Inside

Adam J B Walker

MPhil work

Undermining the inherent inequality of the technosphere: Textual artistic intervention as a vital strategy in enabling resistant agency.

My research stems from a position of context, politics, subjectivity and wider discourse being intrinsically bound up in the artwork. Especially key are the processes of production, and the relationships to others these are premised upon.  

At a time of major political and technological flux, spilling out across all aspects of life, I depart from three intersecting starting points:

  • that technological shifts are having (and will have further) profound implications across all aspects of our lives and societies, which unchallenged are likely to exacerbate and accelerate profound inequalities (not least of meaningful agency and autonomy); 
  • that as an interconnected twenty-first century being (artist or otherwise) I am unavoidably, but consciously, complicit and entangled in those systems and structures of inequality;
  • but, that from this enmeshed position it is nevertheless vital the developing architectures and structures of exploitation are critiqued, subverted and undermined, and this is the intent of my practice.   

I work with text and language in their broadest senses, looking to fragment their presumptions. Not least in the forms of code, data and increasingly-abstract finance, we inhabit an ecology ever-more formed from text. This reality sits alongside the ongoing privileging of linguistically and relationally rooted labour. I look to pull apart the shimmering textual surface of this ‘technosphere’ through anarchically rupturing its supposed universality and unquestionable rationality, and peering through it to the devalued and hidden non-/sub-/pre- linguistic labour that supports it.   

The texts I produce are both emplaced and displaced. 

Emplaced: highlighting the differentiation that the technosphere encounters in varying locations, that it is not (yet) a fully post-geographical hegemonic totality. Texts (absurd, fragmented and re-coalesced, in fluxing relationship to contexts, zig-zagging through possibilities of authorship, readership and ownership) are entered into public space at sites presently both marginal and core to the technosphere, looking to disrupt its presumptions. Emplacement in Ukraine (where I am conducting research) is a site of very different encounter with the technosphere to London (or Silicon Valley, where research is also to be undertaken). 

Displaced: what might happen when these emplaced texts are re-presented and disseminated within and across the networks and languages of the technosphere itself? How might this foster subversion, critique and an undermining? I look to manifest and foster voices and positions critical of the technosphere’s unequal social, political and economic underpinnings, but through rhizomatic, remote interventions making unexpected use of its own technologies and infrastructures, reclaiming potential for agency within that space. 

Three questions structure the research. Though they are addressed sequentially in the thesis, they are in fact engaged with in parallel throughout the project:

  1. How might textual artistic intervention challenge inherent structural inequalities within the technosphere and its platform capitalist economic paradigm?

  2. How can an emplacing and displacing of encounters in sites relatively core or peripheral to the technosphere contribute to an egalitarian, resistant and effective public sphere? 

  3. Given the inevitable partial complicity of artistic interventions in the structures of which they are part, how is the balance between political efficacy and techno-socio-economic entanglement to be navigated?

Info

  • MPhil

    School

    School of Arts & Humanities

    Programme

    Arts & Humanities Research, 2017–

  • Undermining the inherent inequality of the technosphere:
    Textual artistic intervention as a vital strategy in enabling resistant agency.

    My research stems from a position of context, politics, subjectivity and wider discourse being intrinsically bound up in the artwork. Especially key are the processes of production, and the relationships to others these are premised upon.  

    At a time of major political and technological flux, spilling out across all aspects of life, I depart from three intersecting starting points:

    • that technological shifts are having (and will have further) profound implications across all aspects of our lives and societies, which unchallenged are likely to exacerbate and accelerate profound inequalities (not least of meaningful agency and autonomy); 
    • that as an interconnected twenty-first century being (artist or otherwise) I am unavoidably, but consciously, complicit and entangled in those systems and structures of inequality;
    • but, that from this enmeshed position it is nevertheless vital the developing architectures and structures of exploitation are critiqued, subverted and undermined, and this is the intent of my practice.   

