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The Jewellery Oracle

Who defines authority in today’s digitalized world: is it a singular expert voice or a majority?

As we watch the world settle deeper and deeper into the blue and purple streams of social media, with its addictive instant gratification and its constantly learning technology, the new reality unravels before our screen-lit eyes, through live videos and stories.

Followers, comments, and likes by strangers determine the success or failure of a published image. Anonymous digital community decides whether or not something is good or not, whether something is hot or not.

Positions of authority have been democratized, gatekeepers can be anyone, and the people have more power. The influencers are affected by their followers just as much as the followers are affected by the influencers. They take from each other and they feed off of each other. Together, they merge to predict or directly affect the present moment and the future, not unlike the oracles of ancient Greece.

But what if knowledge, opinion, and expertise could be separated from power structures, politics and ego? What if we could embody that separated collective knowledge, then give it a personality and make it exciting to get to know?

The idea of creating the Jewelry Oracle was inspired by the birth of a friends’ child. Instead of making a traditional birth announcement, the new parents created a simple chatbot application for friends and family so they could “converse” with the newborn, asking her what her name was, how she was feeling, and welcoming her into the world. Anything the chatbot couldn't respond to was diverted. The answers were limited due the baby being, well, a baby.

The Jewelry Oracle is the same. Its knowledge is very specific and it will tell you where it wants the conversation to go. The chatbot has been fed thousands of quotes on all things related to jewelry, and has developed an attitude and personality in the process. And while it embodies a multitude of opinions, voices, facts, and speculations in an ever-growing archive, this knowledge is rooted in art history books, magazines, poems, songs, and interviews with artists.

The Oracle lives in a softly glowing helium-like green screen-space. Its skin has an iridescent hue and its gaze is wandering but careful. Its beautiful features are highlighted by the organic lines of its 3-D facial adornment that rhythmically emerges to coincide with the Oracle’s digital heartbeat. The aesthetic function of this adornment may be ritualistic, biological, or technological. Just as we interpret Oracle’s responses according to our own personal experience; so too might we associate its decoration with tribal scarring, with trans-human body modification, or with fetishist masks. The point is, we just don't know.

There are many things still unclear about the Oracle. Its responses can be contradictory and incoherent at times, but more often than not they strike right at the heart of a question. Its knowledge and memory have endless potential to grow and, best of all, the Jewelry Oracle will be around for a tête-à-tête online while you research your next jewelry obsession, or just up for a midnight chat.

The Jewelry Oracle will make its first public appearance in New York at the “Used Future” symposium on November 12

