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Navigating Mixed Realities

Navigating the technological realities we live in has become increasingly difficult. Old cultural, economic and political structures are now mixed, overlayed, infiltrated, enhanced and undermined by a new technological megastructure. The computer in the palm of our hands is a ‘portal gun’, an entry point to an accidental planetary structure linking lithium mines in Chile to offshore data servers in Russia to fiber-optic submarine cables in the Atlantic to freeports in Singapore to corporate-owned satellites in orbit to a swelling quantity of IP addresses and teraflops of data.

Geozones

How to make sense of the interconnections and disconnections between all these elements and the maps we use to see the world with? Geozones might not be individuated through a conventional focus on states, but rather as trans-continental regions that defy common cartographical logics. Today, borders of data sovereignty in the cyberspace might be just as fundamental as political and geological ones. As far as each specific geozone has its own set of frictions and fractures among the political, economic and algorithmic sovereignties, prominent voices from the regions are invited to interrogate, challenge and/or implement the techno-political reality at their own coordinates.

Vertical Atlas will be focused on 5 extended zones of frictions: Europe, Russia, China, the Persian/Arabian Gulf and Africa.

Structure

Vertical Atlas is divided in 5 iterations, one for each geozone. Every iteration includes a night of public talks and a day of research lab. The public events will take place at Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam during Thursday Night Live and at Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.The five research labs will happen at different locations in Amsterdam. During each lab, invited experts will discuss and collectively create new maps for every geozone, generating de facto a new vertical atlas. The overlapping of all five maps generated during the project will constitute a partial and temporary atlas of the realities we live in, enabling users to operate in the world through different geographical interfaces. The preliminary results of these efforts will documented and published online in the form of  interviews and texts. The final outcome of Vertical Atlas will be published in a book.

Initiators

This project is initiated by Benjamin Bratton, Leonardo Dellanoce, Arthur Steiner, Klaas Kuitenbrouwer, and developed and produced by Het Nieuwe Instituut, Hivos Digital Earth and Stedelijk Museum.

Kévin Bray
Het Nieuwe Instituut, Hivos, Stedelijk Museum
Benjamin Bratton, Arthur Steiner, Leonardo Dellanoce, Klaas Kuitenbrouwer