An Earthology of Moving Landforms - Linz AMRO 2018

Filed under: 2018

Recent space imaging developments have given rise to a spread of commercial services based on the temporal dimensions of satellite imagery. Marketed under umbrella terms such as environmental intelligence, real-time Earth observation or orbital insight, these imaging projects deliver the surface of the planet as an image flow encoded into video streams, where change and variation become a commodified resource on the one hand, as well as a visual spectacle on the other.

Postprocessed by computer vision and machine learning algorithms, these services extend the geospatial logic of GIS systems to the surface of the image. Paths become trackable, objects classificable and movements predictable. Seen from the satellite networks, the surfaces of the planet are imaged as visual feeders for data-extractive algorithms. As aerial images become data, then, the Earth is operationalised as a legible screen, where the predicted predates the perceived.

This workshop proposes to examine the use of video prediction techniques based on machine learning within this imaging context of the transformations of landscape. It seeks to explore the cinematic character of some of the active landforms of the planet, such as river thalwegs, drifting glaciers or crawling dunes. This way, the workshop will present the capacity to generate video-predicted landscapes as a platform to speculate with this particular entanglement between visual media and the surfaces of the planet, beyond the extractive and finantial contexts that have given rise to it.

The workshop is part of an ongoing research on the image character and temporality of the planetary surfaces developed together with Jussi Parikka and the Archaeologies of Media and Technology group.

Link to the workshop: Art Meet Radical Openness AMRO 18

Surface Value and Landscape Prediction, Transmediale 2018, Berlin

Filed under: 2018

Aerial views of the ground for mapping, control, or military exploitation have numerous forms of surface value: representational power, logistics, targeting, real-time surveillance, and mastery of space. This workshop elaborates on the double aspect of the screen as geographical and mediatic, as a material and epistemological part of value creation. It includes a seminar discussion with set readings as well as a practice-led component on “landscape prediction.” Participants will experiment with relevant machine learning techniques and speculate upon the entanglement of visual media with the surfaces of the planet. They will explore how predictive images of the Earth can affect ground-level operations, and how the surfaces of the planet can extend this visual archive.

The workshop was run together with Ryan Bishop, Mihaela Brebenel and Jussi Parikka, part of the Archaeologies of Media and Technology research group.

Ephemeris. Unmaking the metric surface

Filed under: 2016, unmaking

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.

Híbridos digitales. Movimiento y materia en la sombra de lo inmaterial

Filed under: 2014

Una propuesta de exploración crítica y colectiva sobre la progresiva ubicuidad del elemento digital y su capacidad de acción sobre el mundo físico.

De la visibilización del “mundo de procesos de sombras invisibles” de Graham Harwood a la evidencia del impacto material de la actividad digital, mostrada en proyectos en curso como The New Aesthetic de James Bridle, haremos un recorrido por trabajos que problematizan la materialización de lo digital.

En paralelo, veremos cómo la distinción tradicional entre analógico y digital deja de ser operativa en estas prácticas cuando consideramos tecnologías como la computación ubicua, Internet of Things o videomappings formando parte de instalaciones o intervenciones. Daremos lugar con estas reflexiones a la experimentación en el taller con motores paso a paso, dispositivos móviles o proyecciones.

Comentaremos procesos de materialización del sonido como los realizados por Gary Hill , Mikel Arce, Jonathan Keep, Matthiew Plummer-Fernandez o Dennis P Paul; las activaciones del espacio a través de movimientos automáticos de Zimoun, Pe Lang, Julius von Bismarck o Pierre Laurent Cassiere; visibilizaciones del elemento digital realizadas desde el activismo hacker de la Barbie Liberation Organization hasta las acciones con distintos medios de James Bridle, Taryn Simon & Aaron Swartz o Lorna Barnshaw; para hablar finalmente de las máquinas enfermas (Machines Malades), como las propuestas por Nils Völker, Ralf Baecker, Roberto Pugliese así como mis más recientes trabajos.

Descarga aquí las transparencias del taller

Algorithmes Créatifs - Stereolux, Nantes, Jan. 2014

Filed under: algorithms, 2014
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Increasingly complex interactions with machines blur the differences between matter, life and conscience.

