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08:00-09:30 Session 15A: The Processual Turn: Images, Logistics, Operations
Location: Emerald Bay DE
Post-Cinema and the Processual Image

ABSTRACT. In contrast to the photographically fixed images of celluloid-based cinema, post-cinematic images are thoroughly processual. Whether they are computationally generated or captured through the lenses of digital cameras, these images remain in flux as they are subjected to processes of compression, decompression, buffering, and upscaling, to name but a few. This thoroughgoing processuality implies a radical contingency and instability at the heart of contemporary images—an incompleteness and fallibility that expresses itself in digital glitches and similar disruptions. However, the consequences of processuality for spectatorial experience are of a more fundamental significance than the annoyance we might experience at the sight of pixelated images and blocky screen artifacts. For at stake in post-cinema’s processual turn is nothing less than a categorical revision of the spatial and temporal parameters of our phenomenological interface with the image, which is no longer tuned to the perceptual constraints of human embodiment. The microtemporal processing of digital images, in particular, implies that these images outstrip our ability to process them cognitively, thus endowing our visual landscape with a protentional, future-oriented dimension that distinguishes post-cinema from the retentional pastness of cinema and signals a radical change in temporal experience more generally.

The Image Unassembled: Digitization, Aesthetics, and the Logistics of Anticipation

ABSTRACT. One of the first observations of the potential for modern assembly came when the 1920 Dada Almanac critiqued the telephone for affording a seemingly unrestrained rationalism to the productive process, deriding that any painter who suffered from an "aversion to manual labor" could just as easily order art fashioned by a carpenter. There was little surprise, then, when the artist László Moholy-Nagy claimed to do exactly that, transmitting the precise position of his graph paper grid in a process of pixellation that anticipated the mediation of computation, both on the screen and on the punched cards that would encode its contents. This paper examines the digital transformation of the image process and corresponding aesthetic of production, moving beyond analysis of the algorithmic and toward the logistical. While the encoded artistry claimed by Moholy-Nagy was realized in the work of Warhol and LeWitt, or in Walter De Maria’s dedication to the pursuit of process over product, it received its most significant showcase in the 1969 exhibition titled "Art by Telephone.” In an exhibition for which there was no catalogue, only conversation, the result was images that were no longer confined to the realm of the mental or material, but which rested in anticipation of the series of social, mechanical, and (ultimately) logistical processes that would bring about their assembly. It is this positioning, of the image, unassembled, which underlies the processual aesthetic delivered by the logistical machinations of modernity. Not just in art, design, or cinema, but in the varied imaginaries of contemporary life. But while contemporary art projects like AVL’s “Almost Perfect” chair suggest the absurd affordance of these anticipatory assemblies and the rigidity of the logistical regimes of modern production, others—like Jeremy Hutchison’s “Err”—may instead reveal their potential for new forms of experimentation and engagement.

Whither Projection?: From Apparatus to Process

ABSTRACT. This paper will trace a genealogy of projection in order to better understand its place in our contemporary media ecology. Projection has proven to be an extremely generative topic in film and media theory for several decades (to say nothing of its resonance in psychoanalysis and related discourses), but its status after the digital turn is uncertain. What can an interrogation of the recent applications of projection as a cultural technique tell us about the current mutations in the moving image? By focusing on projection at several crucial episodes in its history as a moving image technology—from the black box of the movie theater to the white cube of the gallery—we will be able to account for the necessity of shifting our theoretical emphasis from one centered on apparatus to one revolving around process. Important moments to consider in this genealogy include projection’s status as one of the fundamental components of the cinematic apparatus integral to the development of “apparatus” or Screen theory in the 1970s, discourses around home theater in the 1990s and the process of moving high-definition cinematic experiences into domestic spaces, contemporary media art and the rise of artist films and video work, and finally, the recent specter of massive LCD screens replacing conventional projection in mainstream movie theaters. Projection provides an ideal historical case study for understanding how we have arrived at the processual turn in media theory.

Woman with a Google Cam: Algorithmic Cameras and The Autonomy of Recognition

ABSTRACT. This paper charts the history between algorithms and cameras, and the emergence of the ‘intelligent camera,’ such as Google’s AI camera, powered by machine learning and image recognition systems. Firstly, I outline a media archaeology of algorithmic cameras as tied to computational image production and to images as computation itself. I look to to Ada Lovelace’s observation of Joquard looms and geometric textile patterns as visible algorithms as the basis of the first computer program, and to Sergei Eisenstein’s claim in the 1930’s that the cinema is a form of geometric computation based on repeatable geometric functions. I then turn to new forms of algorithmic cameras— such as Google’s AI camera and vision API, which not only captures and produces images with algorithms, but also recognizes, categorizes, and flags images for ‘inappropriate content.’ Based on a case-study of images incorrectly identified by recognition algorithms as female nipples and flagged for removal, I discuss the ways in which intelligent cameras produce a form of inhuman recognition. The AI camera does not mimic a human recognition system but is overly primed to see certain features. Borrowing from Jonathan Crary’s ‘techniques of the observer,’ I put forth the manner in which Google’s AI camera presents a technique of the inhuman observer — machine learning through convolutional neural nets that utilize preselected and crowd-sourced training data-sets. As such, the AI camera does not only reproduce the gender bias existing already in human-based systems, but creates an inhuman hyper-bias of gender recognition. Lastly, the article is framed by my creative media arts research project, ‘Woman with a Google Cam,’ which explores algorithmic cameras, gender bias, and AI cameras as an immersive web-VR experience.

