Public Keynote Lectures

July 13, 2018

Date: Thursday, September 13 at 16.00
Venue: The National Library of Latvia

Ticket – 5 EUR / 3 EUR (student discount) / for the registered conference participants – free admission (NB! places are limited, please book your place on the registration desk).

Science fiction author, WIRED journalist, critic and futurist

Multicolor Revolutions
Bruce Sterling describes media events in the Ukraine after the Euromaidan, the Novorussia secession and five years of armed struggle online and on the ground. This presentation includes a lot of images from his private collection of separatist and loyalist Ukrainian propaganda, along with some papers that Bruce discovered in the Yanukovych Palace while sleeping in the abandoned secret-service headquarters of Ukraine’s former President. Since the Euromaidan “Color Revolution,” this kind of covert media struggle has been professionalized by the likes of “Fancy Bear,” so it’s of interest to see how “computational propaganda” looked back when it was much more amateurish, awkward, comical and confused. Since Bruce is a science fiction writer rather than an intelligence operative, this speech will end with a few mild speculations about how the new media culture of armed struggle and frozen conflicts may go in the near future.

Keywords: media, propaganda, virality, Russia, Ukraine revolution, secession

Bruce Sterling is a novelist and journalist. While acting as “Visionary in Residence” at Art Center College of Design in 2008, he wrote “Shaping Things,” one of the first books about the Internet of Things. In 2008 he was the curator of the Share Festival in Turin, on the theme of Italian digital manufacturing. He was one of the original columnists for Make magazine and wrote the cover story for the first issue of WIRED. His most recent book is a work of fiction titled “Pirate Utopia”. Bruce Sterling lives in Turin, Belgrade and Austin.


Dr. Bernhard SEREXHE / DE
Art historian, independent international curator, author, certified expert for electronic and digital art

Total control: towards a new humanity
Whereas not so long ago digital forms of communication were seen as the hope for new forms of democratic participation, they have recently been converted and perverted into ideal door openers for the perfect control of billions of people. Being at the mercy of overwhelmingly powerful authorities of control and censorship has become the conditio humana, the basic condition of our culture and society. We have become accustomed to this situation, just as we are not deterred by the myriads of video cameras on the way to work or on our way back home. And this resignation paired with our love of ease and selfishness invites a new totalitarianism to install a new society with a pre-programmed divide between an elite of hyper-agile information users and a broad mass of interactive consumers restlessly zapping futile audio-visual products and services offered at dumping prices in order to control all of their practices and preferences. This re-coding of humanity will result in the worst of all totalitarianisms, that of a brave new world, in which everyone will be content, well-informed of everything he or she should know in order to play a useful role in society, but remaining ignorant of everything, which does not need to be known and consequently permanently amused to the point of complete satiety.

Keywords: control, surveillance, social profiling, social credit system, totalitarianism

Dr. Bernhard Serexhe, Karlsruhe, has studied sociology, psychology, art history, philosophy, educational science; research restauration studies for the Monuments Historiques de France, publications on romanesque architecture, Ph. D. thesis on the architecture of the Cathedral Saint-Lazare in Autun, Burgundy (France), University of Freiburg (Germany); manifold exhibitions and publications on the impact of digital technologies on art and society since 1995 consultant for the Council of Europe, and for international NGOs and cultural institutions.
1994-97 curator of ZKM | Media Museum at ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe (Germany)
1998-05 head of ZKM | Museum Communications department
2006-16 chief curator ZKM | Media Museum Karlsruhe
Since 1998 lecturer at State Academy of Fine Arts St. Petersburg, and Universities of Berne, Basel and Karlsruhe, CAFA Beijing, 2008-12 professor for aesthetics and media theory at Istanbul BILGI-University.
2010-14 director of European Unions Research Project:
Since 2016 independent international curator and certified expert for electronic and digital art; lecturer for the conservation and curation of media art at the University of Berne, Switzerland.


Researcher and curator in art and bio media
Department of Arts and Cultural Studies and Medical Museion/Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen

Ungreening Greenness
Are we in control of ‘green’? The entanglement between symbolic green, ontological greenness and performative greening poses challenges across disciplines: ‘green’, symbolically associated with the ‘natural’ and employed to hyper-compensate for what humans have lost, needs to be addressed as the most anthropocentric of all colours, in its inherent ambiguity between alleged naturalness and artificiality. There has been little reflection upon greenness’ migration across different knowledge cultures, meanwhile we are green-washing greenhouse effects away. Far from having universal meaning, ‘green’ marks a dramatic knowledge gap prone to systematic misunderstandings: Engineers brand ‘green technologies’ as ecologically benign, while climate researchers point to the ‘greening of the earth’ itself as the alarming effect of anthropogenic CO2 emissions.

A morbid odour clings to the charm of the pervasive trope of greening everything, from mundane ‘green burials’ to transcendental ‘greening the gods’, and even ‘green warfare.’ Despite its broadly positive connotations, ‘green’ incrementally serves the uncritical desire of fetishistic and techno-romantic naturalization in order to metaphorically hyper-compensate for indeed material systemic bio and necropolitics consisting of the increasing technical manipulation and exploitation of living systems, ecologies, and the biosphere at large – the generalized, and very ‘un-green’ mechanization, automation, standardization, interchangeability, and hierarchization of parts.

