Theory — 2 Dec 2018

This afternoon program is the second iteration of the Vertical Atlas series and focuses on Russia and its techno-cultural traditions. The event is organized by Benjamin Bratton, Arthur Steiner, Klaas Kuitenbrouwer and Leonardo Dellanoce.
Museumticket + €3
Teijin Auditorium
2 Dec 2018, 3 pm until 5.30 pm
Main language

Vertical Atlas is a research project aimed at the creation of a new atlas to navigate the complex techno-geographies of the world today. During Vertical Atlas, five geographic zones will be explored and re-mapped, focusing on the technological and political borders, connections and frictions within them. The public talks will take place at Het Nieuwe Instituut on Thursday evenings and selected events will be held at the Stedelijk Museum, followed by research labs in Amsterdam. Prominent voices in art, design, policy-making, law, and technology will be invited to challenge the current maps and to draw new ones. The result of these efforts will be documented and published in a book.

Image by Kevin Bray
Image by Kevin Bray

Vertical Atlas applies the conceptual model of the Stack, as laid out by Benjamin Bratton, to actual geographies in order to unravel the mesh of intertwined conflicts among powers and sovereignties at different locations. With its different functional layers, the Stack is a way of schematizing and investigating the accidental megastructure of technological developments on a planetary scale. Applying the Stack model reveals materialized techno-politics that remain hidden under current – predominantly economic, technocratic or cultural – modes of understanding geopolitics.

During “From Malevich to Telegram” we will delve into the cultural, artistic, philosophical and technological traditions that shaped the current interface of the Russian stack. In the West, Russian technological developments are mostly associated with the interference in the 2016 American presidential election, cyber warfare attacks and the dissemination of disinformation and propaganda, and internet surveillance. However, the history of Russian technology goes far beyond propaganda trolls and electoral hacks. As a matter of fact, the internet could have been Russian. In the Soviet Union, ideas and designs for a nationwide cybernetic network had already been developed in the late 1950s, inspired by a long tradition of artistic and philosophical speculations about the possibilities of technology. Cultural movements like Cosmism, Suprematism and Constructivism (and their experimentation with metaphysical models derived from mathematics and mysticism in particular) informed these techno-scientific developments in unexpected ways.


Welcome and introduction by Benjamin Bratton 
Talk by Benjamin Peters
Talk by Ksenia Fedorova
Panel discussion and Q&A with Peters, Fedorova, Tatarchenko and Metahaven.
Screening of The Communist Revolution was Caused by the Sun (2015) by Anton Vidokle


Benjamin Bratton

Benjamin Bratton is Associate Professor of Visual Arts and Director of The Center for Design and Geopolitics at the University of California, San Diego. He is also Professor of Digital Design at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. He is a sociologist, architecture and design theorist who is well known for combining philosophical and aesthetic research, organisation planning and strategy, and for his publications on the cultural consequences of digitalisation and globalisation. In The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty (MIT Press, 2016) Bratton outlines a new theory for the age of global computation and algorithmic governance.

Ksenia Fedorova

Ksenia Fedorova (PhD) is a media and media art researcher and curator. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Art and Image History at Humboldt University in Berlin, working on a manuscript of her book Tactics of Interfacing. Encoding affect in Art and Technology. She is the co-editor of Media: Between Magic and Technology (2014, in Russian) and the author of articles in Leonardo Electronic Almanac, Media & Culture Journal, Acoustic Space, Dialog of Arts and other journals and edited volumes. In 2007-2011, she was an initiator and curator of the “Art. Science. Technology” program at the Ural branch of the National Center for Contemporary Arts (Ekaterinburg, RU). Ksenia’s research interests encompass media art theory and history, aesthetics, philosophy, techno-culture, science and technology studies and Russian studies, as well as visual culture and curatorial studies, with a specific focus on the effects of new technologies on human perception and interaction.

Benjamin Peters

Benjamin Peters is an author and media scholar. He is the author of How Not to Network a Nation: the Uneasy History of the Soviet Internet (MITP and winner of the 2017 Vucinich Prize, a 2017 PROSE notable mention, and the 2018 Computer History Museum award) and editor of Digital Keywords: A Vocabulary of Information Society & Culture (Princeton UP and a finalist for the Suzanne K. Langer award). An Associate Professor of Media Studies at the University of Tulsa and an affiliated fellow at the Information Society Project at Yale Law School, he is currently working on the stupid history of smart media in the global North. See more about his work at

Anton Vidokle

Anton Vidokle is an artist and editor of e-flux journal. He was born in Moscow and lives in New York and Berlin. Vidokle’s work has been exhibited internationally at Documenta 13 and the 56th Venice Biennale. Vidokle’s films have been presented at Bergen Assembly, Shanghai Biennale, the 65th and 66th Berlinale International Film Festival, Forum Expanded, Gwangju Biennale, Centre Pompidou, Tate Modern, Garage Museum, Istanbul Biennial, Haus der Kulturen der Welt and others.

Ksenia Tatarchenko

Ksenia Tatarchenko is a lecturer at the Global Studies Institute, Geneva University, specializing in the history of Russian science and technology. She has held positions as a visiting Assistant Professor of History at NYU Shanghai and a post-doctoral fellow at the Harriman Institute, Columbia. She was affiliated with the EUSP project “Russian Computer Scientists Abroad.” Most broadly, she studies questions of knowledge circulation to situate Soviet developments in the global context. Her publications reconstruct the formation of the Socialist Information Society from multiple perspectives, such as discipline consolidation, education initiatives, hobbyist communities, and gender issues.


The work of Metahaven consists of filmmaking, writing,design, and installations, and is united conceptually by interests in poetry,storytelling, digital superstructures, and propaganda. Films by Metahaveninclude The Sprawl (Propaganda about Propaganda) (2015), InformationSkies (2016), Possessed (2018, with RobSchröder), Hometown (2018) and Eurasia (Questions onHappiness) (2018). Publications include Digital Tarkovsky (2018), PSYOP (2018), BlackTransparency (2015) and Uncorporate Identity (2010). Theirwork is screened, published, and exhibited worldwide.