Anatomies of a Black Box

Vladan Joler
Vladan Joler
Anatomies of a Black Box

16 March 2022, 2 PM–5 PM
The Academy of Fine Arts and Design, UL, Video, Animation and New Media, Tobačna 5, Ljubljana

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Language: English

Aimed at:
art and design students, young artists, professors of visual art, new media and design, students and professionals in the fields of sociology, cultural anthropology and philosophy

Part of Tactics & Practice #12: New Extractivism

Taking New Extractivism, Nooscope and  Anatomy of an AI system as the starting point, the participants to the workshop are led into a roller coaster trip through the simple internet packet delivery system, following with Facebook’s sophisticated algorithmic factory, and going even deeper into fashionable corporate devices that actually operate as planetary-scale systems of knowledge extraction under the futurist label of machine learning and the likes. As 21st century cartographers, participants are encouraged to journey both in time and space: from the deep time of mineral formation to the fast future of dystopian social media, from the nano scale of battery molecules to the planetary scale of contemporary production and distribution supply chains. As a matter of fact, the main purpose of this workshop is finding ways to represent such a scaling issue, focusing on either the big or the tiny, either the slow or the superfast.

The Anatomy of an AI system conceptual map then appears as a narrative strategy that reduces complexity, magnifies details, follows narrative trails or establishes links where apparently there are none. Participants move from there, using their skills to dive, for instance, into site-specific research or follow the lifespan of one specific element.


In the process, participants find new lenses to focus on invisible phenomena or, on the contrary, zoom out and plot a whole new cosmo-technological cartography. Mapping is to be explored as a form of non-linear poetry or storytelling, where both technical tools (such as network graphs, metadata analysis, patent investigations, interface scraping) and a conceptual approach (assemblages, maps of errors, approximations, biases, faults, fallacies, vulnerabilities, etc.) are necessary.



Vladan Joler is an academic, researcher and artist whose work blends data investigations, counter-cartography, investigative journalism, writing, data visualisation, critical design and numerous other disciplines. He explores and visualises different technical and social aspects of algorithmic transparency, digital labour exploitation, invisible infrastructures and many other contemporary phenomena in the intersection between technology and society. He is the author of Anatomy of an AI System (with Kate Crawford) and Facebook Algorithmic Factory
Vladan Joler’s work is included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Design Museum in London, and the permanent exhibition of the Ars Electronica Center in Linz. His work has been exhibited in more than a hundred international exhibitions, including institutions and events such as: ZKM, XXII Triennale di Milano‎, HKW, Vienna Biennale, V&A, transmediale, Ars Electronica, Biennale WRO, Design Society Shenzhen, Hyundai Motorstudio Beijing, MONA, Glassroom, La Gaite Lyrique, the Council of Europe in Strasbourg and the European Parliament in Brussels. He has received numerous awards, including the 2019 Design of the Year Award by the Design Museum in London and the S+T+ARTS Prize ’19 Honorary Mention by the European Commission and Ars Electronica.
He has given lectures at numerous educational and art institutions, including the University of Oxford, Museo Reina Sofía, CCCB, the Royal Academy of Arts in Copenhagen, HfG-Karlsruhe, MG+MSUM, Aarhus University, Somerset House, Hangar Barcelona, Mucem Marseille and numerous events such as Re:Publica, transmediale, Ars Electronica, The Influencers, CCC, etc.Joler’s work has been profiled and covered in many international media such as BBC, CNN, WIRED, The Independent, The Times, Wallpaper*, Le Figaro, The Verge, Fast Company, +ARCH, ArtForum, Neural, LesJours, WeMakeMoneyNotArt and many others.


Author: Vladan Joler

Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana, 2022

The Academy of Fine Arts and Design, University of Ljubljana

Part of the series:
Tactics & Practice

Supported by:
the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and the Municipality of Ljubljana

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