Extractivisms: operations and practices

Ars Electronica 2021

Extractivisms: operations and practices is a virtual device that introduces the idea of “expanded extractivism” to approach extractivism as a set of transversal operations and practices on the horizon of contemporary capitalism. The project responds to political urgency: for decades the north of Chile has been linked to world reserves of saltpeter, copper or lithium. Now, turned into a deposit of astronomical data, the Atacama desert is being transformed into a reservoir of algorithms. While Chile is in the midst of a social and political revolt that has led to a constituent process, the government of Sebastián Piñera has promoted the Data Observatory project that seeks to consolidate the mining of data in the north of the country with the participation of the company Amazon. «Amazon Web Services will host the images and data that are recorded and downloaded from Chile’s telescopes». We know the consequences of the privatization of raw material extractivism. The consequences of privatization of astronomical data extractivism are unpredictable because in the process of analyzing these astronomical data, algorithms that can be applied in various areas are generated: location, health, habits, interests, affections, bodies, ecosystems, social connections and communications, forms of transport, urban design and surveillance.

Between the extractivism of raw materials and the extractivism of data there is a technological difference that determines a new visual regime: technical images, which emerged determined by industrial development and colonial expansion encouraged by the extractivism of raw materials, are directed to the human gaze; algorithms, which emerge as a consequence of an economy that favors codes and data, telematic and computerized transactions, generate operational images where the human gaze is absent (Claudio Celis, Aisthesis, 2016). If extractivism designates an economic system based on what Magdalena Gómez-Barris calls an «extractivist vision», that is, a perception of the world as a commodity (Gómez-Barris, 2017), what «extractivist vision» characterizes these operational images? Whose vision? What political imagination do they generate? What forms of resistance? Extractivisms: operations and practices by Galería Réplica seeks to raise a discussion on what, taking the title of Ariella Azoulay’s book, we could call the civil contract of algorithms generated by astronomical data.

In this invisible form, the logics of extraction are no longer a sectorial economic problem but an scheme that has become entangled with reality as a set of operations and practices. From its industrial form to its most abstract form, extractivism modulates our reality: organizes the global circulation of materials, distributes relationships between bodies, dissolves imaginaries and invents visualities, appropriates cultures and destroys territories at the same time that generates others, activates affects, algorithms, memories and images at capillary levels. Following the perspective of The Center for the Study of Extractive Nature (CENEx), these operations and practices not only refer to the forms of global mobility of raw materials and labor forces, that is, the material dimensions of extractivism (mineral, human, economic, technological); they also refer to subjective (emotions, desires, affective practices) and intellectual (thoughts, epistemologies, worldviews, theories) dimensions.

Lines, works and concepts traced on devasted landscape, the virtual device of Galería Réplica finds convergences between artistics and theoretical research by Ignacio Acosta, CENEx (Lucía Egaña, Isabel Torres, Juana Guerrero), TRIMEX (Andrés Terrisse, Jota Aldunce, Bernardita Pérez), Celeste Rojas, María Jesús Schultz, Paula Baeza Pailamilla, Cristian Ochoa, Felipe González, Claudia Pool, Claudio Celis, Martín Arboleda, Regina de Miguel and Felipe Rivas San Martín, in order to politically intervene in a present convulsed both by the constituent process in Chile and by the mutation of global forms of extractivism.

Idea and text: Ivan Flores Arancibia (translations Catalina Büchner)
Curatorial Team: Ivan Flores

Artists: CENEx (Lucía Egaña, Isabel Torres, Juana Guerrero), TRIMEX (Andrés Terrisse, Jota Aldunce, Bernardita Pérez), Imaginación Maquínica (María Jesús Schultz), Ignacio Acosta, Felipe Rivas San Martin, Regina de Miguel, Celeste Rojas, Paula Baeza Pailamilla, Claudia Pool, Cristian Ochoa and Felipe González

With the participation of Claudio Celis and Martín Arboleda 

Diseño web: medialogic solutions

Galería Réplica – Institute of Visual Arts

Faculty of Architecture and Arts
Vice-Chancellorship of Research, Development and Artistic Creation

Universidad Austral de Chile, 2021