Things I am involved with

The Influencing Machine – The Reader – You need a copy of this

Get yourself an early Christmas present and enjoy this exceptional reader which supports and develops themes of The Influencing Machine. In fact, get yourself six copies, as images from my website are wrapping the inside covers in six different ways. I’ve only seen a couple of preview copies, and it looks like it might be the last word in all things bot vs hand.

The Publication addresses the exhibition’s various questions, extending its focus to historical continuities and social contexts, with contributions by Geoffrey C. Bowker and Susan Leigh Star, Simone Brown, Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, Kashmir Hill, Lilly Irani, Lee Mackinnon, Tahani Nadim, Lucy Suchman, Cher Tan, and Neli Wagner.


The Influencing Machine at nGbK, Berlin – an update

The Influencing Machine at nGbK, Berlin – an update

Get along to this brilliant show if you’re in Berlin… Such great work, so perfectly installed – thank you to everyone at nGbK and the curatorial team of The Influencing Machine. What a belter to be involved with.

neue Gesellschaft
für bildende Kunst


The Influencing Machine

Saturday, 01 December 2018 — Sunday, 20 January 2019

Adress: nGbK, Oranienstraße 25, 10999 Berlin
Open: Daily 12:00-19:00, Wed-Fri 12:00-20:00

Entry: free
Organized by: neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst

(The exhibition is closed on 24, 25, 26 and 31 Dec 2018 as well as on 1 Jan 2019)

Artists: Anna Bromley, Kajsa Dahlberg, Egemen Demirci, Fabien Giraud & Raphaël Siboni, Fokus Grupa, Eva & Franco Mattes, Mimi Onouha & Mother Cyborg, Sascha Pohflepp & Chris Woebken, Tactical Tech, Jane Topping, Sarah Tripp, Clement Valla, Laura Yuile

Bots (from robot and Czech robota, socage, forced labor) are inconspicuous computer programs that perform tasks automatically.

Bots manipulate the masses, turn fake news into facts, supersede human labour, colonise our objects and lead us into temptation: Based on digital code, bots perform thousands of minute routines which supplement and at times displace human agency and labour, thus shaping virtual and analog structures. They are often given human features––names, voices, bodies on occasion. Yet even when remaining invisible, they are increasingly becoming part of our everyday.

The Influencing Machine examines these diffusions and formations. Clustered around a series of famous bots, the exhibition assembles contemporary artistic positions examining the automation and datafication of our life worlds and work environments. Here, bots are understood as socio-technical phenomena; their efficacies requiring and provoking novel and manifold relations and imaginations:

How do bots and data form politics? In what ways do they transform political orderings of participation, accountability and knowledge? Why do racist or sexist logics reproduce and intensify on digital platforms, social networks, and data-driven expert systems? What does it mean for the value of labour and, more generally, human agency if transactions, communication, and decisions are increasingly carried out by fully automated devices? Which cultural imaginations shape the design and function of human-machine interfaces?

The exhibition provides insights into the socio-material ecologies of this new influencing machine and seeks to problematize the figure of the bot beyond the dominant narratives of society and technology.

nGbK project group: Vladimir Čajkovac, Kristina Kramer, Bettina Lehmann, Sophie Macpherson, Tahani Nadim, Neli Wagner

Supported by the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, the Institute for European Ethnology, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and the Centre for Anthropological Research on Museums and Heritage(CARMAH) – especially Tahani Nadim, Juniorprofessor for Socio-cultural Anthropology and head of the Department Humanities of nature (MfN)



  The Influencing Machine
ISBN: 978-3-938515-74-7

Further Dates

30Friday, 30. November 2018, 19h
Opening: Exhibition
8Saturday, 08. December 2018, 16h
Guided tour: in the exhibition with the curators
13Thursday, 13. December 2018, 19h
Book launch: The Influencing Machine
29Saturday, 29. December 2018, 16h
Guided tour: in the exhibition with the curators
12Saturday, 12. January 2019, 16h
Guided tour: in the exhibition with the curators
19Saturday, 19. January 2019, 16h
Series of events: Bots and Politics
20Sunday, 20. January 2019, 16h
Series of events: Bots and Labour

Newspaper or (Memoirs of a Spacewoman)

Here’s the front page of Alex Hetherington’s Newspaper or (Memoirs of a Spacewoman), written in response to Peter (2014). It’s not a collaboration, this is all Alex, but I wrote a bit of text and choose the images. Contact Alex if you’re after hard copy…

All these images by Alex Hetherington.



She Was a Visitor – No.35 Project with Alex Hetherington

She Was a Visitor – No.35 Project with Alex Hetherington

Thank you to everyone who came along to She Was a Visitor, the last No. 35 project by Alex Hetherington. Alex used my work and imagery as a jumping off point, writing and designing a gorgeous text which was launched (in very limited edition) while we played around with, 

watched Peter, nou and Disaggregated Industries.

