Can Computers Create Meaning? — N. Katherine Hayles at Digital Aesthetics Workshop

hayles-daw

Coming up in a few weeks: N. Katherine Hayles will be joining the Digital Aesthetics Workshop to present some of her latest research. This session will take place in the Humanities Center Board Room, on Tues. Feb 12, from 5-7 PM. Her event is entitled Can Computers Create Meaning? A Cyber-Bio-Semiotic Perspective.

We anticipate a full event, so you must RSVP to this google form link. We will circulate Hayles’s paper, which she will briefly introduce and then invite conversation around it. Here is her abstract:

Can Computers Create Meaning? A Cyber-Bio-Semiotic Perspective

N. Katherine Hayles

One of the promising areas to understand how computers cognize is biosemiotics, a field that draws on C. S. Peirce’s semiotics to argue that all living organisms generate and understand meanings appropriate to their contexts, even plants and unicellular organisms.  Although these approaches by such theorists as Jesper Hoffmeyer, Wendy Wheeler, and Terrence Deacon have considerable explanatory power, they share a common blind spot in arguing that such signifying capabilities apply only to living organisms, not computers.  However, many of their objections to networked and programmed machines creating, disseminating and understanding meanings become moot if the relevant unit is considered to be human plus computer rather than either alone.  The human species, this paper will argue, is in the midst of entering into a deep symbiosis with computational media. Still incomplete, this symbiosis is akin to endosymbiosis, where previously independently living organisms unite into a single entity, as happened for example with the absorption of mitochondria by eukaryotic cells.  The paper will conclude by exploring the implications of this symbiosis-in-progress.

Advertisements

Video: Desktop Horror at Merz-Akademie Stuttgart

desktop-horror

On December 18, 2018, I gave a talk titled “Desktop Horror” at the Merz-Akademie in Stuttgart. The talk was live-streamed, and a video is now available on the Merz-Akademie website. Thanks again to Kevin B. Lee for the kind invitation, and to his students Jasmin Rahman and Nik König for the entertaining intro video, which you’ll see at the beginning of the video. (Note that there are some sound problems — fittingly, audio glitches and feedback — at the beginning of my talk, but they clear up after about three minutes.)

screen shot 2019-01-14 at 2.01.35 pm

Skin in the Game: Greymarket Gambling in the Virtual Economies of Counter-Strike — Stephanie Boluk and Patrick LeMieux at Digital Aesthetics Workshop

boluk-lemieux-skin-in-the-game

Next Monday (January 14, 2018), we will be joined at the Digital Aesthetics Workshop by Stephanie Boluk & Patrick LeMieux. They are coming to us from UC-Davis, where Stephanie is Associate Professor of English and of Cinema and Digital Media, and where Patrick is Assistant Professor of Cinema and Digital Media. Boluk & LeMieux are scholars, critics, and artists who work largely around videogames and digital art. Their book Metagaming (Minnesota, 2017) wrenches open the ‘texts’ of videogames to consider them as tools, materials, platforms, and stages for all sorts of new social practices – it is easily one of the best works in game studies yet published. They have also co-created several critical games of their own that you can easily run on your laptop.

On Monday, they will be sharing in-progress material from their next book project, Money Games. Join us on Monday, January 14, 2018 (5-7pm in the Roble Arts Gym Lounge), and RSVP if you can! There will not be pre-circulated reading, though their games are recommended.

Here is the blurb for the event:

In 1987, a pyramid scheme called the “Plane Game” funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars from the pockets of “passengers,” landing at least six of the game’s “pilots” in jail. In 2018, more ubiquitous moneygames are played with smaller stakes across far wider fields. From the Valve Corporation’s Flatland to grey market gambling with Counter-Strike gun skins, this talk will move from from the Steam Workshop to the Steam Marketplace to series of third-party websites that explore the way in which money operates as a game mechanics and how game mechanics have come to operate as money. Although strict distinctions are made between gambling and gaming in both US law as well as 20th century philosophies of games and play, these terms’ etymological roots are tightly wound. In a post-2008 age of precarity, the wage has once again become a wager. In 2012, Alex Galloway proclaimed “we are all goldfarmers,” but gun skins and skin gambling represent an even more complex and complete financialization in that players have moved from one mode in which labour time is exchanged for a clear wage (even if it’s grinding in World of Warcraft) to one in which labour time itself becomes a wager. Ultimately skins are not simply texture files that wrap around the polygonal geometry of virtual weapons. Instead, they are objects of affinity and status, digital cash and casino chips, and a gun skins’ procedurally generated pattern, determined by a 9-digit floating point number selected upon unboxing, is more cryptocurrency than art asset. In this talk we follow the money, the skin, the flow, and the flight of new “plane games” as metagames become moneygames.

Talks & Events: Switzerland/Germany, December 2018

Screen Shot 2018-12-08 at 12.59.54 PM

This coming week, I will be heading out to Europe for a series of talks and events in Switzerland and Germany, where I will be presenting work related to my forthcoming book Discorrelated Images as well as videographic scholarship (including the recent Videographic Frankenstein exhibition).

Here is a list of talks/events:

Videographic Criticism as Digital Research Practice — Dec. 20 at JFK Insitute, Berlin

Denson_Loock_Videographic-Criticism

On Thursday, December 20, 2018 (2-4pm) at the JFK Institute at the Freie Universität Berlin, Kathleen Loock and I will be discussing “Videographic Criticism as Digital Research Practice.” Hoping to see some Berlin-based friends there!