08:00-09:30 Session 15B: Science, Art, and Culture in the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries I: Hypnotism and Altered States of Consciousness in Nineteenth-Century Psychology, Occultism, and Art
Location: Emerald Bay C
Gauguin’s Vision of the Sermon and the Sensation of Color

ABSTRACT. What kind of experiences can art convey? Can a painter convey religious faith and fervor, like the emotions that stereotypically characterized the Breton peasants Gauguin observed in Pont Aven and Le Pouldu? Gauguin responded to these questions and others with his painting of a visionary experience in Vision of the Sermon: Jacob Wrestling with the Angel, 1888. This paper analyzes the painting’s engagement of the afterimage in the context of then-contemporary perceptual psychology. By considering its position in relation to contemporary ideas about spirituality, this paper contextualizes Gauguin’s embattled relationship with the Catholic church and his quest for alternate forms of spirituality. Gauguin’s Vision thus stands amidst contemporary scientific studies of perception and of spiritual experience that would later shape the new science of psychology.

Before Charcot: On the Re-emergence of Hypnosis as an Experimental Method in Nineteenth-Century France

ABSTRACT. Discredited by the famous Franklin Commission in the late eighteenth century and formally censured by both the French academies of science and medicine by the 1840s, artificial somnambulism nevertheless persisted in the non-official domains in French medicine and popular religion for decades to come. This paper examines the history of attempts to bring somnambulism back into the purview of French academic science in the decades leading up to Charcot's famous rehabilitation of the practice in 1882. Of particular interest is the crucial shift in academic context marked in the 1860s and 70s by the call for an experimental psychology to parallel French successes in the domain of experimental medicine.

Hypnotism as a New Medium

ABSTRACT. At the end of the nineteenth century, around the debate opposing Jean Martin Charcot and Hippolyte Bernheim (1880/1890), a large discursive transfer from experimental psychology to aesthetics was redefining the act of creation and contemplation as a hypnotic induction. From Henri Bergson to Paul Souriau or Jean-Marie Guyau, major French philosophers were rethinking the creative act from a new perspective related to altered states of consciousness and the technology associated with, in particular, the electrification of new media (chromo-luminous projections and light shows) which seemed to reinforce the psycho-physiological relation between visual attention, empathy and the hypnotic state.

08:00-09:30 Session 15C: Patient Instruments: Experimentation in Audiographic Research
Location: Doheny Beach C
A Speculative History of 3D Printing: The limit case of Braille

ABSTRACT. This talk discusses materials research on Braille instrument history conducted in the context of the Patient Instruments Project, an experimentation studio in audio and print media supported by the UC Humanities Research Institute. The group performs media archaeology of historical instruments through reverse engineering and re-rendering in critical and speculative print, audio, and object embodiments. This presentation considers Braille readers, printing and translation devices in the present historical context of the rise of 3D printing, a technocultural phenomenon that is proposed to signal a return to the object while paradoxically remaining within a 20th-century print-culture language of reproduction, flatness, and the page. Braille, a limit case in 2D print culture, is presented as a form through which is problematized what constitutes a 3D print and its mode of production.

Conceptual Currency Generator

ABSTRACT. In direct contrast to the ways in which researchers and corporations rent ‘server time’ -- thereby paying machines for their labour by the hour -- this project interrogates a hypothetically reversed scenario: what if machines payed us, humans, for our time? This interrogation posits three hypothetical interactions with technological instruments in which machines pay humans for their time in labor-hours. The hypothetical machines want: people to smile at them (thus generating Smile Coin); people to applaud them (thus generating Clap Coin), and people to greet them properly with vigorously symbolic handshakes (thus generating Shake Coin). These conceptual currencies draw upon the deep histories of time-based currencies, which were first implemented by utopian idealist Josiah Warren in his Cincinnati Time Store (1827-30), and have current-day manifestations such as New York’s Ithaca Hours currency and TimeBanks distributed worldwide. The new conceptual currencies generated for this project are printed by thermal printers, also called “receipt printers”. Thermal printing technology, originally invented in 1965 by Texas Instruments, is a method of printing that requires no consumable resources such as ink, toner, or ribbon. Instead, a thermal printhead applies heat to chemically treated, heat sensitive paper -- what we know as “receipt paper” -- which changes color when heated. Put differently, the thermal printer -- or receipt printer -- is intrinsically involved with money. This project interrogates the common maxim, “Time is Money”. Time is intimately related to the conception of patience, as in “tolerating a delay.” We have all heard the sounds of impatience as they relate to thermal printers (“No receipt, I’m in a rush!”); yet this experimental instrument asks what kinds of delays might instead generate conceptual currencies, in a world where machines want our time instead of us wanting theirs.

