The next meeting of the Digital Aesthetics Workshop is right around the corner! On Tuesday, November 5, 2019 (5-7pm in McMurtry 370), Scott Bukatman will be talking about digital bodies, superheroes, and more, in a talk titled “We Are Ant-Man.”
We Are Ant-Man
The body of the 21st-century cinematic superhero is often a digital body, in whole or in part. It offers itself as a particularly visible digital effect (or effect of the digital). It somatizes the mutability afforded by digital technology. It speaks to the sense that bodies (and therefore selves) in the digital age are no more inviolate than any other form of coded information. But having said that they “speak to” such conditions, what do they say beyond the fact of our own hybridity? Do these bodies tell us anything useful about our digital lives? Comedies have long served to mediate new technologies for audiences, so to pursue this, I’m going to concentrate on Ant-Man and the Wasp (Peyton Reed, 2018), perhaps thesunniest and most classically comedic film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. What do the film’s particular emphases — the nature of its gags, its depiction of technology, and the state of knowledge of both protagonists and audience — tell us about our digital condition?
Though not required, workshops participants are encouraged to watch Ant-Man and the Wasp prior to the event. Snacks and drinks will be served, and all are welcome!
On July 3, 2019, I delivered a talk related to my forthcoming book, Discorrelated Images, at Leuphana Universität’s Institute of Advanced Study on Media Cultures of Computer Simulation (MECS), during my fellowship in Lüneburg. The video is now online, and can be viewed here (or the direct link to YouTube).
Thanks to Florian Hoof for the kind invitation, and for everyone at MECS and the Center for Digital Cultures for hosting me this summer!
On June 29, 2019, I will be presenting work from my forthcoming book, Discorrelated Images, at the media-philosophical workshop on “Reflexivity in Digital Media” at the Zürcher Hochschule der Künste. Thanks to Katerina Krtilova for organizing, and thanks to Dieter Mersch for the invitation to be a part of this!
On July 3, 2019, I will be giving a talk titled “Images of Discorrelation” at the Center for Digital Cultures/Institute for Advanced Studies on Media Cultures of Computer Simulation at the Leuphana University in Lüneburg, Germany, in the context of a research fellowship I’ll be doing there this summer. Thanks to Florian Hoof, Claus Pias, and everyone at CDC/MECS for making this happen!
The exhibition catalog for APPROXIMATELY 800cm3 of PLA, curated by Gabriel Menotti at last year’s Center for 21st Century Studies conference on The Ends of Cinema (May 3-5, 2018 at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) is now online.
Among the pieces featured was DataGnomeKD1.stl, a generative/deformative 3D-printed garden gnome that Karin Denson and I made a couple of years ago in the context of a larger project at the Duke S-1: Speculative Sensation Lab. (You can check out our publication here.)
Thanks to Gabriel Menotti for putting together this playful show!
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.
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.
I am very happy to be a part of this great lecture series on Der moderne Prometheus/The Modern Prometheus this fall at the University of Basel. On December 13, 2018, I will present “Post-Cinematic Prometheus: From Frankenstein to Ex_Machina.” More info to follow.
On Tuesday, May 15th, we’ll have our fourth and final Digital Aesthetics Workshop of the Spring quarter, “The Nostalgia of Virtual Reality” with Matthew Wilson Smith, at 4 PM in the Stanford Humanities Center Board Room. In this workshop, we will discuss the degree to which emergent technologies of virtual reality are indebted to longstanding concepts of presence and disembodied consciousness.
Matthew Wilson Smith is an Associate Professor of German Studies and Theatre and Performance Studies at Stanford University. His interests include modern theatre; modernism and media; and relations between technology, science, and the arts. His book The Nervous Stage: 19th-century Neuroscience and the Birth of Modern Theatre explores historical intersections between the performing arts and the neurological sciences and traces the construction of a “neural subject” over the course of the nineteenth century. It was published by Oxford University Press in 2017. His previous book, The Total Work of Art: From Bayreuth to Cyberspace (Routledge, 2007), presents a history and theory of modern artistic synthesis, placing such diverse figures as Wagner, Moholy-Nagy, Brecht, Riefenstahl, Disney, Warhol, and contemporary cyber-artists within a genealogy of totalizing performance.