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the purple state

On election night, UB students have the opportunity to learn about the impact of social media on our democratic process

The Purple State

Techne Institute for Art and Emerging Technologies
Center for the Arts, SUNY at Buffalo, North Campus
November 8, 2016
8:00pm – midnight
Free and open to the public

You are invited to The Purple State, a time-specific event marking the American Presidential Elections. Produced by The Techne Institute, it will take place at the Center for the Arts, UB North Campus on November 8th, 2016 from 8:00 pm until midnight.

As a minimal condition for democracy, elections remain at the core of the democratic ritual. However, participation in social media, especially by younger generations, does not automatically lead to an increased participation in this ritual (the voting process) or to the expression of constructed alternatives.

The Purple State explores the impact of social media on elections, voter behaviors, and the polarization of perceptions and ideas. By linking algorithm and affects, social media may be changing the « atmosphere of democracy » (Bruno Latour). If the Purple State describes swing States, the event itself probes the indeterminate condition of a democracy when voters’ behaviors become algorithmically driven.

The Purple State will feature:

  • The Great Walls, a performance directed by Eli Commins, is based on a workshop with the students of the Cultural Production class of the UB Arts Management graduate program.
  • The Fascinum, an installation, and Human Browser, a performance by Christophe Bruno
  • DisSocial Media, an exhibit designed by Nikolaus Wasmoen. The exhibit features data mined from social media which is recreated as a series of remixed, live feeds.
  • A performance by Igor Vamos of the Yes Men, based on a Yes Lab workshop with participants from UB.

A discussion panel will be held on November 11th at 4:00pm in the Screening Room of the CFA followed by a live digital performance by artist Valerie Cordy.

The Artists:

Eli Commins is a writer and director of live performances. He creates and stages non-linear, transformable texts that are usually an exploration of digital culture. Over the past years, he has devised a series of performances based on social networks (Redoubt, Breaking / Iran, Miranda Warning), a textual map where the audience bends a narrative’s emotional states (Writing Spaces), immersive experiences, an opera, and, more recently, a serial sent via text-messages.

Christophe Bruno lives and works in Paris. He began his artistic activity in 2001. His polymorphic work (Internet pieces, installations, hacks, performances, conceptual pieces, drawing, sculpture…) has a critical take on network phenomena and globalization in the field of language and images. He divides his time between his artistic activity, curating, teaching and research, lectures and publications.

Nikolaus Wasmoen is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University at Buffalo, where he leads digital humanities workshops as well as and teaches classes on modernist literature, media studies, and the digital humanities. He also serves as Technical Director of the Marianne Moore Digital Archive.

Igor Vamos is a multimedia artist, leading member of The Yes Men, and an associate professor of media arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

This event was organized with the collaboration of Faculty members and students from the Art Department, Media Study Department, English Department, and Political Science Department with the creative input and organizational support of the students of the Arts Management Program at UB.


Director Franck Bauchard

Techne Institute for Art and Emerging Technologies