Optimization and Its Miscontents: Counterpolitics of Surveillance Capitalism | + the case of Panoramic Unknowns

Sun, 03.02.2019
HKW, Berlin
Taking as its starting point a framing of optimization and its miscontents, this one day-long workshop takes a deep dive into the technologies and applications underlying optimization logic. Participants examine artworks and scholarly projects that attempt to gauge and broaden our conception and understanding of optimization systems, and offer techniques to expand our political agency under these circumstances. Through these counter-political strategies, participants situate our relationship with these systems and explore the means at our disposal—be they subversion, queering, resistance, or militancy—for engagement within and outside of the optimization regime.


Participating contributors: Ramon Amaro, Dia Kayyali, Dmytri Kleiner, Ben Miller, Phoebe V. Moore, Conrad Moriarty-Cole, Rebekah Overdorf, Martin Pasek, Helen Pritchard, Jara Rocha, Clemens Schöll, Femke Snelting


Case: Panoramic Unknowns

Proposed by: Possible Bodies (Jara Rocha, Femke Snelting)

Unknown Object Tracking [1] is being applied on an industrial scale in robotics, car traffic control and 'intelligent' surveillance systems; think Amazon warehouses and Google street view. This technique employs panoramic cameras, which provide 360-degree views that are processed by specialised software in order to locate volumes in space. But when surveying areas like factories, big halls, streets or even a single room, there are always many 'blind spots' and 'unknown objects'. Machine Learning is currently being employed to optimize such known unknowns.

Possible Bodies [2] is a collaborative research on the very concrete and at the same time complex and fictional entities that "bodies" are, asking what matter-cultural conditions of possibility render them volumetrically present. For Optimization and its miscontents we invite participants to use their political/aesthetic/technical sensibilities towards the computation of volumetrics. We invite you to attend to Unknown Object Tracking [UOT] as a spacetime mattering that is not necessarily organized from the outside to the inside (as the optimised god-like sight) but from the inside-out, somehow both adjusting to and reversing a 3D paradigm of convergence into a "point of origin". 

The seamlessness that a 360 capture demands is based on the analysis of tiny 'features' that are sophisticatedly attended to by Computer Vision agencies. Features are differences, anomalies, visual anchors, identifiers that are considered to be specific for a single capture.

UOT depends on processing past data and simulations that are kept, learned and trained before being projected into the future, while real time data from the camera is used to adapt to changes. Their predictive claim is based on past measurements that make optimization systems vulnerable to unexpected change and/or wild surprises, as the unknown can only be detected if it falls within the boundaries of the probable. Where is the possible in considering panoramic unknowns? What if we consider the unknown not only as risky but fundamental to an orchestation of spacetime that is not necessarily harmonic and predictable, but also dissonant and accidented?

+ info: https://2019.transmediale.de/content/optimization-and-its-miscontents-counterpolitics-of-surveillance-capitalism

Depths and Densities: A Possible Bodies Workshop at Transmediale 2019

Fri, 01.02.2019
HKW, Berlin

The contemporary infrastructural complex of mining and measuring soil depends on software tools for geological data handling, interpretation, and 3D-vizualisation. Such tools power techno-colonial subsurface exploration with computational techniques and paradigms. Possible Bodies (Jara Rocha, Femke Snelting, and featuring Helen Pritchard) invites you to collectively study open source tools for geo-modelling while attending to the different regimes they operate within. It will inject resistant vocabularies, misuses and/or f(r)ictions that could affect the extractivist bias embedded in the computation of earth’s depths and densities. The workshop is a trans*feminist experiment and an act of affirmative responsibility-taking for this turbocapitalist momentum. Possible Bodies is a collaborative research, interrogating the concrete and, at the same time, the fictional entities of “bodies” in the context of 3D-tracking, -modelling, -rendering and -scanning.

with  Femke Snelting, Helen Pritchard & Jara Rocha


Participants are encouraged to bring their laptops for the workshop.

+ info on workshop and festival: https://2019.transmediale.de/content/depths-and-densities-a-possible-bodies-workshop