Press 1 to Be Connected: A Material and Sociological Approach through Interactive Media

ABSTRACT. This talk discusses the material and sociological research on the telephone as a part of the Patient Instruments Project, an experimentation studio in audio and print media supported by the UC Humanities Research Institute. The group performs media archaeology of historical instruments through reverse engineering and re-rendering in critical and speculative print, audio, and object embodiments. This presentation covers an ongoing project titled Press 1 to be Connected. The work involves looking at the media archeology of the telephone as a device used for data collection and acquisition within the realm of clinical research and biological sciences. As a primary medium for biosurveillance, the phone has been used for decades by clinicians and pharmaceutical companies to collect data on subjects and track drug inventory through electronic data capturing systems such as “interactive voice response systems” streamlining the process of how data is acquired and used to meet clinical protocol milestones. Yet this work serves as a form of interactive storytelling where the participant can listen to the path of a specific narrative and play multiple times for various outcomes and from different perspectives (or protagonists).

08:00-09:30 Session 15D: Form and Meaning: Cognition, Sensation, Mediation
Location: Doheny Beach B
Experimenting with Multi-Sensory Imagery in Edwidge Danticat’s Breath, Eyes, Memory

ABSTRACT. Fiction invites writers and readers to engage in experiments. Writers craft language to inspire a range of imagined experiences, and readers draw on their sensory memories to simulate what characters are feeling. No two readers ever respond to a literary work the same way, but scientists and literary scholars can learn from the ways that fiction-writers cue readers to imagine in several sensory modalities at once, just as their readers use all available senses to engage the world. Writers who excel at evoking multi-sensory imagery may have knowledge valuable to neuroscientists studying sensory integration.

Few writers top Edwidge Danticat at inspiring readers to imagine their characters’ sensations. Danticat’s novel, Breath, Eyes, Memory, tells the story of Sophie Caco, who negotiates between her lives in rural Haiti and inner-city Brooklyn to build an identity. Danticat leads readers into Sophie’s mind and emotions by offering them her sensations and her imagined sensations of other characters. At key emotional moments, Danticat combines vision with touch, providing readers with a view of the wider world while anchoring them in Sophie’s body. In the opening lines, for example, Sophie sees a daffodil on a Mother’s Day card and flattens it under her palm.

Literary scholars Elaine Scarry, Gabrielle Starr, and Elaine Auyoung have begun studying how fiction-writers inspire readers to create multi-sensory imagery. This presentation forms part of a project in which I build on their work by investigating how global anglophone writers of the digital age cue readers to simulate and blend several sensory modalities. Neuroscientists such as Krish Sathian and Simon Lacey are investigating people’s ability to combine vision with touch. Skilled fiction-writers’ intuitive knowledge about how to evoke multi-modal imagery may suggest new models to test and experiments to try.

Re-framing games: Re-mediating peritext, the parergon, and the periphery for games.

ABSTRACT. This paper focuses on aspects of games not often seen as central in the study of games and media. Drawing heavily on Genette’s description of paratext—specifically peritext—and Derrida’s analysis of the parergon, I describe a lens focused on the frame of non-play-centered interfaces on the fringe of gameplay. The three examples of these interfaces I discuss in this talk are: Authentication and login; character selection or creation—what I refer to as “casting;” and the controllers that provide the physical interface for games. Authentication controls who may access games, casting determines who games are about, and controllers constrain the ways interaction with games may occur. I redeploy Derrida and Genette to these case studies to suggest how examining these kinds of interfaces can be leveraged to explore relationships of authority and influence in games and media. I use periludic to describe the remediation of peritext and parergon in games, and to describe these interfaces and systems that comprise a threshold around gameplay that influences the game and the experience of players and designers alike.

In games, these interfaces are often developed by user interface or “usability” designers who measure success by how little people notice their work. Derrida describes how the parergon distinguishes itself by disappearing or dissolving away while attention turns to the ergon; the work. But, both Genette and Derrida agree that the text, the work, is only made legible, distinct, recognizable, or present by that which surrounds and encloses it, but is neither text or work nor general context. These periludic interfaces are at once separate from and inseparable from games. I draw attention to these interfaces because of the important outcomes they tend to broker or resolve that impact the content and structure of games and the real-world socio-economic networks in which players become enrolled.

"Experience Is Forever in Motion": The Divided Brain and Experimental Thinking

ABSTRACT. In her introduction to Thinking with Whitehead (2011), Isabelle Stengers explains that the French word expérience translates both into experience and experiment, thus expanding “experiment” to mean “an experience that implies an active, open, and demanding attention.” Such attention is not only focused, but it is also flexible. It pursues not merely what is predicable, but also what is possible. This type of experimentation is speculative, both in Whitehead’s sense in Science and the Modern World (1925) and in Donna Haraway’s multifarious acronym “SF.”