Following the concepts discussed in the presentation of the documentary "Hello World! Processing ", this workshop will explore in detail the creation of living-like responsive environments. Through the introduction to algorithms coming from the simulation of natural and artificial phenomena, such as Vector Fields and Graphs, this workshop will be focused in the complexification of interaction and the composition of systems, two key issues to explore critically and creatively in our increasingly algorithmic driven world.

Github of the workshop:

Stone, Pixel, Plastic, Stone

Filed under: digital fabrication, 2013
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The workshop is intended to take the form of a circular theoretical / practical path in which we will study the transformations inherent to the processes of transforming an object, and the change in their properties at each step: 3D scanning, digital alteration, printing in plastic, and re-obtaining the object using moulds.

I've been invited by the Art & Technology lab of Arteleku, coordinated by Daniel Artamendi, to workshop together with artist Dario Urzay in San Sebastian during two days, 20-21 October 2013.

Broadly speaking, the process is as follows:

1. Scanning rocks, using different techniques to obtain a 3D grid.

2. Altering/parametrizing the 3D grid, either manually or using code, and preparing it for printing on a 3D printer.

3. Printing the 3D model in PLA/ABS plastics.

4. With the part printed, creating formwork and obtaining the negative of the part using moulds of different kinds.

5. Using the moulds, re-obtaining the object in different materials (cement, plaster, etc.).

6. Repeating the process with the new object.

The workshop will take the form of a path; participants will travel and, with the guests, will participate in the different milestones and transformations of the object. The workshop is targeted at artists, architects, sculptors and enthusiasts of digital manufacture. No technical knowledge is required.

Creative Algorithms - Alhóndiga Bilbao, Sept. 2013

Filed under: 2013, algorithms

Algorithms are invisible shapers of our lives and contexts. They decide stuff that affects us, sort the information that reaches us, organize our movements inside cities and countries and analyze each of our digital choices.

During this workshop we worked on the invisibility of algorithms, on The New Aesthetic topic and on their emergent properties, among other issues, and introduced Processing as a tool to begin to think with and on them.

Digital Fabrication: Repeat. Transform. Parametrize

Filed under: 2012, digital fabrication
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How can we think of systems, abstraction and emergent behaviours through digital fabrication? How can we grasp the notion of growth of structures, or of digital structures as well, with the aid of multiple 3d printers working at the same time?

Daniel Artamendi proposed a very interesing workshop around these topics to Pello Mitxelena, a vasc sculptor, and me, as part of the workshop program he has been developing in Arteleku (Donosti).

Rather than thinking of printing objects, how can we start to think of the idea of printing systems? The workshop was a two day creative meeting with several people with different backgrounds, from architecture, education and engineering to arts.

In order to introduce some concepts around algorithms to the participants in the workshop, I prepared a series of tutorials in Processing connected to the building of elementary snappable "coded" pieces. This code has been further elaborated by Mikel del Valle and will be released soon as an open source tool to "program" printable pieces.

I worte post-workshop review here (spanish only):

You can browse also through its flickr set:

Or hear a conversation with Pello Mitxelena, in a video (spanish only) here:

Suma de códigos. Videogames in the public space

Filed under: game art, 2012

Mexico DF, February 13-17, 2012, in collaboration with María Andueza

SAE Insitute Mexico -

The city is a process landscape where people, machines and infrastructures cohabit and populate a space-time experience so complex that allows infinite variations and local site specificities.

This was a 5 day workshop where we set up a process of intense collective creation and discussion with a complex videogame as a result.

We proposed to think a specific spatial context in terms of game design, and explained gradually a set of tools we had prepared to work with Processing and Android devices:

- Day 1. The room - The space and its representation in a map - Interaction

- Day 2. The building as a situation database - QR Codes

- Day 3: A specific open space, the park - Mobile cameras, image upload, public sharing content networks.

- Day 4: The streets, the map - The city as a situation game engine - GeoData and Google Tables

- Day 5: The complete game - Project presentation

We prepared a website of the workshop (spanish only):

And posted all the codes (a lot of useful classes to work with Android Processing) here:

Finally, you can read a post-workshop review by María Andueza here (spanish only):

Emergent gameplay in Processing - GameJam 2011 Madrid

Filed under: game art, 2011
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Madrid, January, 2011