UPCOMING ENGAGEMENTS

Index

Darkness, as a First Act of Creation, XXII Triennale, Milan

Curator

Curator, Dark Matter: On Blackness and Being, Manifesta 13, Performances by Ramon Amaro, AmazonPrimeQueen (Victoria McKenzie), DeForrest Brown, Jr., Kepla (Jon Davies), Jorge Lucero Diaz, Conrad Moriarty-Cole. Audio contributions by Antonio Lara. Video directed and edited by Carlos Lopes.

Darkness is often understood as the lack of illumination or absence of light, yet it is often an afterimage - or an image that continues to appear in one's vision after the original stimulus has taken place. While most afterimages are considered to be optical illusions, they suggest that what we see in the present differs from actual reality; they are fragments of the past brought forward into our present vision as deceptions and misrepresentations of the real.

Darkness, as a First Act of Creation proposes darkness not as a void or absence but, instead, borrowing from Denise Ferreira da Silva, a type of dark matter with generative potential. A ‘first act of creation’ in a continual process of creating one’s own reality.

The body performances, live DJ set, and audio-visual soundscape that compose this work, problematise genetic memory and the black body as a technology; bring darkness to life in an interpretation of the god Kulan, a spirit embodied by the Selk’nam peoples of Chile; and propose darkness as the necessary condition for self-actualisation.

‘Darkness, as a First Act of Creation’ is part of the the Dutch presentation ‘I See That I See What You Don’t See’ at the XXII Triennale di Milano, Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival.

Image: El Regreso de lxs espiritus

AI: More Than Human, Barbican, London

Curatorial Advisor

Exhibition Advisor for AI: More than Human

Opening in May 2019, the Barbican presents a major new exhibition: AI: More than Human – an unprecedented survey of creative and scientific developments in artificial intelligence, exploring the evolution of the relationship between humans and technology.

Part of Life Rewired, the Barbican’s 2019 season exploring what it means to be human when technology is changing everything, AI: More than Human tells the rapidly developing story of AI, from its extraordinary ancient roots in Japanese Shintoism and Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage’s early experiments in computing, to AI’s major developmental leaps from the 1940s to the present day to show how an age-old dream of creating intelligence has already become today’s reality. Told through some of the most prominent and cutting-edge research projects, from DeepMind, Jigsaw, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Computer Science Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MIT CSAIL), IBM, Sony Computer Science Laboratories, Google Arts and Culture, Google PAIR, Affectiva, Lichtman Lab at Harvard, Eyewire, Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Wyss Institute and Emulate Inc.

https://www.barbican.org.uk/our-story/press-room/ai-more-than-human

Movement and De:Colonial Vibrations, STROOM, Den Haag

Performer

Uncertainty Seminars, STROOM, The Hague.

Ramon Amaro & Conrad Moriarty-Cole:
Movement and De/colonial Vibrations

"Whenever movement is perceived, we are presented with a 'double existence': an objective registering of sensory input and a perceptual feeling of continuing movement".
- Brian Massumi, The Archive of Experience

According to Albert Michotte, movement has the uncanny ability ‘to survive the removal of its object'. We experience this movement as a momentum, to which nothing visible can coincide. In other words, what we perceptually see does not necessarily match the feeling of what we see. Put another way, what we see as the end of a linear history of colonial expansion is disrupted by sentiments of reflection, resistance, freedom, and spirituality that reveal the consistency of empire at present sites of labour, infrastructure, and engineering. Movement and De/colonial Vibrations— a downloadable audio project and self-guided walking tour compiled by Ramon Amaro (of SambaRhino) and Conrad Moriarty-Cole (of London-based audio collective, SLAC) — questions the ‘double existence' of object locations, as Brian Massumi describes them, by re-articulating the objective registering of sensory input and the contradictions of perceptual feelings. In doing so, the project invites an aural and visual exploration of de/colonial Den Haag using Diasporaic Afro-beats, soundscapes and spirituals that puncture the presence of momentum, and disrupt notions of frictionless colonial reconciliation.

https://www.stroom.nl/paginas/pagina.php?pa_id=2110771

Decolonising Bots, Het Niuewe Instituut, Rotterdam

Curator

Curator, Decolonising Bots, Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam.

Decolonising Bots looked into the ways that algorithmic agents perform notions of human race. With Ramon Amaro, Florence Okoye and Legacy Russell.

On 26 October 2017 Florence Okoye was one of the speakers at Bot Club: Decolonising Bots. Afterwards she wrote an essay: Decolonising Bots: Revelation and Revolution through the Glitch.

As in many societal domains, algorithmic culture’s implicit standard for what it considers default, normal, or average is positioned in relation to the Caucasian male. Examples abound: FaceApp’s Hot filter turns black faces into white ones, Amazon Prime’s automated delivery avoids black neighbourhoods in American cities and Facial recognition algorithms have a harder time identifying non-white faces than white faces. If it is not possible to decolonise algorithmic culture separately from the larger society, could we nevertheless conceive of bots or algorithmic agents that actively contribute to the process of decolonisation? How is the black identity developing online? What would an afrofuturist perspective on algoroimic culture look like?

https://thursdaynight.hetnieuweinstituut.nl/en/activities/decolonising-bots

Techno-Resistance and Black Futures, Goldsmiths, London

Curator

In his 1994 essay ‘Black to the Future: Interviews with Samuel Delaney, Greg Tate and Tricia Rose,’ Mark Dery describes the black body as inhabiting a perverse space of cultural intolerance. In a very real sense, Dery describes the black body as occupying a place in history where the Diaspora is more reminiscent of the strangeness of alien abduction, rather than that of a self-determinant peoples. Still, according to Dery, subjugation of the black body is situated in the techno-scientific, where the subject is articulated as real only in as much as it is made visible in contact with the most (dis)functional modes of technological progress: today in terms of the tip of a police bullet, the subject of the body cam or racial profiling, the efficiency of redlined pricing and other technologies that disproportionately reduce the free mobility of black people. For technology has been, and remains today, an insufficient means of liberation for the black body. Paradoxically, since the projects of the Enlightenment and the technological dystopia called modernity, the technical has also functioned as the black body's precise mode of individual and collective departure.

