Writing at the Speed of Thinking — Miyako Inoue at Digital Aesthetics Workshop

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For our final event of this year’s Digital Aesthetics Workshop (which, we can now confirm, will return next year!), Stanford’s own Miyako Inoue will be presenting her current research on the Japanese typewriter. Her session promises to consider the effects of media on thought, to push technology studies towards the history of empire, and to argue with Friedrich Kittler. Needless to say, we are thrilled to have her!

The event takes place on Tuesday, May 29, from 5-7 in the Board Room of the Stanford Humanities Center.

There is no pre-circulated reading. However, attendees are encouraged to familiarize themselves with Kittler’s “Typewriter” chapter in Gramophone, Film, Typewriter.

RSVP to deacho@stanford.edu

Snacks and wine will be served

Dr. Miyako Inoue

Writing at the Speed of Thinking: The Japanese Kana Typewriter and the Rehabilitation of the Male Hand

Tuesday, May 29, 5:00-7:00

The invention of the Japanese syllabic (kana) typewriter in the beginning of the 20th century was a modular articulation between the Japanese syllabary and the engineered metal body of the English typewriter. With keys and type bars for Japanese syllabaries neatly conjoined with it, the kana typewriter promised Japan’s industrial efficiency and productivity of repetitive inscription labor. While the kana-typewriter was originally used in business and government offices to streamline the production of invoices, order forms, utility bills, and so on, the postwar portable models attracted allies for personal use among male intellectuals, industrialists, scientists, and colonial officers, for whom the kana typewriter meant “the liberation from Chinese characters,” or Japan’s break from “Asia” (and its return as a colonizer), and a renewed connection with Western industrial modernity. Friedrich Kittler argues that the western typewriter led to the de-sexualization of writing, liberating (hand)writing from its organic and exclusive ties with the male hand and allowing women to enter the white-collar workplace as typists. In this presentation, I would like to discuss how the kana-typewriter led, in fact, to the re-sexualization of writing as a masculine enterprise, and to the reunion of the man’s hand with language, as its portability allowed elite Japanese (type)writers in international scientific communities, in colonial administrations and associated overseas business communities to synchronize writing and thinking and to re-enact the western subject-position of auto-affect in writing.

Miyako Inoue is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Stanford University, where she also has a courtesy appointment with the Department of Linguistics. She teaches linguistic anthropology and the anthropology of Japan. Her first book, Vicarious Language: the Political Economy of Gender and Speech in Japan (U. of California Press), examines a phenomenon commonly called “women’s language” in Japanese modern society, and offers a genealogy showing its critical linkage with Japan’s national and capitalist modernity. Professor Inoue is currently working on a book-length project on a social history of “verbatim” in Japanese. She traces the historical development of the Japanese shorthand technique used in the Diet for its proceedings since the late 19th century, and of the stenographic typewriter introduced to the Japanese court for the trial record after WWII. She is interested in learning what it means to be faithful to others by copying their speech, and how the politico-semiotic rationality of such stenographic modes of fidelity can be understood as a technology of a particular form of governance, namely, liberal governance.

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A Maussian Bargain: The Give and Take of the Personal Data Economy — Marion Fourcade at Digital Aesthetics Workshop

Fourcade Poster

We are pleased to announce the first Digital Aesthetics Workshop event for the Spring quarter – on Tuesday, April 23rd with Marion Fourcade, Professor of Sociology at UC-Berkeley. She will be discussing Marcel Mauss, data circulation, and how to describe the strange new market our information is sold on.

“A Maussian Bargain: the Give and Take of the Personal Data Economy”

Primitive accumulation in the digital economy – in other words, the appropriation of new kinds of data about people, organizations, and things and their transformation into a form of capital – has often been described, following David Harvey, as a process of “accumulation of dispossession.” Yet how can we reconcile this argument with the fact that enrollment into digital systems often takes place in a much more benign fashion, for instance by signing up for a “free” service, or by responding to a “friend’s” invitation? Daniel Kluttz (UC Berkeley) and I draw on interviews with the designers and builders of digital systems to document the technical, political, economic and cultural conditions of the circulation of personal data. We rely on anthropological theory, specifically Marcel Mauss’s classic essay on The Gift, to conceptualize the role of non-market exchange and reciprocity in the origins of what Zuboff (2019) calls “surveillance capitalism.”

Marion Fourcade is Professor of Sociology at UC Berkeley. She received her PhD from Harvard University in 2000 and is an alumni of the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, France. A comparative sociologist by training and taste, she has analyzed in her work national variations in neoliberal transitions, political mores, valuation cultures, and economic knowledge. Ongoing collaborative research with Kieran Healy looks at the rise, consolidation and social consequences of new classificatory regimes powered by digital data and algorithms. Other current projects include the microsociology of courtroom exchanges (with Roi Livne); stratification processes in the social sciences (with Etienne Ollion); and the politics of wine classification and taste in France and the United States (with Rebecca Elliott and Olivier Jacquet). Professor Fourcade’s work has appeared in American Journal of Sociology, American Sociological Review, Theory and Society, Socio-Economic Review, American Behavioral Scientist, Annual Review of Sociology, Journal of Economic Perspectives and other outlets. She is a recipient of the Lewis Coser award for theoretical agenda setting, the American Sociological Association’s Distinguished Book Award and the Ludwik Fleck prize for outstanding book in the area of science and technology studies (Society for the Social Studies of Science). Website: www.marionfourcade.org.

