Panel discussion with Kite (Suzanne Kite), Ashley Jane Lewis, and Gary Zhexi Zhang, moderated by Taeyoon Choi for the online series…this is not made of language but energy
Tuesday, November 24, 2020 @ 6pm EST

This conversation brings together artists who explore tool-making in their practices, which range from theorizing, to building, to teaching and can be summed up by a quote from Gary Zhexi Zhang: “if the web is a built environment increasingly designed and constructed by corporations, tool-making offers users a way to regain some of their lost agency.” *

Gary Zhexi Zhang is an artist and writer, whose work explores concepts and fictions that compose the concrete world, such as ecology, finance, and information. How to Build Anything Ethically, a text by Oglála Lakȟóta artist Kite (aka Suzanne Kite), uses Lakota knowledge frameworks to propose a protocol for ethically building computer hardware from the ground up. The artist and scholar specifically draws on how Lakota form relationships to stones and how it might inform how human relationships can be formed with AI hardware. Ashley Jane Lewis’s new media practice explores Black cultures of the past, present, and future through computational and analog mediums including coding, machine learning, digital and physical fabrication, data weaving, microorganisms and performance. Lewis brings a DIY ethos to her creative and academic practice and  her work in advocacy and education has pushed tech institutions to explore equitable access points for those that are marginalized. Taeyoon Choi is inspired by the poetics in science, technology, society, and human relations. He is an artist, educator and a co-founder of School for Poetic Computation, an artist-run school in New York, and believes in the intersectionalities of art, activism, and education and works with activists and scholars on disability rights, environmental justice, and anti-racism.

Speaker bios:
Taeyoon Choi is an artist and educator based in New York and Seoul. He co-founded the School for Poetic Computation in 2013 where he continues to organize classes and teach experimental workshops. He works with computer programming, drawing, and writing, in collaboration with fellow artists and community members. His projects, participatory workshops, performances, and installations were presented at the New Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, Van Alen Institute, M+ Museum, and more. He participated in the Shanghai Biennale, Seoul Mediacity Biennale, Istanbul Design Biennale, and Biennale Architettura 2021. He was an artist in residence at Eyebeam Art and Technology Center, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Frank-Ratchye Studio for Creative Inquiry, Pioneer Works, NEW INC, Data and Society, and Centre for Heritage, Arts and Textile. He spoke at Creative Time Summit, Decentralized Web Summit, Google SPAN, Adobe 99U, and various academic conferences. He taught at New York University and Parsons School of Design. Through his diverse practices, he seeks a sense of gentleness, magnanimity, justice, solidarity, and intellectual kinship.

Kite aka Suzanne Kite is an Oglála Lakȟóta performance artist, visual artist, and composer raised in Southern California, with a BFA from CalArts in music composition, an MFA from Bard College’s Milton Avery Graduate School, and is a PhD candidate at Concordia University. Kite’s scholarship and practice highlight contemporary Lakota epistemologies through research-creation, computational media, and performance. Her performances, compositions, sculptures, and sound installations showcase the use of experimentation in new media and digital technologies that touch on issues such as nonhuman and human intelligence, the ethics of extractive technologies, and software design. Recently, Kite has been developing a body interface for movement performances, carbon fibre sculptures, immersive video and sound installations, as well as co-running the experimental electronic imprint, Unheard Records. For the inaugural 2019 Toronto Art Biennial, Kite, with Althea Thauberger, produced an installation, Call to Arms, which featured audio and video recordings of their rehearsals with Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) York, which also included a live performance with the conch shell sextet, who played the four musical scores composed by Kite. Kite has also published extensively in several journals and magazines, including in The Journal of Design and Science (MIT Press), where the award-winning article “Making Kin with Machines,” co-authored with Jason Lewis, Noelani Arista, and Archer Pechawis, was featured. Currently, she is a 2019 Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Scholar and a Research Assistant for the Initiative for Indigenous Futures.

Ashley Jane Lewis is a new media artist with a focus on interactive installations, bio art, social justice and speculative design. Her practice is tied to science and actively incorporates living organisms like slime mould and food cultures to explore ways of decentralizing humans and imagine collective, multi-species survival. She holds a BFA in New Media Art from Ryerson University in Toronto as well as a masters degree from ITP at New York University.  Listed in the top 100 Black Women to Watch in Canada, her award-winning work on empowered futures for marginalized groups has exhibited in both Canada and the US, most notably featured on the White House website during the Obama presidency. Ashley is an artist in residence at two New York institutions, including CultureHub NYC and NEW INC, run by the New Museum as well as a postdoctoral research fellow at NYU in the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP). Her advocacy work as an educator and activist has enabled her to push tech institutions to explore new equitable access points to technological skills and opportunities for marginalized folks. As an educator, Ashley has taught more than 3500 young people how to code. She’s proud of her work with Dan Shiffman and, an educational “friendly machine learning for the web” platform to create lower barriers to entry into creative computing. Ashley has taught at CultureHub NYC, Genspace, InterAccess, Ryerson University and the School for Poetic Computation among others.

Gary Zhexi Zhang is an artist interested in conceptual interfaces between the concrete and abstract, such as ecology, finance and information. In 2021 he will present his first solo exhibition at Bloc Projects, Sheffield, comprising a new body of work around uncertainty, insurance and value. Recent group exhibitions and screenings include The First 10,000 Years at Arts Catalyst (online), Participation Mystique at Ming Contemporary Art Museum, Shanghai; the Swamp School at the Venice Architecture Biennale; Cross-feed at Glasgow International 2018, (online) and All Channels Open at Wysing Arts Centre. Recent residencies include Delfina Foundation, Schloss Web (with Agnes Cameron), SPACE Art & Technology, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Praksis Oslo, CCA Glasgow and Wysing Arts Centre. Zhang is staff contributor at Frieze magazine and has published widely. He is a co-founder of research and design collaborative Foreign Objects and sometimes a part-time faculty member at Parsons School of Design.

This session is in partnership with InterAccess.

…this is not made of language but energy is a speculative exploration of our present and future through topics including toolmaking, modes of circulation, frameworks, and more broadly, our digital lives. The series is curated by Clara Halpern, AGYU Assistant Curator, in collaboration with Jenifer Papararo, AGYU Director/Curator, and Orit Gat. The series title, “this is not made of language but energy,” is a quote from “Dream 2,” a poem by Eileen Myles. We would like to offer thanks to the artists, writers, and curators who contribute to this program, which is deeply informed by their work. We would also like to thank our partners InterAccess, Toronto, and Rhizome, New York City, for supporting the presentation of sessions in this program. Graphic design by Marta Ryczko.

See also

Circulation and Hybridity

Circulation and Hybridity

Panel discussion
15 Dec 2020
Frameworks and Futures

Frameworks and Futures

Panel discussion
10 Dec 2020
Tabita Rezaire

Tabita Rezaire

10 Dec 2020
When all my friends are online at once

When all my friends are online at once

Keynote lecture
17 Nov 2020
… this is not made of language but energy

… this is not made of language but energy

Discussion series
Fall 2020




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