Technological speculation, as a technique of relation borrowing from Brian Massumi (2008) or what Alanna Thain (2008) describes as 'a lived reality of relation too often obscured by a retroactive distancing between mind/ body, self/ other, subject/ object, artist/ artwork, discovery/ invention,' offers the black body a method by which the alienness of terrestrial belonging can be re-scripted, re-coded and re-organised into alternative modes of being and becoming. Here we reference Denise da Silva's adoption of mathematical reasoning to devise procedures that unleash 'blackness' to confront life or Stefano Harney and Fred Moten's proposed methodology of the undercommon which prompts black people to adopt a right of indifference to representation in the break of artistic production. One goal is to understand how the black body operates at the intersections of history, speculation and technique. Another is to move beyond a methodological immediacy that reflects historical and present modes of sufferings and displacements. The overall aim, however, is to imagine new relational frameworks that seek to understand how the imposition of circumstance can emerge as a politics of self-determinate belonging. It is here, at the junction of encounter and context, that Félix Guattari views the racialised group as assigning meaning. This meaning is a force that ‘constitutes the seeds of the production of subjectivity’, as ‘we are not in the presence of a passively representative image, but a vector of subjectivation’ (Guattari, et. al., 1995: 29−30). It is through the meaning of backness that the black, brown and racialised individual creates a cohesion of (mis)representation, expounded by aesthetic markers, dynamic vibrations and cultural kineticisms often expressed as a sense of belonging.

Techno Resistance and Black Futures takes this point of departure as method of intervention and critique (in literature, philosophy, sonic resonances, short film, science fiction, social platforms, gaming, cosplay, graphic arts and other digital and geek ecologies) that put forward the potential for alternative modes of living for the racialised body. In other words, it asks how the black, brown and 'othered' body can move beyond the study of symbolic, transcendental or physiological human attributes, or critique that exposes the violences of power (in their colonial, imperial and capitalist articulations) toward conditions of relation that activate new modes of being and becoming, and ultimately the liberation of black potential?

Simulations and Environments, Goldsmiths, London

Co-organiser

Simulations and Environments:

A critical dialogue between systems of perception and ecocritical aesthetics at Goldsmiths University

Navigation Beyond Vision

Forthcoming

Forthcoming: Sternberg Press/e-flux journal - 2021

Volumetric Regimes: Material Cultures of Quantified Presence

Forthcoming

Forthcoming in Volumetric Regimes: Material Cultures of Quantified Presence Edited by Possible Bodies (Jara Rocha and Femke Snelting) (Open Humanities Press)

http://data-browser.net/db09.html

Machine Learning, Surveillance and the Politics of Visibility

Publication

Like a snake eating its tail, artificial intelligence exists in a circular relationship with its human creators.

The Atlas of Anomalous AI is a compelling and surprising map of our complex relationship to intelligence, from ancient to emerging systems of knowledge. A wildly associative constellation of ideas, stories, artworks and historical materials, the Atlas draws on art historian Aby Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas — an image map of the “afterlife of antiquity” — to approach the defining concepts of AI from an imaginative, artistic and revitalising perspective.

The Atlas presents a hyperdimensional view of the world, through a broad range of perspectives that explore the question of what AI has been and what it is becoming. Key texts on modelling, prediction and automation are brought together with stories of science fiction, dreams and human knowledge, set among visionary and surreal images

Contributions from writers, philosophers and curators including: Blaise Agüera y Arcas, Ramon Amaro, Noelani Arista, Jorge Luis Borges, Benjamin H. Bratton, Federico Campagna, Arthur C. Clarke, Rana Dasgupta, Eknath Easwaran, GPT-2, GPT-3, Yuk Hui, Nora N. Khan, Suzanne Kite, Jason Edward Lewis, Catherine Malabou, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Matteo Pasquinelli, Archer Pechawis, Noah Raford, Nisha Ramayya, Beth Singler and Hito Steyerl

Find out more

Towards Black Individuation and a Calculus of Variations

Article

Amaro, Ramon and Khan, Murad. “Abstract Blackness/Absolute Value,” e-flux Journal #109, May 2020.

https://www.e-flux.com/journal/109/330246/towards-black-individuation-and-a-calculus-of-variations/

Machine Diagnosis

Article

Amaro, Ramon. “Machine Diagnosis,” open!, 2020.

Ramon Amaro signals traces of political arithmetic thought in government responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Amaro goes into the wider implications of human quantification and data consolidation and asserts that COVID-19 analysis tools, vaccine research, and detection devices risk leaving open future gaps in data privacy, while also centralizing the patient data into government forecasting efforts. We must consider what impact data consolidation might have on future, even non health related, surveillance programmes. It must be asked whether the risks involved outweigh the immediacy of crisis; and if so, what traces of political and economic speculation based on our intimate medical data might be left behind. This essay is part of the publication and research project of Open! about sense of touch in the digital age.

Available here

Threshold Value

Article

Amaro, Ramon. “‘Threshold Value,” ​e-flux architecture​, February 2020.

On data modelling, race and the future of higher education.

https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/education/322664/threshold-value


As If: Towards a Black Technical Object

Article

Ramon Amaro, “As If.” e-flux architecture vol. 97 (February, 2019).


On computer vision, machine perception and the production of the black technical object.

https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/becoming-digital/248073/as-if

The Empirical Reality of AI and a Racialised Future

Book section

Amaro, Ramon. “The empirical reality of AI and a racialised future.” In ​AI - More than Human​. London: Barbican, London, 2019.


Artificial Intelligence: Warped, Colourful Forms and Their Unclear Geometries

Chapter

Amaro, Ramon. “Artificial Intelligence: warped, colorful forms and their unclear geometries.” In ​Schemas of Uncertainty: Soothsayers and Soft AI,​ eds. Danae Io and Callum Copley, 69-90. Amsterdam: PUB/Sandberg Instituut, 2019.



