Ramon Amaro is a lecturer in the Department of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London. His research interests include philosophy, machine learning, pathology and Black studies. He is also a tutor in Media Culture at the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague (KABK) and is completing his PhD in Philosophy at Goldsmiths, while holding a Masters degree in Sociological Research from the University of Essex and a BSe in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Along with being a former Assistant Editor for the SAGE open access journal Big Data & Society, he has worked as a quality design engineer for General Motors and programmes manager for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).
Immutable: A Mineral History of Currency and Typography
This research project critically explores the political dimension of typography through the speculative production of documentary instruments and forms. This inquiry is premised on the idea that graphic artifacts like writing and money, function as historiographic instruments and vehicles of power. Addressing the North American context (also known as Turtle Island), this project argues that the populist discourses of both the left and the right obfuscate their foundation on illegitimate settler-states that through documentary forms—from passports, maps, and money, to treaties, land titles, and constitutional documents—reproduce the subversion of indigenous (“local”) systems of governance by achieving an immutability of these forms against time and politics. If history, provenance and title are fabricated through technologies that produce immutable inscriptions, what might an interrogation through the misuse and misapplication of these technologies produce? The methodology of this inquiry entails a material engagement with a variety of past and contemporary inscription technologies that range from clay tablets to coinage, and typography to cryptography.
Visualising Race/Decolonising Design
Visualising Race/Decolonising Design re-thinks modes of visualising Black political subjectivity in art, theory and design. Current research in face detection is concerned with the inequitable distribution of power. It considers specifically how face detection, surveillance and other visioning technologies use data to discriminate against some individuals over others. While surveillance renders the Black body hyper-visible to modes of power and quantification, it is also contended that surveillance is an opportunity to reclaim Black political subjectivity. Visualising Race/Decolonising Design starts from the polarity between visibility as subjective dominance and visibility as political resistance. It suggests art, theory and design practice can make use of this tension to articulate new ways of ‘seeing’ the Black body. The project proposes to develop a research network that works through face detection, computer vision and surveillance to re-think design methodology and creative practice.
Decolonising Design II
Ramon Amaro discussed the problematic relationship between technology and the experience of the Black body. He began with the genealogical roots of this relationship: a 17th-century Western project of social quantification. He then examined contemporary issues relating to race and racism connected with machine learning and artificial intelligence and current ethical concerns relating to Facebook and Google and other urgent issues. A discussion with the public was moderated by Susanne Eskens.
Decolonising Bots looked into the ways that algorithmic agents perform notions of human race. With Ramon Amaro, Florence Okoye and Legacy Russell.