How do cultural institutions and art practices respond to long-standing states of national and international emergency? Khalil Rabah’s artistic practice investigates the future of visual arts production under such conditions. Exploring the relationships between historically sanctioned and experimental exhibition settings, fictional and documentative narratives, and the histories of displacement, his methods not only propose but also produce speculative institutions. Edited by Anthony Downey, the artist’s first major monograph, Falling Forward / Works (1995–2025) presents a comprehensive selection of exhibition materials, previously unseen archival documents and detailed background notes on how Rabah’s methods relate to the broader themes in his work. The volume also introduces new critical writing from curators, authors and researchers on the interrelated subjects of anticipatory aesthetics, subterfuge and fugitive acts; mimicry and performativity; knowledge production; archival technologies; and, crucially, the politics of humour.
The monograph includes essays by Chiara de Cesari, Anthony Downey, Tom Holert, Chrisoula Lionis, Hoor Al Qasimi, Khalil Rabah and Rasha Salti.
To read Anthony’s essay, “Falling Forward: Speculative Practices and Institutional Realisations”, see here
To read Anthony’s interview with Kahlil, “On What Grounds?”, see here For copies of the book, see here
Although regularly presented as an objective “view from nowhere”, Artificial Intelligence (AI) perpetuates a regime of western power that maintains neo-colonial violence. This is evident in the technological evolution and martial deployment of AI in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and Lethal Autonomous Weapons systems (LAWs). Programmed into the such systems, the operative and rationalising logic of algorithms are complicit with reductive determinations of what constitutes life and death in conflict zones. Predicating the ascendant “black box” logic of AI, the historical evolution of autonomous image production continues to be central in, if not fundamental to, these processes and standard operating procedures. To critically address these and other concerns, we need to observe the extent to which colonial technologies—including triangulation mapping, aerial photography, photogrammetry and, more recently, “operational images”—invariably involve the delegation of the ocular-centric, corporeal and proprioceptive event of seeing (and thinking) to the autonomous realms of machine vision. The devolution of deliberative forms of seeing and thinking to algorithms not only reveals, this talk will propose, the calculated rendering of subjects in terms of their disposability, it also discloses a causal, if not fatal, link between colonial technologies of representation and the opaque realm of unaccountable apparatuses.
Neo-colonial Visions: Artificial Intelligence and Epistemic Violence
Artificial Intelligence (AI), often presented as an objective “view from nowhere”, constitutes a regime of power that further establishes historical forms of bias and evolving models of subjugation. A key component in this process, this presentation will suggest, involves the extraction of data from digital images in order to train AI. How, therefore, do we understand the transformation of images from their symbolic and representational contexts to their contemporary function as sources of digital data? Bringing together researchers in the field of visual culture and AI technology, and taking as its starting point the representational biases of colonial imagery, Anthony Downey and Maya Indira Ganesh will explore how the digital image has increasingly become the means to extract, archive and repurpose information. Based on the extraction and statistical repurposing of data, they will observe how AI renders entire communities susceptible to encoded and overt forms of epistemological violence. Designed for the purpose of training machine vision and the apparatus of AI, these repurposed “images” reveal, furthermore, how the extractive practices of colonialism have become inexorably aligned with corporate interests and neo-colonial economies of data extraction.
Images matter. Made up of imaging technologies and algorithmic processes, their optics and operative logics of capture silently scale between shopping habits, domestic robots, CCTV, drone surveillance, or guided munitions. Aided by AI technologies, images can reorganise what we know, they can propagate what is seen and unseen, and they can cause irreparable harm.
Exploring how images are mobilised to exploit feedback and create realities, Anthony Downey, Alaa Mansour, and Lesia Kulchynska trace their entanglement within broader infrastructures of data capture and analysis. Thinking through their algorithmic apparatus, their fracturing of light and logistical operations, How an image matters questions the calculated representations and distributed agency of automated operations.
