple roles that artists, such as Tiven, engage in and that any discourse is as valid a piece of art work as any painting, photograph, sculpture or digital creation. Below is a short extract from that conversation:

Our monitoring of the world is really much less continuous and accurate than we think it is. Experience is the conversion of energy into data. The project of all life is to correlate the interpretation with the energy source, since the better your ability to interpret reality, the more likely you are to survive and pass on your genes. Now, how close or causal is the relationship between the energy we experience and our interpretation of it—that's a different question. In fact, something like illusion or magic is based on a discrepancy between the information we're taking in and our interpretation. (Tarr, 2013 para 15)

Corrupted imagery and heads of state

Benjamin Tiven's approach to his art work is collaborative in nature and investigative in style. He deals with the longevity of images and the cross pollination of data from its analog forms into the digitised world as a need for survival. These manifest themselves as conversations that revolve around the issues of existence, memory and the way that stories are told. In A Third Version of the Imaginary, Tiven researches the archived footage, buried in the depths of the Kenyan Broadcasting Corporation, and the events surrounding the 1973 Kenyan Independence Day parade. He brings the archived footage back to life through a series of interviews and conversations which corroborate the grainy, choppy footage from a technological past.


Employing the internet, through Triple Canopy, as a platform for the reinterpretation of these occurrences, the ‘conversations’ express themselves as investigative journalism which delve deeper into the politics of regimes past, the power of political imagery and the data that forms these events. Tiven describes an aspect of his work as the "increasing interchangeability between objects and data" and in one of these conversations with Brian Larkin, Larkin describes that a “breakdown shouldn’t be seen as the absence of something, but rather as the groundwork for something else coming into existence” (Larkin, 2014). This view exemplifies what Tiven’s work is about; that all things have data, past, present and future and in the retrieval and archiving of these events, new occurrences happen.

The digital space can now act as the repository of our actions. The increased capacity of storage through micro technologies and cloud depositories has expanded the realm of knowledge and the capacity for the instantaneous retrieval of information. The explosion of on-line magazines, blogs and social media sites has spurned an environment where all our experiences can be recorded and archived. This ever expanding environment can also be seen as the collective memory of our times.

But one day, these digital spaces might mirror the dusty archival rooms of past regimes, which means that the decoding of our digital past will require new technologies and new visionaries to retrieve them from their slumber. So, who will be responsible for the reinterpretation of these memories? Who will re-mix, loop, splice, cut and paste new story lines in an effort to uncover the deeper connections that occurred in the posting of our existence? As the digital space increasingly becomes controlled and commodified will it be the artist, the writer, the scientist or will we relinquish that responsibility to the powers that govern us? And will these interpretations represent the truth?


Tarr, M. & Tiven, B. (2013). How we see. Retrieved from:

Larkin, B., Nyong’o, T. & Tiven, M. (2014). Everyday static transmissions. Retrieved from: