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