“Human beings must learn anew to recognize the pattern of the earth from the perspective of the air.” —Harun Farocki, Images of the World and the Inscription of War, 1988
What forms of aerial threat do communities across the globe endure today, and how do they differ from previous levels of exposure? If we consider the apparently unstoppable ascendancy of drone reconnaissance and satellite surveillance, then it is evident that we are undergoing an epoch-defining evolution in the deployment of aerial technologies. The multiple concerns raised by civilian, civil rights, humanitarian, and military agencies in relation to autonomous systems of warfare would suggest that such operations have likewise realigned the relationship between the material (physical, environmental, legal) and immaterial (psychological, ethical, and existential) impact of these technologies.
WHEN I SEE THE FUTURE, I CLOSE MY EYES: CHAPTER II 01/05/2022 – 30/07/2022
Zilberman | Berlin is delighted to announce the solo exhibition When I see the future, I close my eyes: Chapter II by Heba Y. Amin and curated by Anthony Downey.
Heba Y. Amin’s research-based practice proposes speculative, often satirical, approaches to examining how ideals of ‘progress’ have been advanced through the various technologies of colonization. Foregrounding interdisciplinary methods and performative investigations, When I see the future, I close my eyes: Chapter II presents a series of works that explore the political determinations of these technologies and how they define contemporary frames of representation.
Topologies of Air and Lesions in the Landscape are two major bodies of work by Shona Illingworth. Informed by the artist’s long-term investigations into individual and societal amnesia, these projects critically examine the devastating psychological and environmental impacts of military, industrial, and corporate transformations of airspace and outer space. Employing interdisciplinary research and collaborative processes, Illingworth’s practice uses creative methodologies to visualize and interrogate this proliferating exploitation of air space. Through the development of a proposed new human right, Topologies of Air and Lesions in the Landscape connect diverse cosmologies, knowledges, and lived experiences to counter the colonization of the sky and protect individuals, communities, and ecologies from ever-increasing threats from above.
With contributions by CATERINA ALBANO, AMIN ALSADEN, JILL BENNETT, GIULIANA BRUNO, MARTIN A. CONWAY, ANTHONY DOWNEY, CONOR GEARTY, DEREK GREGORY, NICK GRIEF, ANDREW HOSKINS, CATHERINE LOVEDAY, ISSIE MACPHAIL, WILLIAM MERRIN, RENATASALECL, GABRIELE SCHWAB, GAËTANE VERNA
For link to book, see here For link to Introduction, see here For PDF of Anthony Downey, “The Algorithmic Apparatus of Neocolonialism: Counter-Operational Practices And The Future Of Aerial Surveillance”, see here
Memory, Mind & Media (MMM) explores the impact of media and technology on individual, social and cultural remembering and forgetting. This agenda-setting journal fosters high-quality, interdisciplinary conversations combining cognitive, social and cultural approaches to the study of memory and forgetting in the digital era. The pervasiveness, complexity and immediacy of digital media, communication networks and archives are transforming what memory is and what memory does, changing the relationship between memory in the head and memory in the wild.
MMM offers a new home for a wide variety of scholars working on these questions, within and across disciplines, from history, philosophy, media studies, cultural studies, law, literature, anthropology, political science, sociology, neuroscience, psychology, cognitive and computational science and elsewhere.
Anthony Downey, “The Algorithmic Apparatus of Neo-Colonialism: Or, Can We Hold” Operational Images” to Account?”, The Nordic Journal of Aesthetics Vol. 30, No. 61-62 (2021): The Changing Ontology of the Image.
For a copy of the essay, see here For the link to the journal, see here
Anthony Downey, “The Future of Protest (Images) in a Post-Digital Age”, in The Protest and the Recuperation, Betti-Sue Hertz and Sreshta Rit Premnath, Eds. (Wallach Art Gallery, 2021)
This essay was published in conjunction with the publication of The Protest and The Recuperation. The publication accompanied the exhibition, The Protest and The Recuperation, which opened in June 2021at the Wallach Art Gallery (Columbia University, New York).