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The Devil’s Looking Glass: Artist Wesley Goatley on Mechanical Objectivity, hosted by Tactical Tech

This event took place on Tuesday, February 6th at ACUD MACHT NEU Studio, Veteranenstraße 21, Admission Free.

Our first in a series of Tactical Tech Events at ACUD Studio, London-based artist Wesley Goatley joined us to talk about the hidden politics embedded in our everyday technological devices. Wesley's talk took us on a journey through the history of pseudo-sciences, using them as a starting point for a critique of the assumed ‘objectivity’ that has dominated the historical narratives of science and technology. Starting with alchemy and phrenology, all the way through to contemporary practices like predictive policing, 'smart cities' and facial recognition, Wesley shows us that, as it turns out, today's technologies are not as mechanically 'objective' as they are being marketed to us. As a prime example, he presented his research around the Amazon Echo, which markets itself as an air-freshener-shaped 'speaker' but which Wesley described more precisely as an 'always listener'. What is Alexa telling Amazon about you?

About Wesley Goatley: Wesley is a sound artist and researcher based in London. His practice examines opaque power and hidden processes in data and networked technologies through installations, objects, and talks. He is currently undertaking doctoral studies through a scholarship from the Sussex Humanities Lab, University of Sussex, where he is exploring a critical data aesthetics approach to artistic practice and research.

Visit Wesley's site. Follow him on Twitter @wesleygoatley

Below is a video of an installation that Wesley referenced in his talk. This installation repurposes both Siri and Alexa to explore what forms of sonic data are constantly fed into these always-listening devices through our everyday co-existence with them, and what questions may reveal new knowledges through which to explore their discrete power and function in the world.

Curious? Listen to the complete talk here, including the audience discussion that followed.


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