COMING UP in the Digital Aesthetics Workshop:

May 14th + 15th: Colloquium

May 28th: Miyako Inoue

Dreams and Terrors of Desktop Documentary — Kevin B. Lee at Digital Aesthetics Workshop

Lee Poster

On Wednesday, February 27 (5-7pm in the Board Room of the Stanford Humanities Center), the Digital Aesthetics Workshop will be hosting Kevin B. Lee for an event titled “Dreams and Terrors of Desktop Documentary”:

Desktop documentary is a form that both presents and critically reflects on the world as experienced through computer screens and online interfaces. Treating the desktop as a medium for non-fiction storytelling proposes a unique set of epistemological dilemmas, affective dimensions and aesthetic discoveries. These factors inform Bottled Songs, a collaborative investigation by Kevin B. Lee and Chloé Galibert-Laîné of online terrorist media. Screening excerpts from the project, Lee will elaborate on the desktop documentary approach and its applications in exploring the underlying networks — both human and technological — informing online terrorism.

Kevin B. Lee is a US-born filmmaker and critic. He has produced over 360 video essays exploring film and media. His award-winning film Transformers: The Premake played in several festivals and was named one of the best documentaries of 2014 by Sight & Sound. He was Artist in Residence of the Harun Farocki Institut in Berlin. He is now Professor of Crossmedia Publishing at the Merz Akademie, Stuttgart. In 2018 he and Chloé Galibert-Laîné were grantees of the Sundance Institute Art of Nonfiction Fund and artists-in-residence of the European Media Art Platform (EMAP).

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

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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.

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

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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.

Plastic Dialectics: Community and Collectivity in Japanese Contemporary Art — Miryam Sas at Digital Aesthetics Workshop

Sas Poster

What do we mean when we speak of “collectivity,” collaboration, and community? How have artists and theorists in Japan questioned and created experimental practices that reframe these terms, so crucial to discussions of the arts today? Sas will reflect on issues of collectivity and assemblage as manifested in Japanese contemporary art, drawing examples from 1950s art theory, late 1960s intermedia art, 1970s site-specific photography events, and post 3-11 sculptural installation. Through site-specific critique and new modes of engagement with local space, artists in each of these distinct moments engage in a subtle but powerful rethinking of the frameworks and practices of collectives past and present.

At the next meeting of the Digital Aesthetics Workshop, Miryam Sas, Professor of Comparative Literature and Film & Media at UC Berkeley, will discuss Plastic Dialectics: Community and Collectivity in Japanese Contemporary Art. As we have throughout this quarter, we will meet on Tuesday, Dec 4, from 5-7 at the Roble Gym. RSVP to deacho@stanford.edu – we expect there will be a paper that we will pre-circulate this weekend.

Sas studies Japanese literature, film, theater, and dance; 20th century literature and critical theory; and avant-garde and experimental visual and literary arts.  She is the author of Experimental Arts in Postwar Japan: Moments of Encounter, Engagement, and Imagined Return  (Harvard, 2010); and Fault Lines: Cultural Memory and Japanese Surrealism(Stanford, 2001).  Sas is currently working on a book on media theory and contemporary art in Japan, Feeling Media: Infrastructure, Potentiality, and the Afterlife of Art in Japan, for which she was awarded a President’s Research Fellowship in the Humanities (2017-18).  She has published numerous articles in English, French, and Japanese on subjects such as Japanese futurism, cross-cultural performance, intermedia art, butoh dance, pink film and Japanese experimental animation.

Embodied Interactions & Material Screens: Camille Utterback at Digital Aesthetics Workshop

Utterback Poster

After a refreshing fall break, the Digital Aesthetics workshop will return with sessions on November 27th and December 4th . First up, we are thrilled to host Camille Utterback, Assistant Professor of Art Practice and Computer Science here at Stanford. We have always wanted to host an artist in the workshop, and could not be happier to build a conversation around Camille’s fascinating work and current questions. We look forward to seeing you there – please consider RSVPing so we can supply refreshments appropriately.

Embodied Interactions & Material Screens

w/ Camille Utterback

Tues, Nov 27, Roble Lounge, 5-7

rsvp to deacho at stanford.edu

After an overview of her interactive installation work, Camille will present on current works-in-progress which examine combinations of custom kiln-formed glass and digital animations. Her goal with her new work is to explore the possibilities of dimensional display surfaces that address the subtleties of our depth perception. What can be gained from more hybrid analog/digital and less “transparent” digital surfaces? What is at stake when our display surfaces maintain the illusion of a frictionless control vs an more complex and interdependent materiality? Camille is interested in developing a dialog around this new work, and welcomes a variety of critical input as she attempts to with situate her artworks in a theoretical framework. She has recently been reading Sensorium (ed. Caroline A. Jones), and  Meredith Hoy’s From Point to Pixel.

Camille Utterback is a pioneer in the field of digital and interactive art. Her work ranges from interactive gallery installations, to intimate reactive sculptures, to architectural scale site-specific works. Utterback’s extensive exhibit history includes more than fifty shows on four continents. Her awards include a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (2009), Transmediale International Media Art Festival Award (2005), Rockefeller Foundation New Media Fellowship (2002), Whitney Museum commission for their ArtPort website (2002), and a US Patent (2001). Recent commission include works for The Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, Santa Cruz, California (2016), The Liberty Mutual Group, Boston, Massachusetts (2013), The FOR-SITE Foundation, San Francisco, California (2012), and the City of Sacramento, California (2011). Camille’s “Text Rain” piece, created with Romy Achituv in 1999, was the first digital interactive installation acquired by the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Camille holds a BA in Art from Williams College a Masters degree from the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Art & Art History Department, and by courtesy in Computer Science, at Stanford University. Her work is represented by Haines Gallery in San Francisco.