The Incomputable


A tectonic epistemic and political shift has been generated by the transformation from network form to aggregate-data form of digital capitalism in which massive servers collect, mine and algorithmically process enormous quantities of user generated data, turning them into value. Algorithms have started to govern our lives, transforming the relationship between technology, power and economy, and complicating the distinction between the known and the unknown. Everything seems to be computable and turned into a form of ‘knowledge’ for further computational exploitation. There is, however, an incomputable, unpredictable remainder of computation that still demands human intervention. ‘The Incomputable’ asks: Is there a relation between artistic creativity and the ‘creativity of the incomputable’? Can bringing ‘art-based investigation’ closer to that ungovernable remainder that breaks the code, tell us something about the real relations of power underneath the sea of endless computation? Is art’s role in the future going to be expanding the crevices between the numbers? The research departs from the assumption that art in the age of algorithms can be socially and politically relevant only by reinventing the notion of creativity. Could this mean merging paranoid imagination - searching for the ‘unknown unknowns’ of the interactions between technology and society, with the creative imagination, thus making the hidden relationships behind it visible? 

The project generates both artistic research and a discursive platform around these speculative propositions and seeks methods for art to cognitively map and make visible the complexity of algorithmic governance. A transdisciplinary research hub will be established at the Graz University of Technology (TUG), forming collaboration between the project’s host – IZK- Institute for Contemporary Art with the TUG based science and technology institutes conducting research in machine learning.

The arts-based research project (PEEK) is funded by FWF Austrian Science Fund.