Precognition

Book Section

Ramon Amaro, “Precognition.” In Posthuman Glossary, eds. Rosi Braidotti and Maria Hlavajova (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2018): 365-367.

The Posthuman Glossary is a volume providing an outline of the critical terms of posthumanity in present-day artistic and intellectual work. It builds on the broad thematic topics of Anthropocene/Capitalocene, eco-sophies, digital activism, algorithmic cultures and security and the inhuman. It outlines potential artistic, intellectual, and activist itineraries of working through the complex reality of the 'posthuman condition', and creates an understanding of the altered meanings of art vis-à-vis critical present-day developments.

Afrofuturism

Book Section

Ramon Amaro, “Afrofuturism.” In Posthuman Glossary, eds. Rosi Braidotti and Maria Hlavajova (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2018): 17–19.

The Posthuman Glossary is a volume providing an outline of the critical terms of posthumanity in present-day artistic and intellectual work. It builds on the broad thematic topics of Anthropocene/Capitalocene, eco-sophies, digital activism, algorithmic cultures and security and the inhuman. It outlines potential artistic, intellectual, and activist itineraries of working through the complex reality of the 'posthuman condition', and creates an understanding of the altered meanings of art vis-à-vis critical present-day developments.

Digital Hysteria: A Proposal on Violence and Humanism

Book Section

Ramon Amaro, “Digital Hysteria: A proposal on violence and humanism.” Collective Hysteria vol. 7 (May 11, 2016): 10-15.

Black in AI Workshop 2020

Talk

Fireside Chat on "Machine Learning, Sociogeny & Race"

Haunting, Blackness & Algorithmic Thought

Discussion

Discussion with Ezekiel Dixon-Román at Recursive Colonialisms

https://recursivecolonialism.com/topics/haunting/

Posthuman Convergences: Theories and Methodologies Summer School with Rosi Braidotti, 18 August

Guest Lecture

"Posthuman Convergences" offers an overview of contemporary debates around the ‘posthuman turn’. It explores the implications of the posthuman convergence of posthumanism and postanthropocentrism for the constitution of subjectivity, the production of knowledge and the practice of the academic humanities.

The aim of this interdisciplinary  course is to track the convergences between different branches of posthuman knowledge production. It starts by offering a selected overview of contemporary scholarship on the ‘posthuman turn,’  notably its applications and implications in the Humanities and Social Sciences. The posthuman turn is defined as the convergence, within the context of advanced or cognitive capitalism, of post-humanism on the one hand and post-anthropocentrism on the other. Although these lines of critical thought often overlap, they are distinct phenomena both in terms of their theoretical genealogies and their practical applications.

A related aim of the course is to introduce and apply Braidotti’s specific brand of neo-materialist, critical feminist posthuman theory. This approach rests on two main concepts: the emphasis on the embodied and embedded, relational and affective structure of subjectivity and the grounded and accountable nature of knowledge claims. These aspects will be connected through the emphasis on perspectival politics of locations on the one hand and affirmative relational ethics on the other. Participants will be required to read Braidotti’s classic text The Posthuman (Polity Press, 2013) prior to the start of the course.

In order to evaluate posthuman convergences and knowledge(s), the course will present, explore and assess  the defining features of a selected number of fields within the fast-growing Posthumanities, such as the Environmental, Digital and Medical Humanities. Key questions are: what is the object of enquiry of these emergent areas of research? How do these new fields of knowledge affect the constitution of subjectivity and practice of academic research today? Mindful of the differences in power and access that structure the debate on the posthuman, we will also investigate how posthuman knowledge(s) can assist us in moving beyond the patterns of exclusion of the sexualized, racialized and naturalized “others” that were not recognized as belonging fully to humanity and were also disqualified as subjects of knowledge.

The course will furthermore endeavour to present a selection of concrete case-studies drawn from the Environmental, Digital and Medical Humanities. These cases will be presented by teams of participating scholars from a range of disciplines and interdisciplinary areas of research, notably: literature and cultural studies, pedagogy, media and technology studies, legal theory, philosophy and the arts. Throughout the course, special efforts will be made to highlight the crucial contribution of art practices to all areas of posthuman scholarship and research.

(ICQCM) Inaugural Virtual Symposium: Critical Methods for a Critical Moment, 4 August

Lecture

A Critical Moment. Data are defining this moment in ways that reveal the precarity and power of Black, Brown and Indigenous populations, but also the unharnessed potential of scientific method to yield knowledge that can “STEM” the oppressive tide of post-1619 pandemics. What does precarity, power, and pandemics mean about how we go about our scientific work, or the methods we could wield in potentially catalytic and transformative ways? ICQCM seeks a dialogue about methodologies that recognizes a return to normal practices after this critical moment is a return to precarity and complicity through our research.

Critical to the Future. Latinx and Black populations constitute a combined 11.8 and 19.1 percent of all students taking data science and analysis courses, respectively, despite being 32 and 29 percent of all undergraduate students and working-age populations, respectively, in 2016.2 This maldistribution of data scientists is not by chance. The data-science divide has thrived on racial/ethnic and gendered disparities in access to STEM, biased instructional practices, and its application to marginalizing regimes and colonial practices that reproduced instead of eliminated structural and systemic inequities. A future in which the interests of Black, Latinx, and Indigenous populations are reflected in the practice and impact of QCM requires that critical methodological approaches are made available to those who we entrust to produce both transformative research and the next generation of scientific innovators.

Critical Methodologies. There are many tensions to transcend for those who are interested in a critical methodology, among them: that methodologies shape both opportunity structures and inequalities, as well as skills and identities in the academy. That they both mask and reveal power imbalances between historically marginalized and privileged communities. That they simultaneously reflect an objective material reality and an unachieved positivist panacea. That they advance science but also pseudo-justifications for westernized/colonial imperialism. And ultimately, that they simultaneously complement and challenge critical frameworks and scholars who have an epistemological commitment to the liberation of Black, Brown and First Nation Peoples.

