Embraced In The Loving Arms of an Algorithm – v1.1
Embraced In The Loving Arms of an Algorithm – v1.1

Embraced In The Loving Arms of an Algorithm – v1.1

Zachary Doney, Grace Gamage, Adelphie He, Billie Rankin

Curated by Jon Smeathers

12 April–18 May

Contemporary Art Tasmania

“All models are wrong, but some are useful”
–George Box

A speculative project centralised around the generation of a curatorial algorithm.

The ubiquitous integration of algorithmic structures within contemporary society has given rise  to an emergent phenomenon known as algorithmic culture. This cultural paradigm is changing the contours of society through its control logics and statistical governance that is resulting in a re-synthesis of human oriented sociocultural attributes. In the realm of creative practices, this entrenchment of algorithmic structures has introduced a transformative shift, fundamentally altering the landscape of aesthetic discernment, artistic curation and causing an amplification of data extractivism. The ability of an algorithm to undertake intensive cyclical learning approaches, to analyse evolving variations of data sets at light speed alongside the computational indifference in binary problem-solving is imposing a technological decisionism while also becoming a conduit for thinking through curatorial methodologies that escapes previous human orientated limitations.

The algorithmic paradigmatic shift in curatorial methods fosters a departure from traditional, taste-driven methodologies that often perpetuate elitist conceptions of artistic value or contain vast knowledge gaps. Not without its systemic problems, algorithmic curation enables guiding principles to transcend conventional aesthetic canons and groupings, subvert decision making processes, an ability to alter ingrained bias’ and has the potential to show us something outside an individual humanalogue perspective. Although, does an algorithmic curation operate with care or simply does it value making a clear decision quickly more so than it does a thoughtful one?

Four artists from across Australia have been invited to become ghost workers* in a research group that will critically analyse the sociocultural implications of algorithmic structures and build a model for exhibition making. Discussion topics will include ethics, labour considerations, potential biases, and techniques for data reduction within algorithmic curation. Based on the collective insights garnered from these discussions, the algorithm will learn to embody and emulate the embedded categorisation processes of the four individuals alongside the collective’s perceptual boundaries and their modes of engagement within gallery-based sociotechnology infrastructure.

The algorithm’s dataset will be drawn from interactions across the project’s lifespan including, but not limited to, private meetings, internal documents, image drops and a public chat forum. The resulting algorithm will: produce a complex model for considering each artists mode of engagement within specific exhibition conditions; offer an apparatus for an audience to see how an algorithm can distinguish the unique qualities of an artist; and, produce a generalised curatorial framework for future exhibitions that will materialise participants cognitive bias and decision-making processes even after their death.

A chat group will be utilised by the artists/ ghost workers for testing out and constructing datasets. The chat group will be updated on an ad-hoc basis. All data entered will be embedded into the algorithmic dataset. The impact will vary depending on the weighting / filtration systems developed throughout the project.

*A ghost worker is a human who performs short-term tasks on demand, anonymously, through automated platforms and the work is disguised as being automated. Artist names have been redacted to keep in line with the anonymity of a ghost worker.


This project is developed through the CAT Curatorial Mentorship Program. Guest mentor: Amy Ireland.

Zachary Doney is a healthcare worker living in Naarm/ Melbourne. He is active in the anti-war and labour movements and a foundational member of the Renters and Housing Union (RAHU). Recent activity includes: ‘Not just a lockdown hobby’: the making of the Renters and Housing Union, interview, Overland Literary Journal; an address to the Senate Select Committee on the Cost of Living, as a “witness participant” aka normal person; and contributions to Alternative News, a programme on 3CR Community Radio.

Grace Gamage is an interdisciplinary artist, farmer and boxing coach. Over the past decade, Grace has presented artwork nationally and internationally, often through ephemeral and conceptual installations. In 2020 Grace co-founded Broom & Brine with Dylan Lehmann. At this small no-till market garden located at Allens Rivulet in Lutruwita/ Tasmania, Grace and Dylan implement organic farming practices, cultivating vegetables, fruits, culinary and medicinal herbs, all the while habitually queering the economics of the farm from the field, into the household. Grace is a boxing coach at Hobart Boxing and teaches the old-school Soviet style.

Adelphie He is a multi-disciplinary artist who resides in Nipaluna/ Hobart. Adelphie’s artworks are brought to life through energetic doodles and characters that enable them to navigate and depict their playful, subversive universe. Grounded in their Chinese heritage, their art acts as a gentle rebellion against authoritarian-dictated gender roles and societal norms, breathing life into their light-hearted narratives. Adelphie has led workshops including Imaginative Character Design, Kindred and Fabric dying with Adelphie, Youth Arc, both Hobart. Exhibitions include Bridal Sedan Chair, Moonah Arts Centre and Icky Sticky Wonder, Good Grief, Hobart, Tasmania.

Billie Rankin is an educator, artist, and facilitator living on Melukerdee country in Lutruwita/ Tasmania. Their practice focuses on emergent processes with particular attention towards social actions of care and relationships. Through play and process-oriented making, their work challenges normative assumptions of relationality, community and ecology, expanding the imaginative potential of what could be. Recent projects: Feral Art School, Cygnet, Tasmania; THNX 4 NOTHING, a performance co-created with Davina Wright, Tasmania; and Dissolving Labels, a youth dance work co-written and performed by DRILL Dance Company, with creative director Isabella Stone, and artistic leads Davina Wright and Billie Rankin, Tasmania.

Amy Ireland is a writer and theorist best known for her work with the technomaterialist transfeminist collective, Laboria Cuboniks, whose Xenofeminism: A Politics for Alienation (Verso, 2018) has been translated into 18 languages. She has published widely in contemporary art journals and magazines, including Art + Australia, Southerly, Runway Experimental Art, Rabbit, e-flux, and Flash Art, and her poetry and performance work has been included in exhibitions such as the 20th Biennale of Sydney, London’s Barbican Centre’s ‘AI: More than Human’, and the 2021 Athens Biennale. She is an editor and translator for UK-based publisher and arts organisation, Urbanomic.

Jon Smeathers is a composer, sound and installation artist based in Nipaluna/ Hobart. Jon has exhibited and performed both internationally and across Australia, including: at Soft Centre, Serralves em Festa, Portugal; Melbourne Festival; NOW Now Festival, Sydney; and Dark Mofo and Mona Foma, Hobart. His work taps into the potential of algorithmic displacement, codecs and remix culture to enable a reimagination of one’s spectral and rhythmic currents. Jon Smeathers is the recipient of the CAT Curatorial Mentorship (2023/2024) which includes a studio.

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