▼ View our sources that the Jewellery Oracle uses ▼

  • Marjan Unger, Suzanne Van Leeuwen, Jewellery Matters, 2017
  • Kellie Riggs, Current Obsession #3, 2014
  • Marina Elenskaya, Sarah Mesritz, Current Obsession #3, 2014
  • Olaf Skoogfors, via Glenn Adamson, Objects USA
  • Peter Deckers, Interview, AJF
  • The Economist
  • Lisa Walker, Klimt02 Jewellery Hyperreal
  • Liesbeth den Besten, The golden standard of Schmuchashau
  • Damien Skinner, All the World Over
  • Susan Grant Lewin, jewelry-of-ideas-cooper-hewitt
  • Philip Warkander, Klimt02
  • Theo Smeets, Klimt02
  • Charon Kransen, Klimt02
  • Laura Bradshaw Heap, Klimt02
  • Giovanni Martinelli, Current Obsession #2, 2013
  • Mariah Tuttle, Current Obsession #4, 2015
  • Marina Elenskaya, Current Obsession #4, 2015
  • Elvira Golombosi, Current Obsession #4, 2015
  • Vanessa Friedman, Fashions Two-Faced Relationship with Age, NYT
  • Marjan Unger, Freedom has its limitations
  • Iris Apfel, whowhatwear
  • Frank Sinatra, 1959
  • John Lennon
  • Warren Buffet
  • Helen Williams Drutt English, AJF
  • Ted Noten, Klimt02
  • Stefanie Voigt/ Uwe Voigt, Thinking Jewellery: on the way towards a theory of jewellery, 2011
  • Anne Dressen, Michele Heauzé, Benjamin Lignel, Medusa: Wall Texts, 2017
  • Marjan Unger, Thinking Jewellery: on the way towards a theory of jewellery, 2011
  • Ruudt Peters, Current Obsession #2, 2013
  • Luis Rodil-Fernandez, In loving support, 2016
  • Peter Bilak, Dot dot dot magazine, 2001
  • Richard Sennett, The Craftsman, 2008
  • Ryo Saito, Current Obsession #5, 2016
  • Chris Meplon, Ceci N'est Pas Une Copie, 2016
  • Marcia Tucker, A Labor of Love
  • Paula Owen, Labels, Lingo and Legacy
  • Rob Barnard, Paradise Lost?
  • Clare Phillips, Jewelry from Antiquity to the Present
  • Roberta Smith, Art Review Rudolf Stingel
  • Hella Jongerius and Louise Schouwenberg, Beyond the New
  • A.O. Scott, Everybody’s a Critic. And That’s How It Should Be
  • Gijs Bakker, AJF
  • Karl Fritsch, Current Obsession #1, 2013
  • Lin Cheung, Current Obsession #1, 2013
  • Marc Monzo, Current Obsession Paper - Obsessed!, 2017
  • Misha Kahn, Current Obsession #4, 2015
  • Piret Hirv, Current Obsession #1, 2013
  • Suska Mackert, Thinking Jewellery: on the way towards a theory of jewellery, 2011
  • Ted Noten, CH2=C(CH3)C(=O)OCH3, 2006
  • Vanessa de Gruijter, Current Obsession Paper - Obsessed!, 2017
  • Goran Kling, Current Obsession #5, 2016
  • Marina Elenskaya (Volker Atrops), Current Obsession #5, 2016
  • Alexis Ewbank, Ceci N'est Pas Une Copie, 2016
  • Alyssa Dee Kraus, via S. Ramlijak, Intimate Matters
  • Lin Cheung, Wear, Wearing, Worn
  • Lizzy Atkins, Parades, Jewelry takes to the streets
  • Christoph Zellweger, Of Carats and Calories
  • Gaia Repossi, Dazed Magazine
  • Ted Noten
  • Rony Vardi, rookiemag.com Be your Own Boss, 2018
  • Vicki Mason, garland.com
  • Betony Vernon, Surface Mag
  • Sonja Henie
  • Madeleine Albright
  • Peter Deckers, Klimt02
  • Mike Holmes, Klimt02
  • Alba Cappellieri, il Gioello Oggi
  • Chen Chen, Current Obsession #1, 2013
  • Damian Skinner, Current Obsession #2, 2013
  • Makiko Akiyama, Current Obsession #4, 2015
  • Marjan Unger, Morf, nr 5,, 2006
  • Florian Cramer, Anti-Media, Ephemera on Speculative Arts, 2013
  • Klaas Kuitenbouwer, In loving support - Thinking with Machines, 2016
  • Adam Grinovich, Current Obsession #2, 2013
  • Bart Hess, Current Obsession #2, 2013
  • Beatrice Brovia, Current Obsession #3, 2014
  • Lauren Kalman, Current Obsession #4, 2015
  • Marina Elenskaya, Current Obsession #2, 2013
  • Rebecca Stephany, Current Obsession #3, 2014
  • Current Obsession (Girls with big ears), Current Obsession #5, 2016
  • Luke Brooks, Current Obsession #5, 2016
  • Nantia Koulidou, Why should jewellers care about the digital?
  • Alber Elbaz, NYT
  • Edgar Mosa, Current Obsession #3, 2014
  • Julia Walter, Current Obsession #3, 2014
  • Philipp Eberle, Current Obsession #3, 2014
  • Viola Renate, Current Obsession #3, 2014
  • Liza Minelli
  • Salvador Dali
  • Arthur Hash, Current Obsession #2, 2013
  • Haruko Ichikawa, Current Obsession #4, 2015
  • Kinga Zobel, Current Obsession #1, 2013
  • Lisa Walker, Current Obsession #4, 2015
  • Marina Elenskaya, Current Obsession #1, 2013
  • Gitte Nygaard and Josephine Winther, Makers Move
  • Thomas Davis, Hero Magazine
  • X, Unexpected Pleasures Intro
  • Mikiko Minewaki, AJF 2014 Discover, Dissect Display
  • Pravu Mazumdar, AJF 2014 Jewely and Life: An Uncanny Connection
  • Beyonce, 2008
  • Gucci Mane
  • Joyce C Scott, AJF
  • Namita Gupta Wiggers, AJF
  • Otto Kunzli, Jewellery
  • Shirley Bassey/John Barry, 1964
  • Prince, 1991
  • Elizabeth Taylor, jewelrycult.com
  • Richard Klein, Jewelry Talks
  • Alan Crocetti, Hero Magazine
  • Marilyn Monroe, 1949
  • Colette
  • Nolia Shakti, Male Made AJF, 2016
  • Beatrice Brovia, Nicolas Cheng, Current Obsession #3, 2014
  • Carles Codina, Current Obsession #2, 2013
  • Chris van der Kaap, Current Obsession #2, 2013
  • Current Obsession, Current Obsession #2, 2013
  • Kai Williams, Current Obsession #1, 2013
  • Christophe Coppens, Current Obsession #4, 2015
  • Martino Gamper, Ceci N'est Pas Une Copie, 2016
  • Peter Dormer, What is the future for Contemporary Jewellery?
  • M. Anna Fariello, Reading the Language of Objects
  • Raymond Federman, Imagination as Plagiarism (An Unfinished Paper…), 1976
  • Matthew Strong, Ceci N'est Pas Une Copie, 2016
  • Bert Löschner, Ceci N'est Pas Une Copie, 2016
  • Dries Verbruggen, Ceci N'est Pas Une Copie, 2016
  • Richard Hutten, Ceci N'est Pas Une Copie, 2016
  • Marnick Smessaert, Ceci N'est Pas Une Copie, 2016
  • Sarah Nichole Prickett, Restrain Yourself
  • Ruudt Peters, Interview, AJF
  • Lola Brooks, AJF
  • Thomas Gentille, Klimt02
  • Otto Kunzli, Klimt02