The ICQCM Inaugural Virtual Symposium: Critical Methodologies for a Critical Moment reflects the urgent need of a data science that provides theoretical intervention and a fuller understanding of the social impact of QCM, but also a dialogue that will frame the technical mission of ICQCM: to provide training in quantitative and computational methods, and their integration into mixed methodologies, to at least 70 underrepresented scholars and affiliates of majority of color institutions of higher education. This conversation is essential to the success of that mission.

On Machine Learning and the Collective Condition of Black Survival

Keynote

On Machine Learning and the Collective Condition of Black Survival

Hosted in conjunction with the public lectures organized by the Yale School of Art in tandem with its 150th anniversary and its status as a co-educational professional school of art, scholar and educator Dr. Ramon Amaro will deliver a public lecture on the afternoon of November 20th on his recent research regarding machine learning as it relates to systems of value and racialized exclusion.

In On the Mode of Existence of Technical Objects, Gilbert Simondon argues that alienation in our contemporary techno-culture is caused by an imbalance in our perception and recognition of certain object as having more value than others, which is pronounced by a desire for power in a partial and biased culture. Simondon argues that this condition, or what he describes as an “inadequate rapport” between humans and technology, can be surpassed by building an authentic “awareness” of the existence of technical objects. This dynamic, according to Simondon, is a problem of language, which serves the dual function of identification and exclusion.

In this talk, Dr. Amaro argues that there are similarities between Simondon’s thoughts on human-techno alienation and Frantz Fanon’s treatise on the mastery of language, the “abandoned” racialized object, and the affordances of power. He ground these concepts in machine learning to consider what these provocations might mean in terms of racism and racialized exclusion in non-linear (and therefore, nonrepresentational) computational languages. Ultimately, Dr. Amaro questions how alternative “awarenesses” and systems of value might be achieved in the relation between machine-object-human.

Speculative Power and the Distributive Terms of Black Survival

Lecture

Architectures of Education is a two-day programme with presentations, screenings, keynotes and workshops seeking to reflect on cultures and architectures of education today, and speculate about what futures may lay on the horizons of knowledge production.

Throughout the twentieth and into the twenty-first century, as pedagogical ideals change, so have their architectural form. The spatial organisation of learning is a field of design that includes the positioning of bodies, the texture and colour of surfaces, the proportionality of objects, programmatic offerings, time scheduling, and beyond. Similarly, learning can be seen as a subject of design, as the process of crafting of minds and characters. With the advancement not just of new learning models but new learning technologies, the classroom and education of tomorrow may not look like how it did today.

The event brings together some of the brightest thinkers and practitioners investigating the relationship between architecture and cultures of education today. The conference is complemented by an online issue with contributions from the speakers, crossposted on e-flux Architecture and The Contemporary Journal, the digital strand of the Public Programmes and Research at Nottingham Contemporary.

Participants include: Ramon Amaro, Sarah Amsler, Kehinde Andrews, Aoife Donnelly and Kristin Trommler, Tom Holert, Anna-Maria Meister, Irit Rogoff, ruangrupa (farid rakun), Ho Rui An, Ola Uduku and Mary Vaughan Johnson

Anticipating Geometries: Self/Being/Technology as Method

Keynote

Materia Abierta is an independent summer program on theory, art, and technology based in Mexico City. It focuses on the study of the social, political, and philosophical impacts of digital media from both a global and local perspective. Conceived as a space to reflect on the ethics of the present and future, the program aims to address the influence of dominant powers on cultural production and to favor marginal forms of knowledge. Materia Abierta is also a flexible prototype of itself. It is a changing platform for researching and articulating methods for learning beyond the limitations of traditional educational structures.

Machine Learning, Race and the Black Technical Object

Keynote

Tai Kwun Summer Institute, Hong Kong.

Robot bodies and algorithmic privilege

Lecture

Robot bodies and algorithmic privilege,’ Artistic Strategies from 1980s Beyond: Keith Piper, Tate Modern, London.

Sonic Acts: AI as an Act of Thought

Lecture

An increasingly large proportion of human reality is now lived through algorithms. While our relationship with AI is undoubtedly important as a mode of knowledge production, it has far-reaching implications. Most significant is the disparity between the act of existing/existence – particularly as it relates to differential human states of being (race, gender, sexuality, etc.) – and predominant paradigms of epistemological operation. In this talk, Ramon Amaro discusses the domain of AI as an arrangement of axiomatic simplicity that, in its present form, diminishes the variant domains of psychological and physical reality. He argues for a return to the problematics of perception, as illustrated in debates between figuration and Black abstract art, to challenge the notion of an a priori analytics. Ultimately, he proposes a reorientation of the algorithmic as an ontological imperative that establishes the genesis of the human differential as an act of thought in itself.


Blackness at the limits of nothingness

Lecture

Blackness at the Limits of Nothingness

I See That I See What You Don’t See, Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam, NL.

I See That I See What You Don’t See,

Responds to the Triennale’s general theme Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival. Designers, artists and researchers from the Netherlands and further afield present a layered picture of the current multispecies relationship with darkness, setting in motion imaginative critical responses to it. Their research, films, performances, sound and scent-scapes together form a viewing mechanism that evidences how current modes of understanding the environment are designed, and how they could therefore be redesigned.

Machine learning, surveillance, and the politics of visibility.’

Keynote

Belief in AI Conference, Dubai Design Week. Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The archive as a space in-between history and the production of blackness

Lecture

A talk at the first takeover of The National Maritime Museum's Atlantic Gallery: Slavery, Trade, Empire. The takeover, organised by The FXRUM, is an intervention to commemorate and rethink the legacy of Black Atlantic history and culture. ‘The Joy in the Punch’ refers to the experience of having to interrogate structures of oppression and the need to simultaneously punch through its limits.

Predictive policing: On the politics of race and data

Keynote

Public Design Symposium, Royal Academy of Arts (KABK), The Hague.

