Searching Tags: 2016
  • The Marching Ants series

    The marching ants effect, also known as marquee selection, is the animated border of dashed lines often used in computer graphics programs where the dashes seem to move slowly sideways and up and down, as ants marching in line. It is the visible sign of a potentially immediate transformation within the surface of the screened image. The cut, removal or replacement of a fragment of a digital surface need first the outline of a distinguished area, bordered, separated from the rest of the image.

    "Edges are used to mark objects off from one another. Perceptually, an edge is not a thing but a way of distinguishing between things, a way of ordering the chaos of perception. The edge marks difference, and in that sense it is nothing, the nonexistence that interposes itself between everything that, by the principle of difference, is given an identity." (Cubitt 74)

    Considered however from the point of view of aerially-aided landscape operations such as parceling, ordering or leveling land, the Marching Ants entail additionally the "interaction between imaging technologies and mathematical, topographical, geographical, and governmental knowledge" characteristic of cultural techniques (Siegert 98). They are creatures of the screen that belong to a chain of operations which ends up digging, revolving or performing any other actions related to the practices on the soil carried on by infrastructural, building, mining or agricultural works.

    Photo courtesy of Jane Birkin
    Photo courtesy of Jane Birkin

    Los Merinales

    In a first elaboration of the series during a week long studio workshop that took place in the Winchester School of Art, the building and removal of the Penal Colony "Los Merinales" in Seville are brought up as part of the operative chains that accomplished the hidden work behind the agrarian reform program known as the Inner Colonisation. The concentration camp was used to confine prisoners of the Spanish Civil War for more than twenty years in order to exploit them, in extreme living and labour conditions, to build the tunnels and channels of the vast irrigation network.



    While the comparison of the prisoners building the tunnels with the distinctive underground activity of ants is anything but an anecdotal coincidence, this first materialisation of The Marching Ants series highlights an episode of presence and disappearance within the infrastructural. The barely remembered penal colony of Franco's dictatorship was an ephemeral camp of disposable people, a one-use only temporal complex of buildings, barracks and services, prior and essential to the agricultural industrialization of landscape.



    In the project carried on at the WSA, the border of the colony complex is outlined also as a liminal, ephemeral operation, this time whithin the contemporary ecologies of the screen. Outlined as a dashed line mechanically set in movement, the silhouette of the colony becomes a physical marquee selection, a flow of lines meant only to highlight, temporarily, a soon-to-be transformed fragment of the whole.

    The resulting installation displays both the mechanical Marching Ants, together with the mechanisms that put them in movement. As a site-specific project developed for the workshop, the installation mixes found materials, such as wood remainders, with basic labor related tools used to put in movement the dashed line rods: painter rolls, electrical screw terminals, nails and motors.

    Find other notes on this Marching Ants series here: http://abelardogfournier.tumblr.com/tagged/marching-ants

    And two close-up gifs of the front and rear sides (original videos courtesy of Elham Soleimani):

  • Transition of States. A Mechanical GIF

    La maquinaria de una red social y la maquinaria del estado se ponen en funcionamiento en Estados de transición: un GIF mecánico. Una colección de manos de latón rotando en el reconocible gesto de aprobación o rechazo se unen en esta pieza creando una bandera cuya aparente ondulación alude tanto a la fluctuación de estados subjetivos como a la construcción de los otros Estados, representados en el símbolo de la bandera.

    En el reverso de esta, un episodio ocurrido durante la colonización belga del Congo es citado junto al mecanismo que pone en funcionamiento el movimiento del conjunto: debido a la escasez de munición, los oficiales belgas exigían a los soldados entregar por cada bala gastada una mano del esclavo cadáver. Las manos -en la pieza: de latón, el material de los casquillos de bala-, amputadas de sus cuerpos y contabilizadas, devienen finalmente iconos y moneda de cambio, en un proceso ininterrumpido de constitución de banderas.

    (texto de María Andueza)

    The machinery of a social network and the machinery of a State are put into work in Transition States: a Mechanical GIF. A collection of tin hands spinning with the wellknown gesture of approval or rejection compose in this piece a flag with an illusory movement of oscillation, which alludes both the fluctuation of the states of individual subjects as to the construction of the other States, represented in the symbol of the flag.

    On the back of it, an episode occured during the Belgian colonization of the Congo is cited next to the mechanism that generates the movement of the ensemble: due to ammunition shortage, Belgian officers required soldiers to submit a hand of the killed slave for each spent bullet. Hands -in the piece: made of tin, the material of the cartridge of bullets-, amputated and contabilized, become finally icons and bargain chip in a uninterrupted process of constitution of flags.

    (text by María Andueza)

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    Videos

    1. A making-of of a screen:

    2. During the opening, by Omnivoros

    3. During the opening, from outside the gallery, by María Andueza

  • Ephemeris. Unmaking the metric surface

    This workshop is part of the PostScreen Festival 2016. Venue: Universidade Lusofona de Humanidades e Tecnologias

    The Swedish Land Registry recently announced tests being conducted to put the country’s land registry system on blockchain [1]. This procedure encodes land by fragmenting it into blocks whose transactions -purchases, clearings, reclassifications, etc- are systematically traced, encrypted and recorded in chains stored in distributed databases, in analogy to the bitcoin operations.

    In the context of the digitalization of the surfaces of the Earth -through, among others, satellital images, aerial photogrammetry, sensor networks and GIS services- this decentralized protocol reinforces a topological approach to land, characteristic of infrastructural planning [2], which renders topography redundant: once locations are figured out from time delays in the communication with orbiting nodes (GPS), or addresses reinvented as algorithmic hashes (geohash, what3words), the old modern, metric-driven Earth is replaced by a different, database-like entity.

    This context, however, is not the result of a spontaneous transformation. The observation of the Earth through media has occurred along with the expansion of extractive industries, whose actions have resurfaced the planet itself, together with the humans inhabiting it [3]. A large amount of varied movements populates and reshapes the planet’s crust: irrigation systems, conveyor belts, leveling machines, water sluices, tractors, etc. complement the disciplined operations of the workers of the farms, mines and industries.

    This workshop proposes the use of these movements as a “physical diagramming” that recreates –and, by doing so, interferes with– the machinery through which this relation to the Earth is produced [4]. To do so, it will propose the use of obsolete metric tools -rulers, right triangles, compasses, protractors- as kinetic objects to be animated by simple electronic motors and basic mechanical components. An introduction to the needed programming and electronic skills will be provided, in order to be finally able to link data from the computer to the mechanical devices.