Theme and Curator
Post Homo Sapiens: Programming the Future
The 13th edition of GETXOPHOTO International Image Festival will address the challenges faced by individuals in a present where the processes of acceleration, automation, artificial intelligence and scientific–technological advances are posing new challenges, as we edge closer to the concept of transhumanism.
For the final chapter of the Transitions trilogy, Post Homo Sapiens: Programming the Future, twenty international artists will explore a range of emerging theories. The works emerge out of changing social engagement patterns, individual behaviour, machine intelligence and global trends resulting from technological advancements in the digital age, and they will also consider ethical questions and challenges to more traditional human values and structures.
Several of the works presented explore the enhancement of the human condition through education, as well as the intervention of technology – concepts rooted both in Nietzsche’s philosophy of the Übermensch, the Beyond-human, and in the post-human ideals of the transhumanist movement. We will also consider the role of advanced technologies like AI in shaping humanity’s future, with regard to its potential for the betterment of society, as well as the associated risks that this brings.
Nietzsche’s vision of the Übermensch and the concept of the post-human in the transhumanism movement both include the belief that human beings and nature are in permanent mutation or are a ‘work-in-progress’, a notion supported by leading transhumanist scholar Nick Bostrom. They follow on from the secular humanist principle of needing to enhance human nature by improving education, cultural refinement, philosophical enquiry and moral self-scrutiny. However, the transhumanist movement goes further, believing that by applying medicine, science and technologies such as genetic engineering, information technology and artificial intelligence responsibly, we can overcome fundamental biological limitations. This in turn would enable the post-human, with its unlimited potential, to come into existence.
Moreover, transhumanism believes that overcoming such human limitations is necessary for a better society. In pragmatic immediate terms, that includes the eradication of disease, the elimination of unnecessary suffering and the release of undiscovered or untapped potential through the augmentation of human intellectual, physical and emotional capacities. Notably, Nietzsche also embraced the sense of self-meaning outside religious traditions.
In their works, H+ by Matthieu Gafsou, One of Them is a Human by Maija Tammi and Cyborg’s Life by the first officially recognised cyborg Neil Harbisson, the artists aim to help unravel and explore some of the ethical questions surrounding post-human ideas in transhumanist ideology. They also consider how medical advances can improve painful human conditions and what it means to be human. Meanwhile, through his portraiture, Reiner Riedler looks into ways of humanising machines.
It is essential to transhumanist thinking that widely-shared, equal access to technology should help extend its benefits to all parts of society. Furthermore, the full manifestation of core transhumanist values requires that, ideally, everybody should have the opportunity to become post-human. It will therefore be sub-optimal if the opportunity to become post-human is restricted to a tiny elite. However, the free market economy and rapid marketisation of technological tools have created unequal access to the latest digital advantages. In his project Héroes del brillo, the artist Federico Estol challenges stereotypes about human worth and the fear of social discrimination. In Boda Boda Madness, artist Jan Hoek, in collaboration with stylist Bobbin Case, explores the everyday hero, human creativity and collective values.
It is widely accepted outside academia that technological progress has benefited humanity through the ages; the history of technological development has contributed to improvements which have seen large swathes of humanity freed from illiteracy, short life-expectancies, alarming infant-mortality rates, diseases endured without palliatives, and periodic starvation. However, these unquestionable achievements should not blind us from the questionable ethics that may arise from future developments which might threaten human values in the name of progress.
Given recent events such as the Cambridge Analytica scandal, where digital companies lack transparency about data harvesting and unregulated influence in the democratic process, AI and machine learning require much closer examination. There is incredible potential; if we consider everything that we value is based on our intelligence, and if we can have access to all that collective intelligence at once, then the possibilities are unlimited. However, there are also great long-term risks in creating something that is more intelligent than your own species, as well as creating unregulated, unchecked influence structures in the short term.
Haley Morris-Cafiero’s artistic practice reflects on issues affecting the female body and the role social media plays in cyberbullying. Claudia Gori considers the consequences of technological exposure and the effects on those who are allergic to technology and what it means in the modern world.
