On extracting data, and its art and craft.


Data art started long before the internet, but for some of us, facebook (fb) for a long time served as our Cantarell Complex. On 2012 I accidentally began leaking it when I created drik magazine and later its archives. Today, quite more consciously, I can say beneath my internet data projects a reservoir of information has been formed, and this has happened on different data-based projects by other artists too.

Servers are attached to our soil just as onshore platforms are, soaking on data from all of their users. The internet is the equivalent of a pipeline but with the shape and function of an ouroboros. It’s a two-way pipeline, draining information from us and vomiting it back through our computers. Data flows through the internet into and from same wave territories (Santiago de Chile, Lima, DF, Nuevo Leon, Costa Mesa, and Washington DC) where we distill it through our computers in order to gather our resources, just as it happens in the rest of the world. The internet isn’t on the sky; we do not store data in clouds, we store it in servers. The floating internet concept is a lie in order to prevent us from realizing that the internet is grounded by a powerful tellurian nature.

On Cyclonopedia (Reza Negarestani), Dr. Hamid Parsani identifies oil as a tellurian lube. It’s the element that allows mankind to happen (contemporarily), and that is abundant on the gulfs of Persia and Mexico (among other places). Oil represents power and wealth, hence it represents control and sabotage too (ex: the Nationalization of Mexican Oil, the Arab Oil Embargoes, Saddam Hussein’s burning of the Kuwaiti Oil Wells, the Energetic Reform in Mexico, etc).

Data is quite similar to oil. Oil is the product of the passing of thousands of years, and information stays exactly the same. Oil wasn’t magically formed, and data inside the internet (and outside it) is never borne out of nothing. It is always the result of human life, and that is precisely why Lanier coined the concept of Digital Maoism (DM).

Sites like fb are considered great exponents of DM, since all the data they hold (and which constitutes the tellurian lube of the digital) has been uploaded by its users. At a glance it seems only fb profits from the data we gather for it, and in most cases this is true. However, fb and other companies’ profits depend on the behavior of its users. We need to fill DM with holes. We need to transform it into swiss cheese; then wait for data to fill the void and drain fb and other DM sites with no mercy.

Since the presentation of Swarm at ARS Electronica ’98 on the hands of the Electronic Disturbance Theater, in support of Digital Zapatismo and the victims of the Acteal massacre, art underlined how the concept of sitting gained effectiveness if it blocked the flux of data instead of the flux of people. In 1967, just a day after the Six Day War had begun, countries like Iraq, Kuwait, and Bahrain decided to use oil as a weapon and embargoed the US and the UK for supporting Israel. This led to the formation of the OAPEC, an organism that in 1973, executed a second embargo. This time the oil price was raised by 70% and the Arab countries stated their oil production would be reduced by 5% each month until Israeli forces left occupied territories in Syria and Egypt, which had been gained by Israel during the Six Day War. The embargo had little to no effect on the economy of the Arab nations, while all major markets of the rest of the world faced the 1973-74 Stock Market Crash.

We can use data as a weapon too. DM is not a house for data, data lives outside it. We control the production and digitalization of data, the tellurian lube that allows the existence of fb and other DM companies. We can pump data through it in order to drain what we’re looking for, and then pump it out in order to profit from it. This is why I believe 21st century art needs to be data-based.

The art world came into existence since the French Academia as a Napalmic entity, one made of an inextinguishable fire that can flow/flood into every corner of culture and won’t disappear until it consumes itself. It is this very nature which requires it to burn out. But it is its hunger for recognition and legitimization what has inspired it to generate strategies to keep the fire burning perennially. It’s because of this that art and culture have been burning all that surrounds them for centuries, becoming one of the communities of the world’s greatest enemies, and burning them ceaselessly too. This way, not even painting or sculpture were our friends. However this doesn’t mean they can’t ever be.

Data has been flowing through art since the beginning of art, just as oil has been there since the beginning of civilization. Art has also been used to gather data for centuries. We do not need to transform art into a data bank. Art has been a data bank since the beginning. We need to start controlling the data and its flux. Data has a liquid nature too; it tends to flow wherever it can, and we can make it flow through the art world (which today occupies important territories in education, power, business, economy, banking, and tourism, among other areas). The art world is nothing more than fog of war. It is the same fog described by John McTiernan’s The 13th Warrior, covering the Wendol and their serpent of fire while they murdered humans to consume them. By using data as a weapon and incorporating it into art, we can transform art into a gigantic tank in the fight for freedom that uses the same fog of war to strike with a powerful backlash. Art should no longer be a trigger for action, its time to counter back and use art as a war machine.    

alonso cedillo <ceo@nimda.co>


We’re playing a game, a game that we all can change, and it’s all about copying.