Governments and law enforcement are increasingly using technology and algorithms to predict where and when illegal activities are likely to occur. The fast-paced implementation of these predictive systems has them silently entering the public realm without discussion of their implications and adverse effects; solidifying structural inequality, creating new geographies of violence and dimensions of exclusion.

To address these matters and further questions of organising public safety and security in the age of big data, the students and staff of the master Non-Linear Narrative of the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague have organised this symposium, bringing together in conversation a diversity of professional perspectives, including philosophers, academics, designers, and information technology experts.

Race, Surveillance and the Autopoetically Instituted Being’,

Lecture

This one day conference on race and surveillance will explore the way in which race is produced and formed by contemporary surveillance practices and techniques. Racialised differences are reproduced and rearticulated in the use of new surveillance methods, most clearly in terms of pre-crime practices and mechanisms. There has been strong and public resistance to the phenomenon of normalised and blanket surveillance since Edward Snowden's revelations about the practices of the National Security Agency (NSA) in the US. However, scholarly scrutiny of the differential material and discursive effects of surveillance is urgently needed. Contemporary practices of surveillance are based on long histories of inventing 'other races' and the observation and control of minoritised 'communities' in the colonies and imperial centres. Understanding contemporary surveillance practices demands understanding their origins in and ongoing connection to colonial histories. Important scholarly interventions on the intersection between race and surveillance exist in the US (Safiya Umoja Noble 2018; Simone Browne 2015; Arun Kundnani and Deepa Kumar 2015). However, the conjunction between race and surveillance is under-researched in Britain and Europe, and this conference will take steps to remedying this.

Ethics and Machine Learning

Lecture

FutureFest, NESTA, London.

Movement And Framing (Or Grief And The Performance of Black Death)

Lecture

Movement And Framing (Or Grief And The Performance of Black Death),’ Critical Photography, Hochschule Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf.

Race Substance, Photography, and Machinic black performance

Lecture

Visualising 4 Sainst in 3 Acts’, The Photographer’s Gallery, London.

Join visual artist Heather Agyepong, curators Patricia Allmer and John Sears and critical theorist Ramon Amaro for an afternoon of discussion exploring the themes, photographic dimensions and contemporary understandings of 4 Saints in 3 Acts - A Snapshot of the American Avant-garde.

Exhibition curators Patricia Allmer and John Sears focus on the relationship of photography to the conception, representation, performance, and contemporary dissemination especially in Harlem, of the opera Four Saints in Three Acts; Ramon Amaro, Lecturer at the Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths University of London, will consider the role of the machinic body and the use of visual aesthetics in black performance; and photographer Heather Agyepong presents her own work and approach, while also giving a personal response to the show.



Machine Learning, Black Labour and Bio-epistemic Resistance

Keynote

A short talk presented as part of After Work: Life, Labour and Automation, a symposium exploring work and resistance through and against technology.

“We misconstrue machine learning as being powered by data, when in fact machine learning makes use of data to produce within techno-social system…we can’t understand machine learning in isolation of the black female form. In other words, in order to understand automation and capital we must return to the racialized and gendered conception of what it means to be a body itself.”

The event took place at University of West London. It was organised by the Gender, Technology and Work research cluster at UWL, in collaboration with Autonomy, a thinktank focused on issues around the crisis of work, and wrkwrkwrk, an interdisciplinary feminist study group.

Data, Race, and the Spatio-Temporal Order of Black Existence

Keynote

Coastal University, USA.

Surveillance and the Colonial Bio-episteme

Lecture

The Only Path to Tomorrow is a symposium convened by Zach Blas. Artists and scholars Ramon Amaro, Erika Balsom, Matthew Fuller, Elena Gorfinkel, Lawrence Lek and Ana TeixeiraPinto will discuss themes of the exhibition in relation to their own research, ranging from smart drug trends to contemporary manifestations of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of objectivism; from futures of artificial intelligence to transparent architecture in Silicon Valley; from modes of minoritarian techo-resistance to aesthetic strategies in queer cinema. Nootropics will be served.

Machine learning and the politics of data,

Keynote

'A throw of the dice will never abolish chance' was an exhibition at Banner Repeater in Sept/Nov 2016 that acted as a moving configuration that materialised in several forms throughout the exhibition period. It took Stéphane Mallarmé’s text “Un coup de dès jamais n’abolira le hasard” - a throw of the dice will never abolish chance - as a site to consider new ways of thinking through the centuries old puzzle of code, numbers and language. Material articulations, sited in the project space as parts of a puzzle, developed through the Thinking through the Block workshops and associated talks, and developed as a digital artefact that can be found at x-fx.org, that includes text, audio, and visual data, inscribed, ascribed, and described through the block.   For more information see here.

Machine learning and the politics of data with Ramon Amaro

​Ramon Amaro will be talking through calculus as a key moment in our cultural understanding of data, leading to further discussion of ethics in the application of various mathematical models in our data driven society. There is a growing gap between the generation of datasets and our understanding of its potential uses. Data informs the conditions and long standing interests by which our knowledges about social situations are understood, as Oscar Gandy (2009) suggests: ‘most public decisions these days are made on the basis of some analysis of data’.

Ethically, the pervasiveness of data-driven devices and technologies aide in the delay of social and policy decisions about the usefulness of generated information, in favour of incomplete understandings of how learning and prediction methods can and do offer answers to social and political problems. These problems extend across a wide range of concerns, from accurate predictions of weapons targets and haptic responses to more mobile-friendly search engine results. Nonetheless, they are, by the very process of their design, fallible to social consequences that are most frequently articulated in forms of biases, segregations and other social restrictions. These concerns are particularly vulnerable if sufficient attentions are not given to ethical issues surrounding machine learning activities. That the answers to these concerns are found in profiling and prediction models, and often themselves initiate political, industry and social actions without specific aim, speaks to the continuation of an intensity to categorise social information and social agents into consistencies of performance-based assessments. These logic are founded in partial ethical debates that necessitate further considerations of the social, technical and political outcomes that inform the relationship between human and machines, where the most prevalent context in which we find ourselves in engagement with the machine is perhaps also the most taken for granted.

