Ground Truth: The Migration Machine

| Workshop | Saturday 28 November, 2015 | Furtherfield Commons |

A day-long workshop, led by independent curators and researchers Dani Admiss and Cecilia Wee, looking at how we are locked-into contemporary conditions that bring migration into being.

The workshop challenges participants to expand and rethink what potential responses to migration could be, creatively and beyond. How can we work with the technologies associated with migration (and their social effects) to inform and enact virtual mobility and cultural activism?

Thinking through ideas of art and social change, the day aims to unpick the abstract forces, the limited means we have to communicate them, and the dependency on automation, simulation, and capture to tell us the ‘truth’, but which escapes the importance of lived experience.

Over the course of a day we will produce a collaborative map that creatively challenges and proposes new ways of thinking about experiences of migration. The day will end with a collaborative mapping exercise harvesting ideas and narratives from the day, which will be turned into a mini-publication to be publicly distributed, a record of collectively working together over a day.

Why we are doing it

As we come closer to COP21 in Paris, and in light of the recent media attention depicting an exodus of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants into Europe, we see that complex flows of power interlink fields of life like security, finance, health, climate and governance in contemporary globalisation, producing barriers to all forms of mobility. We propose that ‘technologies of migration’ instantiate themselves a new type of border, often geographically displaced and abstracted from our physical experiences of mobility. These technologies are subjects of social engineering, residing in websites and interview rooms, as well as more immediately perceivable ‘arrival infrastructures’ of e-border and immigration detention centres. Governments continue to seek ways to measure the political into policy. Expert devices, such as civic integration examinations, speech recognition technology, or European databanks of asylum seekers’ biometric data, map the phenomena of migration and mobility into knowledge practices, incorporating them into risk profiles and evidence-based strategies. For better of worse, the current migration controversy highlights the fundamentally problematic challenges to a humanist relationship to data and information.

‘The Migrant Machine’ is part of a broader research project, Ground Truth: an investigation into changing relations of how we come to see, sense and survey our world. Based on groundtruthing, the calibration process used by scientists and cartographers to anchor the map or model to the data collected from the reality of lived-experience, the project aims to think beyond mapping as a responsive but singular tool of resistance and collaboration and towards being-in-the-world as a continual form of responsibility and entanglement.