Oracle Disclaimer – Privacy declaration

Current Obsession VOF This is the privacy statement of Current Obsession VOF for the project Oracle, registered in the Trade Register at the Chamber of Commerce in The Netherlands under number 69513236 and VAT number NL 85790 1059 B01

All data and times of the conversations with the Oracle chatbot will not be saved.

No name, email address or place of residence will be asked during contact with the Oracle.

New York Jewelry Week Logo Current Obsession Logo Pratt Logo

Imagined by Current Obsession: Marina Elenskaya, Linda Beumer and Sarah Mesritz Rendered by Inès Marzat Webdevelopment by Sepus Noordmans Quotes meticulously researched and collected by Roanne Sanchez-Watts and Mariah Tuttle Running on the botman.io framework © Copyright 2020

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Used Future logotype

One Day Symposium

by Current Obsession

12th of November in New York City, USA

George Lucas called it the “used future.” He created an image of a lived-in, used-up, dingy and dirty world where obscure objects, oil-stained furniture, and beat-up technology look like they came from the opposite sides of the galaxy. 

To create an altogether more credible image of the future—where young and ancient civilizations coexist, feeding off of each other—CGI artists and animators spend tremendous effort denting, burning, and bending surfaces of their pristine computer-generated spaceships. They know that whatever it is that viewers see on their screens, no matter how far removed from anything “real”, needs to be deeply rooted in our experience of objects and matter. 

