Critical Digital Studies Workshops

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Spatial and Physical Art


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 »

Supernaturalisms: The Magical Naturalism of Contemporary Media


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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The Acceleration of Inertia: The Political Economy of Speed


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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The Idea of Code and the Metaphor of Legality


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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From Apparatus to Assemblage


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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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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The Comatose, The Cadaver & The Chimera: Avatars Have No Organs



Stelarc is a world renowned Australian-based performance artist whose work explores and extends the concept of the body and its relationship with technology. He has performed with a third hand, a virtual arm. a virtual body and a stomach sculpture. Recently he has had an ear surgically constructed on his arm. Stelarc discusses his work made by employing medical instruments, prosthetics, robotics, VR systems, the internet, and biotechnology.
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Introduction: Necropolis of Software


Arthur Kroker

Arthur Kroker is Canada Research Chair in Technology, Culture and Theory, professor of political science, and the director of the Pacific Center for Technology and Culture at the University of Victoria. His most recent projects include the monograph Born Again Ideology: Religion, Technology and Terrorism (New World Perspectives, 2008), and Critical Digital Studies: A Reader, co-edited with Marilouise Kroker (University of Toronto, 2008). His books include, among others, The Will to Technology and the Culture of Nihilism: Heidegger, Nietzsche, and Marx (University of Toronto Press, 2004), The Possessed Individual (St Martin’s Press, 1992), Spasm (St Martin’s Press, 1993), and Data Trash: The Theory of the Virtual Class, with Michael A. Weinstein (St Martin’s Press, 1994). He is the co-editor of the Digital Futures book series for the University of Toronto Press, as well as the peer-reviewed, electronic journal CTheory.

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Digital Magic, Cybernetic Sorcery: On the Cultural Politics of Fascination and Fear


Stephen Pfohl

Stephen Pfohl is a Professor in the Sociology Department at Boston College where he teaches courses on social theory, deviance and social control, postmodernity, social psychoanalysis, and the sociology of technology, art, and culture. He is the author of numerous books and articles, including Images of Deviance and Social Control (McGraw Hill, 1994), Death at the Parasite Café (St. Martin’s Press, 1992), and Left Behind: Religion, Technology and Flight from the Flesh (NWP/CTheory Books, 2008). He is the co-editor of Culture, Power and History: Studies in Critical Sociology (Brill Publishers, 2006) and author of the forthcoming Venus in Video: Cybernetics and Ultramodern Power. Stephen is also a past president of the Society for the Study of Social Problems, a video maker and performing artist, member of the editorial board of the journal CTheory, and founding member of the Boston-based Sit-Com International.
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Code Drift & Life By Computer


Jackson 2bears and Marilouise Kroker

Jackson 2bears is a Kanien’kehaka (Mohawk) multimedia artist and Ph.D. candidate at the University of Victoria. His artworks have been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions across Canada, most recently at: EM-Media (Calgary, AB), the Vancouver Art Gallery, Interaccess (Toronto, ON), SAW (Ottawa, ON), and the North American Indigenous Games (Cowichan, BC). He has also been exhibited internationally in media arts festivals and group exhibitions such as Digital Art Weeks (Zurich, Switzerland), Syncritism (Savannah, GA) and Altered States (Plymouth, UK). He was recently named the recipient of a Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award from the Canada Council for the Arts.

Marilouise Kroker is Senior Research Scholar at the Pacific Center for Technology and Culture, University of Victoria. She is the author, with Arthur Kroker, of Hacking the Future (1996). She has co-edited and introduced numerous anthologies including Digital Delirium (1997), Body Invaders (1987), and Last Sex (1993) — all published by St Martin’s Press, as well as Critical Digital Studies: A Reader co-edited with Arthur Kroker (University of Toronto, 2008). She is the co-editor of the Digital Futures book series for the University of Toronto Press, as well as the peer-reviewed, electronic journal CTheory.
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Upcoming Schedule