Ignited - The Bubble Issue
André Cordeiro / Carlos Trabulo / José Pedro Ventura

IGNITED is a biannual publication that explores different facets of technology and their impact on shaping our society, culture and the individual. As technology continues to infiltrate and impregnate every aspect of our lives, steadily evolving and turning sci-fi dreams and fantasies (sometimes dystopian) into reality, its consequences have, many times, become an afterthought to the convenience it brings.

Having a substantial grasp on human life, culture, and society, some of technologies’ downsides and problems are recently coming to light. But as we delve into an abyss of ever-evolving, increasingly, unintelligible, creations and mechanisms, it becomes equally arduous to understand and perceive its repercussions.

Not underplaying the paramount importance and beneficial significance of the advances of technology, IGNITED strives to become a guide to an increasingly confusing world, exploring and trying actively to comprehend the effects of these advances on all its scopes.

The first issue of IGNITED – The Bubble Issue – delves into the effects of algorithms and Bubble Filters. The concept of Bubble Vision, coined by Hito Steyerl, renowned filmmaker and writer, was its starting point. Bubble Vision, as a concept, has its roots on the ability of simulating reality. Steyerl describes reality as a consequence of the biosphere experiments held in the 90’s, namely the Biosphere project (1991-1994), meant to explore the limits of human condition and its capability of self-sufficiency in a man-made ecosystem built inside a large spherical structure — in other words, a “bubble”. Subsequently, Steyerl uses these experiments, and their intrinsic notions and ideas, as a way to demonstrate and extrapolate a possible transition occurring nowadays: the end of the Anthropocene – a proposed geological epoch marked by human influence on planet Earth – due to the rise of algorithms. These invisible mechanisms, present in every aspect of our lives, already have the power of infiltrating our reality by shaping and molding every aspect of our lives and will.

These mathematical formulas began to designate, execute, interrupt and modify actions upon actions in infinite and uncontrolled loops: ghosts that have replaced humans in the execution of larger dimensions tasks, working in increasingly abstract and unintelligible ways. Therefore, algorithms are the unity of the Filter Bubble. Together they make up the membrane of the bubble we live in. We can’t neither see or feel them, but they are actively and radically changing the way we see the world, and as a result the way our culture is built. Their action is particularly witnessed in social media – now the go-to place for social interactions, entertainment and accessing news. All that we read, watch and consume is filtered by algorithms.

As these algorithms curate our feeds, they narrow the notion of each one’s reality, creating the aforementioned Filter Bubble. Consequently, they cause the development of a Bubble Vision, which in turn leads to the multiplication and propagation of these algorithmic identities.

If we live in a paradigm in which our culture is made up of what we digest visually, and if algorithms control our “cultural diet”, then we are before the emergence of an algorithmic culture.