At this moment in the 21st century, we see a new form of extractivism that is well underway: one that reaches into the furthest corners of the biosphere and the deepest layers of human cognitive and affective being. The stack behind contemporary technological systems goes well beyond the multi-layered ‘technical stack’ of data modelling, hardware, servers and networks. The full stack reaches much further into capital, labour and nature, and demands an enormous amount of each. This map and accompanying footnotes are one big messy assemblage of different concepts and ideas, assembled into one semi-coherent picture – or let us say, a map, a world view. The concepts presented are mostly represented here visually in the form of allegories. All of these allegories and concepts together, joined in the form of an assemblage, create a blueprint of a machine-like superstructure: a super allegory. In that sense what we have here is an almost fractal allegorical structure — an allegory within an allegory within an allegory.
Vladan Joler is an academic, researcher and artist whose work blends data investigations, counter-cartography, investigative journalism, writing, data visualisation, critical design and numerous other disciplines. He explores and visualises different technical and social aspects of algorithmic transparency, digital labour exploitation, invisible infrastructures and many other contemporary phenomena at the intersection between technology and society.
In 2018, in cooperation with Kate Crawford, he published Anatomy of an AI System, a large-scale map and long-form essay investigating the human labour, data and planetary resources required to build and operate an Amazon Echo device. A previous study of his, entitled Facebook Algorithmic Factory, included deep forensic investigations and visual mapping of the algorithmic processes and forms of exploitation behind the largest social network. Other studies that he authored and published in recent years by the independent research collective SHARE Lab, include research on information warfare, metadata analysis, browsing history exploitation, surveillance, and Internet architecture.
He has curated and organized numerous events and gatherings of Internet activists, artists and investigators, including SHARE events in Belgrade and Beirut. His artistic pre-history is rooted in media activism and game hacking.