Summary of the research project
Jeff Guess‘ research project at the Institute for Advanced Study of Aix-Marseille University (Iméra) will continue his multi-faceted research on statistical bodies and historically-infused speculations on team sports as a societal model by transforming a previous work, Team Spirit, a performance and speculative article published in the review Multitudes, into a full length book.
By tracing the history of American team sports and their long-term relationships to statistics, the project shows how technical infrastructures originally developed for the stock market, nuclear power plants and the military are redeployed in the form of real-time algorithmic analysis of player movements, in view of gaining a competitive edge. But these same data models are also used to fuel Fantasy leagues, and more recently, legalized sports gambling, transforming fans into statisticians poring over spreadsheets, real-time player performances and personal histories. Little by little these tools reveal the mechanics of a phantom game, invisble to the human eye, a generalizable model applicable to other areas of capitalist society. Athlete’s bodies become akin to circuits, relays and nodes, hardware in the production of data for new types of fans – intelligent agents, neural networks and deep-learning algorithms, symptoms of a larger, more general algorithmisation of everything.
Parts of this theoretical research will be used to produce new visual works.
Jeff Guess is an artist, curator, researcher and a professor at the École Nationale Supérieure d’Arts Paris-Cergy. His work is primarily an artistic and archaeological investigation into the technical image and its multiple entanglements with language and voice. His more recent projects expand on these considerations, exploring the relationships between bodies, communication and computation in disciplines as diverse as spiritual phenomena, animal language projects and competitive sports.
Upcoming and recent exhibitions include – Experimental photography, CaixaForum, (Madrid, Barcelona et Zaragoza, 2022-23), Permanent Collection, Centre Pompidou (Paris, 2020-1), The Supermarket of Images, Red Brick Art Museum (Beijing, 2021) and Jeu de Paume (Paris, 2020) and Snap & Share, SFMoma (San Francisco, 2019).
He co-directed, with Gwenola Wagon, the research platform Média Médiums (2014-17), and co-curated two exhibitions, Média Médiums (2014) and Haunted by Algorithms (2017). With Yves Citton, Emmanuel Guez, and Martial Poirson, they co-organised Archéologie des Media, Écologies de l’Attention, a week-long symposium, at the Centre Culturel International de Cerisy in 2016. The proceedings were published by UGA Éditions in 2019. He was also pedagogical director of the research platform, Art by Translation (2017-19), directed by Maud Jacquin and Sébastien Pluot, during which time 6 international exhibitions and numerous events were organised. More recently, with Judith Perron he has started a new research platform on bodies in movement, The Cure.