New Extractivism

Vladan Joler
Vladan Joler
New Extractivism

16 March–13 April 2022
Aksioma | Project Space, Ljubljana

Part of Tactics & Practice #12: New Extractivism

In the information age, everything becomes a potential frontier for expansion and extraction – from the depth of the DNA code in every single cell of the human organism to the vast frontiers of human emotions, behaviour and social relations, and nature as a whole. 

At this moment in the 21st century, we are witnessing a new form of extractivism that is well underway: one that reaches into the furthest corners of the biosphere and the deepest layers of human cognitive and affective being. The stack behind contemporary technological systems goes well beyond the multi-layered “technical stack” of data modelling, hardware, servers and networks, as described by Benjamin Bratton in 2015. The full stack reaches much further into capital, labour and nature, and demands an enormous amount of each. The true costs of these systems – social, environmental, economic, and political – remain hidden and may remain so for some time to come. 

It is necessary to move beyond a simple analysis of the relationship between an individual human being, their data and any single technology company to tackle the truly planetary scale of extraction. From the cosmological model of the universe to the world of human emotions interpreted by the slightest muscle movements on the human face, everything becomes subject to quantification. There are deep interconnections between the literal hollowing out of the materials of the earth and the biosphere, and the data capture and monetisation of human practices of communication and sociality. 

New Extractivism by Vladan Joler is a cartographic project that can be understood as a titanic effort to outline these interconnections and to make sense of our contemporary reality. The project can be understood as an “assemblage of concepts and allegories”, drawn from a variety of resources: statistical research and data mining, ancient and contemporary philosophy, media theory and fiction, sociology and economics. Pierced together, these fragments take the form of a map, a manual and a video animation that guide the viewer through the traps, tunnels and slippery corridors of a world-scale infrastructure designed to extract, collect, quantify, analyse and connect all aspects of reality and turn them into capital: new accumulations of wealth and power concentrated in a very thin social layer dominated by a few global mega-corporations.


Dissecting New Extractivism
Cukrarna, Ljubljana
16 March 2022 at 7 PM

In this talk, researcher and artist Vladan Joler dissects the various layers of the superstructures that underlie new extractivist practices. Step by step, from the gravity fields of the Internet black holes to the architecture of our personalised prison caves to the design of the numerous parts of the engines of extractivism, Joler takes us through the different allegories and concepts presented in his recent animated movie, map and essay The New Extractivism. The work illustrates various aspects of this prison in 33 chapters that each explore a different theoretical concept related to the topics of power, control, digital labour, colonialism and exploitation of nature, among others. In that sense, this lecture is a cognitive and visual rollercoaster designed to help us understand the complexities enabling the new structures of power hidden behind the screens on our devices.

In collaboration with:
ALUO – The Academy of Fine Arts and Design of the University of Ljubljana
MGML / Cukrarna Gallery


Anatomies of a Black Box
ALUO, Ljubljana
16 March 2022, 2 PM–5 PM


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 as a permanent exhibition of the Ars Electronica Center in Linz. His work has been exhibited in more than one 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 at 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

Production of the exhibition:
Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana, 2022

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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