Keywords: greenness, postanthropocentrism, media studies, transdisciplinarity, necro/biopolitics

Jens Hauser is a Copenhagen and Paris based media studies scholar and art curator focusing on the interactions between art and technology. He holds a dual research position at both the Department of Arts and Cultural Studies and at the Medical Museion at the University of Copenhagen, and leads the (OU)VERT research initiative for Greenness Studies. He is also a distinguished affiliated faculty member of the Department of Art, Art History and Design at Michigan State University, where he co-directs the BRIDGE artist in residency program. Hauser is also the chair of the European Society for Literature, Science and the Arts’ annual 2018 conference in Copenhagen.



Date: Friday, September 14 at 16.00
Venue: The National Library of Latvia


Author, feminist, political activist, and filmmaker

Internet of Women Things, IoWT
It was my idea to have an open-source connected home of the future. My scheme was accepted by brave new geeks, brilliant people, but mostly male. They gave the house, “Casa Jasmina,” my name: I am grateful for that, but the house is not altogether comfortable.
People are diverse and live in bubbles of limited human understanding. Men and women, poets, philosophers, musicians, architects, designers, engineers — we might try to classify them as idealists or realists — the people in cloud bubbles, or the people in ground bubbles.
Now, a project like Casa Jasmina — is it a hands-on, practical, maker’s project struggling up toward ideals, or is it a set of ideals searching for grounded realities that might prove that high concepts are possible?
Is it a house for the cloud-bubble people, those who invent their own cloud-world before crashing into the ground (or at least landing on it, now and then, to pick up supplies)? Or is a grounded launch-pad for aspiration, where the ground-bubble people assemble tools to reach for the sky?

Keywords: Internet of Women Things, IoWT, critical thinking, design fiction, Casa Jasmina

Jasmina Tesanovic is a Feminist and political activist (Women in Black; CodePink) and a writer, journalist, musician, translator and film director. In 1978 she promoted the first feminist conference in Eastern Europe, “Drug-ca Zena” (Belgrade). With Slavica Stojanovic she designs and creates the first feminist publishing house in the Balkans, “Feminist 94?, lasting for 10 years. She is the author of “Diary of a Political Idiot”, translated in 12 languages: a real time war diary written during the 1999 conflict in Kosovo. Since then she has been publishing her works on blogs and other media, always connected to the Internet.


Artist, designer, inventor and educator
IBM Research AI, Northeastern University

Fragile AI: Visualizing perturbations of Artificial Neural Network
After the publication of the paper “Intriguing properties of neural networks” in 2013 by Christian Szegedy, we have discovered that learning algorithms are vulnerable. Input data visually indistinguishable from “normal” input are specifically tuned so as to fool or mislead the machine learning system.
How is it possible that neural network-based image classifiers exchange the photo of a panda for a gibbon, and do it with a very high level of confidence, almost 100%? We are faced with a more fragile AI than we thought.
At the talk we will observe what happens during an attack on neural networks, we will enter into the layers and the neurons and filters of dozens of Deep Neural Network models, to discover their beauty and fragility.

Keywords: artificial intelligence, neural network, visualization, deep learning, adversarial examples

Mauro Martino is the founder and director of the Visual AI lab at IBM Research, with offices in Cambridge, US, and Professor of Practice at Northeastern University in Boston.
His works have been featured in important scientific journals such Nature, Science, PNAS, among all, and textbooks about data visualization: “Data Visualization”, “The Truthful Art”, “The Best American Infographics” 2015 and 2016 editions.
Mauro is an award-winning designer whose projects received the Gold Medal at The 2017 Vizzies Visualization Challenge by National Science Foundation, Innovation by Design Award by Fast Company, Kantar Information is Beautiful Award. His projects have been shown at international festivals and exhibitions including Ars Electronica, RIXC Art Science Festival, Global Exchange at Lincoln Center, the Serpentine Gallery, London.



New media artist, critic, curator and writer
Parsons/New School University, ThoughtWorks Arts

Biometrics and Total Control
Though big data and fake news make the most headlines, the future of real global control will develop around a ‘quantified self’ including a deep dive into biometrics. Areas include the honing of facial recognition and eye scanning algorithms, genetic profiling, immersive experiences profiling (i.e. like Facebook data gathering, except around experiential preferences in AR/VR/MR), brain computer interfaces and the semantic/dream brain, and artificial intelligence algorithmic selectivity. The use and abuse of this information will be subject to nation state dictates ranging from socially conscious societies to rogue dictatorships. Using the arts practices developed in the ThoughtWorks Arts Residency and Art-A-Hack(TM), based in New York City, this presentation examines how arts practice can shed light on the implications of this coming storm.

Keywords: biometrics, arts practice, algorithms, AI, Machine learning, big data

Dr. Ellen Pearlman, a Fulbright World Learning Specialist in Art, New Media and Technology is on faculty at Parsons School of Design/New School University in New York City. She is Director of the ThoughtWorks Arts Residency, President of Art-A-Hack(TM) and Director and Curator of the Volumetric Society of New York. Her brain opera “Noor” was the world’s first fully immersive interactive brain opera in a 360 degree theater in Hong Kong, and she is working on a new brain opera, AIBO using emotionally intelligent artificial intelligence.