Data, Labour, and the Politics of Decision’

Lecture

Art:Work, Tate Modern, London.

Blockchain and the General Problem of Protocological Control

Lecture

Blockchain and the General Problem of Protocological Control,’ DAOWO, Goethe Institut.

Fanon, race and technology

Lecture

Fanon Now, Tate Modern

Machine Learning and the Decolonial Option

Keynote

Decolonising STEM, Cambridge University.

Leibniz and contemporary calculation

Lecture

Leibniz and contemporary calculation,’ European Media Arts Festival, Osnabrück, Germany.

The algorithm that sat by the door

Lecture

FINDING HUMAN GHOSTS IN ALGORITHMS – PANEL DISCUSSION:

An exploration of the human ‘ghosts’ that are present in the mechanisms of artificial intelligence and machine learning that increasingly permeate everyday life. From Google’s ‘Deep Dream’ system, the complex analytics of the Amazon Echo, to the near-ubiquity of Cloud computing, we rely increasingly on systems which are hidden from us, both in their physical location and in how they function.

Fanon and the Digital

Lecture

Goldsmiths University

Machinic culture and discrete abstraction,

Keynote

NRW-Forum, Hogeshule, Dusseldorf.

Race and machine learning: On the blackness of black bodies and the illumination of color

Lecture

Race and machine learning: On the blackness of black bodies and the illumination of color,’

Lecture given as part of the Uncertain Archives: Error symposium.


Department of Arts and Cultural Studies,

University of Copenhagen.

Risking everything: The computational politics of prediction, security, and surveillance

Lecture

Lecture at a one day workshop organised by Luciana Parisi & Susan Schuppli

This one-day workshop aims to discuss the possibilities of thinking the political with and through machines. Whilst debates about the political implications of computation have focused on the data-driven governance of risk, less has been said about how to use the logic of prediction of machines, and how to re-invent a cybernetic politics outside the model of the network. Since the paradoxical strategies of visibility and secrecy, inclusion and exclusion seem weakened by an ever invasive and rampant state of control, this workshop aims to ask questions about how to counter-act these strategies.



Training and the problem of data: What would it take to adopt a fugitive statistics?

Lecture

Hackers & Designers Summer Talks



Learning to discriminate: machine learning, prediction and the politics of data

Lecture

#Neoliberation - The Self in the Era of New Media, Goldsmiths, University of London.

Data and bias

Lecture

fig-2 LUNÄ Talks: Uncertainty Scenarios w/ Artist Marjolijn Dijkman, Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), London.

Uncertainty Scenarios is a collective experimental research project that explores the ways people throughout history have tried to speculate, predict and anticipate the future and different attitudes that go along with this. The project creates a common ground for a group of artists that all share interest in the concerns of the project and aims to establish a context for the development of new works. Together we reflect on possible consequences of current global socio-political or ecological issues and question our position as artists towards these. Uncertainty Scenarios tries to become an artistic tool to grasp the ‘futurity’ that is already, and increasingly, a part of our present.

Collectively we research for instance notions of speculation, methodologies used to predict the future, strategic thinking and scenario planning, risk and crisis management, divination and spiritual forecasts, Big Data, artificial intelligence or science fiction. How do these phenomena affect our thinking, behaviour and acting? What operations are we dealing with when we speak about speculation? How have technologies, like for instance computer modelling and calculating, affected our thinking about the future?

Preemptive Citizenship: Crime prediction and statistical Intervention in racialised ecologies

Lecture

Radical Ecologies Conference
Goldsmiths, University of London

Colossal data and Black futures

Lecture

Colossal data and Black futures,’ Impakt Festival, Utrecht, NL.

Life, Philosophy and the Organisation of Blackness

Lecture

Goldsmiths, University of London

Voices (Towards Other Institutions) #13

Talk

On race and digital culture:

https://pavilionrus.com/en/voices/ramon-amaro

In our current social and political climate, issues of race and racism either are or should be at the forefront of any institutional conversation. This is more so apparent in events that have led up to the brutal killing of George Floyd and the increased attention given to anti-racism efforts around the globe. And the digital landscape is no exception. The collision of racialized bodies and technology has long preceded the digital. Yet the ideological processes that created this allowability for the use of some bodies as experimental spaces in the production of culture has remained the same since.

The distances between our social relations shorten through the prosperity of data driven technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence algorithms, and the racial politics that constitute a critical foundation for technological use and implementation, which travel with these types of artifacts of culture. They also bridge the gap between the historical circumstances of race-based injustices and contemporary digital practices.

Today, racialized bodies continue to reside as experimental spaces between data driven progress and the outcomes of analysis, where racial politics are an intermediary of the body’s acceptance into the cultural milieu. In other words, the racialized body is often the place where technology plays out a systemic way of doing culture, a culture which functions by mediating raciality of its users and techniques to create specific modalities of oppression and discrimination.

I want to consider a particular strand of this type of digital practice that is the use of data and algorithms for surveillance and policing of historically marginalized and racialized groups and individuals. Some of these algorithmic practices, for example the process commonly known as predictive policing, do little to consider that the data being analyzed might contain pre-existing biases, or that research into crime or gang violence, for instance, can stigmatized individuals and communities by creating nuanced views of individual and group characteristics. They also simplify the complex experiences of these individuals into a set of predetermined statistics: that these communities are predominantly racialize or ethnic minorities raises additional questions, whereby imbalance data practices have led to organizations such as the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights to advocate that technologies that are designed and used in ways that respect the values of equal opportunity and equal justice contribute to the life chances of racialized individuals.

See more:

Life in the Time of Coronavirus #13 - The Biopolitics of Algorithms

Podcast

Life in the Time of Coronavirus #13 - The Biopolitics of Algorithms

See more:

Designing for Intelligence with Yuk Hui and Rana Dasgupta

Podcast

Designing for Intelligence: Listen to Ramon Amaro, Rana Dasgupta and Yuk Hui's conversation about the politics and philosophy of AI from Atlas of Anomalous AI.

