To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from the Office of Culture and Design to the Arab Image Foundation’s Rima Mokaiesh and musician Grant Hart to filmmaker Sam Green—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2014.
Nicolas Nova (PhD) is a researcher, writer and co-founder of The Near Future Laboratory, a design and technology collective interested in exploring the near future’s normal everyday ordinary. He is also Professor at the Geneva School of Art and Design (HEAD – Genève) and curator for Lift Conference, a series of international events about digital culture and innovation. His interests lie at the intersections of ethnography, design, and digital technologies.
This list is not meant to be exhaustive at all. It’s just a set of documents, projects, and signals that I found intriguing in 2014. The mix is broad and the juxtaposition of an anthropologist’s book with video games and fungi-infected art pieces is intentional as it reflects the diversity of what the world around us produces. Each of these cases offer an insightful perspective on phenomena and attitude to understand the condition we live in, and eventually create things to explore it.
La composition des mondes by Philippe Descola
An impressive interview with this anthropologist who describes how we humans make sense of the world around us through the relationship between nature and culture. Anglophone readers can read “Beyond Nature and Culture,” published in 2013, that address similar issues.
Internet Machine by Timo Arnall
“Cloud computing” is definitely a bad metaphor, this film by Timo Arnall shows the invisible infrastructures of the internet, its material underpinning in a contemplative way.
Hacked digital media + bacteria/fungi/algae/insects-infected electronics + data forensic techniques to create experimental video pieces. Fascinating and puzzling.
SQM: The Quantified Home by Space Caviar (Joseph Grima, Andrea Bagnato, Tamar Shafrir)
An exploration of the intricate relationships between digital technologies and domesticity. Very important for people interested in the future of the home.
Atari landfill excavation in New Mexico
Atari buried some 3.5 million copies of the video game cartridge E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial in Alamogordo, New Mexico back in 1983. That’s a crazy story, but it’s even weirder to observe that they have recently been dug up. I see the whole thing as a metaphor of our society of consumption.
Twitch plays pokemon
Wikipedia defined it as “a crowdsourced attempt to play Game Freak’s and Nintendo’s Pokémon video games by parsing commands sent by users through the channel’s chat room.” I watched part of it and became fascinated by this kind of cultural phenomenon: very erratic and incomprehensible but definitely fascinating as an example of networked collaboration.
Eclats d’Amérique by Olivier Hodasava
A novel that is based on the author’s visit of all 50 US states using Google Street View. Only in French, sadly, but very intriguing, a good example of how digital technologies can stimulate new forms of documenting reality. It reminds me of this race across the US through Google Street View.
The Future Does Not Exist by Alain Bublex and Elie During
An insightful book about the idea of “The Future” with texts from a philosopher and an artist/designer who produced artifacts that express the conversation.
Lawyers replaced by computers
Algorithms have become a prevalent topic in many different domains, but we’re reaching a new level when even white collar work can be replaced by machines.
GTA V wildlife documentary
A sort of weird nature documentary of ocean life in Grand Theft Auto V. Definitely a boundary object that draws lots of question about gaming journalism, weird ethnographies, and the heterodoxy of digital culture.