Monthly Archive for June, 2009

To Tremble the Zero: Art in the Age of Algorithmic Reproduction

Johnny Golding and Steve Kennedy

‘To Tremble the Zero: Art in the Age of Algorithmic Reproduction’ is a philosophic, political and sensuous journey playing with (and against) Benjamin’s ‘Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’. In an age inundated by the ‘post-‘: postmodernity, posthuman, post art, postsexual, post-feminist, post-society, post-nation, etc, ‘To Tremble the Zero’ sets out to re/present the nature of what it means to do or make ‘art’, as well as what it means to be or have ‘human/ity’ when the ground is nothing other than the fractal, and algorithmically infinite, combinations of zero and one. The work will address also the unfortunate way in which modern forms of metaphysics continue to creep ‘unsuspectingly’ into our understanding of contemporary media/electronic arts, despite (or perhaps even because of) the attempts by Latour, Badiou, or Agamben especially when addressing the zero/one as if a contradictory ‘binary’ rather than as a kind of ‘slice’ or (to use Deleuze and Guattari) an immanent plane of immanence. This work argues that by retrieving Benjamin, Einstein, Gödel, and Haraway, a rather different story of art can be told.


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From Apparatus to Assemblage

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Jordan Crandall

In emerging digital cultures, one wonders: is the drive to be “in” something more constitutive than the drive for separation? The drive for immersion and exposure more constitutive than that of voyeuristic detachment? If so, how does this challenge the dominance of a foundational condition of spectatorship, or the understanding of media in terms of its capacity to produce a spectatorial relation? To approach the matter, one must undo the customary binary divisions we make of the world, and lessen one’s constitution of a world built on difference.

A strategy of approach can be found in the concept of the “assemblage.” I will present a new line of development of assemblage theory, using Manuel DeLanda’s formulation (of Deleuze’s original concept) as a basis of departure, while incorporating the work of other theorists including Bruno Latour, Vilem Flusser, Brian Massumi, Leo Bersani, Georges Bataille, and Jacques Lacan/Slavoj Zizek. My research broadens assemblage theory in two directions: on the one hand, it draws on work in architecture, sociology, and science and technology studies to emphasize the role of network architectures and ecologies; on the other hand, it draws on work in philosophy, anthropology, psychoanalysis, and sexuality studies to emphasize the role of embodiment and desire.
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The Idea of Code and the Metaphor of Legality

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Bradley Bryan

From biotechnology to computer programming, the notion of a “code” is used to describe a latent command that operates to produce actions and outcomes. However the metaphorical character of the vocabulary of code obscures the way a juridical understanding of beings, virtual or otherwise, comes to occupy our thinking of them. In this piece I aim to disambiguate the metaphor of code, look at its sense and play in digital, analog, bodily, and fleshy deployments, with an eye for the drive to legality, technique, and nihilism that the language of code holds.
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The Acceleration of Inertia: The Political Economy of Speed

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Simon Glezos

This paper consists of a Deleuzian reading of Schumpeter’s account of technological innovation within capitalism. It describes the tension in Schumpeter between creative destruction (the drive to innovate), and what he calls restrictive practices (the drive to conserve and forestall change). In Deleuzian terms this becomes modeled in the tension between capitalism as a deterritorializing machine and an apparatus of capture. I then use this theoretical framework to investigate the digitization of information, noting how capitalism seeks to accelerate information processes to improve efficiency, but in doing so, runs the risk of losing control of that information (the rise of piracy, creative commons projects, consumer created content, remixing, etc.). It involves a discussion of the interplay of technological and legal restraints on information (DRM as well as Patents) to attempt to control access to information, and technological, social and legal attempts to circumvent them.
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Supernaturalisms: The Magical Naturalism of Contemporary Media

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Phillip Thurtle

Many commentators have remarked upon the recent proliferation of animated content in film, WWW, and television. What especially interests me, however, is how animation priviliges new relationships between the phenomenology of time and space and epistemology. For instance, animation often eschews the detailed descriptions of traditional realism in order to explore how transformations come about, how change happens. This ability to depict change contributes to a media ecology that is simultaneously super (in that it depicts what might come to pass as opposed to what is) as well as natural (in that it substantiates these depictions as a more satisfying portrayal of natural processes). This paper explores these emergent relationships by mapping the uses of animation in evolutionary and developmental biology research and superhero movies and comics.
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Spatial and Physical Art

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Steve Gibson

Focusing on his work for body-based interactive systems, Steve Gibson will present the concepts, technologies and politics behind his pieces Grand Theft Bicycle, Virtual DJ and Exploding, Plastic and Inevitable. In addition he will demo his new project with Scottish artist Donna Leishman that uses graphics tablets to control live audio and video.

