Informer

Roddy Schrock

Conversations with artists, technologists, and thinkers.

All Episodes

Zach Lieberman is one of the leading creative coders and digital artists in the world. And what I love about the way Zach works is that he is equally dedicated to thoughtful and open pedagogy as he is to creating poetic digital works. This wide-ranging conversation reveals the motivations in his co-founding of the School for Poetic Computation as well as his continuing fascination with the human, machine dialogue that results in the creation of new worlds. For those listeners who may not know, DOS was an operating system that was fully text-based and was marketed as being an accessible for home users to access programs and software and also opened the door to people like Zach to start to create by typing in words and then seeing them magically transform into activities on the screen. He begins by recounting one of those early experiences. Zach begins by describing one of those early, magical moments.

Nov 28

44 min 35 sec

I’m excited to share this fascinating conversation with LA-based artist Lauren Lee McCarthy. She reminds us that, actually, creating technology is one of the most human of activities. Her work is largely about trying to get us to take responsibility for the machines we are building. She suggests, that we need to get “out of our dorm room” in how we approach machine learning and the way it’s changing the world. She states, “the difference between machines and humans is that humans can reflect on their values to make decisions about the future. Machines can’t.” I hope you’ll enjoy learning about this emerging artist who is poised to make a big impact.The idea that we need to get “out of our dorm room” in how we approach machine learning and the way it’s changing the world feels right to me. I hope you enjoyed this conversation and you’ll check us out online at informerpodcast.com.

Oct 31

40 min 11 sec

I’ve known Julia Christensen for quite a long time, since we were both graduate students at Mills College in Oakland in fact. One of my first memories of her was when we were both in  Pauline Oliveros’s composition class.Since then, I’ve kept up with Julia’s work on and off over the years, seeing her when she would exhibit in town or by catching up at artist retreats in upstate New York. I think it’s the expansiveness of her work that has always intrigued me most, leaping from the micro to the macro with ease. Ranging from her studies and photography of how local communities creatively re-use defunct “big box” stores to now creating work intended to communicate life on earth to beings in other galaxies, she is driven by getting to the bottom of things, even if that means interrogating possibilities alongside jet propulsion engineers. What I love about artists with a research-based practice is that they look outside themselves for answers and then fearlessly shift their focus as new revelations emerge. Like Julia, artists who work this way bring a quality of real-time investigation and appraisal to their work. This faith in process, constantly creating from the elements discovered whatever they may be, strikes me as having the quality of altruism, something shared among all the artists I admire.

Oct 7

47 min 6 sec

I’ve known Commissioner Casals for a number of years, since his time at the Highline, where he was creating very forward looking public art programs. His philosophy of building cultural democracy is quietly radical, particularly in a city like New York which has spent most of the last twenty years betting on high-profile legacy institutions. It seems to me that Gonzalo is working to draw a new map of interdependence for the arts in New York.

Sep 9

25 min 39 sec

Last month, I had the opportunity to speak to Mutale Nkonde about her work in leading AI For The People, a non-profit communications agency that utilizes art to engage communities in the risks and rewards of machine learning. Her work has taken on new urgency as quantum, or super high-processing computing, becomes the standard driving machine learning systems.In this episode, I discuss everything from how she started in a career in journalism then went on to taking jobs with people and organizations with “funny names” in the mid aught’s. I appreciate her focus on the role that funding plays in the tech. world, particularly the damage it causes when it incentives certain ideas of normalcy, typically constrained in narrow, white, cis-het notions of what the future should be. That particular version of the future doesn’t include people like her and she asks, “what could happen when the people creating the technology are black women inspired by the science fiction of Octavia Butler?”

Sep 9

30 min 18 sec

Bassem Saad has a background in design and architecture, and he talks about how viewing a Shana Moultin piece at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris triggered his hunger for making video. I find his work deeply incisive in this strange moment, and it was a pleasure to speak to him on the line from Berlin. I began by asking him about how he grew up, where, and how he made the transition from architecture to art. 

Aug 11

21 min 49 sec

Lynn Hershman Leeson and Roddy Schrock discuss everything from tech's origins in porn and military research as well as the challenges she faced of working as a woman in a patriarchal art world.

Jul 22

26 min 40 sec

Stephanie Dinkins speaks about always being on the edge of technology, while becoming disillusioned with careers in publishing and advertising as well as navigating a world which wants to overlay its own narratives on her as a person and a practitioner. Stephanie’s story speaks to anyone who has worked or is working on finding their way as an artist in a world under capitalism. And, she lays out the inherent limitations in trying to improve tech. development by imbuing it with perceived “values.”I find Stephanie’s work to be incisive and playful in the way that it gets to the impacts of AI, due to its universal ability to shift large components of how we live on this planet. And underlying all of her work is an optimism that is very welcome, particularly at this time when there is a tendency towards a dystopic imagination. Stephanie’s response is to neither go full utopia or full dystopia, but, as she puts it, full pro-topia.Stephanie DinkinsSecret Garden

Jul 8

25 min 19 sec

On episode two, I had the immense pleasure of taking part in a wide-ranging conversation with Jesse Darling, a Berlin-based artist whose work has been featured in numerous exhibitions at key galleries and museums, including the Serpentine Gallery and the Tate Britain. I mostly listened, as Jesse generously served sharp, insightful observations on how we define technology, the fallacy of the digital commons, and life as an artist in an increasingly precarious world. Jesse’s lived experience of exploring embodiment through performativity, from online sex work to playing in bands, allows for insights into issues such as how we all are forced to run our own business and brand, not to mention our sex lives, from our computers and phones. I left the conversation with a shift in my perception of the world; Jesse’s words illicit profound awareness of the fragility of things in the same manner as their visual work. Jesse DarlingGravity Road (Artforum)NTGNE (Serptine)-->People we mentioned:Cameron Rowland (Wikipedia) Nora N. KhanAmerican ArtistPhoebe Collings-James

E

Jul 8

34 min 17 sec

On this inaugural episode, it’s a pleasure to be in conversation with Kate Crawford. I’ve known Kate for quite a few years; I’ve invited her to be a part of numerous panels and projects throughout that time and am always captivated by her eloquence in laying out emerging challenges in our relationships to technology.  She does so in a way that centers artists as part of the solution. It’s unsurprising to discover that she also is a musician, with a background in composition and currently in the band Metric Systems, which I’d highly recommend.Kate is a principal researcher at Microsoft Research, the co-founder and director of research at the AI Now Institute at NYU, a visiting professor at the MIT Center for Civic Media, a senior fellow at the Information Law Institute at NYU, and an associate professor in the Journalism and Media Research Centre at the University of New South Wales.She recently published a book called Atlas of AI. This book really opened my mind about the ways in which our current adoption of AI, at a societal level, is really just the latest moment in which humans have been blinded by science, allowing tools to determine our ethics, rather than the other way around.Atlas of AIAI Now InstituteMetric Systems (Kate's band)Trevor Paglen

Jul 5

34 min 44 sec