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Into the Great Beyond – Inventing Futures at IAM Weekend 18 (April 27 to 29)

The future is calling (again): in just a few short days, Barcelona’s IAM Weekend returns to the nexus of internet culture and cybernetic serendipity with an exciting mix of talks, workshops, and masterclasses. Join us as we attempt “The Subversion of Paradoxes” in search of the great beyond.

The term ‘multidisciplinary’ gets thrown around a lot these days, and yet, it is rarely uttered outside the silos of specific creative fields. That’s why IAM Weekend (IAM for Internet Age Media) is one of our favourite events. Over the past four years, the Barcelona-based festival (that feels more like a field trip) has cultivated a blend of truly different fields. Imagine sci-fi novelist and original cyberpunk Bruce Sterling taking the stage after Amani Al-Khatahtbeh of Muslimgirl.com. Starting Friday, IAM founders and future connoiseurs Andres Colmenares and Lucy Esperanza Rojas will once again assemble leading technologists, artists, educators, activists, entrepreneurs, and policy makers for a three-day marathon of reflection, inspiration, and exchange. As past participants (team CAN / HOLO attented #IAMW15 and #IAMW17) we’re excited to return to this ‘meeting of the minds’ as it is everything we value: topical, critical, congenial, diverse.

After last year’s theme of “The Renaissance of Utopias”, IAM Weekend 18 attempts “The Subversion of Paradoxes” by tackling the conflicts, collisions, and contradictions of a world gone mad. “15 years ago the Internet was an escape from reality. Now reality is an escape for the Internet,” acclaimed director Alejandro G. Iñarritu said in a recent interview. But rather than escape the at times traumatic funhouse mirror that is the Internet, the festival encourages a response. “We aim to subvert paradoxes to question the status quo, challenge dominant cultural narratives, binary mindsets and structures, refreshing the meaning of subversion by stimulating fostering planetary, long-term & critical thinking/doing. In other words using the internet, instead of being used by it.” Naturally, this warrants discussions of the state – and future – of just about everything: work, education, identity, privacy, fashion, food, sex, society. Just some of the questions the festival wants to answer: Do we define algorithms or do they define us? How much monetary and political power goes into a click? What might post-capitalist futures have in store for our sex lives? Should we care what androids dream about? In pursuit of a vision of the future that “we would want to remember by 2025,” the festival will contemplate a world beyond algorithms, beyond disciplines, beyond clicks. And once again, CAN will be in the middle of it.

CAN presents a conversation with artist and animator Alan Warburton about expanded animation, software aesthetics, and metamedia


The wilderness of the “digital grotesque”: Dave Fothergill’s I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!, Cool 3D World, Alan Warburton’s Primitives, Nikita Diakur’s UGLY

Following the screening of his most recent video essay “Goodbye Unanny Valley” (which we covered here) our own Alexander Scholz will engage London-based artist and animator Alan Warburton in an on-stage conversation around expanded animation, software aesthetics, and metamedia. In his essay, Warburton traces the CGI pursuit of realism from the crude beginnings of computer graphics to the current “Frontier” of near perfection. Beyond, he says, begins “The Wilderness,” an uncharted territory where explorers such as Dave Fothergill, Cool 3D World, Nikita Diakur, and Warburton himself invoke a “digital grotesque” to demonstrate that “seductive digital surfaces speak more about this age of technology when they fall apart, revealing their construction at the hands of imperfect people and imperfect machines.” Much like in the CAN/HOLO space of disciplinary intersections, “in these new lands the rules aren’t yet written. Artists here are hybrids, double agents, armed with the skills to become monsters in the wilderness, bandits at the frontier, and explorers beyond it.” Amen!

IAM Weekend 18 friends and peers: Transfer Gallery’s Kelani Nichole, ‘infradisciplinary’ artist Pinar Yoldas (image: Kitty AI), Somerset House Studio’s director Marie McPartlin (image: Somerset House’s 2017 commission Western Flag), and enigmatic avatar artist LaTurbo Avedon.

In addition to Warburton, we will be (unsurprisingly) among a number of other personal favourites within our immediate and peripherial space: we look forward to hearing from Transfer Gallery owner and The Current Museum of Art director Kelanie Nichole, ‘infradisciplinary’ artist Pinar Yoldas (of Kitty AI fame), the enigmatic avatar artist LaTurbo Avedon, Somerset House Studios director Marie McPartlin (incidentally, Alan Warburton is a current Somerset House Studio resident), and Lighthouse Brighton artistic director Elijah. But while we enjoy hearing from our friends and peers, it’s the perspective of speakers beyond our space that make every IAM Weekend special. This year, we excited learn more about the work of Afrotopia founder and former Detroit mayoral candidate Ingrid Lafleur (check out the recent interview here), artist Meriem Bennani, University of the Arts London digital learning co-ordinator and Chief Leopard of Feminist Internet Dr Charlotte Webb, BBC Future Media’s head of UXP & Design Jane Murison, Taiwan’s “Digital Minister” Audrey Tang, and KOSMICA Institute founder Nahum (who will contribute a special performance). Find out more about the speakers and the festival schedule on the IAM Weekend 18 website.

→ Get your IAM Weekend 18 ticket here

IAM Weekend 18 won’t only be top-down and broadcast ‘at’ the audience, of course. On Sunday, April 29, you’ll have ample opportunity to engage with and learn from speakers face to face: join the brilliant minds from the BBC, Para-site School, Goys & Birls, Rob Walker, Triggers, and UAL (University of the Arts London) Futures program in a series of workshops, masterclasses, reading groups, and Q&As. Get your IAM Weekend 18 festival ticket now to participate!

IAM Weekend 18 | Speakers | Tickets

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