More on Alex’s work here.


Artist Talk – Moving Mountains Art in the Environment – Millom Palladium

Artist Talk – Moving Mountains Art in the Environment – Millom Palladium

Thank you to Moving Mountains artist and curator Irene Rogen, Phil of the vital Signal Film and Media, Frank (not Santa), Mary (who hung out with Norman Nicholson when she was a child!) and everyone who turned out of my talk in Millom the other week. Drinks were served and badges worn.

Jane Topping, Newspaper or (Memoirs of a Spacewoman) – A No. 35 Project – Opens 12-6pm 8th Dec. 2018

Jane Topping, Newspaper or (Memoirs of a Spacewoman) – A No. 35 Project – Opens 12-6pm 8th Dec. 2018

Consider yourself officially invited to Newspaper, a collaboration with Alex Hetherington – the last of his innovative No.35 projects in Stirling and a celebration of the entire series of shows, performances and films:
More on Alex and his numerous projects here:
The Influencing Machine – ngbk, Berlin – a secret peek…

The Influencing Machine – ngbk, Berlin – a secret peek…

Hi you,

I maybe shouldn’t share these images, which are merely mocks, but I’m too excited about the incredible work going on in Berlin, towards the ngbk* show The Influencing Machine. My work will be in the show, and in the associated publication.

The show is curated and made real by a working group consisting of Vladimir Cajkovac (curator), Kristina Kramer (translator and curator), Bettina Lehmann (curator), Sophie Macpherson (artist), Tahani Nadim (academic), and Neli Wagner (curator), plus all the good folk at ngbk.

Contributing artists include Anna Bromley, Kajsa Dahlberg, Egemen Demirci, Fabien Giraud & Raphaël Siboni, Fokus Grupa, Eva & Franco Mattes, Mimi Onouha & Mother Cyborg, Sascha Pohflepp & Chris Woebken, Tactical Tech, Jane Topping, Sarah Tripp, Clement Valla, Laura Yuile

The exhibition seeks to address recent debates on the manipulations of socio-political processes (particularly elections) by bots, automated processes programmed to interfere in online networks and communications. We are interested in extending the available vocabulary and imagination for talking and thinking about the phenomenon of “political bots” in a two-fold manner: Firstly, by focusing on the socio-material dimensions of “bots” (infrastructures, labour processes, historical narratives) and secondly, by suggesting that technologies such as bots are always already political, that is, they are the articulation of historically specific interests and positions.  (Tahani Nadim)

The Influencing Machine runs: December 1st  to January 20th. We should, like, totally go.

See also:

*The neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst (nGbK), founded with a grass-roots structure in 1969, is today one of Germany’s most significant and largest art societies. The unique structure of the nGbK enables its members to directly influence its thematic orientation: exhibitions, interventions, research projects, event series and publications are developed in interdisciplinary project groups. The nGbK has established itself as an innovative venue for contemporary art and exhibition production which has left its mark on generations of curators, artists and creatives, and whose experimental exhibition concepts count as path-breaking. They have provided important impetus and continue to engage with relevant socio-political topics. Themes such as racism, National Socialism and urban politics are negotiated time and again, with a further focus placed on (post)migrant, (post)colonial and gender issues. 
Big Store (1999 or 2000)

Big Store (1999 or 2000)

Just found this blast from the very, VERY distant past. I made Big Store in 1999 as part of Nicola Atkinson-Griffith’s Bulkhead project. It was my first work after graduating from GSA and I got to show with far superior artists Justin Carter, Jess Worrall and Rob Kennedy.

It’s excruciating to read this interview – yet I post it here. Curious.

Bulkhead Interview

More on Nadfly and Bulkhead here.

Here’s the text… Around this time I was jealous of friends who worked part time in Habitat. And I thought that there was no ‘alternative to capitalist realism’. How depressing, sorry MF.

The BIG STORE will contain Topping’s own branded goods with their inherent relationship to a climate of consumer wish fulfillment. It is here, in a reclaimed retail space, where people could potentially find all their needs satisfied just by looking and touching. Objects/signs have been demystified and pared down to their most basic form mirroring the appetite of the consumer. For it is strange how the sign/object power is constantly lost as it is consumed. An illusion, not a shop or an artist’s shop, but an unsettling environment which is almost recognised by the viewer as familiar.


Nicola Atkinson – Griffith Bulkhead Creative Director : I’d like to talk about how this particular work began.

Jane Topping: I’d already done a stunted version of what this will be, a lo – fi version, about a year ago. I wanted to create something that would reference the everyday. People would recognise what it was, people would understand that it was a shop, a commercial enterprise as far as they could see. But at the same time, it was to be perfectly obvious that, while the shop was branded and for all purposes it looked like a shop, the things in the shop were to be useless but still desirable. I want to create a need in the passing public, to create the same emotions you would get if you were passing Habitat, and yet, for you to realise while you’re experiencing these emotions that they are completely redundant.