Yet, this discussion in the philosophy of science has not fully considered the role of brain structure in this experimenting process. Iain McGilchrist, in his newly reissued book The Master and His Emissary (2nd edition, 2019), argues that the left and right hemispheres of the brain contain their own worldviews—the left is more narrow and focused, the right is more open and flexible. He eschews the clichés of being “right-brained” or “left-brained,” and instead argues that both ways of seeing the world are necessary. In Stengers’s construction, experimental attention is active, open, and demanding because the entire brain participates; the “slow” science she praises in Another Science Is Possible (2018) is one that uses the whole brain.

This paper examines McGilchrist’s text, along with other brain imaging and split-brain research, in light of recent research in the philosophy of science. While McGilchrist provides a convincing narrative for how the two hemispheres interact, I push further into the margins. That is, I argue that experimental attention, in Stengers’s sense, fluctuates not only between the two hemispheres’ way of thinking, but also to the margins of the brain—what William James calls “consciousness beyond the margin.”

The Skin of the Platform

ABSTRACT. The touchscreen interfaces of digital technologies bring the world, quite literally, to our fingertips. The haptic structure of these embodied engagements with digital devices has been thoroughly examined by scholars such as David Parisi, and the materiality of digital technology is foregrounded in studies of foundational structures of the computing systems that underlie digital media, in for example Ian Bogost’s and Nick Manfort’s ‘Platform Studies’ book series. Departing from these material conditions of digital technology, this paper examines the materiality of human-computer interfacing through the ‘skin of the platform’—the boundaries and surfaces it shares with its users—as a digital adaptation of what Michel Serres called the “common border” between body and world. Through an experimental engagement with touchscreen technology and artistic explorations of skin and technology, this paper explores instances in which human skin becomes part of digital technology—as for example when the fingertips carry the touchscreen’s electrical field to enable its haptic function. Focusing on the skin-cutting installation “Amygdala” by Italian artist Marco Donnarumma, and the skin-devices of German-Canadian artist Marie-Eve Levasseur, this paper exposes the layers of skin—human, metal, digital skin—that emerge through the process of flaying and cutting in the works of both artists, exposing the masked violence of digital technology and its inversion of agency. By exploring the limits of the skin of the platform, this paper argues that in skin-to-skin contact with digital technology, technology may no longer be the extension of the human, as Marshall McLuhan hoped, but the human becomes an extension of technology.

08:00-09:30 Session 15E: Science Fiction Otherwise
Location: Doheny Beach A
The Orient at the Gate of Deconstructive Decolonization of the West: Samuel R. Delany’s Dhalgren

ABSTRACT. American science fiction writer Samuel R. Delany’s 1975 novel Dhalgren is eight hundreds’ pages long and is full of disorienting riddles. In Dhalgren, any kind of binary theme exists only to be deconstructed. In the praxis of decolonial deconstruction of Western epistemological themes, however, this paper raises several questions. Why does Dhalgren require the appearance of Oriental and Native American characters? Where is the place for the Oriental and the Native American in the binary? What is the semiotic, thematic, syntagmatic, and paradigmatic function of the Oriental and the Native American in decolonial deconstruction? These questions are important because, in Delany and other African American science fiction writers’ decolonial works, Asian characters and their cultural products are constantly present in the peripheries, and the theme of indigenous politics and settler colonialism has also often been brought up. Therefore, this paper will broadly argue two other points concerning Dhalgren. First, instead of reading the novel from a solely postmodernist, deconstructionist, or African American cultural perspective, I will argue the novel’s formal aspects are a decolonial deconstruction creating a new, epistemological viewpoint of humanity and its relation to race, which escapes from the colonially racist, liberal humanist subjectivity in the post-apartheid United States. Afterward, in this critical disruption of binary liberal humanist epistemology, I will ask where Delany epistemologically locates and uses his Oriental and Native American characters. I argue, as Delany focuses on deconstruction of black/white racial binary which is so central to contemporary understanding of race in the United States, he overlooks how the characters connected with indigenous and Asian background are rendered as stateless anti-genealogical subjects. From this reading, I will suggest that the novel perpetuates poststructuralist theorists’ Orientalist and colonialist thought through a form of Afro-Orientalism.

Epidemiology and Literary Experiment in John Edgar Wideman’s The Cattle Killing

ABSTRACT. As a cultural trope, the epidemic has predominantly been used to embody a nexus of phobias involving existential threats to the social body. Often we hear about how the boundaries of communities are policed by stoking people’s fears of disease and contagion, leading us to assume that this fiction is deeply linked with xenophobic feelings. There exist counter-hegemonic literary crosscurrents, however, where epidemics act as positive social catalysts that lead communities to envision themselves—both their problems and potentialities—in new ways. Wideman’s The Cattle Killing (1997) portrays the 1793 Philadelphia Yellow Fever epidemic as just such a catalyst in the context of American racial politics. The plot turns upon the fact that the African American community was falsely deemed immune to yellow fever by the prevailing epidemiology of the time; consequently, they were asked by city leaders to tend to the sick in their homes where whites were afraid to go. In accepting this call, these volunteers cross domestic boundaries and experience extraordinary forms of intimacy not only with the white people they treat, but with other African Americans they would not normally encounter, fostering new, ambiguous forms of connectedness and community. The epidemic thus becomes a chronotope allowing for experimentation with the very conditions of sociality.

