Richard Bright: Can we begin by you saying something about your background?
Špela Petrič: I was trained as a biologist with a PhD in biomedicine, I worked at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia for a while, then I realised by being a scientific researcher I had a limited capacity to understand the impact of science on the human condition, which I was ever more interested in. This prompted me to change the frame of my research to an artistic one, I completed a degree transmedia arts and have since then been working as an artist.
Miha Turšič: My background is in industrial design. Through the career I was bridging different disciplines and domains, first production and market, then art and culture, now more art and science. In the last 15 years my main focus is on understanding human condition in outer space, for which I collaborate in postgravity art group and co-founded Cultural Centre of European Space Technologies (KSEVT) in Slovenia.
RB: Can you say something about your FEAT collaboration and what it involves?
SP & MT: We collaborated with the FET-HPC group, the consortium of high performance computing. The year-long collaboration was for us an introduction into a computational reality we are ever increasingly embedded in but to us as citizens its inner workings remain hidden from us. We had the unique opportunity to become familiar with the infrastructure of supercomputing, both in terms of the computers themselves as well as the organisational, executive, political and scientific structures that facilitate the development of this field.
RB: What questions do you want to address in this collaboration that could not be addressed before?
SP & MT: One of the more important aspects was the realisation that while we feel our existence is increasingly dependent on algorithmic simulation, high throughput analyses and computational governance, high performance computing is undergoing a significant change itself. The field finds itself at a fork, needing to decide between continued specialisation that increases speed but limits usability or focusing on offering the services for a wider range of applications, which would likely involve slower but more user-friendly, flexible machines. It revealed that its sophistication doesn’t necessarily mean the field has answered questions of its purpose, which opened an agora for artistic intervention, since art has the tools to reflect and make meaning.
RB: What ethical issues have been raised by your collaboration with emerging technologies?
All images copyright and courtesy of Špela Petrič & Miha Turšič
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