About the part that art plays in a globalising society

Framer Framed

13 Apr 2019
15:00 - 17:00

Digital Histories in Africa: Ancient binary code, earth and the future

“[…] now billions of Earthlings carry little bits of Africa around with them in their pockets” Benjamin Bratton

When talking about technology and its cultural impact, the American-led internet and Silicon Valley are always taken as the global technological standard. This disregards important parallel histories of technological development in different regions across the world, that are shaping the future of digital technologies. From ancient divination systems to contemporary science parks, African cultures have been pioneering and producing algorithmic thinking through arts and crafts for centuries already.

For this session of Vertical Atlas, guest speakers Tegan Bristow, Oulimata Gueye, and Moses Serubiri are invited to interrogate, challenge, and implement digital realities of several regions in Africa, exploring material extractions, old knowledge networks and local cosmologies through music and art.

About Vertical Atlas

Vertical Atlas is a research project aimed at the creation of a new atlas to navigate the complex techno-geographies of the world today. The project focuses on 5 extended ‘geozones’: trans-continental regions that defy conventional focus on states and common cartographical logics: Europe, Russia, China, the Persian/Arabian Gulf and Africa. Each geozone has its own set of frictions and fractures among political, economic and algorithmic sovereignties.The project is developed through a series of public talks and research labs that will take place in 2018 and 2019.

This project is initiated by Benjamin Bratton, Leonardo Dellanoce, Arthur Steiner and Klaas Kuitenbrouwer, and is developed and produced by Het Nieuwe Instituut and Hivos Digital Earth. Tegan Bristow is a guest of the International Visitors Program of Het Nieuwe Instituut.


Vertical Atlas is not only a research project, but also a publication. The atlas has been produced by a group of more than 50 international designers, architects and academics from different disciplines, from more than 20 countries spanning all continents. The physical publication presents a series of newly commissioned maps by international designers and visual artists in new forms, including urban plans, data visualisation and cartographical works. Visual pieces are presented alongside texts in the form of articles and essays by prominent voices in architecture, design and academia and beyond. Together, they compile a compelling and groundbreaking publication that changes the ways in which space, technology and geopolitics are discussed today.

The digital publication will be an online source providing digital representations that exist as narrative interfaces. The narrative interfaces will correlate aggregated data produced by ESA satellites with other data sources, resulting in dynamic representations of unfolding environmental, urban, infrastructural and other techno-political processes. Unlike the printed elements, this part of Vertical Atlas will be dynamic and continuously display unfolding narratives.

The publication Vertical Atlas is for sale at Framer Framed and Artez Press

Extractivism / Politics and technology /


Arthur Steiner

Arthur Steiner

Art historian

Serubiri Moses

Writer and curator

Tegan Bristow

Oulimata Gueye