Bahar Noorizadeh, After Scarcity (film still), 2018; courtesy the artist
Gary Zhexi Zhang, Farm II, 2018 (installation view); image courtesy the artist

Ungovernable Machines

In an increasingly technocratic society – one in which the processes and systems that manage our daily lives often seem intangible and abstract – how can we rethink the potential of technology as a tool or agent of change? How might we create new forms of ownership, self-governance and collectivity online?

 
Ungovernable Machines investigates the ways in which technology shapes and is shaped by geopolitics, from the redrawing of state borders on Google Maps to the illegal export of toxic electronic waste to the global south and human rights violations through mass surveillance. In exploring the invisible infrastructures and forms of surveillance that technology enables, the programme examines the social, political, economic and ecological implications of the intangible networks and systems that govern our daily lives, and the structures of power which underlie them.
 
Ungovernable Machines considers technology as an environment, a medium and an apparatus that has replaced many facets of state governance. Reflecting on the ways in which transnational corporations are now responsible for the development and regulation of ubiquitous devices, networks and systems, the programme highlights the implications this has for determining our rights, shaping our access to knowledge and influencing our behaviour without sufficient ethical and legal frameworks to measure their effects and affects. 
 
Featuring artists, activists, programmers and academics, Ungovernable Machines provides an experimental context in which to explore open source and decentralised platforms, and DIY movements, and through which to consider the emancipatory potential of technology in strategies of resistance, practices of ‘commoning’ and methods of self-organisation.
 
KEY TERMS
 
Geopolitics
The influence of the earth’s geography (and the politics which determine its territorial divisions) on power relations between countries, nation states or continents.
 
Decentralisation
The removal of a centralised operator (such as corporations like Google and Facebook which amass consumer data for profit) from online networks and systems, so that data generated through the use of these systems is owned by the user and only shared peer-to-peer with others in the network. 
 
Commoning
Acts of mutual support, negotiation, communication and experimentation that are needed to create systems to collectively manage shared resources.