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RF Conferences


    THURSDAY, OCTOBER 8, 2015 - 17:00
    VENUE: Stockholm School of Economics in Riga, Strelnieku street 4a
    John THACKARA 
    Director, Doors of Perception
    Senior Fellow, Royal College of Art (London) Faculty at Large, School of Visual Arts (NY)
    Member, UK Parliament Standing Commission on Design 

Green Hacking 

Communities the world over are creating a replacement, leave-things-better economy from the ground up: Restoring the land, sharing water, making homes, growing food, designing clothes, journeying, and caring for each other.  Growth, in this emerging new economy, means soils, biodiversity and watersheds getting healthier, and communities more resilient. Its core values are stewardship and health, in place of extraction and decay. Taken together, this multitude of small actions demonstrate the power of small actions to transform the bigger picture – especially in the ways projects are connecting together as social and ecological systems: food commons, social farming, fibersheds, cycle commerce, or care cooperatives.  But a question arises: is a green hacking approach enough, in its own, to grow a new kind of social infrastructure for the next economy? Or is a more designed approach also needed to develop the systems for  local money, mutual aid, platforms for sharing, and Commoning?


John Thackara is a writer and event producer who has spent a lifetime searching for live examples of what a sustainable future can be like. He writes about these stories at his blog, Doors of Perception, and organizes festivals that bring the project leaders he has met together. John Thackara’s previous books include the best-selling In the Bubble: Designing in a Complex World. Along the way, John has been a magazine editor; a publisher; Director of Research at the Royal College of Art, where he is now a Senior Fellow; and Director of the Netherlands Design Institute. He has curated two national biennials – Designs Of The Time in the UK, and City Eco Lab in France – and nine Doors of Perception conferences in Amsterdam, and India; the Economic Times of India praised these events for their “brilliant insights into the internet and sustainability”.
In 2013, John launched a workshop format called Xskool that helps diverse groups develop the design agenda for their bioregion. 

   FRIDAY, OCTOBE 9, 2015 - 17:00
   VENUE: Stockholm School of Economics in Riga,
   Strelnieku street 4a
   Dr. Lev MANOVICH 
   Professor, The Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY)
   Director, Software Studies Initiative

Studying cultural trends using millions of Instagram photos

The explosive growth of social media opened up exiting new possibilities for the analysis of cultural trends. Today, thousands of researchers have already published papers analyzing massive cultural datasets including user-generated posts and photos, online video, web site design, fashion photography, popular music, and so on. In my lecture I will show and discuss a number of projects created in our lab ( that analyze cultural trends using Instagram. They include comparison of 2.3 million Instagram images from 13 global cities (, interactive installation exploring Broadway street in NYC using 40 million data points and images (, and our work in progress - analysis of 265 million images shared on Twitter worldwide during 2011-2014. I will discuss how we combine methods from data science, media art, and design, and how the use of big cultural data helps us question our existing assumptions about culture. 


Dr. Lev Manovich is the author of seven books including Software Takes Command (Bloomsbury Academic, 2013), Soft Cinema: Navigating the Database (The MIT Press, 2005), and The Language of New Media (The MIT Press, 2001) which was described as "the most suggestive and broad ranging media history since Marshall McLuhan." Manovich is a Professor at The Graduate Center, CUNY, and a Director of the Software Studies Initiative that works on the analysis and visualization of big visual cultural data. In 2013 he appeared on the List of 25 People Shaping the Future of Design. In 2014 he was included in the list of 50 "most interesting people building the future" (The Verge).


Plenary Session Keynote Speakers:

Prof. Domenico QUARANTA / Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera
PhD Armin MEDOSCH / University of Arts in Belgrade
Prof. Dieter DANIELS / Academy of Visual Arts (HGB) in Leipzig
Dr. Geoff COX / Aarhus University
Dr. Andreas BROECKMANN / Leuphana University Lüneburg
Prof. Katja KWASTEK / Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Prof. Martha BUSKIRK / Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, Massachusetts

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Domenico Quaranta

   Domenico QUARANTA.
Notes on Postmedia and Other Posts

First used by Felix Guattari in 1996, the term Postmedia returned, with slightly different meanings, in the discussion about contemporary art in recent years, thanks to the contribution of authors like Rosalind Krauss, Peter Weibel and Lev Manovich; and anticipated the debate around terms like post-internet and post-digital. Today, all these labels look like to tell the same obvious truth: that the media / digital / internet revolution is over and that we, poor techno-slaves, have to deal with their political, economic, social and aesthetic consequences. In this lecture, I will roam freely through the post-something debate, trying to make sense of it and recover some nuances that may be worth consider.
After the boring stuff, I will take some minutes to illustrate a few projects that can help understanding what art, at its best, can be in a postmedia age, and that re-introduce a notion that has for long been rejected from the field of contemporary art: usefulness.

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Armin Medosch

   Armin MEDOSCH.
   Art and Technopolitics

Armin Medosch, PhD, MA, is Professor of Theory and History of Art and Media at the Faculty of Media and Communications at Singidunum University, Belgrade. He is an artist, curator and author working in art and media art theory and network culture. His work as curator includes exhibitions such as Waves (Riga, 2006; Dortmund, 2008); and Fields (Riga Culture Capital 2014). He is initiator of the Technopolitics working group in Vienna and initiator and maintainer of the cooperative web-space His book under the title “New Tendencies – Art at the Threshold of the Information Revolution”will be published by MIT Press in May 2016.