The digital age is often blamed for increased human isolation, and although social media is often cited as a platform designed to connect the world, somehow we have all become less engaged with both our fellow humans and the planet itself. Digital artist Lauren McCarthy’s work Follower reflects on the issue of social disconnect and personal isolation, using the medium of technology and social media platforms to reflect on these existential questions.The ongoing conflict between the natural world and resource-hungry modern life is further explored in Agua, minería y éxodo by artist Marcos Zegers, who travelled across the Atacama desert to its rich lithium salt mines, reflecting on the environmental consequences of this extraction on the landscape. Autoradiograph by Masamichi Kagaya & Satoshi Mori captures the radioactive particles of Fukushima, and in the Ritual Inhabitual artist collective, made up of Florencia Grisanti, Tito Gonzalez and curator Sergio Valenzuela Escobedo, two colliding worlds come head to head; the ancient Mapuche culture with the spiritual symbolism of their old medicinal plants disappearing beneath the forestry industry. Jaakko Kahilaniemi considers our relationship with other species, while Anaïs Lopez’s The Migrant is a story about the ‘other’, the outsider and having no belonging to a place. Through abstract or futuristic images, Ezio D’Agostino offers a visual journey into the capitalist outer space of the near future.
Finally, works artists False Mirror by Ali Eslami, What to do with a Million Years by Juno Calypso and L’île aux Libellules by Julien Mauve, engage in their different ways in narratives which navigate between the real and the fiction of a world that might be.
Thinking about the future from the present is a challenging task, but walking into a future where technology platforms create infrastructures which can influence and coerce our lives unchecked and unregulated is even harder. Technology has the potential to enhance and improve human existence; however, it should be used to work towards supporting human goals while still constrained by human values.
Programming, defined as the new literacy of the digital age, along with advanced scientific and medical developments, poses new bioethical challenges to traditional social conventions. The way society engages with education and information, establishes human relations or chooses to entertain itself is undergoing a significant shift, and it is still too early to fully evaluate its impact.
Just as the industrial age transformed human labour arising from the relationship between the physical body and the machine, the digital age is exploring the mind’s limitless capacities and digital network creations that can surpass human capabilities or simplify complex intellectual processes.
Thinking about humanity’s future and reflecting on its possibilities is this year’s Festival theme. We are looking for projects which explore this topic in a broad sense, including multidisciplinary narratives and diverse visual languages such as photography, video, installation, archives and documents among others.
A new edition that, following the discursive line of the topic Transitions started two years ago, will try to address fundamental contemporary issues.
Monica Allende is an independent curator, consultant and educator. She is the Artistic Director of GETXOPHOTO Photo Festival and Landskrona Foto Festival.
She has collaborated with WeTransfer as a Consultant and Creative Producer, she was the director of FORMAT17 International Photography Festival, she collaborated with Screen Projects and is producing and curating Blue Skies, a multidisciplinary project with artist Anton Kusters to be exhibited at PhotoLondon in May.
Previously Monica was the Photo Editor at the Sunday Times Magazine, where she launched Spectrum, the award-winning photography section. She is a visiting lecturer at the London College of Communication, London & EFTI in Madrid.
Allende nominates photographers for the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize, the Prix Pictet, The Joop Swart Masterclass/ WPP or FOAM Paul Huf award, and is a reviewer and Ambassador for Reminders Photography Stronghold in Japan and Docking Station in Holland. She has served on juries worldwide including the Vogue Festival, Bar Tur Photobook award, La Fabrica / Photo London dummy award, Landskrona Foto, Burn magazine emerging photographer fund, phmuseum award, Visura Grant, National Portrait Gallery’s Taylor Wessing photographic Portrait Prize, World Press Photo among many others.
She is the recipient of the Amnesty International Media Photojournalism Award, the Picture Editor’s Award, the Online Press Award and Magazine Design Award for Best Use of Photography.ArtistsEncerrona Vol. 7
Te vamos a abrir la cabeza
We are going to open your head. Figuratively speaking, of course. In 2019’s this edition Lock-in was about what is coming, a kind of exercise of the future. A whole day, lunch included, of talks, dialogues and presentations. This is menu we prepared for you:
Staging in the future
Lucía Agirre curator at Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
Jon Uriarte artist and digital curator at The Photographers’ Gallery, London
José Luis de Vicente curator for Sónar+D
The paper of the paper
Ramón Pez art director, editor and designer
Garikoitz Fraga editor of Belleza Infinita
Christian Caujolle, curator and critique
About the visual representation of the female body
Juno Calypso english photographer
Haley Morris-Cafiero photographer from the United States
Hannah Watson director of the TJ Boulting Gallery and Trolley Books
The rebirth of our species
Neil Harbisson artist and cyborg
Lucía Aguirre, curator at Guggenheim Bilbao Museoa
Born in Getxo in 1970, Lucía Aguirre, curator of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao since 2000, has worked both in the organization and curatorial development of the Museum’s artistic program —temporary exhibitions and presentations of the permanent collection—- as well as in training and research regarding the Museum’s own Collection, collaborating with artists, curators and international institutions. She has a degree in Philosophy and Literature, specializing in Geography and History (University of Deusto), she has a title in Museology and Art Criticism given by L’Università Internazionale dell’Arte (UIA) of Florence, and she has been accredited as Technical Manager of Museums and Art Museums by the Tuscany Region.
