Digital Inflections: Visions for the Posthuman Future

Acting in an Uncertain World: Thinking Techno-Ecologically?


Anita Girvan

Borrowing the title from an essay by Michael Callon and his colleagues working at the intersection of science and technology studies and politics, this presentation, “Acting in an Uncertain World”, attempts to think through questions of environment and technology in a time of proliferating ecological crises. These crises, no longer conceived of as ‘natural’ disasters, or ‘human’ problems but deep entanglements, suggest new forms of technologically enabled democracy, where both slowness (slowing down to institutionalize deliberative processes) and speed (especially in communicating to inform an engaged citizenry) may interact in novel ways.
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Androids: A Remarkable Approximation to the Organic


Aya Walraven

This talk walks through a brief history of androids in the past and present. Citing Japan as a special case, Aya Walraven explores how androids, cyborgs, and humans alike fit into society with a growing need for robotic assistance and enhancement, and touches upon the cultural roots and psychology that affects how we receive our mechanical partners.
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Technologies of Conveyance


Meagan Timney

In this talk, Meagan Timney draws on McLuhan’s notions of the medium and the message to question how our interaction with the world around us changes through the use of the technologies that facilitate information transfer. Using examples from both past and present, she discusses how these technologies extend the human self through the creation of a virtual avatar.

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Technology and Politics in Tunisia and Iran: Deep Packet Surveillance


Christopher Parsons

Faced with growing unrest that is (at least in part) facilitated by digital communications, repressive nation-states have integrated powerful new surveillance systems into the depths of their nations’ communications infrastructures. In this presentation, Christopher Parsons first discusses the capabilities of a technology, deep packet inspection, which is used to survey, analyze, and modify communications in real-time. He then discusses the composition of the Iranian and Tunisian telecommunications infrastructure, outlining how deep packet inspection is used to monitor, block, and subvert encrypted and private communications. The presentation concludes with a brief reflection on how this same technology is deployed in the West, with a focus on how we might identify key actors, motivations, and drivers of the technology in our own network ecologies.

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Werewolves, Magnetic Fields and Fingerprints of a Technological Imaginary


Ted Hiebert

Ted Hiebert’s talk is an exploration of the technological imaginary, with a particular focus on the area of overlap between digital culture and artistic practice. Bringing together Roland Barthes’ theory of technology as an extension of theatre and Nicolas Bourriaud’s formulation of relational art, the talk examines spaces where technology might be understood as relational, deeply embedded in discourses of aesthetics and performance, but equally invested in maintaining the creative possibilities of social living. Situated amidst questions of theatre, technology and art, this talk is also as a series of reflections on the possibilities of posthuman living. Using three art projects as catalysts for the discussion, a theory born of photographic practice will be expanded, as a visualization of technology and of the aesthetics of posthuman possibility.

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Synthetic Emotions


Barbara Rauch

This research project maps emotions and visualises the virtual emergence of emotions. Rauch uses 3D-surface capturing devices to scan facial expressions in animals (taxidermy) and humans to then sculpt with the Phantom Arm/ SensAble FreeForm device in 3D virtual space. When working with the haptic sculpting tool one receives a physical feedback on the hand and arm; the experience of touching and sculpting digital data in cyberspace is still awkward, as if the virtual data was not quite real data.

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The Aesthetics of Digital Longing


Tim Murray

Professor Tim Murray, Director of the Society of the Humanities and curator of the Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media discusses “The Aesthetics of Digital Longing” by way of an evocative discussion of Rancière and Deleuze in the content of interactive installations. He illustrates his talk with a number of installations and sound pieces from Asia that are rarely discussed, in the interests of broadening the global perspective of what we think of as politics and art.

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Phantasms of an Insecurity State: Social Psychosis and the Imploding American Dream


Stephen Pfohl

Past-President of the American Society for the Study of Social Problems and an acclaimed social theorist, Professor Pfohl explores the fallout from the imploding American dream in a time of economic insecurity, political insurgency, and campaign politics.

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Cancer Knowledge in the Plural: Communicability of Presence, Trans/Media and the Queer Biopolitics of Prosthetic Mobilities


Mary Bryson

Dr. Mary Bryson, Professor, Language and Literacy Education, Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia.

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A Phantasmal Media Approach to Empowerment, Identity, and Computation


D. Fox Harrell

Focusing on questions of social identity, empowerment and computation, D. Fox Harrell explores the emerging world of “phantasmal identities,” that moment when the meaning of social identity is complicated by its intersection with computing technologies including social networking, gaming, virtual worlds and more. Here, social identities are not addressed only through persistent issues of class, gender, sex, race, and ethnicity, but also through dynamic construction of social categories, body language, discourse, metaphorical thought, gesture, fashion, and so on. When these “real” identities meet their counterparts in the virtual world, the results are identities that are a sudden blend of cultural ideas and sensory imagination, namely the increasing development of “phantasmal identities.”

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