When I wrote my PhD about the Swedish internet consultancy Framfab (during the dot com boom), the business rhetoric of these young companies were characterized by a disassociation from earlier heavy manufacturing industries. The new economy based on buzzwords like networks and knowledge were to be very different from the businesses and structures of old paper and steel industries.
This was past of an aestheticization of the (past) industrial society). Heavy industry were supposed to be history. During the last decades we have seen a widespread movement, through which earlier dirty heavy industry has been approached as aesthetic objects. Refurbished old factories were turned into lofts, new offices, art museums, restaurants etc. This is a process that is still ongoing. Rusty steel, dirty bricks and concrete structures has become backdrop for a number of new “softer” endeavors.
But of course we still live in a very industrial society. The difference is that today heavy industrial production has become more or less invisible in large parts of the Western world (and also in parts of countries like China, where the dirty industry has left the centers of cities like Shanghai to reappear in other places). This process is what I call the rise of Industrial Cool. Heavy industry is aestheticized and associated with the past. I have dealt with this in a book, some articles and an art project.
During the last years the notion of Industrial Cool has transformed in a fascinating way. I’m tempted to call this a move to Industrial Cool 2.0. When large corporations like Google started to buy paper mills in Finland, when they (together with a number of other new Internet giants) started to build huge data centers, a new kind of very obvious industrial structures appeared. And here is the really nice twist to it all… In year 2000, when companies like Framfab spoke about their businesses, the ephemerality and almost non-physical character of new electronic networks and speedy slows were stressed. The new economy was supposed to happen on the other side of the glass of monitors and screens. But of course, there were always a very physical structure of Internet, that made it all happen.However, that structure was seldom made visible. Today, a new kind of visualization of heavy large scale hardware is happening. The industrial structures of the Internet are today aestheticized, and we can start talking about Industrial Cool 2.0. Google has started to present evocative images from their huge data centers. They want to show “where the internet lives”. Using suggestive lighting and bright colors the industrial structures of Internet are made visible.
Jussi Parikka has written a great post about this phenomenon, and about the visualization of data centers. He stresses how much of the imagery that is based on pipes and systems of cooling. It is all about the cooling of systems, about keeping circuitry at a cool temperature in which data can flow. The now made visible structures of Internet are based on huge industrial structures of cooling, now presented in a very aestheticized way… Industrial Cool 2.0.
These processes are happening at the same time that ideas and concepts of Steampunk, with its “back to the future aesthetics” which once appeared during the 199ies is now spreading in a viral way. The physicality, the combinations of old patinized structures with new glowing hi-tech is appearing in everything from museum exhibitions to children programs on TV.
On the evening March 22 me and Anders Weberg will perform Sweden for Beginners at the Video Formes festival in Clermont-Ferrand, France. The performance will also be live-streamed on the web.
The same day as the performance we will also do our visual ethnography workshop Everyday Explorations together with students from the Blaise Pascal University.
About Video Formes (from the festival website):
28th Video Art & Digital Culture International Festival Of Clermont-Ferrand
Full program: http://fr.calameo.com/read/0000112770bc24eece7d5
Maison du Peuple
Place de la liberté
28e MANIFESTATION INTERNATIONALE D’ART VIDÉO & CULTURES NUMÉRIQUES DE CLERMONT-FERRAND
28th Video Art & Digital Culture International Festival Of Clermont-Ferrand
FESTIVAL : 20.03 > 23.03
EXPOSITION / EXHIBITIONS : 21.03 > 07.04
NUIT DES ARTS ÉLECTRONIQUES : 23.03
• PROJECTIONS / SCREENINGS : PRIX VIDEOFORMES 2013, FOCUS PROGRAM (AFRICA, CAGE SUITE, MADATAC,…)
• TABLES RONDES / ROUND TABLES
• PERFORMANCES : Jacques Perconte & Edie Ladoire, Anders Weberg & Robert Willim
• NUIT DES ARTS ELECTRONIQUES : Franck Vigroux & Philippe Fontes, Mat3R Dolorosa, Kangding Ray, Reworks (LIVE) + Wood
• EXPOSITIONS / EXHIBITIONS : Nicolas Clauss, Pierre Coulibeuf, Giuliana Cuneaz, Gabriel Mascaro, Philippe Fontès et Bruno Capelle, Triny Prada, David Blasco, Sébastien Camboulive, Véronique Mouysset, Nelly Girardeau, Pierrick Sorin, Bertrand Gadenne, Enrique Ramirez…
Since 1984, Videoformes is a permanent observatory of the evolutions of video & digital arts : a place for presentation and meetings for artists, professionals and audience.
Since 1986, Videoformes annually has been organizing an international video and digital art festival. This event highlights the quality of the works and artists presented in the festival through exhibitions, lectures, screenings, performances, debates and meetings. Famous and/or young artists get to meet around multimedia installations, cinema and video films, performances, Web Art, live video and music performances (V-Jaying, D-Jaying), etc.
