Author: AK

“The Intrinsic Value of Valuable Paper”

ABSTRACT Authentication devices transform cheap paper into legitimate documents. They are the sensory, informational, and computational features that make up valuable papers like banknotes and passports, and they provide the confidence required in moments of exchange and passage. These devices – which include techniques like watermarks and specialized threads, proprietary substrates and inks, or RFID chips – are the product of security printing, an industry that continuously reinvents the possibilities of paper. Importantly, these components protect paper things from counterfeiting, allowing it to function as an original and authentic copy and to do the logistical work of connecting quotidian materials to global networks. The value of valuable papers is therefore not purely extrinsic, socially or discursively established, but is also performed through its intrinsic material qualities. These are the authentication devices that are read, assessed, and trusted as paper things are circulated, and they are what securely connects paper to infrastructures of mobility. Online First

Biometrics: Mediating Bodies

I co-edited a special issue of the journal PUBLIC: Art/Culture/Ideas on Biometrics. This issue maps out some of the ways that bodies have been measured and identified based on biometrics ever since the rise of media technologies, from nineteenth century anthropometry to modern day computational science. From case studies and interventions detailing the history and politics of biometrics, to creative and critical applications and visualizations of the biometric body, the authors and artists included here work across diverse theoretical approaches and disciplinary traditions to engage the machine-readable body. The contributions are organized around five conversations—History of Measurement; Politics and Governance; Aesthetics; Narratives and Experiences; and Design—that reflect the reach of biometrics today. One the one hand, they consider the quantified and objectified body as it becomes part of systems of identification and recognition, such as in contexts of security or surveillance. On the other, they highlight the new narratives, aesthetics, and experiential mediations of the body that surface in fields like health, cinema, media art, and curation. Along the way, these articles take on biometric …

“Nano-Optical Image-Making”

This article has been a long time coming* but it is finally available in print form in the April 2020 issue of Leonardo.  Nano-Optical Image-Making: Morphologies, Devices, Speculations ABSTRACT This article provides a technical overview of nano-optical image-making produced between the author, engineering scientists at the Ciber Lab in Vancouver, and the artists Christine Davis and Scott Lyall. It situates the work in relation to other optical technologies like holographs, to the primary application of nano-optical images as authentication devices, and to other artistic practices interested in nanoscale interactions of light and matter. The paper articulates the convergence of visual technologies and designed materials by explaining how the principles of structural color can be used for the production of images. Building a discussion on the shift from device to medium that is anchored around questions of remediation and reproducibility, it concludes with a speculation on informatic matters, or the convergence of mediating functions at the surface of things. *Accepted for Online First publication in January 2018. See on Academia      

Bricolab YR1

First year at the Bricolab is a success! Here’s a recap of some of the things that went on in the past few months. See you (hopefully) in 2020-2021 for more workshops, talks, demos, etc. Atelier d’écriture speculative   Les micro-contrôleurs : des outils pour la recherche-création   Infrastructures feministes : discours, expérimentation, enjeux Formation : l’impression 3D Recherche-création en réalité virtuelle      

Reading group @ Artefact Lab – winter 2020

This year we started doing some readings as a lab as a way to focus our monthly meetings. This has been especially useful since individual project topics are very varied. In the fall we read Sarah Sharma’s excellent book In the Meantime: Temporality and Cultural Politics. This winter we are going in quite a different direction, both in terms of topic and approach, and are reading a selection of articles and chapters that bring together animals, space, and media. Our reading list is below.

Bricolab in the news

A few news stories on the new Bricolab space from this Fall. Université de Montréal, UdeMnouvelles, October 1, 2019: Université de Montréal, Quartier Libre (student paper), November 9, 2019: Hexagram, REC (research-creation podcast series), Episode 3, July 2019:

Figurations: Persons In/Out of Data

Presenting a paper next week on “Speech Portraits and the Audio/Visual Self” at a conference at Goldsmith’s. Here is the programme in PDF with full abstracts. From the CFP: We’re drowning in an ocean of data, or so the saying goes. Data’s “big”: there’s not only lots of it, but its volume has allowed for the development of new, large-scale processing techniques. Our relationship with governments, medical organisations, technology companies, the education sector, and so on are increasingly informed by the data we overtly or inadvertently provide when we use particular services. The proverbial data deluge is large-scale—but it’s also personal. Data promises to personalise services to better meet our individual needs. Data is often construed as a threat to our person(s). Not every person predicated by data is predicted the same. The intersection between data and person isn’t fixed: it has to be figured. This conference brings together an interdisciplinary group of researchers to explore how the person—or persons, plural—are figured in/out of data. Figuration might encompass any or all of processes of representation, calculation, analogisation, …

AI Commons Workshop

This week, I participated in a day-long workshop at Concordia, organized by the Machines Agencies working group, to think about what an AI commons might look like. Here are is an excerpt from the original call: How can artificial intelligence be oriented toward the common good? The belief in AI for good has widespread acceptance in the industry and among governments. Declarations from around the globe—Canada, China, South Korea, France, and more—call for the development of AI to have a social purpose. But what is that purpose? … This workshop seeks to develop a commons-based vision for the future of AI as an intervention to understand transformations in citizen engagement as part of a larger research project to explore practices of citizenship in a skeptical world. The afternoon had a really interesting format: we separated into groups to write positions statements to the following pre-determined questions: What should an AI Commons be? How could the development of AI today—including the infrastructure and knowledge at its foundation—become a commons? Could AI reshape how we think about …

Nano-Verses landing page

Nano-Verses website…LIVE and in the news!

