Art+Tech Talk: Machine Imperfections


This year’s Art+Tech talk at Zurich Art Weekend brought together the Artistic Director of HEK (House of Electronic Arts) Sabine Himmelsbach; artist, Professor of Immersive Arts and Director of the Immersive Arts Space (ZHdK) Chris Salter; and Head of Blockchain & BDLT group at the University of Zurich (UZH) Claudio J. Tessone, moderated by Director of Digital Louise Benson of ArtReview, to discuss socio-geopolitical ideas surrounding AI and blockchain and its influence on media art and digital culture, in turn highlighting concepts around humans and machines.

Art+Tech Talks share unique exchanges between artists, curators, writers and researchers who are at the forefront of their respective fields.


Sabine Himmelsbach is Director of HEK (House of Electronic Arts) in Basel. Trained in art history, she was project manager for the Steirischer Herbst Festival in Graz and in 1999 became exhibition director at the ZKM | Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe. From 2005–2011 she was the artistic director of the Edith-Russ-House for Media Art in Oldenburg, Germany. In 2019 she has co-curated a show on AI at HEK titled Entangled Realities: Living with Artificial Intelligence. Amongst her recent projects are Earthbound: In Dialogue with Nature, which she co-curated for the European Capital of Culture Esch-sur-Alzette in Luxembourg (2022) and Collective Worldbuilding: Art in the Metaverse at HEK (2023). As a writer and lecturer, she is dedicated to topics related to media art and digital culture.

Christopher Salter is an artist, Professor of Immersive Arts and Director of the Immersive Arts Space, ZHdK. He is also Professor Emeritus, Design and Computation Arts at Concordia University in Montreal and from 2014-2022, was Co-Director of the Hexagram network for Research-Creation in Media Arts and Technology, also in Montreal. His artistic work has been seen at exhibitions and festivals internationally such as the Venice Biennale, the Barbican Centre, the Berliner Festspiele/Martin Gropius Bau, Vitra Design Museum, ZKM, the National Art Museum of China, and the Musée d’art Contemporain Montreal, among many others. He is the author of the books Entangled (2010), Alien Agency (2015) and Sensing Machines (2022), all published by the MIT Press.

Professor Claudio J. Tessone heads the Blockchain & BDLT group at the University of Zurich (UZH). He studies blockchains as a paradigm of socio-economic complexity. linking microscopic agent behaviour, incentives, and interactions with their large-scale (emergent) properties. The main pillars of his research include consensus, cryptoeconomics, and blockchain analytics. He has analysed and warned about centralisation and inequality in token economies for several years, and is currently focusing on DeFi and token-based economies. Further, he is co-founder and Chairman of the UZH Blockchain Center, a top academic initiative world-wide, which nucleates more than 20 Professors and 40 researchers in an interdisciplinary manner to understand and advance the field.

Louise Benson is Director of Digital at ArtReview. A writer and editor based in London, she was formerly the deputy editor at Elephant magazine, where she led critical conversations on the intersection of the arts with race, sex, class and gender. From 2014 to 2017 she was the editor-in-chief of POSTmatter, and has previously worked at both Monocle and Vice. She is also the co-founder of Scenic Views, an interiors magazine that explores overlooked design histories.

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