Jon Uriarte, artist and digital curator at The Photographers’ Gallery, London
Born in Hondarribia in 1979, Jon Uriarte studied Photography at the Institut d’Estudis Fotogràfics of Catalunya and at the International Center of Photography in New York. He also completed a master’s degree in Projects and Art Theories, imparted by PhotoEspaña and the European University of Madrid. He has exhibited in various centers and art galleries, both individual or collectively, including the Casa Encendida in Madrid, the Koldo Mitxelena in Donostia, the Studio 304 in New York, the HBC Center in Berlin and the Sala d’ Art Jove of Barcelona. He founded Widephoto, an independent platform dedicated to curating and another activities related to contemporary photography. He also conceptualized and coordinated for 3 years DONE, the project on reflection and visual creation promoted by Foto Colectania. He currently lives in London, where he has just joined as Digital curator of the prestigious The Photographers’ Gallery
José Luis de Vicente, curator
Cultural investigator and curator specialized in culture, technology and innovation. Curator at Sónar+D, the cultural congress of Sónar Barcelona Festival, and since some years ago usual collaborator of the CCCB, where he has curated the exhibitions “Big Bang Data” and “After the End of the World”. He has curated Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s project “Atmospheric Memory” for the Manchester International Festival. His last projects are Festival Tentacular at Matadero Madrid and the next edition of Llum BCN. He teaches at the Institut de Arquitectura Avanzada de Catalunya (IaC).
Ramón Pez, art director, editor and designer
Born in Italy in 1975, Ramón Pez is an award-winning editor, curator and creative director who has 10 years of experience in magazine management, book creation, exhibition design and illustration. His characteristic and versatile style arises from an underground approach related to the idea that design is the architecture of storytelling, where stories and narrative structures mix different media. He has an extensive experience leading and advising international creative teams, as well as managing the production of several editorial projects. He gives lectures and runs workshops in several cities such as New York, Barcelona, Mexico City, Paris, Sarajevo, Buenos Aires or London.
Garikoitz Fraga, editor of Belleza Infinita
Born in Bilbao in 1971, Garikoitz Fraga studied Fine Arts at the University of the Basque Country and Music at the Conservatory of Bilbao. As head of the publishing company Belleza Infinita and the distribution company Bukinda, he is responsible of selecting, editing with the authors, distributing, promoting and managing, which gives him a global vision of the editorial work. Belleza Infinita edits and distributes unclassifiable publications that encourage different ways of perceiving, expressing and thinking, and they are committed to experimentation and are conceived as works of art in themselves. They publish huge print runs, with adjusted prices according to the book market, affordable for years in the best bookstores, museum stores, comic books, art galleries and Internet, among others.
Juno Calypso, english photographer
Born in London in 1989, where she lives and works. Juno Calypso is a London based artist working with photography, film and installation. She studyed photography at the London College of Communication. She has recieved numerous prizes, such as the Michael Wilson Award 2012, LCC Hotshoe Portfolio Award 2012, The Catlin Art Prize 2013, reGeneration3 2015, BJP International Photography Award 2015, Foam Talent 2016, Creative Review 2017, Vic Odden Award by the Royal Photography Society 2018. Her work has been published in Vogue Italy, TIME Magazine, The Gurdian, Paper, i-D, Dazed & Confused, The Sunday Times, VICE, The Independent and The Huffington Post and has been exhibited in the Piccolo Theatre of Milan, Tate Modern, Southbank Centre and Photo London, amongst others.
