The Stack by Guillaume Slizewicz
Werktank & IMPAKT Residency
The artistic intention of the project titled “The Stack” rests on a personal exploration of the multiple layers of understanding and creation in the field of digital arts. The title of the work, borrowed both from engineering jargon and Benjamin Bratton’s theory, illustrates the overlay of knowledge and experiences necessary to produce a digital artwork.
In my personal journey, this quest for “artistic purity”, this desire to reach the very heart of digital creation, often collided with a reality: that of increasing complexity and the impossibility of grasping all aspects of current technologies. “The Stack” is my attempt to convey this introspection. It’s a journey through different layers, breaking down our technological advances from our primitive understanding of atoms and electricity to the complex symbolism of printed circuits. This represents how, in my view, we’ve progressively tried to decode and make sense of these concepts, navigating between simplicity and complexity, understanding and mystery.
At every step of my practice, I tried to get closer to the source, to demystify the tools I use, to understand their foundations. Yet, as I delved deeper, I realized that behind each layer of understanding is another layer, even deeper and more complex. This quest for knowledge, sometimes counterproductive and absurd, inspired “The Stack”. The piece serves as an allegory for this endless layering of knowledge, techniques, and understandings. Each layer of “The Stack” embodies a step in this reflection. Starting with the basics, each layer represents a growing depth in the quest for understanding, symbolizing the learning and deconstruction process many artists, including myself, undergo.
Beyond this technical deconstruction is a reflection on what it means to be a creator in the digital age. In a time where technology is rapidly evolving, where access to knowledge is a click away, and where “just in time learning” thrives, what is the true value of mastery? “The Stack” seeks to ask these questions, all while celebrating the beauty of the quest itself.
Choosing the term “The Stack” for this project is not trivial, and it holds particular resonance in computer engineering culture and theoretical discourses on technology. In the world of computing, a “full stack” developer is someone capable of working on all layers of technologies involved in a project, from database management to the user interface. This term illustrates the need to understand and interact with a complex series of superimposed layers that form our technological infrastructure. On the other hand, in a theoretical context, “The Stack” also refers to Benjamin Bratton’s work, where he explores the architecture and geopolitics of contemporary technological systems. This dual meaning offers reflection on the inherent complexity of the systems we use daily, highlighting the many layers of abstraction and levels of expertise needed to navigate our digitized world. This name also alludes to our interdependencies: we create standing on the shoulders of giants, benefiting from knowledge shaped by others. It’s also a nod to Joseph Henrich’s ‘The Secret of Our Success’, wherein he explains that humanity’s prosperity lies in the ability to generate and transmit new knowledge.
The artwork “The Stack” aims to illustrate this complexity, shedding light on the overlay of layers and inviting viewers to contemplate their interplay and impact in our lives.