I argue that the novel uses its form to extend this experimentation into the contemporary moment of its readers. It presents the epidemic and the societal response through a multitude of narrative perspectives, both past and present, which echo and amplify one another. These echoes foster a jarring sense of contemporaneity between the racial politics of eighteenth-century Philadelphia and those of today. Wideman thereby offers the literary as the space where history itself becomes infectious, allowing for unexpected intimacies with the people who lived it.

Cold Narratives: Cryogenic Futures and the Memories of Race

ABSTRACT. In their 2017 collection of essays, Joanna Radin and Emma Kowal position cryopolitics as intervening in contemporary discussions of biopolitics. Rather than exploring how power “makes live and lets die,” as Michel Foucault argues, they argue that cryopolitics, with its attention to the environment and to technologies of coldness, examines what it means that “beings are made to live and are not allowed to die” (6). Popular narratives that explore the extending of human life through the freezing of human bodies or body parts must be read through this disciplinary understanding of sustainability, since cryogenics requires one to consider what life is worthy of being preserved and what it means to distinguish living and dead, human and non-human. By examining the focus on the white male cryogenic body in the television series Wayward Pines, and the repetition of cryogenesis in the show, given that individuals can be refrozen if they do not act “properly,” my presentation draws on current work in cryopolitics and Black Studies to examine how the show links progress and futurity to whiteness, and disciplines blackness as part of the past and as non-human. By directing citizens of the town to forget their past (lives), those who do remember become outsiders, since their pasts provide them alternative ways of understanding self-identity and community building. That their “preserved” and reanimated histories threaten the political and racial hierarchy of the town by linking blackness to whiteness complicates how one understands the preservation of one’s self and encourages a rethinking how narratives of coldness should be read. Following the argument of Michael Bravo, the shows sees these cold narratives less as representations of preservation or of inertia, as maintaining the status quo, and more as intervening in how racial and social identities are conceived, as fostering growth and change.

The Erotic Queerness of Operating Rooms: Octavia Butler's "Bloodchild" and the Anatomical Venus

ABSTRACT. Although there are many strange scenes in the history of eighteenth and nineteenth-century medical education in Europe, among the most bizarre are those which commonly took place around the study of female anatomy: imagine, if you will, a room full of young men who surround a supine nude wax model, made to represent a high standard of beauty and, of all things, sensuality. These wax models, known as “Anatomical Venuses,” are part of a historical archive that places surgery in the confusing affective space of an erotic spectacle—a statement that may provoke a nightmarish discomfort in many readers. And yet, the Venuses do not stand (or rather, recline) alone in presenting such an interarticulation between sex and surgery. The concept of “erotic surgery” may seem horrifying, but the values that the Venuses embody (in wax) also inform an aesthetic structure that continues to experiment in confusing the lines of erotic and medical gaze and touch. This paper puts the Anatomical Venuses in conversation with the imaginative experimentation of Octavia Butler’s short story, “Bloodchild,” and therefore creates a heritage in which the unsettling concept of “erotic surgery” looks back into history as much as it vaults forward. “Bloodchild,” defamiliarizes the logics of erotics through a speculative universe in which humans, called “Terrans” in the story, are given the job of carrying the young of their alien hosts. By featuring a male narrator and body that crosses the wires of surgical and erotic penetrations, it shifts what has historically been a surgical fascination on the inner contours of women’s bodies toward the vulnerability of men’s bodies. “Bloodchild’s” stark juxtaposition of graphic surgical and erotic scene underscores a dynamic in which receiving surgery can be seen as a gender equalizer: rather than relegating penetrative acts to the biological essentialism of being exclusively

08:00-09:30 Session 15F: Inform, Assert, Shape: Comics in Culture
Location: Emerald Bay B
The Italian Job: Radical Experiments in Pirated Translations of Felix the Cat

ABSTRACT. The 1919 release of Pat Sullivan’s The Adventures of Felix began the meteoric rise of the first cartoon icon of the early 20th century. Felix in Hollywood (1923) cements his superstar status by showcasing him dancing with Charlie Chaplin. That same year King Features began syndicating a Felix newspaper comic strip, first to England, then throughout the United States. In today’s parlance, Felix went viral.

One sign of a character’s iconography is through imitation or, in the case of Felix, outright theft. In the late 1920’s, Milan’s Corriere della Sera, one of the oldest (and still extant) newspapers in Italy, began re-publishing the newspaper strips, but with the title and Pat Sullivan’s name erased. Additionally, these Italian versions were rewritten entirely in verse. The transformation of these comics, from English to Italian, from narrative to rhymed verse, is also complex translation across cultures. They are a radical re-envisioning of American comics with a peculiarly Italian bent, both formally as well as textually.

