C/Change Presents: SIGNALS

To build a more inclusive, accessible, and global digital future, we need new frameworks for technological development. C/Change’s digital magazine and podcast series, Signals, broadcasts insights from visionaries at the forefront of creative inquiry and design innovation about how emerging tech can support cross-cultural connection. C/Change, a new initiative from the Goethe-Institut San Francisco and Gray Area, investigates how emerging technologies, when imbued with intentional design, can open up new channels for cross-cultural connection in a changing world.

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Wednesday Mar 22, 2023

What are the differences between monuments and public art? 
How can the future of monument making be more participatory and community-driven?
How does the built environment contribute to or erase collective memory?
What kind of cultural exchange is expressed through the design of public space?
In 2020, artist and designerCheyenne Concepcion founded the New Monuments Taskforce — a conceptual art project guised as a fantastical municipal agency — in the San Francisco Bay Area to create a speculative project that provides “a counterpoint to the top-down narrative we were getting about monuments.”At the time, the Bay Area and the nation as a whole, were reckoning with the often racist history of public monuments while the Covid pandemic had obliterated shared environments. The use, purpose, and memorialization of public space was amidst a significant crisis. In this Signals podcast conversation, Concepcion, whose larger body of work is about cultural memory, describes the current state of the New Monuments Taskforce to Elia Vargas as a movement away from monuments to public art more broadly. What is the relationship of speculative thinking to civic activism? How are monuments erected? Who gets to be memorialized? What counts as a monument? What does intervening in that process look like? Does the future of monuments lie outside theState? Listen to Signals Episode 6 for a meandering, thoughtful, poetic, and critical conversation about monuments, place, and cultural memory.
Podcast Music Credits: systemritual (Elia Vargas and Nathan Blaz)
Image Credits:Audrey Melton, Bob Krasner

Friday Dec 09, 2022

Jenny Odell looks at birds along her street and at parking lots on the internet. She is a new media artist and a writer whose work involves practices of close observation. “I didn’t take the photographs of the parking lots, I didn’t make the parking lots, but I found them and I put them in some kind of configuration that might jolt someone out of their familiarity with it.” Odell’s work reframes the infrastructure of the Internet and tries to draw attention to place. In 2018 she wrote How To Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy. In 2015 she created the one-person organization, The Bureau of Suspended Objects, a media archeology of junk at the San Francisco Dump. Her forthcoming book, Saving Time: Discovering a Life Beyond the Clock will be released in March 2023.
In episode 5 of the Signals podcast, Elia Vargas talks with Jenny Odell about her NY Times bestselling book, a childish (in a good way) excitement of mining the internet, and the importance of place and embodiment in contemporary digital culture. Like Odell’s practice, the conversation is playful, broad, and tackles critical questions of digital attention, radical refusal, and being grounded in the world.
Podcast Music Credits: systemritual (Elia Vargas and Nathan Blaz)
Image Credits: Jenny Odell

Monday Dec 05, 2022

How do games operate as a platform for radical social intervention?
What role do race and gender play in game design?
What are speculative algorithms?
How might we foster inclusive spaces for game artists and game design students?
A.M. Darke says that being an associate professor in Digital Arts and New Media; Critical Race and Ethnic Studies; and Performance, Play & Design at the University of California, Santa Cruz, is just one part of who they are. Who is Darke? A recently tenured professor; an artist and scholar designing radical tools for social intervention; a queer Black femme-presenting person operating in a historically white male field of game design; a human trying to figure out what a human is.
Signals Podcast 4 features an uncut and intimate conversation between A.M. Darke and Elia Vargas that highlights Darke’s unfiltered methods and commitment to radical social intervention. From the Open Source Afro Hair Library to the Fairly Intelligent Algorithm, out-witting Snapchat’s facial recognition, and their game about controversial rapper Kanye West, Darke’s speculative games are full of snark, help us think in an abolitionist way, and challenge social norms through extraordinary game design and critiques of digital culture. 
Darke asks, “What did it feel like the last time you experienced pleasure? I don’t want to know what it was; I just want to know what it felt like. It feels like that there is an expectation, in the United States in particular, that there must be a base level of suffering. Suffering is a virtue and it is a requirement for society to function. It is presented to us as a necessity. It is imposed onto us without our consent… What is the opposite of suffering? As someone who has suffered a lot in my life, I just thought, I don’t want to suffer, or the absence of that, or being happy. The opposite of suffering is pleasure. And I think the solution to these structures in our world is getting back to pleasure.”

