Contingent Systems: Art and/as Algorithmic Critique – Alberta University of the Arts / Illingworth Kerr Gallery

CFP: Contingent Systems: Art and/as Algorithmic Critique
Virtual Panel Series hosted by the Alberta University of the Arts (Calgary, Canada)
Dates: Every second Friday beginning September 17th

Deadline: July 6th, 2021

Contingent Systems: Art and/as Algorithmic Critique is a panel series that will explore critical intersections between creative practice and algorithmic culture. Starting on September 17th, 2021 and occurring every second Friday for ten weeks, the series will consider the various ways that artists have worked in both historical and contemporary contexts to render the algorithmic intelligible, opening space for reflexive critique, meaningful resistance, and imaginative repurposing.

This panel series responds to recent calls for a demystification of the algorithmic undercurrents of contemporary culture (e.g., Crawford 2021; Benjamin 2019). Working as invisible engines that sort, rank, and instrumentalize massive amounts of environmental, biometric, and behavioral data (Hallinan & Striphas 2016), algorithmic technologies have become culture machines, increasingly responsible for enabling and pre-emptively choreographing many of the practices that comprise our everyday lives (Finn 2017; Hansen 2015). While countless scholars have identified the troubling consequences that algorithmic systems pose for racialized, gendered, sexualized, classed and laboring subjects (e.g., Noble 2018; Bucher 2018; Browne 2015), developing strategies of resistance has been complicated by the seeming impossibility of fully grasping, critiquing, countering, or even opting-out of algorithmic operations (Zuboff 2018; Henning 2018).

An expanded repertoire of methods and models is needed for engaging meaningfully with algorithmic technologies and techniques. Contingent Systems: Art and/as Algorithmic Critique looks to creative practice to provide new ways of understanding and engaging with this context. Not only does artistic practice have a long history of exposing and critiquing technological media (Paul 2016), but researchers regularly leverage creative works as a means of illustrating or expanding upon scholarly claims (e.g., Hui 2020). With this in mind, we are seeking proposals for research presentations that employ practice-based, archaeological, and/or critical approaches to creative work as a means of engaging with one or more of the following questions:

  • How are artists engaging critically with algorithmic technologies?
  • What insights can an analysis grounded in creative practice and/or art criticism provide us into the technical grounds and/or social impact of the algorithmic?
  • What methods of critique, resistance and/or repurposing might emerge from a reflexive analysis of creative practice and/or critical dialogue with works of art?

Topics that are of particular interest include, but are not limited to, intersections between creative practice and:

  • Practices of datafication and algorithmic extraction
  • Algorithmic labour
  • Domesticated algorithms
  • Embodied experiences and expressions of the algorithm
  • Machine learning
  • Artificial intelligences
  • Aesthetics
  • Surveillance
  • Environmental impact of algorithmic technologies
  • Methods of resistance

Conducted virtually, panels will comprise three 15 minute presentations followed by a moderated discussion amongst panellists. The series coincides with an international group exhibition at the Illingworth Kerr Gallery. Participants will have the option to contribute to an edited volume.

Please submit abstracts (350-500 words) and a short bio (150 words) to:
Deadline: July 6th, 2021


The Alberta University of the Arts is a public university of art and design located in the Treaty 7 Region – Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Affiliated with the university, the Illingworth Kerr Gallery provides space for the exhibition of contemporary art and offers a platform for cultural research.