My presentation will show examples of the original comics in English, followed by the re-published/pirated versions from Corriere della Sera, and discuss the role of translation, the effects of adaptation across two kinds of writing (prose and verse), as well as the implications for accessibility by Italian readers.

Coping with Crisis: Exploring Graphic Novels' Open Form

ABSTRACT. According to Nick Sousanis’ graphic novel, Unflattening, “We draw not to transcribe ideas from our heads but to generate them in search of greater understanding (Sousanis, p.79).” Contemporary graphic novels are pushing beyond the hero’s journey typical of comic story-telling to tell compelling alternative narratives of personal reflection and exploration. As graphic novels branch out to include narratives that elevate lost historical figures and humanize far-away places and histories, they are also beginning to grapple with trauma and self-understanding in the face of a chaotic present and an unknown future.

Through a variety of visual styles, graphic novel authors are exploring new methods of visual literacy which communicate their thoughts and histories beyond traditional story-telling and comic conventions. Texts like Home, Unflattening, and Belonging push the comic form to consider the page as a blank canvas for new kinds of visualizations. Whereas, texts such as My Friend Dahmer, Arab in America, Sabrina, and As the World Burns, stay within the traditional comic-style convention, but push narrative boundaries of empathy, alternative perspectives, and societal theory. The openness of the genre, as well as its DIY nature, allows for an intersectional set of visions and voices to join the cultural milieu of story-telling. By encouraging new authorial voices and inviting a new reading audience to engage with the medium, contemporary graphic novels broaden the world and the way we see it. This talk will focus on examining a selection of recent graphic novels concerning crisis as explored by both fictional and biographical works, and how the authors use the art form to explore and deepen our understanding of the human experience.

Comics, humor, and art in scientific communication

ABSTRACT. The importance of effective communication in science cannot be understated. Science comics represent a unique and powerful means of communication within and across disciplines, and with the wider public. The blend of sequential images and text, and often including humor lowers the energy barrier to communication. Science comics are used for explanation of complex and difficult scientific concepts, outreach for greater understanding of important scientific principles and findings, and commentary about the state of science and public perception of science. My vision is to gain a place of acceptance and value for scientific comics in the scientific community, including journals and publishers, funding agencies, and institutional recognition mechanisms. I am a computational biologist who works with complex data on cancer, infectious disease, and soil microbiomes. I started RedPen/BlackPen as a commentary on science and the career of research science. My talk will focus on three main points: 1) why comics? 2) examples of what can be done with comics, and 3) how scientists can incorporate science in their normal communication to enhance effectiveness.

From Minor Villains to Headlining Heroes: The Pendulum of Popularity in Mainstream Comic Characters

ABSTRACT. Creating comics characters is an experiment: the creators make someone, throw them out in the culture, and see if they engage the public’s imagination.

This talk will follow the careers of a few case study characters, such as the Molecule Man, Elektra, Squirrel Girl, and Patsy Walker, who have had clear periods of popularity mixed with equally clear fallow periods. It will compare them with characters such as Tiboro, who have stayed as minor characters for decades, and with others like Solo, who had a big splash and then faded away. I will also discuss writers such as Brian Michael Bendis and Tom King who clearly delight in bringing back old characters (Luke Cage, Kite Man)—sometimes making new, meaningful connections between the character to contemporary culture, and sometimes making them the butt of nostalgic jokes.

The other papers in this panel, by Andrea Buckvold, Mark O’Connor, and Jason McDermott, all wrestle with the way comics engage with the culture at large. My own talk also tackles the connection between comics and culture, as it speculates about why some characters have moved from the periphery of comics to the center, and often back and forth again multiple times.

However, my presentation will also be an artwork in itself, featuring a series of art-charts like this one ( of the Molecule Man’s publishing history. I will present, in extreme and entertaining visual detail, the full chronological timelines of each of the case-study characters’ publishing histories, showing visually the waxing and waning of their popularity.

Overall, the presentation will mix my experimental approach to art and information design with an analysis of each character and its context (both in the comics and in society at large), creating a visual and textual portrait of the characters’ pendulum of popularity.

08:00-09:30 Session 15G: Experimental Approaches to Pedagogy Through Art and Literature
Location: Emerald Bay A
Rendering reality: a speculative approach to the life-world of adolescent artists.

