Critical Digital Studies Workshops

Code Drift


Arthur and Marilouise Kroker

Code drift is the spectral destiny of the story of technology. No necessary message, no final meaning, no definite goal: only a digital culture drifting in complex streams of social networking technologies filtered here and there with sudden changes in code frequencies, moving at the speed of random fluctuations, always seeking to make of the question of identity a sampling error, to connect with the broken energy flows of ruptures, conjurations, unintelligibility, bifurcations. When the Book of Genesis gives way to the Book of (Information) Genetics, we are suddenly exited into a culture of epigenesis with code drifts as its primary impulse, all the human anxiety of being tethered to mobility its primary affect, and the novel historical experience of literally being skinned by technology as the body is increasingly wrapped in the new nervous system that is the global data genome.
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Can We Play ‘Fun Gay’? Disjuncture & Difference in Millenial Queer Youth Narratives


Mary Bryson

It has become commonplace for narratives concerning youth whose lives are situated within cultures saturated by convergent media, unproblematically to reproduce assumptions regarding the meliorative role of access to networked digital media. In these accounts, learning is co-extensive with play, access with participation, logging in with belonging, and the consumption of digital artifacts is read as meaningful engagement in networked socialities. Techno-rationalist accounts concerning Net Gen youth and new media likewise tend to consolidate in narratives that foreground a putative impact accorded to access to techno-social networks, the possibility to overcome inequities that would otherwise accrue as a function of problematic participation and citizenship in a public. This paper attends to the generative role of the Internet in accounts of sexual self-formation by millennial queer youth – youth whose adolescence is situated in a networked, digital culture. With particular attention to the contingent assemblage of gender, sexuality and other modes of identification, this research counters and complicates decontextualized, celebratory notions of queer youth and cyberspace.
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Becoming Dragon: An Epistemology of Transition


Micha Cárdenas

How are technologies of transformation facilitating new becomings, new modes of learning and new sites of knowledge? The performance Becoming Dragon sought to explore two lines of technology, Multi-User Virtual Environments and biotechnology. Following Anna Munster’s call for Transversal Technology Studies, this paper is an attempt to map two transversal lines between these two directions of technology: transition or becoming as a mode of being and mixing of realities, genders and sexualities as a strategy of subversion. The intersections of these lines of technology and transversal strategies of action will be examined as operating within and against two fields of knowledge production, phenomenology and what Ricardo Dominguez has called “science of the oppressed”.
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The Technological Unconscious, Animism and the Uncanny


Jackson 2bears

This paper takes an interdisciplinary approach to the question of technology by examining points of convergence between Jungian psychoanalysis and Indigenous philosophy. The theoretical trajectory of the text will consider traditional Haudenosaunee cosmologies as a way of re-thinking contemporary questions about our digital present and future, in turn proposing possible means of engagement and resistance. Central to the text is a critical analysis of select writings on the topic of dreams and the unconscious by Carl Jung, while at the same time reflecting on traditional Indigenous teachings extracted from the Haudenosaunee theory of dreams. The end goal of the text is to develop an Indigenous theory of technology that is faithful to traditional teachings, while addressing the uncanny essence of digitality in contemporary times.
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In the Beginning There Was and Will Have Been Noise


Serena Kataoka

The digital holds promise of a universal technical structure. Arts once distinguished by their media can all be prefigured in code, and so all the arts will have been rendered digital. Art with a discreet capital 01 is conceived. Whatever the medium, rendering code into form becomes the basic technical problem. Traces of code linger as [blips], for example, which some artists struggle to extract (to make the form seem as though it were ‘in the round’), and which others try to amplify (to use the form to show off or critique the digital model). The novelty of engaging with these problems distracts from how doing so produces Art that is ushering in modern civilization, again. Thinking in and through an origin story inscribed by Our Father, Harold Innis, we will develop a sense that the apparent distinction between Art and Politics is no longer and not yet operative. There is only noise (aural and graphical).
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Many Points of Light: The Converging Aesthetics of Art, Design, and Science


Sara Diamond

Anderson (2008), the editor of Wired Magazine recently declared that ‘science is dead’, arguing that data processing and visualization were now more powerful instruments than mental models. Latour (1983) underscores the role of new instruments in provoking both new insights and authorizations. As data quantity and depth moves outside of the human conceptual grasp the question of where human knowledge and insight sits in relation to machine processing re-emerges from the debates on cognition and AI of the last century. These disputes and concerns suggest the importance of visual interventions that can allow new modes of experience and thought and new structures of power.

This paper explores the aesthetic debates amongst and between art, design and science in the ways that visualization practices and aesthetics are understood. Do visualizations return to a new fundamental realism? Is data pure matter? Is visualization a return to modernism as Manovich (2002, 2007) proposes? Or, is data visualization the twenty-first century sublime, as Javbratt (2005) suggests? What are the means through which matter, data structure and metaphor twine? What are the conclusions and pointers towards future research?
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Illuminated Darkness: Nightmares, Blind spots and Biofeedback


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 »

Toward a Theory of Critical Computing: The Case of Social Identity Representation in Digital Media Applications


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 »

Moving Online: Your Packets, Your ISP, Your Identity


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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Layer: Augmented Realities in Life and Fiction


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 »

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