Byron Peters — Before and After the Sixth Radar Conference
Byron Peters, Stacey Ho
In 1957, at the Sixth Weather Radar Conference at MIT, thousands of scientists spontaneously broke into song; their voices rang out, singing in unison:
“More data, more data, from pole to equator,
We’ll gain our salvation through mass mensuration.
Thence flows our might, our sweetness, our light.
Our spirits full fair, our souls sublime;
Measuring everything, everywhere, all the time.”
Before and After the Sixth Radar Conference is a solo exhibition of two works by Byron Peters which include Added Value, an 8-channel sound installation, a film score for a far-future documentary on surplus value, and Anti-Racist Mathematics and Other Stories: Pure Difference, the debut episode in a series of educational videos and other works, learning tools towards a post-capitalist school system.
Added Value is a succession of musical composition and foley sounds in both real, imagined and speculative social history: a choral restaging of the 1957 MIT Conference theme song via a crowdsourcing platform, weaponized muzak, new borders, and fleeting materiality. The work’s corresponding visual images reside in the future, but this audio proposes a semblance of how our present relationship to surplus value is set against the perpetuity of the material. Social aspects that sustain human experience in the realm of labour, information exchange and geography are increasingly determined by data, a system of evidence derived from the suppression of flesh and touch.
Pure Difference asks its viewers “What is a number?” This introductory episode deals with the inclination to rely on data as truth, reassurance and security with a researched history of how these systems come into fruition through power, bravado, fear and invention. Bearing the rhetorical and visual tropes of a tech conference presentation, trashy YouTube video, and film essay, Peters proposes a pedagogical experiment: in the process of solving a simple math problem, or applying a scientific formula to a hypothetical, what social histories are embedded in and perpetuated by this action through the languages of math and science, of finance and empiricism? To sift the languages of science and math — fields dominated by false neutrality — is to disclose how these languages have been employed to buttress power, galvanize authority, and further complicates their use in the disavowal of subjectivity. It is also to speculate on what roles these practices of generating evidence will hold in the future.
Byron Peters is an artist and writer of Chinese-Canadian and European descent. His practice critically engages labour and materiality in the context of emerging technologies, economic imaginaries, prison education, and the effects of gentrification and displacement. Peters’ solo and collaborative works have been exhibited at The Darling Foundry, Montreal; Para Site, Hong Kong; ICA Miami; The White Building, London; The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, New York; The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, and others. His writings have appeared in Continent, SFMOMA Open Space, Cesura//Accesso, and Fillip.
Stacey Ho is an artist, writer, and curator living on unceded Coast Salish territories. Her practice considers intersections of culture, history, and embodied experience from a feminist perspective. With a background in photography and performance art, she often incorporates language, sound, and gesture into her work. She has recently exhibited through Art Metropole (Toronto), Galerie oqbo (Berlin), and Dar’a: Full Circle, a group exhibition curated by Jamelie Hassan at Artcite (Windsor). She is presently developing a body of work around listening, place, and memory with assistance from a Project Grant from the Canada Council for the Arts.