Material Cryptographies is a two-day seminar considering the implications of encryption practices for contemporary art. We aim to examine how cryptography, the art of writing or solving codes, can expose and utilise the hidden material substrates in an array of objects.
The physical embodiment of code is often overlooked: treated as invisible or incomprehensible, while in fact, it may hold significant clues to further our ability to accurately ‘read’ an object or event. DNA for instance, is both code and material, where information is literally material and it’s function is incomprehensible by us without proper tools of translation.
In our realm, the word “encryption” implies secrecy, confidentiality, and the drive to hide information from a public ‘adversary’. Yet more broadly, any art object might be understood as something withdrawn from a viewer’s comprehension; hiding information, witnessing unknown pasts or simulating as-yet unforeseen futures. In this context, how do artists use encryption as a methodology for approaching materials and how does this relationship trouble preconceptions of artistic authorship? How might cryptography, notably in regard to newly emerging information politics, relate and update older notions of hermeneutics or semiotic acts of decoding? What are the implications of these information politics for artists, as encryptors of material?
When objects become witnesses, encrypting temporal data into the fabric of their physical structure, they naturally invite decryption. From here we may decode and reconstruct past events, but just as importantly, build models for simulating future occurrences. What are the implications of understanding such acts of reconstruction as ‘truth’? Are materials that bear the weight of encryptions unbiased and are our decryptions able to be impartial?
with Tom Duggan, Saemundur Thor Helgason, Patrick Hough, Alia Pathan and Sam Smith
18 March, 8 to 9pm
Material Cryptographies is formulated by:
Nick Bailey, Else Bonneviot, Sung Eun Chin, Carl Gent, Julia Gorostidi, Saemundur Thor Helgason, Karen Mc Lean, Sikarnt Skoolisariyaporn, Sam Smith, Andrew Sunderland, Katja Verheul