For a moment, lets allow the free-floating animated spaceships tickle our collective imagination, and look closer at the things that are deeply embedded in our history, identity, and self-expression. Things like jewelry.

Historically, the entire value system of jewelry is based on its materiality and its tangibility. Seen as an investment, it is above all a possession—an object to own, to hold, and to inherit. But how does this value system play out when the materiality of a work is taken out of the equation? What happens when jewelry becomes digital, existing in an entirely different realm, taking on a life of its own? 

This may seem like a speculative scenario, but the existence of screen-bound jewels raises all kinds of very real questions. What is ownership and what is authorship? What is uniqueness? What is luxury? What is wearability and materiality?

An oily fingerprint depicted on the perfect facet of a rendered diamond, a curly hair stuck in the prong of a 3-D–rendered ring, a deep scratch on the smooth surface of digital metal, or a tiny stone missing from a geometric binary pavé …

If it takes a thoughtful representation of “old” and “new” objects welded-slash-copy-pasted from the opposite sides of the imaginary galaxy to convince the viewer to accept a far-fetched utopian scenario, perhaps hyper-real renders of jewelry can become a part of our digital and analogue lives, and work to bring these what-if futures into our now.

Symposium Setup

The Symposium reflects this speculative theme by introducing an innovative way of conducting a group discussion. The audience will be presented with tools to give feedback and influence the discussion in real time, digitally expressing their emojions: love, like, confused, dislike, etc. The group discussion will also be joined by a chatbot designed by Current Obsession to represent the collective knowledge about jewelry – The Jewelry Oracle.

The Symposium will look into what defines authorship and authenticity in today’s digitalized world, when social content, images, memes, and quotations get dispersed to and by the masses. If we can think beyond the notion of copyright and ownership, what opportunities does this reality entail for (post-digital) artists and designers?

Our experimental event is designed to maximize the ‘mind-mining’ of the invited experts, to discover and to imagine what these questions could mean for jewelry. Transposed over the traditional CO Social Club setup – a horizontal conversation between the moderator, invited speakers, and the public – the experience will receive new, digital layers. The generated content will serve as a starting point for the next issue of Current Obsession Magazine.

1st Panel

In the first panel we meet an interesting combination of jewelry designers, artists and theorists whose approach to the subject matter come from different galaxies. Topics feeding the discussion include dispersion, representation, appropriation, plagiarism, file sharing, and inauthenticity.

Speakers of the 1st Panel

Anthony Antonellis Visual artist who lives in New York. He is a graduate of MIT Media Lab, who has been a resident at Eyebeam, a Fulbright fellow, featured in New York Times, Huffington Post and won many major awards. He was exhibited in venues such as MoMA, the Whitney Biennial, and the New Museum of ARCO Madrid. His works are collected by major institutions and written about in publications such as Art Forum. He is a professor of media arts and lectures frequently on digital art. Website

Joshua Citarella Artist working with both sculptural materials and software. His work positions photography at the nexus of an interdisciplinary practice, relegating all mediums to source material awaiting digital image capture.Today’s image editing tools allow for the transformation of signs and their associated meaning on an unprecedented scale. In Citarella’s practice the photograph of one object may be repeatedly altered until it is unrecognizable. RGB pixels - the red, green and blue lights used to display images on screens - are used as a new ‘prima materia’, releasing objects from the dim confines of materiality into omnipresent electronic radiance. Citarella describes how “we lose sight of the interface and are carried away in the fervor of a transcendent promise fulfilled.” Website

