Curate LA Book Club: Nancy Baker Cahill

Curate LA
Curate LA
Jul 6 · 5 min read

by Jonathan Velardi

Like many of us who have adapted our homes to live, work, and even try to escape from it all during lockdown, artist Nancy Baker Cahill takes the latter to another dimension. Having set up a makeshift studio in her apartment, the Los Angeles-based artist has been working on Augmented Reality (AR) projects, including a virtual experience for the outdoor public art exhibition, DRIVE-BY-ART (Public Art in This Moment of Social Distancing), and ‘Liberty Bell’ - a monumental AR public project commissioned by Art Production Fund that launched on July 4, 2020. Working at the intersection of fine art, new media and activism, Baker Cahill explores the contradictions inherent in immersive media - invisibility and visibility, real and virtual, and the embodied and disembodied. In 2018, the artist created a free AR public art app, 4th Wall, for users to experience her work outside the solitary confines of the white cube. Serving as a tool of public engagement and subversive social practice, the app offers a virtual space for fellow artists and collaborators: sites of cultural, historical, or political significance use geolocation information to reveal untold stories or conceptual ideas. 4th Wall is currently hosting the artist coalition, In Plain Sight, making permanent the works of 80 artists that contributed to a national skytyping project over Independence Day weekend 2020, which spelled out messages above U.S. borders, detention facilities, and immigration courts. These investigations join themes of artificial intelligence, surveillance capitalism, dystopian futures, and more in the artist’s reading list for our latest book club:

“This list reflects my appetite for investigating our current technology dominated moment and its related socio-cultural power dynamics. It also represents my equally powerful hunger for what electrifies the imagination.”

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Nancy Baker Cahill: artist, founder and Creative Director of 4th Wall

Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor by Virginia Eubanks

Tip of the iceberg: Eubanks exposes how automated systems are used to discriminate against the poor/working class.

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Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor by Virginia Eubanks

Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene by Donna J. Haraway

Author of The Cyborg Manifesto, Haraway defines our epoch as one where the human and nonhuman are inextricably linked.

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Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene by Donna J. Haraway

Vurt by Jeff Noon

A cult-favorite cyberpunk novel that grabs you from the first page and doesn’t let go. A journey of drugs, virtual worlds, and a wildly imaginative dystopian future.

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Vurt by Jeff Noon

The Social Photo: On Photography and Media by Nathan Jurgenson

A quick, powerful and timely read: in the age of social media, Jurgenson explains photography as “a technology of instability”, and social photography as communication.

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The Social Photo: On Photography and Media by Nathan Jurgenson

Hostage by Guy Delisle

In this graphic novel, Delisle illustrates time passing(!) through an account of Christophe André’s 1997 kidnapping while on a mission for Médecins Sans Frontières in the Caucasus region.

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Hostage by Guy Delisle

The Most Human Human: What Artificial Intelligence Teaches Us About Being Alive by Brian Christiansan

A colorful and thought provoking first person account of his participation in the Turing test, Brian Christian unpacks what it means to be human, in an age of AI.

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The Most Human Human: What Artificial Intelligence Teaches Us About Being Alive by Brian Christiansan

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power by Shoshana Zuboff

This is an urgent read, even if you can’t get through all 700 pages (gulp). Zuboff outlines how corporations surveil, predict and control our behavior.

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The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power by Shoshana Zuboff

Água Viva by Clarice Lispector

Brazlian writer, Clarice Lispector’s lusty, visceral and never boring take on embodiment, nature, creativity, and existence.

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Água Viva by Clarice Lispector

Race After Technology by Ruha Benjamin

Ruha Benjamin’s essential investigation of discriminatory practices codified into emerging technologies and automation - what she calls “The New Jim Code,” and the inequities and racial hierarchies they amplify.

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Race After Technology by Ruha Benjamin

Bluets by Maggie Nelson

A genre-defying book, often referred to as a meditation, in which Nelson’s obsession with the color blue prompts anecdotes of sex, pain, love, and art.

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Bluets by Maggie Nelson

The Curate LA Book Club is a growing series of reading material from Los Angeles-based luminaries and projects that reflect individual and collective ideas with an invariable commitment to accessibility, diversity, and marginality. Discover previous book clubs and more virtual art coverage by signing up to our weekly newsletter: Curate LA INSIDE.

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Curate LA is Los Angeles’s most comprehensive art discovery platform. Our mission is to promote the economic and cultural development of L.A. by making its artistic ecosystem radically accessible to everyone. We deliver curated information on exhibitions, museums, programs, artist studios and galleries across the city and online. Connect with us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook + help us in our mission by becoming a supporting member here.

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