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New Media Exhibition: Iterations as Habitats



We speak of habitats in terms of environments inhabited by human and nonhuman animals, plants, insects, minerals, fungi, bacteria; terrains, waters, and atmospheres, spanning the local, havens, dwellings, abodes, sites. While habitats often imply stability, sustenance, and a natural order, their dynamics are also understood in terms of conflicts and contradictions. As competing organisms and species vie for niches, a habitat’s appearance of coherence can be illusory, disguising violence.

Habitats move from environments to the planet, as climate change and species extinction are considered in terms of the Anthropocene; habitats move from physical to virtual places, as artificial intelligence is understood as an actant or agent.

In mathematics and computational sciences, “iterations” are repetitions of functions, statements, applications, software, or hardware that include minor mutations, thereby working successively and incrementally closer to solutions of problems. They can be recursive or fractal, self-similar or mirrored, not unlike patterns in nature. Simulations become environments for artificial life, much like physical environments for synthetic life. From the vantage of environmentalism, notions of improvement and progress, however, demand critical evaluation, particularly in terms of modelling for genetically modified organisms, neoliberal economic policies, and “democratic” elections; at the same time, such notions expand our understanding of life.

As habitats evolve from internal dynamics and external challenges, boundaries unhinge in constant flux. And how do we mark the borders of a habitat or habitus? Are cities habitats? Parks? Farms? Neighbourhoods? Skyscrapers? Museums? Universities? Shopping malls? War zones? Prisons? Databases? Server farms? Phone apps? Concert halls? Film festivals? Beyond the local and the global, how do we imagine habitats manifesting?