p.o.r.t (n.)(acronym)

Niko Princen, Holidays, 2010 – ongoing, print on demand photo albums, sizes variable [courtesy of the artist]

Place, position where the present liminal surface of an
Organism or organization is permeable and able to
Receive packets, people, proteins, power.
Transmission often depends on protocols, and its results
may in turn shape the future of the system as a whole.

A port is where an entity encounters the world and where its identity is partly negotiated, something that is shared among living and nonliving systems with no regard to scale and perhaps no concept of its own surface. Phenomena of virality, for instance, are shared among all substrates because bodies, buildings, machines, and societies all exist as patterns of energy, information, and matter over time.

Ports are governed by rules and protocols that decide on permeability at a given moment, emerging from the system itself. Ports are always located at the limits of a body (which may be internal), a liminal surface that is as constituent as it is arbitrary and dynamic. While a cell wall emerges from interactions between information and matter through the execution of DNA and the forces experienced through its own outside, a state may choose to change the protocol of its ports or to alter its limits altogether. All ports which stem from conscious processes are thus political by definition and their decisions never neutral.

Yet as much as processes determine a port’s protocol, these processes are also shaped by the port itself. In the geopolitics of planetary networks, exchanges of energy/information and matter are among the core aspects of design, whereas the ports of viruses are perpetually evolving. In both cases they come to constitute a future reality, either as foreclosures or as openings of possibility that ripple back into the respective subsystem.

Niko Princen
Artist Statement

Holidays consists of multiple photo albums that present holiday images made publicly available on social media platforms. After events that capture international headlines — the start of the civil war in Syria in 2011, the sinking of the Costa Concordia cruise ship off the west coast of Italy in 2012 — I search for holiday images from these locations taken just before the event. A tourist myself, I photograph these family photos from my computer screen.