María-Elena Pombo is a Venezuelan artist and researcher based in NYC. Her work is open-ended and investigates real and speculative pasts and presents to visualise alternative futures.
In her talk, Pombo will discuss how she centres Earth matter in her practice, gathering historical and contemporary materials through participatory actions. These materials include avocado-seeds, water samples, onion-skins, plant-starches, algae, and more. Pombo uses ancient technologies and scientific inquiry to transform these materials into textile dye, leather, plastic, clay, glass, yarn, and even electricity and fuel for vehicles. These material re-imaginations explore the possibilities and realities beyond existing, often hegemonic narratives. They show that an alternative understanding of the past can lead to imagining alternative futures.
Image: Courtesy of Fragmentario
Compiler is a collective for digital art, curation, and critical technical practice, implemented in institutional and alternative spaces.
Tanya Boyarkina and Oscar Cass-Darweish will discuss the hybrid and hidden roles they take on while curating and producing projects that explore complex technological processes through playful, collaborative and participative formats.
Their artistic and curatorial practice investigates socio-political challenges in digital culture, where the possibilities of digital art, curation, learning, and research are explored as part of a process of discovery through technological experiences. Creating accessible works and events through which audiences with different levels of technical awareness can delve deeper into digital technologies that shape day-to-day experience.
Image: Courtesy of Compiler
A Vibe Called Tech is a creative agency established in 2018 by Charlene Prempeh to encourage the application of a culturally diverse lens in design, technology, arts, and culture by spearheading partnerships, events, research, and workshops across London.
Since its establishment in 2018, A Vibe Called Tech has worked with brands such as Gucci, Stine Goya, Faber, Frieze and institutions like Whitechapel Gallery, White Cube, RA and V&A East to deliver ambitious creative output that nourishes communities. For the talk at Blessed Foundation, Charlene Prempeh will be joined by AVCT’s Creative Director Lewis Dalton Gilbert, to focus on the imperative of telling lesser-known stories in an accurate and credible way.
Image: Courtesy of Serwah Attafuah for WePresent x A Vibe Called Tech
Don Hanson is a designer, electronic musician and Internet artist known for creating experimental websites and establishing New Art City, the virtual art space for digital exhibitions. His work has been featured in the New York Times, Art in America, SXSW, and CBC radio. He lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
New Art City is an artist-run virtual space founded in 2020 and led by Don Hanson and Sammie Veeler. Their browser-based tool for building 3D multiplayer websites supports a vibrant global community of artists, educators, and institutions. As an artist-run company, New Art City is redistributive by design, transferring knowledge, space, money and visibility from those who have it to those who don't. This year, they formed a non-profit research unit called Virtual Access Lab in partnership with Gray Area San Francisco to further advance their goals of web accessibility and preservation of digital culture.
Image: courtesy of Don Hanson
Maja Smrekar is an award-winning artist and researcher. In her talk for Blessed Foundation, Smrekar focused on interspecies communication as a platform that allowed her to explore the imprint of ideology, media and technologies on human and non-human entities. Smrekar also addressed her fear of natural sciences paired with the intuitive connection with nature that formed her practice.
Smrekar used her work to speak on ecofeminism, inter-species relationships, posthumanism, technology, and ideology. In 2017, she received the Prix Ars Electronica - Golden Nica 2017 in the Hybrid Arts Category (Linz, Austria). In 2018, she was the recipient of the Prešeren Foundation Award, the highest award for artistic achievements of the Republic of Slovenia. In 2020 and 2021, she was the Science Breakthrough of the Year ﬁnalist within the Science in the Arts category of the Falling Walls Foundation and Berlin Science Week. She exhibited extensively, with over twenty solo and fifty group shows across the world.
Image: Maja Smrekar, Survival Kit for the Anthropocene - TRAILER, 2015, Photo by Borut Peterlin Produced by Aksioma Institute, Ljubljana, 2015, courtesy of the authors