FAUX/real Mari Ouchi and Louis deCicco of FAUX/real – New York/Berlin based design duo Louis deCicco and Mari Ouchi have been making more than jewelry/objects since 2009. They are making pieces that you can think and talk about. Unexpected materials transformed into pieces with surprising grace and vision. They try and challenge people’s eyes/mind through their work with a very thoughtful touch and a twist in sense of humor. FAUX/real positioned themselves on a fine line between the fields of art/ design/fashion/interiors/architecture. They don’t necessary belong to any of them but satisfy all. Numerous successful collaborations in those fields make them continue their experiential journey for the next... the new FAUX/real. Website

Tamar Shafrir Writer and researcher in the extended field of design (including architecture, visual culture, technology, and fashion). She lives in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. She was born in Israel and grew up near Washington, D.C. She studied architecture at the University of Virginia and contextual design at the Design Academy Eindhoven. She currently teaches at the Design Academy Eindhoven as a co-head (with Agata Jaworska) of the Design Curating & Writing master’s program and thesis advisor in the Contextual Design and Social Design master’s programs. Website

2nd Panel

In the second panel, we will collectively examine a future scenario that could be post-human or human. What happens if the algorithm (or machine) takes over, leaving the designer out of the equation? Will we become designosauruses? In this session we will share our thoughts on Artificial Intelligence, machine- and deep-learning, and what this means for “the maker.”

Speakers of the 2nd Panel

Anastasis Germanidis Germanidis is an artist and engineer. His projects explore the effects of new communications technologies and artificial intelligence systems on personal identity and social interaction. His artwork has been shown internationally across the US and Europe, including at Ars Electronica Export, Cannes NEXT, and CPH:DOX, and featured in The Telegraph, WIRED, NRC Handelsblad, The Irish Independent, and Mashable, among other places. His recent project Antipersona was one of Wired UK’s Best Apps of 2016. He’s happiest when he works in public and hopes to one day have every part of his behavior and personality be generated by computer programs that he’s written. Website

Stephanie Kneissl She is a designer based in Vienna. Her work explores the future and how the world is changing in the 21st century through technology and its impact on our rituals, habits and culture. Recent exhibitions include 'All I know is what's on the Internet', The Photographers Gallery, London, 2018; 'Separate Togetherness - A Virtual Meal', Vienna Design Week, 2018; 'Robots, Work, Our Future', Vienna Biennale, 2017 and 'Are We Human? Visualising Emotions', Design Biennale Istanbul, 2016. Website

Abel Lawrence Peirson He is a Ph.D student in Physics at Stanford University currently working on theoretical astrophysics under Prof. Roger Romani. He graduated in Physics (MPhys) with distinction from University of Oxford in 2017 where he was awarded an Oxford international strategy scholarship to work at CERN on the CLIC electron-positron accelerator and a Christ Church college academic scholarship. His research interests include astrophysical jets and shocks, theoretical neuroscience, applications of machine learning. He has recently been featured on the NVIDIA AI podcast, TechCrunch and AINews for Dank Learning, a meme-generating AI powered app. Website

Ashley Khirea Wahba Egyptian-American artist and jeweler from the NYC area. Her current studio work explores notions of identity, ownership, agency, and reclamation, often in direct response to memetics. She's interested in the role of reference culture and how layers of signaling manifest as a language that traverses URL and IRL. Website

Moderator

Jeroen Bouweriks is an anti disciplinary artist and educator based in Amsterdam. He holds a MFA in artistic research from WdKA/PZI in Rotterdam. and is the founder of OffCourse, a cross academic art institute or anti institute for (in)appropriate behaviour. In his art practice he explores the possibilities for art as education and education as art. His research often entails the topics: file-sharing, plagiarism, shared authorship, in-authenticity and participation. Currently he lectures part-time at the WdKA in art/design theory and concept development. Website

Omnipresence

Jewelry Oracle is a chatbot comprised of collective knowledge on jewelry superimposed onto both discussions. It embodies a multitude of opinions, voices, facts, and speculations in an ever-growing archive; its knowledge is rooted in art history books, magazines, poems, songs, and interviews with artists. The Jewelry Oracle is rendered by Inès Marzat and coded by Sepus Noordmans.

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