See more:

Bloomberg Art + Technology: Systems

Video Series

Are systems designed to discriminate? As we find ourselves increasingly handing over control to machines and automated processes, we must ask - are we in tune? Do our technological systems represent our realities? Host Dr. Ramon Amaro meets three artists asking the difficult questions. Artist Isaac Kariuki introduces ‘the grey economy’, revealing just how much of real life goes on under the radar. Artist Estela Oliva of collective CLON explores the impact of technology in stereotyping and limiting human behaviour, and artist Helen Knowles questions systematic inequality.

See more:

Son[i]a #293. Ramon Amaro Deleted scenes

Podcast

We dig up some unreleased fragments of our conversation with Ramon Amaro that we were unable to include the first time around. Ramon Amaro is a lecturer in the Department of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, London, and also in the Centre for Research Architecture. His work revolves around speculative articulations in machine learning, philosophies of being, mathematics, engineering, and black ontology.

See more:

Life in the Time of Coronavirus #13 The Biopolitics of Algorithms

Podcast

Here Ramon Amaro, Lecturer in the History of Art Department at UCL, discusses the development of algorithms by IT giants in relation to Covid 19. Amaro considers the logics by which these algorithms work, as well as the perceived need for massive data collection and rapid response. He also looks at the associated problems such as data accuracy, breaches of privacy, surveillance, the potential biopolitical uses of data in the aftermath of the pandemic and the interconnections between testing, trading and commerce.

See more:

Black Aesthetics: Theory and Artistic Practices

Undergraduate

BA Year 2

History of Art Department
University College London

What is the Black aesthetic? While the term “Black aesthetics” can be traced back to transnational Black arts movements of the 1960s and 1970s, this module explores the relation between what is regarded as artistic practice and the utilisation of art as a function of Black liberation. Then module expands the notion of “Blackness” by placing emphasis on the inter-relation between race and various art practices, as they relate to anti-colonial and anti-racist thought. We look at classic texts that inaugurated the study of visuality and race, as well as the contributions in feminist, queer and visual study. With a theoretical corpus spanning key insights in psychoanalyses, phenomenology, metaphysics, and Frantz Fanon, the module interrogates how the visual field itself has been analysed, while paying close attention to theories of subject-production, the politics of representation, and production of difference in visual culture.

History of the Category “Art“

Undergraduate

BA Year 2

History of Art Department
University College London

This module aims to familiarise students with the ways in which the concept of art has evolved in Europe. It examines the emergence of Aesthetics as a distinct branch of philosophy in eighteenth-century in Britain, France and Germany, and will consider subsequent nineteenth-century developments especially in relation to the role of the category Art in Modernism, and the ways in which it has informed more recent philosophies and histories of art. It is based on the study of texts in Seminars.

Digital Poetics and Global Performance

Undergraduate

BA Year 3

History of Art Department
University College London

This module brings together contemporary visual practice into what Ira Livingston calls a poetics or “theory of everything,” whereby the field of art is compelled to work within the discomfort of racial subjection towards a practice of radical self-affirmation. A poetics, as such, re-defines racial duress as that which promotes opportunity for self-exploration and communal belonging. In this module, we employ various forms of experimental art and visual practices of the global south in order to assign new meanings to the substances of race and concepts of personhood. Our goal is to “air out” the terms of race with regard to the familiar, knowable, and coherent, by investigating more transgressive spaces of racialised life. Through critical reflections in poetry, computational art, performance, feminism, queer study, and black aesthetics, we trace and then re-articulate crucial links between racial perception and the languages of personhood. The ultimate aim is to develop new methodologies for healing and reconciliation as a way of being within realms of art and the everyday.

Black Poetics

Undergraduate

2020-21 BA (Year 3), “Black Poetics”

Department of Visual Cultures

Goldsmiths

Fact of Blackness: Subjects of Difference

Undergraduate

2016-21 BA (Year 2), “Fact of Blackness: Subjects of Difference”

Department of Visual Cultures

Goldsmiths

Objects of Difference: Race and Capital

Undergraduate

2016-21 BA (Year 2), “Objects of Difference: Race and Capital”

Department of Visual Cultures

Goldsmiths

Black Aesthetic Theory

Postgraduate

2019-20 (MA), “Black Aesthetic Theory”

Department of Visual Cultures

Goldsmiths

Art, Artefacts and Archives

Undergraduate

2017-20 BA (Year 1), “Art, Artefacts and Archives”

Department of Visual Cultures

Goldsmiths

Machine Learning, Race and the Black Technical Object

Summer School

2019 (MA) “Machine Learning, Race and the Black Technical Object”

Tai Kwun Summer Institute

Hong Kong

Anticipating Geometries: Self/Being/Technology as Method

Summer School

2019 (MA), “Anticipating Geometries: Self/Being/Technology as Method”

Materia Abierta

Mexico City

Space and Time

Undergraduate

2017-21 BA (Year 1), “Space and Time”

Department of Visual Cultures

Goldsmiths

Conflicts & Negotiations

Postgraduate

2018-19 (MA), “Conflicts and Negotiations”

Centre for Research Architecture

Department of Visual Cultures

Goldsmiths

Advanced Practices

PhD

2019-20 (PhD), “Advanced Practices”

Department of Visual Cultures

Goldsmiths

Media Philosophy

Postgraduate

2015-17 (MA), “Media Philosophy”

Digital Media Unit

Centre for Cultural Studies

Goldsmiths

Interactive Media: Critical Theory

Postgraduate

2015-17 (MA), “Interactive Media- Critical Theory”

Digital Media Unit

Centre for Cultural Studies

Goldsmiths

Volumetric Regimes: Material Cultures of Quantified Presence

Forthcoming

Forthcoming in Volumetric Regimes: Material Cultures of Quantified Presence Edited by Possible Bodies (Jara Rocha and Femke Snelting) (Open Humanities Press)

http://data-browser.net/db09.html

Navigation Beyond Vision

Forthcoming

Forthcoming: Sternberg Press/e-flux journal - 2021

Machine Diagnosis

Article

Amaro, Ramon. “Machine Diagnosis,” open!, 2020.