ABSTRACT. This paper is part of an early stage art education research. The research asks questions of the teaching and assessment of processes of abstraction. The research takes place in a moment of ‘ontological crisis’ (Tønnessen, M., 2003/2009/2018) in which adolescence seems to be a time of increasing anxiety and confusion. This research acts on the assertion that even after nearly a century of development, art curricula deployed in UK secondary education continues to fail to fully account for processes of abstraction, in spite of its vitality in twentieth century art history and practice. This lacune may point to wider implications for UK state education policy in respect to the purposeful cognitive development of adolescents. The research returns to a previous moment of ontological crisis in the early 20th Century when phenomenological and relative models began to emerge into wider discourse and re-evaluates a number of nascent biological concepts of ‘perceptual abstraction’ (von Uexküll,1909, 1934) as they were set out then in the context of the adolescent life-world (Muchow,1934/5). Such understandings of adolescence as a shared reciprocal weaving of phenomenological reality are then set in the context of the prospect of attempts to render such experience through artistic abstraction by artists such as Kazimir Malevich. The aim of this stage of the research being to reveal and outline strategies that might be drawn upon and speculatively re-constructed later in the research as a means to better account for the lived-realities of contemporary adolescents in art education. It is hoped such a research may point the way towards a reinvigoration of art in the teaching of the skills of abstraction.

Santiniketan: Rabindranath Tagore’s Experiments in Environmental, Educational and Communitarian Practice

ABSTRACT. In 1921, the poet, polymath, and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore founded his "world university," Visva-Bharati, the latest and most ambitious of his many experiments in social reform that have, to date, received little attention outside his native India. Disillusioned by the violence of the nationalist Swadeshi movement, Tagore embraced education reform coupled with rural reconstruction as the best path toward Indian independence, and sought to establish a holistic and creative community at Santiniketan (“Abode of Peace”), a rural site roughly 100 miles north-west of Kolkata in present-day West Bengal, which he hoped would serve as a prototype for similar projects throughout India, and thereby spark widespread cultural and economic renewal. To this end, Tagore founded an innovative children’s school at the site in 1901, accompanied by extensive rural infrastructure projects—including agricultural modernization and development of artisanal cottage industries. Within the Santiniketan community, which included not only students and teachers but also the inhabitants of nearby rural and tribal villages, Tagore foregrounded values he believed essential to developing a dynamic Indian society, among them the importance of an intimate connection to nature, of creative expression in everyday life, and of a spirit of collaboration within human interactions. The revitalized India he envisioned, rooted in its own rich cultural heritage while also open to new ideas, could cast off the yoke of British rule and emerge as a full participant on the world stage, a circumstance he sought to create in microcosm at Visva-Bharati where—in the words of the school's motto—the "world meets as in a single nest." Although their impact may have fallen short of his dreams, many of Tagore’s experiments in environmental, educational and communitarian practice bore demonstrable fruit during his lifetime, and offer an instructive case study in how utopic vision might translate into practical application.

Empathy Development in the L2 Literature Classroom

ABSTRACT. The development of critical thinking skills has long been claimed as one of the many socio-cognitive benefits of exposure to the humanities, and as such, is often an outcome of a literature classroom. Indeed, several scholars (Oatley; Johnson; Koopman; Black and Barnes; etc.) have found a correlation between being well-read in literary fiction and exhibiting more pro-social attitudes or behaviors. This can be observed with an increased use of metacognitive vocabulary (i.e. I think, she believes, etc.) when asked to describe narratives. Zunshine argues that this is due to literature being a mental playground for our theory of mind - a way to hone our empathetic skills. However, this research is largely based on populations that have already been exposed to literature. More research needs to be done in the process of becoming well-read in order to support a causal relationship rather than simply correlational.

In a first step at one approach toward addressing this gap, the present research discusses the outcome of an empirical study performed with university students in an introduction to Hispanic literature course. The course was designed to be an introduction to literature through Hispanic texts, taught in Spanish, and focused on narrative prose, essay, poetry, and dramatic works. On the first and last days, students were asked to complete a task: describe the main character of a provided work of flash fiction. The hypothesis was that students would demonstrate a higher frequency of metacognitive vocabulary in the final task than in the first. The results demonstrate that participants used a higher frequency of metacognitive vocabulary at the end of the semester as opposed to the beginning, potentially indicating more awareness of others’ mental states. This experiment is to be repeated on a wider scale and will be completed by the end of Fall 2020 semester.

Historical Pedagogies as New Radical Practice

ABSTRACT. This paper asks whether historical pedagogies remain relevant to the development of experimental artistic practices today. It takes the pedagogical model established by the photographer Nathan Lyons at Visual Studies Workshop (VSW) in 1969 as a case study. In so doing it argues that the photographic training at VSW, which then already extended into experiments in poetry, film and video, is aptly suited to the development of radical practices in the new media landscape. Grounded in the social imperatives of Laszlo Moholy-Nagy’s Vision in Motion, the training at VSW sought to engender students with a conviction of aesthetic forces rather than forms. Students like Henry Wessel Jr. and Joan Lyons, among others, endeavored to translate subjective experience into an objective, or rather collective, aesthetic reality. Graduates of VSW became affiliated with a number of seemingly disparate movements, among them feminism and street photography. Ultimately, their experiments worked on the problem of reconciliation between human experience and the accelerating demands of modernity. A founding member of the Society for Photographic Education, Lyons was an important curator, photographer, and theorist at a time when photography remained an illegitimate art and yet his pedagogical model is under historicized and little known. Indeed, pedagogical histories in the arts remain broadly under studied. Through historical research alongside visual and theoretical analysis this paper hopes to redress some of the current oversight while simultaneously insisting that these historical models are an important resource in the development of new radical practices.

