#Gaik 2025 (first go at 2025 abstract)

Posted on January 19, 2015


Prompted by this request, here’s my first go at an abstract for a 2025 critical computing conference.  (the editors rightly say that it is too long and not scientific enough so another one on the way).

This paper reviews the work of the celebrated ecohacker artist known only as #Gaiak. Beginning in 2015 with individual street intersection outages, through citywide power blackouts to the 2023 shutdown of global airspace for 31 days, #Gaiak claimed to represent the earth fighting back from the tyranny of mankind.  Over the course of ten years the artist collaborated with computer scientists to create performance art of increasing audacity and frequency.  She claimed “the earth is at war with her people, I have been helping her fight back through the media of mankind’s greatest invention.  For the month that no planes flew, the earth breathed a sigh of relief, and her people, initially traumatised, came to see it as a time of peace”.  While many of #Gaiak’s works were disruptive, she also highlighted the beauty of a holistically conceived system.  Her works “Ecology of Things”, “Humanistic Metrics” and “Deep Ecosymputation” are credited with prompting transformational changes in computer science.  In 2025 #Gaiak revealed that her apparent hacking of the world’s systems were in fact entirely objet trouvé – there was no deliberate hacking, the broken systems that became art célèbre were serendipitous. The computer scientists had collaborated in same the way global industries collaborated with Edward Burtynsky in the creation of his Manufactured Landscapes.  Computer scientists have created this system of such complexity, it is our biggest achievement but also our greatest challenge. The machine is hungry, taking increasing amounts of the world’s resources and is increasingly unstable, an exigency made wicked by the irony of the brutal imposition on human and natural systems themselves delicately co-evolved and not engineered for such trespass.   The paper concludes with a review of #Gaiak’s holistic Ecological Computing manifesto.