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51 speculative scenarios

to be careful what you said in these interviews, lest they think you aren’t using the proper tools, or paying the right fees and dues… or worse still, making work that wasn’t explicitly designed to profit the product makers. How many more researchers was she going to have to meet? All of them out to map the sector she worked in. It was getting seriously creepy. At least artists could get something useful from the Preservators. Given that they weren’t as concerned with rewriting history as they were about the use of the new products, you could ask them loads of technical questions about copies, documentation practices, and how to make the work stable – or ‘more simulatable’ in their parlance – and outlast these lousy global corporate governments. Remember that rash of work with drones, such as Suzanne’s project, in which she imagined different types of drones and their everyday use outside war zones? And Isabella’s film of model drones dogfighting in the rotunda of the Library of Congress? But then in a true moment of life imitating art, the American news media reported a Republican senator’s drone-debate filibuster: he’d missed the point a bit, even if he went on for thirteen hours. Something bigger had started. Joe had been out on his bike mapping Area 51 to see if it could be repurposed for sustainable energy generation, being followed, at his invitation, by a surveillance drone, as a kind of performance-to-camera. Then Helen went that extra step and extracted a drone design from a military-funded virtual world and constructed it in the real world and started a business hiring it out to the highest bidder. If it hadn’t been for the technical malfunction at the event in Korea, when it went rogue autopilot, then none of these artists’ works might have been noticed. Helen was the first of them to have her work investigated further, and was accused of using proprietary drawing software without permission from its corporate makers and moreover of not making a profit from its use as agreed in the contract of sale. Was that ever missing the point! Poor Peter had been obliged to speak on behalf of the prosecution at the trial. And to think his early work was so beautiful and complex, seemingly critical of the military-industrial complex. It was the first sign of how indebted he’d become to his funders, his work now the wallpaper on their office walls. Talk about ‘duty of loyalty’ as artist-in-residence. In the end, Helen lost her court case, and all her stuff, and dropped off the radar. The radar of the art scene at least. At least she’d fought it, thought Kyla, remembering her month of noodles because of her contribution to the campaign fund. Not so with dear young Aaron, gone too soon, the open access databases set up in his memory now privatised again. Those early bits of digital art don’t seem significant in their digitalness after all. It’s never really been about the tools the artists used, or

Speculative Scenarios — Edited by Annet Dekker  

There is a growing understanding of the use of technological tools for dissemination or mediation in the museum, but artistic experiences th...