Call for entries
The word “count” can refer both to storytelling as in ‘recounting’ or numerification as in ‘counting’. Numbers and counting are central to how we tell (and are told) stories about our lives and nature. Quantification pervades modern life. We rely every day on a host of numbers to organise our lives and, in turn, our lives are quantified by markets, organisations and governments to shape our behaviors.
SUN-SET, 2014 © JULIEN MALAURENT
Numbers are organised in the forms of scores, rankings, ratings, indicators and grades – all of which are central to how we value things and, in turn, how we are valued. Our relation to our bodies is also increasingly mediated by numbers through the counting of our steps, heartbeats, burned calories and even (degree of) happiness.
LIFE OF LINES, 2013, XEDER
Production of such quantified accounts relies on the inherently reductive process of converting qualities to quantities and assuming comparability among different things and persons.
Such calculative devices are central to the “seeing” apparatus of modern societies, which enables governing/managing at a distance. Societies and corporations intervene upon what they attempt to measure/describe in fundamental ways – making their targets in their own image. By making visible certain aspects of things, they are bound to conceal or even hide other aspects. They leave little space for shadows by flattening reality.
Besides mediating the relations among humans, quantification is central to how humans attempt to make Nature manageable/governable. Whether we aim to exploit or protect it, quantification, aggregation, and comparisons are central to the politics of Nature and how modern humans break up, visualise and imagine forests, pollution, and the state of various species. Quantifying Nature enables policy-making and interventions upon our ecosystems from frequently distant “centres of calculation”, which brings vast unforeseen implications upon those quantified and counted, and perversely affects the counters.
"THOUSANDS OF CREASES"
ANA FERNANDEZ GARCÍA
"DROPS FOR LIFE"
ANA FERNANDEZ GARCÍA
CIRCULARITIES 2018 XEDER
Key intellectual figures such as Max Weber and Michel Foucault and novelists such as Franz Kafka have been preoccupied with the increasing distance between the governing and the governed and the pernicious effects of such “governing at a distance”. Likewise, contemporary artists such as
Julien Previeux, Jean-Paul Fourmentraux, Samuel Bianchini, Trevor Paglen, Paolo Cirio, Christophe Bruno have questioned the marginalised aesthetic and emotional aspects of the frequently quantified forms that are used in governing societies.
Digital technology development has further intensified the quantitative turn in human societies. Seamless conversion of qualities to binary codes and back is the defining feature of datafication and its contemporary offsprings, the internet and big data.
Besides its frequently cold, contemporary aura, the history of numbers is intertwined with all cultures in intriguing and mysterious ways. For example, numbers feature in Persian Talismans in the form of ciphers that aim to possess and haunt. In Arabic, the Abjad system enables conversion between letters and numbers – enabling new possibilities for intertwining textuality and calculations – in poetry, calligraphy and painting.
In this competition, we invite photographic work that captures the ways contemporary humans and Nature are entangled with quantification and numbers. We are open to any submissions that broadly engage in a questioning of the role of numbers in organising human lives and their impact on humans and nature.
"THE EVOLUTION OF SPECIES"
ANA FERNANDEZ GARCÍA
All submissions will be carefully reviewed by a committee composed of artists, curators and academics working in arts but also critical studies of accounting, of global standing. Short-listed work will be showcased in an online exhibition including talks by outstanding contributors. In addition, we will organise three physical exhibitions in well-established venues in Barcelona, Toulouse and Edinburgh (under negotiation). Selected work will be also used in a collective publication that will be developed as part of this project.
April, 30 2023