Exhibition view of “Calculating Empires”, Researcher-artists Kate Crawford e Vladan Joler, Osservatorio Fondazione Prada, Milan, Photo: Piercarlo Quecchia – DSL Studio, Courtesy: Fondazione Prada
23 Nov 2023 – 29 Jan 2024

“Calculating Empires: A Genealogy of Technology and Power, 1500-2025” is an exhibition conceived by Kate Crawford and Vladan Joler charting our technological present by depicting how power and technology have been intertwined since 1500.

By merging research and design, science and art, Joler and Crawford create a new way to understand the current spectacles of artificial intelligence by asking how we got here — and consider where we might be going. This vast, mind-expanding installation invites visitors to experience the longue durée through a visualization of time, politics, and technology.

As Joler explains, “This is the year when generative artificial intelligence has flooded global culture, and dominated attention spans. Millions of people have changed the way they search, write, and make images. But these systems have already shown a capacity to concentrate power, produce ‘hallucinations’ and misinformation at scale, and challenge the perception of a shared reality”.

Crawford adds, “All of these diverse global impacts — from the political to the material — have developed over centuries. But they are obscured by cultures of corporate secrecy and technical architectures. ‘Calculating Empires’ contends with how to visualize and critique these systems over time.”

The centerpiece of the exhibition is the Calculating Empires Map Room. Here the audience will be immersed in a dark environment — like walking into a literal black box. The work, presented to the public for the first time, is a diptych of maps: one speaks to the themes of communication and computation, the other explores control and classification.

Calculating Empires is a codex of technology and power which shows how the empires of past centuries are echoed in the technology companies of today. This detailed visual narrative extends over 24 meters and took almost four years to create, illustrating forms of communication, classification, computation and control with thousands of individually crafted drawings and texts that span centuries of conflicts, enclosures, and colonizations.


Calculating Empires | Interview with Kate Crawford e Vladan Joler