How are the twinned commodities of oil and data enmeshed within contemporary human landscapes?
Sonic Acts is proud to present Exhaust, an online roundtable programme produced by resident artist, writer and theorist Maryam Monalisa Gharavi taking place on 27 February 2021. Propelled by the phrase ‘data is the new oil’, coined in 2006 by British mathematician (and customer loyalty card inventor) Clive Humby, Exhaust draws on the insights of eminent academic thinkers and influential practitioners to speculate, critique and make visible the cultural geography of oil and data. Among the roundtable participants are political and environmental anthropologist Omolade Adunbi, media artist and programmer Ryan Kuo, artist and geographer Helen Pritchard and interdisciplinary researcher Andrea Sempértegui.
As an added plus (for Benelux IP addresses only), the programme is accompanied by a screening of Wang Bing's 840-minute-long documentary film Crude Oil (2008). Courtesy of International Film Festival Rotterdam.
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South Pars oil fields. Credit: Safa Daneshvar. Used with permission.
Maryam Monalisa Gharavi at Sonic Acts Festival 2017. Photo by Pieter Kers.
Omolade Adunbi. Photo courtesy the speaker.
Murtaza Vali. Photo courtesy of the speaker.
Oil, the world’s most important non-renewable resource, lies at the centre of ecological peril and financial oppression. Data, on the other hand, a fertiliser for the production of shared meaning, is definitionally infinite, yet the extractive logic of the algorithm renders it dependent on human labour. Oil is a finite source at the very core of both global financial markets and #nofuture petroleum wars; data, seemingly infinite, also ‘leaks’ into the collapsing tripartite structures of governance, markets, and society. Our thirst for data, according to James Bridle, is akin to “our thirst for oil, historically imperialist and colonialist”. From differing perspectives, Exhaust uncovers ways in which the endless extraction of both commodities figures into political, ideological and aesthetic battlegrounds.
Audience members are invited to engage with the discussions via a live-chat Q&A. Exhaust is moderated by critic, curator and art historian Murtaza Vali.
Crude Oil, Wang Bing, film still
Country of origin: China; Original title: Cai you ri ji; Produced by Wang Bing; Distributed by (Benelux): Hubert Bals Fund; Screening copy: IFFR
Crude Oil (840 min, 2008) is a documentary film directed by Wang Bing following a group of oil field workers as they go about their daily routine. It is notable for its extreme length, running 840 minutes (14 hours). The film was shot at a high altitude in the Gobi Desert in northwestern China. It shows the heavy industry of crude oil being extracted and the work of hundreds of labourers who do tiring and dirty work and make long days. The pressure to extract oil and on the workers is great. The climate of the high, rocky desert is harsh, but it has to be done because the present Chinese economy has an almost insatiable need for oil. It's possible to follow a day of work extracting oil from the morning to the evening. The cinematographic time runs parallel to real-time. (IFFR; GjZ)
Programme:RoundtableOpen: 19.45 CET
Start: 20.00 CET
Crude Oil,filmBenelux IP addresses only27 February, 10:00 – 1 March, 18:00 (CET)
Admission to this online event costs €3,50
Maryam Monalisa Gharavi, Face/Less: Human, Inhuman, Abhuman, at De Brakke Grond, Sonic Acts Festival 2017.
Exhaust initiates a remote residency by Maryam Monalisa Gharavi as part of the Sonic Acts OVEREXPOSED programme. During a period of artistic research in May 2021, her one-woman collective, Oil Research Group (ORG), will explore the fluidity of data and oil and their enmeshment, as contaminant and pollutant, through a liquidation of history, speculation, memory, and other possible awakenings.
About the ParticipantsOmolade Adunbi is a political anthropologist and an Associate Professor and Associate Chair at the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies (DAAS) and Associate Professor, Program in the Environment (Pite) and Associate Professor of the Honors Program, College of Literature Science and the Arts at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Adunbi is also a Distinguished Faculty Fellow at the Graham Sustainability Institute, University of Michigan. His areas of research explore issues related to resource distribution, governance, human and environmental rights, power, culture, transnational institutions, multinational corporations and the postcolonial state.
Ryan Kuo is a New York City-based artist whose process-based and diagrammatic works often invoke a person or people arguing. This is not to state an argument about a thing, but to be caught in a state of argument. He utilises video games, productivity software, web design, motion graphics, and sampling to produce circuitous and unresolved movements that track the passage of objects through white escape routes. He was recently in residence at Pioneer Works (NYC) and the Queens Museum Studio Program (NYC). He holds a Master of Science in Art, Culture and Technology from MIT.
Helen Pritchard is an associate professor in queer feminist technoscience and digital design at i-DAT, University of Plymouth, where she is also the programme lead for MRes Digital Art and Technology. Helen’s work considers the impacts of computation on social and environmental justice and how these impacts configure the possibilities for life – or who gets to have a life – in intimate and significant ways. As a practitioner, she works together with others to make propositions and designs for computing otherwise – developing methods to uphold a politics of queer survival and environmental practice.
Andrea Sempértegui is an interdisciplinary researcher whose work focuses on struggles over territory and natural resource extraction, indigenous politics, popular feminist movements, and decolonial thought in Latin America. She is a PhD Candidate in Sociology at the Justus Liebig University of Gießen in Germany and a Visiting Instructor in Anthropology and Sociology at Lafayette College in the United States. She is co-editor of a translated book by the Bolivian sociologist Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui, Ch’ixinakax utxiwa: Eine Reflexion über Praktiken und Diskurse der Dekolonisierung (Unrast Verlag, 2018).
Murtaza Vali is a critic, curator and art historian based in Sharjah and Brooklyn. His ongoing research interests include materialist art histories, ex-centric minimalisms, ghosts and other figures of liminal subjectivities and repressed histories, the weight of colour and contemporary art of the Indian Ocean littoral. Vali is an Adjunct Curator at the Jameel Arts Centre in Dubai, where he curated the widely acclaimed inaugural group exhibition Crude. A Visiting Instructor at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, he is also a Lead Tutor of Campus Art Dubai and a Lead Mentor for the Hayy Learning Curatorial Fellowship.
Part of Re-Imagine Europe, co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union