Outlining a strategy of radically active user participation, Gibson will present an ideology and aesthetic that is distinct from couch-potato point-and-click interaction. Simultaneously he will demonstrate that technique, concept and politics are not diametrically opposed to each other but form a core of creating meaningful digitally-based art. Watch or download now »

Layer: Augmented Realities in Life and Fiction

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Aya Walraven

Augmented reality — a technology with which we are able to visually add the virtual into our perception of the real. New layered perception allows for completely new forms of graffiti, hacks, interactions and identity. When layers are added to our sense of sight and perception, how do we, and our interactions, change? What implications would it have for social issues such as internet suicides when, through these technologies, parts of our perceived reality could also become instantly shared media through massively multi-user augmented reality? Traversing avenues of technology, place, social interaction and identity, I hope to inspire imaginative visions and prophecies of how augmented reality might affect our world through exploration of augmented reality technologies seen in present day, the future, in both real life and fictional worlds. Watch or download now »

Moving Online: Your Packets, Your ISP, Your Identity

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Christopher Parsons

When a person clicks a hyperlink they manifest their liberty by expressing a preference, and in the process transmit personal data to a particular website. Expressing one’s liberty is essential to the development of personal identity, but when it comes to digital expressions of self-hood what (and who) operates between the click of the button and data’s destination? This paper investigates how Internet Service Providers’ efforts to ‘secure’ and ‘manage’ digital networks, specifically as it pertains to data analysis technologies, can impact the development of individuals’ personal identities. With increasingly sophisticated data analysis technologies being deployed across digital networks online actions are associated with discrete public identities, making it increasingly challenging to hide one’s ‘real’ or ‘analogue’ identity while online . This coalescence of digital and analogue identities threatens to transform the Internet from a fertile environment that is conducive to identity-formation to one where self-censorship before the gaze of the public is commonplace.
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Toward a Theory of Critical Computing: The Case of Social Identity Representation in Digital Media Applications

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D. Fox Harrell

The affordances of the computational medium offer particular means through which social and cultural critique can be posed. I have introduced the term “polymorphic poetics” as the computational means through which computational representations of imaginative semantic constructs become dynamic, interactive, and generative. Here, I propose polymorphic poetics as a means to enable “critical computing.” As a case study, I present recent work theory and technology for developing empowering, transformative, and critical representations of users’ identities such as player characters, avatars, or social networking profiles. Current representations are typically inadequate for conveying subjective social identity experiences and fail to engage diverse insights regarding social categorization and identity construction from cognitive science and cultural theory. Hence, computational social identity representation infrastructures often reinforce stereotyped identity construction and experience patterns as opposed to allowing for critical identity construction. I provide an account of this phenomenon and propose new technologies to do better. Watch or download now »

Illuminated Darkness: Nightmares, Blind spots and Biofeedback

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Ted Hiebert

A darkness lurks in the blind spot of perception; an absence, a disappearance that can go unnoticed because it is always and immediately filled in – illuminated – by the neural processes of cognition. But such interpolation does not belong merely to realms of the cognitive or the visual. It also belongs to the imaginary – allowing for an image that is distinctly not present to nevertheless infiltrate the perceptual scene. The light of the blind spot is, in no uncertain terms, made up – an hallucinated presence that preserves a seamless vision of reality by masking the reality of vision. Nor is this dynamic limited to the questions of cognition or perception: this illumination of darkness is a trademark of digital culture in a larger sense – a technological extension of the imagination caught in perceptual relation. Digital culture is an extension of the blind spot – user-generated content, replete with imaginary complexities, uncertainties and paradoxes. Watch or download now »

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