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Dieter Daniels

   Dieter DANIELS.
   Revisiting the Readymade as Renewable Future

Originally, then term ‘ready-made’ was used to denote an off-the-shelf industrial product. As an example, in 1913, Henry Ford introduced the "moving assembly line" for standardized, low-cost motorcars, sold from stock instead of being produced on demand. Three years later, Marcel Duchamp, who had just arrived in the United States from Paris, first used the term ready-made for an artwork. Since then, the idea of the readymade has become central to the artistic practice of the twentieth and twenty-first century, because, in a world full of things, the act of choice becomes creative and individualistic - replacing the myth of the creatio ex nihilo. The lecture will discuss the shifting relations of commodities, consumerism, creativity and originality – with an outlook at the postmodern / postmedia, re-contextualised / re-mediated neo-readymades of contemporary (re-)appropriation art.

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Geoff Cox

   Geoff COX.
   Contemporary Conditions are Badly Known

Rather than discuss post-media conditions as such, the notion of ‘contemporary conditions’ is preferred to indicate the characteristic features of the historical present. The argument is that rather than concentrate on futures or whether something is sustainable, new or sufficiently different, the notion of the contemporary poses the question of when the present of a particular work begins and ends. Peter Osborne’s point is that the convergence and mutual conditioning of periodisations of art and the social relations of art have their roots in more general economic and socio-technological processes– that makes contemporary art possible, in the sense of an ‘art of contemporaneity’. “Contemporary art is badly known”, as he puts it. Thus ‘contemporaneity’ begins to describe the more complex and layered problem of different kinds of time existing simultaneously across different localities. Yet despite the sophistication of the approach, the discussion of technology is hardly developed at all. This talk aims to address contemporary conditions in terms of the significant role of contemporary media and computational technologies that further complicate the notion of the historical present and what constitutes contemporary art and the deep structures of temporality that render our present the way it is. The experience of time is necessarily a political struggle and importantly different epistemological registers open up further possibilities for transformation at different scales of operation.


Geoff Cox is Associate Professor in the School of Communication and Culture, and Participatory IT Research Centre, Aarhus University (DK), currently engaged on a 3 year research project The Contemporary Condition funded by the Danish Council for Independent Research (with Jacob Lund) – see He is also Adjunct faculty Transart Institute (DE/US), an occasional artist/curator, and part of the self-institution Museum of Ordure. He is an editor for the DATA Browser book series (published by Autonomedia), and co-edited Economising Culture (2004), Engineering Culture (2005), Creating Insecurity (2009) and Disrupting Business (2013). He co-runs a yearly research workshop/conference in collaboration with transmediale and is co-editor with Christian Ulrik Andersen of the associated open access online journal APRJA. With Alex McLean, he wrote Speaking Code: coding as aesthetic and political expression (MIT Press 2013), and amongst other things is currently working on a multi-author book project about live coding.

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Andreas Broeckmann

   Andreas BROECKMANN.
   Ecology/Machines: The Technologies of Eco Art

Throughout the 20th century, artists have reflected on the relation between humans and technology, and some of the results of this work have been summarised under the rubric of Machine Art. The notion of the "machine" marks a particular relationship between subjects and apparatuses, which deserves our heightened attention, not least because this notion seems to have gradually lost currency with the emergence of network, eco-, and bio-technological paradigms. Is the machine proper a phenomenon of the mechanical, pre-cybernetic age? And what would such a shift mean for the relationship between humans and technology articulated in Eco Art?


Dr. Andreas Broeckmann is an art historian and curator who lives in Berlin. He works as the curator of the Leuphana Arts Program in Lüneburg. He was the Founding Director of the Dortmunder U - Centre for Art and Creativity (2009-2011) and has curated exhibitions and festivals in major European venues, incl. transmediale and ISEA2010 RUHR. He holds a PhD in Art History from the University of East Anglia, Norwich/UK, and lectures internationally about the history of modern art, media theory, machine aesthetics, and digital culture.

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Katja Kwastek

   Katja KWASTEK.
   A Voyage to the North Sea. Aesthetics of Tidal Art

The concept of the renewable draws on natural processes such as biological growth as well as on geodynamic processes such as the tides. The latter have been subject to various forms of artistic interventions since the 1970s at the latest. Through exploring exemplary works of tidal art, this lecture will discuss in how far such artistic interrelations of natural, technological, and aesthetic timeframes may facilitate an understanding of the renewable as (also) an aesthetic category, and a potential characteristic of a work of art.


Katja Kwastek is professor of modern and contemporary art at the VU University Amsterdam, with a research focus on media aesthetics. Previously, she taught at Ludwig-Maximilians-University (Munich), Rhode Island School of Design (Providence), LBI Media.Art.Research (Linz), and Humboldt-University (Berlin). Publications include “Ohne Schnur – Art and Wireless Communication” (Revolver 2004) and Aesthetics of Interaction in Digital Art” (MIT Press, 2013). 

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   Martha BUSKIRK.
   The Artist as Collector – Digital Edition

Artists have long been involved in collecting activities, including objects or works of art that complement their own creative pursuits, raw materials incorporated into assemblage-type constructions, and the gesture (rooted in the readymade and conceptual practices) of designating largely unaltered compilations as works. This talk examines how procedures of collecting, archiving, and appropriation, explored in conceptually based art of the 1960s–1980s, are being extended by artists who move back and forth between traditional spaces of display and networked environments. It also considers the interplay between art projects that gather material from digital realms and related popular forms of collecting or dissemination.


Martha Buskirk is Professor of art history and criticism at Montserrat College of Art. She is author of Creative Enterprise: Contemporary Art between Museum and Marketplace (Continuum, 2012) and The Contingent Object of Contemporary Art (MIT Press, 2003), and she is co-editor of The Duchamp Effect (with Mignon Nixon, MIT Press, 1996) and The Destruction of Tilted Arc: Documents (with Clara Weyergraf-Serra, MIT Press, 1990).



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