    I work with text and language in their broadest senses, looking to fragment their presumptions. Not least in the forms of code, data and increasingly-abstract finance, we inhabit an ecology ever-more formed from text. This reality sits alongside the ongoing privileging of linguistically and relationally rooted labour. I look to pull apart the shimmering textual surface of this ‘technosphere’ through anarchically rupturing its supposed universality and unquestionable rationality, and peering through it to the devalued and hidden non-/sub-/pre- linguistic labour that supports it.   

    The texts I produce are both emplaced and displaced. 

    Emplaced: highlighting the differentiation that the technosphere encounters in varying locations, that it is not (yet) a fully post-geographical hegemonic totality. Texts (absurd, fragmented and re-coalesced, in fluxing relationship to contexts, zig-zagging through possibilities of authorship, readership and ownership) are entered into public space at sites presently both marginal and core to the technosphere, looking to disrupt its presumptions. Emplacement in Ukraine (where I am conducting research) is a site of very different encounter with the technosphere to London (or Silicon Valley, where research is also to be undertaken). 

    Displaced: what might happen when these emplaced texts are re-presented and disseminated within and across the networks and languages of the technosphere itself? How might this foster subversion, critique and an undermining? I look to manifest and foster voices and positions critical of the technosphere’s unequal social, political and economic underpinnings, but through rhizomatic, remote interventions making unexpected use of its own technologies and infrastructures, reclaiming potential for agency within that space. 

    Three questions structure the research. Though they are addressed sequentially in the thesis, they are in fact engaged with in parallel throughout the project:

    1. How might textual artistic intervention challenge inherent structural inequalities within the technosphere and its platform capitalist economic paradigm?

    2. How can an emplacing and displacing of encounters in sites relatively core or peripheral to the technosphere contribute to an egalitarian, resistant and effective public sphere? 

    3. Given the inevitable partial complicity of artistic interventions in the structures of which they are part, how is the balance between political efficacy and techno-socio-economic entanglement to be navigated?

  • Degrees

  • MA Fine Art, Chelsea College of Arts, University of the Arts London, 2016; BA (Hons) Fine Art: Painting, Camberwell College of Art, University of the Arts London, 2011; BA (Hons) Geography, University of Cambridge, 2006
  • Experience

  • SWAP UK/Ukraine residency, British Council Ukraine / Liverpool Biennial, Kyiv (Ukraine), 2017; Changing Play residency (with Emma McGarry), Serpentine Gallery, London, 2017; Research residency (with Emma McGarry), Camden Arts Centre, London, 2016; Paradox residency, Poznan University of the Arts, Poznan (Poland), 2015; AIR Caledonian Road residency, AIR / Central St, Martins, London, 2013; Park in Progress residency, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, 2012
  • Exhibitions

  • SWAP UK/UKRAINE (British Council /Liverpool Biennial), Yermilov Centre, Kharkiv (Ukraine), 2018; TOMBOLA! (with Vicki Thornton), Izolyatsia Platform for Cultural Initiatives, Kyiv (Ukraine), 2017; Art Feast, Skelf Site / Art Licks Weekend, Online, 2017; Let Me Hear You Click You Say Yeah No!, Skelf Site, Online, 2016; Parallax II, Chelsea College of Arts, London, 2016; It Will Be Okay (with Emma McGarry), Camden Arts Centre, London, 2016; No Nothing Salon, Chelsea College of Arts, London, 2016; Kar-a-sutra (as Donuts artist group), Fig-2 / Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, 2015; Paradox, UP Gallery, Berlin, 2015; Paradox, Centrum Kultury Zamek, Poznan (Poland), 2015; Structure Texture Future, Nunnery Gallery, London, 2015; We Forgot the Lot, Tate Britain, London, 2014; Vorkurs, Vulpes Vulpes / Standpoint Gallery, London, 2014; Project Visible, Tate Modern, London, 2013; Watershed, Tate Modern, London, 2013; Park in Progress, Nottingham Castle, Nottingham, 2012; Two and a Half Dimensions, Pangolin, London, 2011