Maryam Monalisa Gharavi, Omolade Adunbi, Helen Pritchard, Ryan Kuo
How are the twinned commodities of oil and data enmeshed within contemporary human landscapes?
Sonic Acts presents Exhaust, an online roundtable programme produced by resident artist, writer and theorist Maryam Monalisa Gharavi taking place on 27 February 2021. Propelled by the phrase ‘data is the new oil’, coined in 2006 by British mathematician (and customer loyalty card inventor) Clive Humby, Exhaust draws on the insights of eminent academic thinkers and influential practitioners to speculate, critique and make visible the cultural geography of oil and data. Among the roundtable participants are political and environmental anthropologist Omolade Adunbi, media artist and programmer Ryan Kuo, artist and geographer Helen Pritchard and interdisciplinary researcher Andrea Sempértegui. As an added plus (for Benelux IP addresses only), the programme is accompanied by a screening of Wang Bing’s 840-minute-long documentary film Crude Oil (2008).
Oil, the world’s most important non-renewable resource, lies at the centre of ecological peril and financial oppression. Data, on the other hand, a fertiliser for the production of shared meaning, is definitionally infinite, yet the extractive logic of the algorithm renders it dependent on human labour. Oil is a finite source at the very core of both global financial markets and #nofuture petroleum wars; data, seemingly infinite, also ‘leaks’ into the collapsing tripartite structures of governance, markets, and society. Our thirst for data, according to James Bridle, is akin to “our thirst for oil, historically imperialist and colonialist”. From differing perspectives, Exhaust uncovers ways in which the endless extraction of both commodities figures into political, ideological and aesthetic battlegrounds.
Photo Courtesy of the organisation