N: If you wish these objects to be useless, is this how you feel art is perceived in society, as useless? Or is it the notion of how people don’t acknowledge their consumer desires and understand their relationship to them?

J: Its more the latter. I’m trying to discuss the way that people are not aware that they’re being sold the same product over and over again with a kind of myth of personalisation and creating your own personality, or showing your own personality to other people by buying what is essentially a mass marketed product. Its more about that and less about art being multiples. I think this is why I’ve had trouble explaining to people what I’m doing, because the pieces that will be supposedly for sale aren’t art, in my world.

N: In terms of art and defining it, you’re treading dangerous territory by saying that they’re objects that are aesthetic in a certain way but in a sense are useless – is that the dilemma of it?

J: Yes, because they’re useless but they’re not useless in the way a painting would be, without function, but as a symbol of you’re desire.

N: But then they’re not useless. Because in a sense you are investing, as an individual, into the actual object.

J: True. But most things you buy would not be essentially useless, like these things are. They’re being branded as some kind of electronic, hi-tec line. It’s not a trainer, there’s a use for a trainer, or a vase.

N: Wouldn’t that be a metaphor for art, the idea that they are objects which are useless, because in a sense they are not practical functional objects. Making an object which is a stereo, for example, that doesn’t work but looks great.

J: But that’s not the same as having a painting that looks great. The painting just by existing has a use, whereas the things I’m selling promise a use that isn’t there.

N: And what will they be promising?

J: I’m hoping that will be as wide open as possible. I’m hinting at a lifestyle at the high end of the market. An improvement of the quality of life by buying this object. It doesn’t hint at anything as specific as music. It hints at technology and at a new industry but isn’t specific

N: How will I be convinced, as I’m going there to the shop, that you are selling something if you’re only hinting. How can you hint at something and not grasp it.

J: You’ll grasp it because of the context. You’ll be aware you’re in some kind of showroom, that the products are there to be looked at. There will be advertising literature as well, to thumb through. There will be clues here that will make you understand what is being marketed.

N: And what are those clues?

J: There’s the brand itself – a logo without a name, which I’ve hopefully made as ominous as possible. This will spark off ideas in the viewer about what is being sold. The logo is the first point of sale.

N: Is that something you’ve observed in other things?

J: Yeah, that it has completely taken over. Consumerism has been taken to an extreme and productivity isn’t important anymore. The brand name is everything and the product is incidental. It creates a facade where you can sell anything with a name; put a swoosh on anything and people will buy it. People are wearing silver swooshes round their necks, that is absolutely the same thing, uselessness.

N: Why is it useless?

J: I guess when I say useless, I mean it’s been taken so far away from the original product. The swoosh sells the trainer but of course it sells the brand and the facade.

N: A corporate identity in a sense. I’m interested in that notion – the view of uselessness how you’ve personally did arrived at. But also, I’m interested in how, personally, you arrived at this philosophy, where does it come from?

J: I think its the hopelessness of it all. Demos are happening in Prague – it’s a noble cause. But how do you even start to discuss the idea of disbanding capitalism or changing things? I just get the feeling that its hopeless. We’ve gone so far down the line that there’s no way we can get out of this completely homogenised system of signs. We’ve got everything we need, yet we’re still buying things. I’m as guilty of it as everyone else. I love my stereo to the point where its the most important thing in my room. It’s ancient but it’s got its own personality. I can feel myself getting overawed by it all, just as everyone else. I’m not sure I want to give it up, that I want to go back. You can argue that you can’t get a decent coffee in McDonalds, but you always know what you’re getting – is that always a bad thing? I’m still not sure about that. I’m annoyed at myself for participating but I can’t see any way of not.

N: So this work is, on a personal note, almost your conflict between being drawn and consuming, having lovely new things and your feeling of alienation and not keeping up with what it demands from you.

J: Yes, and the shame you feel of loving Ikea furniture. Look – it’s so well designed and it’s affordable too. That’s what they want you to do. 

Matter Matters – 2nd Nov. The Millom Palladium from 6.30pm

Matter Matters – 2nd Nov. The Millom Palladium from 6.30pm

I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with Mark Vernon on a new video work, Disaggregated Industries, commissioned by the Moving Mountains Festival. It’s screening in an installation alongside sculptural work by Irene Logan and a choral piece by Kris Wilkinson Hughes at The Millom Palladium on 2nd Nov. 2018, form 6.30. You should come along…

The video is a response to Millom, from our outsider’s POV and is, like so much great sci-fi, set, at least in part, in a quarry. Featuring Cthulhu, Bowie, conveyor belts and a toad…

nou is a semi-finalist at the Australian Independent Film Festival 2018

nou is a semi-finalist at the Australian Independent Film Festival 2018

Smashing to find that the AIFF has had its interest piqued by nou (2018), but can I get to Brisbane based on this, relatively flimsy, excuse..?