[artinfo] Institute of Patent Infringement: open call

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Fri Mar 2 00:47:34 CET 2018

Institute of Patent Infringement

Open call

February 19-April 16, 2018

Dutch Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

As part of the extended programme of the theme of this year Dutch 
Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, WORK, BODY, LEISURE
The Institute of Patent Infringement
is concerned with the existing legal infrastructure that allows "Big 
Tech" a stranglehold on questions surrounding automation, both today 
and in the future.

As we go through an "AI spring" we've seen a gold rush to patent 
radically new forms of automated environments, driven through 
advances in deep learning and combined with increases in big data, 
machine-learning algorithms, computer processing power and cloud 
technology. Yet, while companies like Microsoft or Apple tinker with 
endless patent variations on consumer products, it's Amazon, with 
their own brands of automated futurism, which seem intent on merging 
processes of machine learning with principles of spatial organisation.

Since 2010, Amazon Technologies Inc. has filed 5,860 patents that 
range from the seemingly banal to the resolutely absurd. Illustrated 
by dry line drawings these patents provide a glimpse and 
representation of the automated future Amazon aim to create. The 
implications of this are broad. Amazon look set to define future 
typologies, bypassing the input of traditional professions. To take 
an example, management modules indicated in Amazon's patents, can now 
map space more effectively than a surveyor, produce floor layouts to 
be more efficient than an architect and oversee retail facilities 
more productively than a retail manager.

An obsession with efficiency has further led to the quantifiable 
worker, seen through countless patents for technology that monitors 
and evaluate workers. But the scope of the quantified body goes far 
beyond this, and as patents for human RFID tags suggest, Amazon are 
equally at home with the technology transferred to the general 
public. Put another way, Amazon's broad ambitions, seen through their 
patents, affect us both as practitioners and also as citizens.

Underlying this is the wider practice of intellectual property 
protection and patenting rights used as a means to define the 
direction of automation. It is a process that has proved an essential 
weapon in technology companies' growth strategies and key to their 
monopolistic dominance over the last twenty years.

Intellectual property today is a complex web of international 
treaties, patent laws, institutions and steering committees that 
serve to create a legal infrastructure enclosing and privatizing 
knowledge. International legislation including the TRIPS Agreement 
and Patent Law Treaty has produced a closed framework that allows 
multinationals a monopoly on technological development. Exploiting 
this legal framework, Amazon's patent filings over the last seven 
years can be seen as a concerted effort to own both the digital and 
physical infrastructure of our unfolding landscapes of automation.

Open call
To negate this top-down and closed system, The Institute of Patent 
Infringement thus invites submissions from students, industrial 
designers, architects, urban planners, artists, programmers and the 
wider public to merge, reimagine, infringe and hack existing Amazon 

The crux of the open call is to emphasise the radical and 
emancipatory potential inherent in these new technologies assembled 
by Amazon. To reveal this potential, submissions may chose to 
challenge: the hyper individualised and consumption based nature of 
Amazon's wider patent filings; the emphasis on efficiency and 
quantification through data collection inherent in these new 
technological regimes; labour, social relations and the role of 
automation within this; the relationship with nature and the 
environment; unequal global processes of production and distribution; 
and the affect of these technologies on everyday life.

For more information on the open call, including submission 
guidelines and to download supplementary material, please see the 

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