Friday Nov 04, 2022

How do disability studies create inclusive world building?
The role of open source software in queer technology.
Assistive technology design for reshaping accessibility.
Wearable Technologies and new models for meaning making.
“What is valid knowledge making?” asks queer and disabled AR/VR artist M Eifler. “That is at the core of my practice.” Eifler, aka Blink Pop Shift, is an artist who uses a collage of physical and virtual materials to build prosthetics, archives, and models to experiment with disabled and autistic ways of knowing. Their iterative, recursive, and experimental process for hybrid virtual and physical work begins with very simple ingredients. This includes a set of instructions or a few rules, which determine the trajectory of a wide breadth of practice ranging from AI to computational prosthetics to basket weaving and other textiles. Prosthetic Memory, one of Eifler’s most well-known works, explores their long term memory loss, and was awarded the Ars Electronica STARTS Prize 2020 Honorary Mention. Listen to Signals Podcast 3 for a wide-ranging conversation between Eifler and Elia Vargas that explores the topics of computational design, the effects of the pandemic on computer-human relations, open source software, autism and disability, memory loss and trauma, and embodiment and radical forms of meaning making.“What are your needs?”asks Eifler. “Everyone has needs and I want to know what they are.” Eifler, who stood pacing back and forth for the entire conversation, is remarkably idiosyn-cratic, as well as generous, generative, and profound in conversation. During the pandemic,“Because we felt so isolated, people lost the fact that the first part of not being lonely is connecting with yourself...The first part of using a computer or any computational device that is enriching is about connecting to yourself and your intentions, otherwise you end up in these extractive relationships.” 
Podcast Music Credits: systemritual (Elia Vargas and Nathan Blaz)
BioImage Credit: M Eifler
Prosthetic Memory Images Credit: Ana Xiao Mina

Friday Sep 30, 2022

How does blockchain technology impact art?
What are NFTs and crypto art?
How can blockchain networks transform the movement of art across national borders?
Episode 2 of the Signals Podcast features a very special conversation with blockchain.art (BCA) CEO and co-founder, Christina Steinbrecher-Pfandt. BCA is “a blockchain-supported marketplace and e-commerce solution for galleries, museums, and artists.” In short, BCA mints, archives, and sells crypto-art or NFTs. After its founding in May 2019, digital art and NFTs exploded in popularity, creating and destroying immense wealth in a very short period of time, and introducing the world to a new technological art practice. Early blockchain networks such as Ethereum, and its energy intensive proof-of-work protocol also mobilized intense debates on the ethics of the medium. Steinbrecher-Pfandt points to Casey Reas, artist and creator of the programing language Processing, who says: “The blockchain is the key to moving away from licenses toward property for digital media…” 
The Signals conversation with Steinbrecher-Pfandt is far reaching in its discussion of the past three years of blockchain from a fine art perspective. Steinbrecher-Pfandt reflects a nuance and thoughtfulness to her particular context of the crypto art world. Listen to the podcast for a rich engagement on the relations of crypto art, digital infrastructure, national borders, and digital ownership.

Wednesday Aug 17, 2022

The inaugural Signals podcast features an in-depth conversation with Filipino American storyteller, poet, artist, and scholar Dorothy R. Santos. Santos, a San Francisco native, is the recent recipient of the 2022 Mozilla Creative Media award for her interactive, documentary-poetic work, The Cyborg’s Prosody and the inaugural YBCA 10 Award in 2021. She is currently a Eugene V. Cota-Robles fellow in the Film and Digital Media PhD program at University of California, Santa Cruz. Her artwork has been exhibited at Ars Electonrica, Rewrite Festival, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and more. Her writing appears in art21, Art in America, Ars Technica, Hyperallergic, Rhizome, and Vice Motherboard. She is the Executive Director of the Processing Foundation.
As a steward of arts and technology in the San Francisco Bay Area and a scholar of feminist techno sciences and critical medical anthropology, Santos’s work is prolific and influential across multiple fields. The podcast conversation ranges from her interactive fiction Domain Errors, published by Art Journal to The Cyborg’s Prosody, to assistive auditory technologies, open source software, and her work at the Processing Foundation. 
In Domain Errors, Santos quotes Lucia Sommer’s essay “In/Visible Body: Notes on Biotechnologies Vision,” who asks: “How does the body, that most vulnerable of territories, fare in the relentless expansion of the sight machine?” Listen to this month’s Signals podcast, hosted by Elia Vargas for a conversation on this and other questions, such as: What is the Cyborg’s Prosody? What role can the open source software community play in assistive technologies? How are technocultures and spell work related? And, is there a place for forgetting in the future?
Read more here: cchange.xyz/signals
Hosted by Elia Vargas
Intro Music Credits: systemritual (Elia Vargas and Nathan Blaz)


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