For the past few years I have been working with artists and scientists to explore optics and substrates at the nano scale. The project is called Nano-Verses. Working with with web designers in Montreal, we then produced an accompanying website that brings it all together. There are a few elements to fix here and there, but for the most part it’s ready for show. Works best on Chrome, a desktop, and with the sound on 🙂 >> https://nano-verses.com/  Here is a longer blurb on the partnership and the web project: Nano-Verses is an ongoing project working across disciplines to explore optics and substrates at the nano scale. The team of researchers and artists has been working together since 2015 to produce nano-optical objects based on the principles of structural colour to display unprecedented interactions between light and matter. Originally inspired by the nano scale structures that produce the iridescent blue of morpho butterfly wings, nano-optical devices have been primarily developed and used as an authenticating feature by the black-boxed security industry. Working from a desire …

Actualités de l’obsolète : journée d’étude sur le(s) temps du rétro

Ma présentation : Mythes et limites de l’obsolescence Résumé : Cette présentation offrira des exemples de projets personnels et étudiants, passant par la photographie et l’impression, pour compliquer les distinctions entre le numérique et l’analogique, et entre ce qui est « vieux » et « nouveaux » médias, afin de réfléchir les médias « rétro » comme technologies du présent.

The Bricolab is open!

The Bricolab is a space for creation and making of all kinds located in the Department of Communication at the UdeM that aims to encourage a variety of research-creation approaches. It equally supports activities using digital fabrication (e.g. Arduinos), experimentation with new forms of storytelling (e.g. VR), or more traditional crafts like sewing, for example. It  renforces practices of active pedagogy, prototyping and l spéculation, critical making, and DIY projects. We had an open house is on Thursday September 26, 1pm – 5pm. bricolab.org Facebook (/bricolabmtl) Some of the equipment available: 2 3D printers (Ultimaker 2 & Zortrax) 3D scanning machine Vinyl cutter Sewing maching Embroidery machine Oculus Rift GoPro Fusion iMacs, Macbook, large computer screens Arduino, Raspberry Pi MakeyMakey Various electronic tools (soldering, etc.) Arts & crafts supplies Projector and TV screen

4S presentation on quality, trust, and the senses

Heading off to New Orleans next week to attend my first 4S (Society for Social Studies of Science) conference. I’m excited to be on a panel on “Technicalities of Trust and Technologies of Sensing.” Here is my abstract: “Verifying Paper Money: Quality-Control and the Materialization of Trust” This paper explores sensory moments of quality-control, specifically through the case of the bank note as a trustworthy paper. Of interest are the ways that trust becomes produced, transmitted and known by security printers, so that certain bits of paper come to be objectively perceived and circulated as authentic and valuable. Trust is explored here as intimately tied to the sensory assessment of expertise and quality. Counterfeits and forgeries are often recognized as such because they are judged as technically inaccurate or imprecise. Part of this evaluation process lies in the education of the senses and learning to discern material characteristics that are legitimate, whether through sight, touch, smell or sound. Trust is thus inscribed or embedded in a paper through specialized and recognizable techniques and materials. This …

Media, making et savoirs intermédiaires

Ce novembre, je participerai aux Entretiens Jacques Cartier durant une journée de présentations sur le thème: Art-Science : La frontière est un lieu en soi ! Les infos ici et sur le site. Comment organiser une rencontre art-science qui soit féconde en même temps que mutuellement bénéfique ? Il s’agit d’éviter l’instrumentalisation : lorsque le scientifique utilise l’artiste ou inversement. Quel rapport entre pratique artistique et pratique scientifique ? Il s’agit de mettre en évidence la profonde similarité des gestes et des pensées des artistes et des scientifiques, au-delà des apparences. Quel parcours pour un étudiant qui se formerait à la frontière entre art et science ? Il s’agit de trouver la manière la plus juste d’inscrire un parcours transdisciplinaire dans un monde encore profondément disciplinaire. Notre réflexion distinguera la variété des expériences correspondant aux différentes modalités de l’art et de la science. C’est ainsi que nous accueillerons tous les duplets art-science possibles : musique-mathématiques, danse-technologie, performance-biologie, poésie et mathématiques… 8h15 – Accueil 8h30 – Mot accueil (intervenants à définir) 8h45 – T1 : Comment …

Don’t Copy That: Security Printing and the Making of High-Tech Paper

Abstract Printing is not a new media technology, but it is continuously being renewed. In this sense, it is an example of novelty going largely unnoticed, woven into the quotidian and ordinary in unassuming ways. One reason for this is the incomplete way we tell the story of printed paper, which privileges narratives of readings, access, and dissemination. To complicate the way media scholars think printing, this article turns to the case of security printing, which produces objects like banknotes and passports that circulate with trust and authority. Here, printing emerges through the specific need to print securely, offering a narrative based on the need for order and protection. The work of security printing, always straddling between art and science, produces artefacts understood as authentic copies. Such a transformation of paper into valuable object relies on the technical artistry of the security printer, who sets the aesthetic and material standards of authenticity through physical features like watermarks, engravings, holographs, special substrates, threads, or inks. Drawing on a close reading of informational materials produced by the …