Create and creativity have the same root which is the latin word creātus, the past passive participle from the verb creāre ‘to create’. Hence creativity is the ability to create. It doesn’t matter what you create. If you create you are creative.The verb in itself is from a Proto-Indo-European root *ḱerh₂- whose original meaning seems to have been ‘grow’. Creāre is kind of a conflation of stem forms but it is in essence an old causative verb. Its original meaning was ‘to make [something] grow’.


Making something grow is only a small step away from creating it, and that’s the path the verb took within Latin. In Latin, thus, the sense of ‘grow’ was relegated to the original inchoative verb (‘to start growing’), crēscere, which is found in English loanwords such as ‘crescent’ and ‘crescendo’.The word “create” appeared in English as early as the 14th century to indicate divine creation. However, its modern meaning as an act of human creation did not emerge until after the Enlightenment. The Age of Enlightenment in the late 17th-century Europe emphasized reason and individualism rather than tradition. Over the course of the last decades, we seem to have reached on a general agreement that creativity involves the production of novel, useful products. But the truth is that creativity can also be defined “as the process of producing something that is worthwhile to someone” or “characterized by expressiveness and imagination”.The problem here is that we’ve been taught that originality is a basic characteristic of creativity. But the truth is that as creativity is a mind skill that allows us to make an idea in any area, the adjective original is just unapplicable due to it’s nature as a skill. Creativity is just something each one of us can develop for his/her persona.  Creativity is essentially not a kind of knowledge or science but, it is a skill kind, that may be improved through various methods. Hence, creativity is an almost steady ability to generate concepts with no time, age, kind, manner, way, technics, advantage, efficacy and subject limitation and restriction. That means, 1) that copying is one of the most valuable resources of creativity, and 2) that something creative is not necessarily or entirely new.

What is produced can come in many forms and is not specifically singled out in a subject or area, and of course it can be produced and distributed on an area outside high culture’s. That’s the reason why creativity isn’t something exclusive of the arts, and why it’s one of the main characteristics of the human being. The deal is that one of the fields with the greatest desire of possessing and owning everything is the one of art & culture industry, and one of their biggest claims is creativity, but they do not own it, no matter what they do.
Σαυτον ισθι (Nosce te ipsum or know yourself) is one of the Delphic maxims, and according to the greek travelogue Pausanias, it was inscribed in the pronaos of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi (Description of Greece 10.24.1). Two other Delphic maxim are Γνωθι μαθων (know what you’ve learned) and Εχων χαριζου (give what you have). The first maxim I mentioned (and perhaps the most famous) can be achieved easier through creativity. Creating objects, texts, decors, pottery, etc, is a nice way of knowing ourselves. Only when you create is when you see yourself reflected on your creation. The word “creation” has been linked to god since the Genesis. Perhaps that’s why we believe that only a few can create. But the truth is that just as the bible claims that God created us on his image, when we create things we also do it based not on his image but on the image of our persona. That’s why creating is an excellent way of knowing ourselves. 
Since the renaissance (or probably even earlier) we’ve been working with the same ideas, and we even were granted more freedom when artists like Richard Prince, Barbara Kruger and Sherrie Levine appeared. The second maxim I mentioned fits here, “know what you’ve learned”. We need to be conscious on how the act of copying feeds art, and how copying improves our creativity. We need to understand what we have learned, but more importantly, we need to accept it. The third maxim I mentioned, and perhaps the more important for an artist (or a person that’s struggling to establish him or herself as an artist), has to do with the acceptance of our uniqueness. The world is not the only one that needs to accept what we create, we need to accept it too. It’s the struggle of knowing yourself and knowing what you’ve learned, so you can know what you truly have, and figure out how to share it. We all have something to give, and perhaps the ones that successfully do it, no matter what they give, are the real artists. If we were all artists I’m sure art could change the world. But the way we’re doing it, I’m sure things will never change.