Algorithms that Matter" (Almat) is an FWF-funded artistic research project running from 2017 to 2021. The project looks at the increasing influence of algorithms and subjects their material agency to artistic experimentation through sound. Challenging common narratives based on ideals of control, Almat grounds on a perspective in which algorithms, their embedding contexts, developers and users engage in a co-evolving interaction.
Throughout Almat we have worked on several sound and intermedia pieces, invited a number of artists to participate in artistic research residencies, and we collaborated with national and international partners to organise events such as workshops and new formats in artistic research around the topics of Almat. The vast materials we collected from 2017 to 2020 are organized into a network of Research Catalogue entries—texts, sketches, sounds, images, videos, transcriptions, code—forming the Almat Continuous Exposition. These materials include not only the self-contained and completed, but also the incomplete or even abandoned traces produced in the dynamics of a research movement traversing the entire project. Their fragmentary nature strongly calls for connection, not necessary following the rules of logic or similarity, but enabling a form of transversal reading that tends to differences and to opposites rather than to the distillation of answers, and that allows for a diffractive rather then a purely propositional account.
In the past year, all these materials were annotated with meta data, and a parser software was developed to store the data in the form of a novel search engine accessible at https://metaexpo.almat.iem.at. This search engine is at the core of what we call the Almat Meta Exposition, an exposition that reorganises the vast materials of the Continuous Exposition by looking at its underlying relations to create a network of dynamically changing data structures. The Meta Exposition develops ways of reading, navigating, collecting and searching that form the basis for the performative Reading “Algorithms that Matter”, conceived for the 12th International Conference on Artistic Research.
Reading “Algorithms that Matter” is a threefold performance of transversal reading, each staged by one of Almat's researchers (Hanns Holger Rutz, David Pirrò, Daniele Pozzi), and taking the form of a guided tour of the Meta Exposition. By choosing which materials to highlight and by composing how to connect them, each guide exposes its take on Almat's questions. The tours does not necessarily move along parallel or coinciding paths and does not claim for uniqueness or completeness, but remains subjective and personal. The performance is preceded by an introduction by Luc Döbereiner, who was part of Almat as guest researcher in 2019 and who was involved in the development and conception of the Meta Exposition in 2020/21.