Ramon Amaro signals traces of political arithmetic thought in government responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Amaro goes into the wider implications of human quantification and data consolidation and asserts that COVID-19 analysis tools, vaccine research, and detection devices risk leaving open future gaps in data privacy, while also centralizing the patient data into government forecasting efforts. We must consider what impact data consolidation might have on future, even non health related, surveillance programmes. It must be asked whether the risks involved outweigh the immediacy of crisis; and if so, what traces of political and economic speculation based on our intimate medical data might be left behind. This essay is part of the publication and research project of Open! about sense of touch in the digital age.

Available here

Threshold Value

Article

Amaro, Ramon. “‘Threshold Value,” ​e-flux architecture​, February 2020.

On data modelling, race and the future of higher education.

https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/education/322664/threshold-value


Machine Learning, Surveillance and the Politics of Visibility

Publication

Like a snake eating its tail, artificial intelligence exists in a circular relationship with its human creators.

The Atlas of Anomalous AI is a compelling and surprising map of our complex relationship to intelligence, from ancient to emerging systems of knowledge. A wildly associative constellation of ideas, stories, artworks and historical materials, the Atlas draws on art historian Aby Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas — an image map of the “afterlife of antiquity” — to approach the defining concepts of AI from an imaginative, artistic and revitalising perspective.

The Atlas presents a hyperdimensional view of the world, through a broad range of perspectives that explore the question of what AI has been and what it is becoming. Key texts on modelling, prediction and automation are brought together with stories of science fiction, dreams and human knowledge, set among visionary and surreal images

Contributions from writers, philosophers and curators including: Blaise Agüera y Arcas, Ramon Amaro, Noelani Arista, Jorge Luis Borges, Benjamin H. Bratton, Federico Campagna, Arthur C. Clarke, Rana Dasgupta, Eknath Easwaran, GPT-2, GPT-3, Yuk Hui, Nora N. Khan, Suzanne Kite, Jason Edward Lewis, Catherine Malabou, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Matteo Pasquinelli, Archer Pechawis, Noah Raford, Nisha Ramayya, Beth Singler and Hito Steyerl

Find out more

Towards Black Individuation and a Calculus of Variations

Article

Amaro, Ramon and Khan, Murad. “Abstract Blackness/Absolute Value,” e-flux Journal #109, May 2020.

https://www.e-flux.com/journal/109/330246/towards-black-individuation-and-a-calculus-of-variations/

Afrofuturism

Book Section

Ramon Amaro, “Afrofuturism.” In Posthuman Glossary, eds. Rosi Braidotti and Maria Hlavajova (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2018): 17–19.

The Posthuman Glossary is a volume providing an outline of the critical terms of posthumanity in present-day artistic and intellectual work. It builds on the broad thematic topics of Anthropocene/Capitalocene, eco-sophies, digital activism, algorithmic cultures and security and the inhuman. It outlines potential artistic, intellectual, and activist itineraries of working through the complex reality of the 'posthuman condition', and creates an understanding of the altered meanings of art vis-à-vis critical present-day developments.

Artificial Intelligence: Warped, Colourful Forms and Their Unclear Geometries

Chapter

Amaro, Ramon. “Artificial Intelligence: warped, colorful forms and their unclear geometries.” In ​Schemas of Uncertainty: Soothsayers and Soft AI,​ eds. Danae Io and Callum Copley, 69-90. Amsterdam: PUB/Sandberg Instituut, 2019.



Precognition

Book Section

Ramon Amaro, “Precognition.” In Posthuman Glossary, eds. Rosi Braidotti and Maria Hlavajova (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2018): 365-367.

The Posthuman Glossary is a volume providing an outline of the critical terms of posthumanity in present-day artistic and intellectual work. It builds on the broad thematic topics of Anthropocene/Capitalocene, eco-sophies, digital activism, algorithmic cultures and security and the inhuman. It outlines potential artistic, intellectual, and activist itineraries of working through the complex reality of the 'posthuman condition', and creates an understanding of the altered meanings of art vis-à-vis critical present-day developments.

Digital Hysteria: A Proposal on Violence and Humanism

Book Section

Ramon Amaro, “Digital Hysteria: A proposal on violence and humanism.” Collective Hysteria vol. 7 (May 11, 2016): 10-15.

The Empirical Reality of AI and a Racialised Future

Book section

Amaro, Ramon. “The empirical reality of AI and a racialised future.” In ​AI - More than Human​. London: Barbican, London, 2019.


As If: Towards a Black Technical Object

Article

Ramon Amaro, “As If.” e-flux architecture vol. 97 (February, 2019).


On computer vision, machine perception and the production of the black technical object.

https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/becoming-digital/248073/as-if

Dr. Ramon Amaro, Ph.D.

Lecturer in Art and Visual Cultures of the Global South, Department of History of Art, UCL


My writing, research and practice emerge at the intersections of Black Study, psychopathology, digital culture, and the critique of computation reason. I draw on Frantz Fanon’s theory of sociogenic alienation to problematize the de-localisation of the Black psyché in contemporary computational systems, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence. My research pulls away from notions of psychic negation, as set forth by the Fanonian model of representation, to investigate alternative modes of relation between race and technology. My ultimate aim is to develop new methodologies for the study of race and digital culture. I completed my Ph.D. in Philosophy at Goldsmiths, while holding a Masters degree in Sociological Research from the University of Essex and a BEng in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. I have worked as Assistant Editor for the SAGE open access journal Big Data & Society; quality design engineer at General Motors; and programmes manager for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).

r.amaro (at) ucl.ac.uk

Ph.D. Students

Corinna Canali, Murad Khan, Victoria McKenzie, Pedro Moraes