Haley Morris-Cafiero, american photographer
Born in 1976 in Tennessee, Haley Morris-Cafiero is a graduate of the University of North Florida, where she earned a BA in Photography and a BFA in Ceramics. 2016 Fulbright finalist, she holds a MFA from the University of Arizona in Art. Part performer, part artist, part provocateur, part spectator, she explores the act of reflection in her photography. Her photographs have been widely exhibited in solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States and abroad, and have been featured in numerous newspapers, magazines and online including Le Monde, New York Magazine and Salon. Nominated for the Prix Pictet in 2014. Her monograph, Wait Watchers, was published in 2015 by the Magenta Foundation. Works as a photography instructor and lives in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Neil Harbisson, artist an cyborg
Born in England in 1984 and Catalan-raised, Neil Harbisson –contemporary artist and cyborg– is known for having an antenna implanted in his skull and for being officially recognised as a cyborg by the British government. The antenna allows him to perceive visible and invisible colours via audible vibrations in his skull, including infrareds and ultraviolets as well as receive colours from space, images, videos, music or phone calls directly into his head via internet connection. Co-founder of the Cyborg Foundation, an international organisation that aims to help humans become cyborgs, defend cyborg rights and promote cyborg art. Co-founder of the Transpecies Society, an association that gives voice to people with non-human identities, defends the freedom of self-design and offers the creation of new senses and new organs in community.
Hannah Watson, director of TJ Boulting Gallery and Trolley Books
Born in London in 1980, Hannah Watson is the Director of contemporary art gallery TJ Boulting and independent publisher Trolley Books. Established in 2001, Trolley publish a diverse range of titles presenting unique stories in photography and contemporary art. The gallery TJ Boulting was established in Fitzrovia, London in 2011. TJ Boulting’s programme supports and represents emerging contemporary artists and photographers including Juno Calypso, Maisie Cousins, Boo Saville, Stephanie Quayle, and Juliana Cerqueira Leite. Since 2015 they have hosted the solo exhibition of the winner of the British Journal of Photography International Award. Hannah Watson completed a BA in History of Art with Material Studies at UCL before doing the internship at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice and then joining Trolley in 2005. She is a trustee of the Fitzrovia Chapel Foundation, the Grade II* listed secular chapel of the former Middlesex Hospital now a space for arts and the community, and is chair of the committee for The Photographers’ Gallery Contemporaries patron group.Lab
Experimental documentation at the museum
Led by: Alejandro Acín, IC Visual Lab, Bristol & Julián Barón, photographer
Special guests: Jon Cazenave, photographer & Maite Jimenez, historian
With the collaboration with the Basque Museum of Bilbao
We took over the Basque Museum for three days and transforming it into a production studio in which the participants have used tools such as photogrphy, writing or drawing – using photocopy as a basic reproduction form- to approach the museum’s archive and collections from a contemporary way of looking. As a result of this experimental documentation at the museum, the participants have created a field book around their experiences.
The laboratory has had two incredible guests. On the one hand, Jon Cazenave, who have approached the theme of “territory” and provided keys regarding the making of the books. On the other hand, Marta Jiménez, historian and head of the Photography department at the Basque Museum, has given us her vision and historical prespective. The resulting field books will be exposed during the opening week of the Festival (4-8 June).
Alejandro Acín is a photographer, designer and editor based in Bristol (UK). His photographic work investigates dynamics of consumption and trading environments in capitalist societies. He is founder director of IC-Visual Lab, an independent platform for the dissemination and production of contemporary photography via ICVL Studio. He has also been the Creative Director of Photobook Bristol from 2011 to 2013. Since 2016 he is an Associated Lecture at University of Coventry and London College of Communication.
Julián Barón studied industrial engineering and worked as quality manager at a traffic signposting company until 2007, when he resigned and became part of Blank Paper Collective (Madrid). From 2008 till 2015 he was director and photography teacher at the Blank Paper School in Castellón, Valencia and Online. In the last decade he has developed visual work which reacts to an agitated socioplolitic context, converging in different lines of action that connect his work – from different media such as photography, video, sound collage, instalations or books- with teaching and the coordination of didactic projects. His main aim is to offer new points of view is to provide new insights that contribute to weaken the rigidity of contemporary collective imagination and to challenge the official discourses that construct memory, history and identity through images.
Jon Cazenave was born in San Sebastian in 1978. Jon has a degree in Business and Economic Sciences from the University of Deusto. Since 2007, he has been working on Galerna, a long-term photographic project about the identity of the Basque people. He has taken part in festivals such as Les Rencontres d´Arles, Noorderlicht, Photoespaña, TIPF, Encontros da Imagem de Braga and Tbilisi Photo, as well as in collective art projects like Horizon, a research laboratory, and Ixil Ar, an ongoing conversation about Jorge Oteiza. He has had three books published – Herri Ixilean, Galerna and Ama Lur.
Maite Jiménez is an historian, head of the Photography Department at the Vasque Museum. She has published multiple works about Eulalia Abaitua, the first female photographer in the Basque Country.