I’m about to finish a number of publications which are to be launched during 2013 or a bit later depending on the publication processes. A piece called Transmutations of Noise will be a chapter in the book Coping With Excess, edited by Barbara Czarniawska and Orvar Löfgren. The chapter Out of Hand – Reflections on Elsewhereness will be part of Anthropology and Art Practice, edited by Arnd Schneider an Christopher Wright. A piece called Enhancement or Distortion? – From The Claude Glass to Instagram will be part of The Sarai Reader 09.
Me and Tom O’Dell are also about to finish a number of texts. One piece for an international journal is almost ready. This one is going through an anonymized peer review process and therefore I can’t mention the titles of the text or the journal 🙂 Another text called Applied Cultural Analysis & the Compositional Practices of Rendering Culture is in the pipeline for a coming Source book edited by Patricia Sunderland and Rita Denny. We are working on the last year of our project The Transformations of Ethnography, which means that more texts are upcoming.
The site describing the work by me and Anders Weberg has got a facelift. Here it is, with links to our works as well as information about possible proposals and offerings.At the moment we offer the practical visual ethnographic workshop Everyday Explorations, and the live performance Sweden for Beginners. We are also interested in suggestion for new cities to incorporate in the Elsewhereness-series, as well as proposals for other commissioned works.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]
Last week’s conference Innovation in Mind was a fruitful and well organized event. Interesting speakers, exhibitions and some really nice new acquaintances. My keynote “Small Things that Matter” went well, and I got some really nice and generous comments afterwards. Thanks!
Also the visual ethnographic workshop “Everyday Explorations” that I organized together with Anders Weberg was well received. Thank you all who participated in the mobile cam explorations of the Main University building here in Lund. It was extremely interesting to watch and discuss the visual interpretations made by participants from quite different professional backgrounds, and representing countries like South Africa, UK, Denmark, Sweden and Sri Lanka.
Soon the conference Innovation in Mind will take place here in Lund (September 13-14). I will be one of the speakers, and will talk on the theme “Small Things that matter”. Among the other speakers are Lawrence Lessig, David Gauntlett, Saskia Sassen and Sep Kamvar. I feel quite honored to be part of this line-up.
My talk will be about ethnography and cultural analysis, but with a twist. Here’s a the quite open-ended blurb for the talk:
“Processes of innovation might be based on pathbreaking achievements in research labs or design studios. But the key to innovation is also hidden in the most mundane of our surroundings. A way to find this key is by applying tools like ethnography and cultural analysis. These tools will help us to see the familiar in new ways, to discover the overlooked, to scrutinize small things that matter.”
As part of the program I will also arrange a practical workshop together with Anders Weberg. The theme of the workshop will be “Everyday Explorations” and it is based on a mixture of ethnography and explorative uses of mobile camera phones.
On July 2nd the summer art exhibition will open at the Päätalo keskus in Taivalkoski, Finland. I will participate with the two photos Tempered 1 and 2 (45×30 cm mounted on aluminum plates with acrylic glass).
The other participants of the exhibition are Rauno Salminen (FI), Eeva-Kaisa Jakkila (FI), Jussi Valtakari (FI), Silke Haase (DE) and Jürgen Umlauff (DE). At the opening the russian group of women singers Severyanochki from the Karelian White Sea region will perform folk songs .
In the spring 2011 I was invited together with Anders Weberg to participate as artists in a workshop organized by a research group studying the role of community interpreters in Sweden. The 6 minute film The Room was inspired by the stories about immigrants and their encounters with Swedish authorities and organizations that were conveyed during the workshop.
The Room has been sponsored by The Department of Arts and Cultural Sciences at Lund University, Sweden.
Watch The Room at Vimeo.
Today the construction work was started here in Lund for a new campus building that will house several arts and humanities departments. The building, to be finished in 2014, will be partly new and partly a refurbished brick building from the early 20th century. The old building was designed by the Swedish architect Theodor Wåhlin, and finished 1917, then housing the department of zoology.
I came up with the name of the building: LUX. The name gives nice connotations to enlightenment as well as being a possible abbreviation where LU stands for Lund University and X for an unknown variable. The name also harmonizes with the already existing SOL-building, which is the centre for languages and literature (the other half of the arts and humanities campus). It has been quite interesting to follow how the name LUX has gone from being a personal fantasy to something that is utilized and let loose in the world.
Cyclic~Tone is a collaborative online magazine based on the idea to juxtapose writers with visual artists. The latest issue has the theme Space and include the work Conveyors by me and Anders Weberg. Conveyors is combined with an ethnographic text on the traffic hub Knutpunkten in Helsingborg, southern Sweden written by Leila Kaas. Leila is a former student of our MACA-program here in Lund. She now teaches in the Communications Department at Bristol Community College in Massachusetts (US). Leila is also one of the founders of Bridgethink.org.
From the editorial of the Space-issue:
“The notion of space is probably as vague and ineffable as space itself. Trying to grasp it in a firm definitional head-lock would probably strip it of any meaning: like sand, the tighter we try to hold it in our hands the faster it escapes through our fingers.”