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Karthik KG

Karthik KG is a creative technologist who is interested in the significance of algorithmic culture, mnemonic infrastructures, speculative futures, new modes of knowledge production, and the shaping of subjectivities in contemporary digital societies. His works are often expressed as <abstract narrations> with multi-layered references from scientific discourses, historical references, and their fictional iterations. His works have been part of Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai (2022), India Art Fair (2022), VAICA: Video Art by Indian Contemporary Artists (2021), Khoj Curatorial Intensive South Asia(2019), Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, New Delhi (2019), Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong (2018), FICA Homepage 2017 (2017), Kochi Muziris Biennale Residency (2014), INSERT2014 (2014), among others. He was part of the M.Res in Curatorial/Knowledge Programme at the Goldsmiths, University of London as a FICA Inlaks Goldsmiths Scholar (2015–16), where the research project explored the infrastructure of biometrics-based identification systems. His recent project (2021–22), supported by the grant from the India Foundation for the Arts, explores the infrastructure of digital-labour and VFX technologies in the making of cinema and other visual media.

Project Proposal:

In our everyday interactions, the anxiety about "whom to trust?" and "how to trust?" is increasingly mediated through external trust systems and rating mechanisms. Historically, the establishment of the government was a mechanism for fostering social trust, which operated through centralised institutions. With the arrival of the information age, there is a paradigm shift from a centralised structure to a distributed network. Now it is possible to quantify every aspect of an individual’s life and form a participatory trust system where everyone’s contribution accumulates into the credit score. These rating mechanisms, which are built on top of data collection and predictive apparatuses, form the outermost layer that wraps around and integrates digital computation into real life. While the data collection and associated behavioural predictions have faced various concerns regarding privacy and loss of autonomy, the trust system and rating mechanisms are embraced by the public with voluntary participation as this helps to establish the trustworthiness ofour everyday interactions. As we witnessed in the controversy surrounding Cambridge Analytica, these dominant rating mechanisms and predictive apparatuses are open to manipulation. And the market is wide open for unregulated rating agencies.

As part of this residency, I would like to explore these aspects of externalised trust systems and develop a web-app. This web-app is envisaged as an alter-algorithm (term by Vermeulen, Timotheus) alternative to the dominant opaque and unaccountable predictive methodologies of algorithmic governance. For these dominant predictive apparatuses, the future is a blank repetition of the demands of the present. They operate in the "what if?" mode to depart from the ‘actual present’ towards the possible futures or ‘virtual futures’. Then there is the ‘actual future’ that will unfold in response to these predictions. As long as the deviations between the virtual futures and actual future are kept minimal, there are enormous capitalistic gains for the prediction-fuelled markets of neoliberalism, which are constantly betting on the behavioural futures of individuals. In contrast, the altergorithms are creative engagements with digital materiality, which speculate with an "as if" mode of thinking. They start from a ‘virtual present'—as if it were this way—to unfold impossible scenarios of the future or past. In response to the "protocological infrastructure" of external trust systems, the alter-algorithm of this web-app will take the form of a chat-bot or a web game that will fabricate abstract narratives that highlight the blind spots of dominant trust systems.

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