08:00-09:30 Session 15H: Experimenting with Experimenters: Thinking Otherwise with Latour, Serres, Stengers
Location: Moss Cove A
Postcritical Dispositions: Michel Serres’s Epistemology of Imbalance

ABSTRACT. Michel Serres sees knowledge as emerging not from methodical rational inquiry but rather from cognitive states he describes as inclinations, bents, tendencies, and currents. We might think of these as “dispositions,” a term suggesting a condition that is less stable and immovable than, say, a solid stance or position. By exploring how the notion of disposition emerges from Serres’s 1991 book Le Tiers-instruit, this paper presents Serres as a harbinger of the post-critical turn in literary and cultural studies. The latest phase in the university’s fatigue with Enlightenment rationalism, the postcritical turn questions the value of the critic who seeks scientific mastery over the text by means of reasoned analysis. It denounces as hubristic the all-knowing critic who exposes textual features unbeknown to the author or the untrained reader. Instead of this conflictual relationship, proponents of post-critique promote textual encounters that privilege mood, feeling and “disposition.” Serres repeatedly cautions against the excesses of rational inquiry in academia and the neglect of illogical ways of knowing. Playing on reason’s relationship to notions of accounting and proportion (“ratio”), Serres laments the way rational scholarly debate perpetuates a cycle of vengeance: Ideas oppose other ideas in order to correct an imbalance in an intellectual contest. As a result, scholarly debate perpetuates a kind of static equilibrium (compensation, proportion, ratio) that impedes epistemological progress. To disrupt this stasis, Serres extols prescription, a legal concept that overrides the compensatory (i.e., rational) nature of jurisprudential justice. Prescription, then, introduces forgiveness and forgetting into scholarly inquiry; it fosters a creation of knowledge that emerges from states of imbalance, illogic and fluctuating dispositions. In sum, Serres outlines an ethics of postcritical inquiry that responds to the excesses of the neoliberal university and its hubristic rationalism.

"Referentiality and Sensitivity: Reorienting Literary Theory with Latour and Stengers"

ABSTRACT. In my paper, I would like to explore what happens when we put to literary studies a question Latour asks in a keynote speech in 2014: "How can we make ourselves sensitive to Gaia?" Raised in a symposium that precedes by one year the 2015 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris, the issue of "sensitivity to Gaia (or the world)" leads us beyond aesthetics (in the etymological sense of that which pertains to sense perception) into politics and ethics. Indeed, Latour's question is simultaneously a mandate: it asks how we can cultivate our sensitivity and capacity to respond to our planet in order to address the vast and intractable problem of climate change.

On the face of it the question "How do we make ourselves sensitive to the world?" seems germane to literary studies. Many of us know from experience that literary texts can make us sensitive to the people and the lives we are reading about. The notion of "sensitivity" seems aptly to characterize what literary texts do. However, from the prevailing perspective of the self-reflexive model of literature we have inherited from modern theory, the question of sensitivity has no bearing on literary studies. Indeed, in structuralism, poststructuralism, and deconstruction literary language refers not to the world (anti-referential) but only to itself (self-referential). The world, negated, becomes absent from the literary universe. As such, the pressing question of sensitivity cannot even arise in modern theory since there is no world toward which to be sensitive.

Stengers asks us to interrogate theories that are incapable of accounting for what matters to us in everyday experience and practice. Paying heed to Stengers's call for reasons both of poetics and politics, my paper explores how we might reorient

Experimenting with Post-Modern Animals

ABSTRACT. When Derrida or Jean-Christophe Bailly stage encounters with animals in their 2002 and 2007 texts, they imagine opposite yet similar epistemological scenarios. The former describes a close but skeptical encounter, the latter paints a distant yet intimate observation of animals worlds. Both thinkers keep their distance from the animals they meet and believe in their ultimate unknowability. This skepticism lends their respective zoo-politics a rather impractical character. It also keeps their knowledge from engaging in relational and experimental practices. Derrida and Bailly are both unable as well as unwilling to ask questions to their animals and to grapple with the way they participate in the knowledge process. It is this unwillingness that keeps them from engaging with today’s experimental animal science as well as contemporary relational epistemologies.

In this paper, I briefly explore these post-modern “non experimental” approaches to animal knowledge. I also examine how Bailly’s foray into ethology calls for the very experimental attitude he refuses. Using Latour’s pragmatic suggestion that experiments are the force behind all knowledge, I show how Bailly’s distant observation of animals benefits from being replaced by an investigational ethology that sets up natural trials and lets animals intervene in its discoveries. Such reconfiguration of knowledge from distant and visual to experimental and hybrid jumbles the habitual polar opposition of natural and artificial. It turns Bailly’s remote nature into an artifact whose referentiality is both fluid and mixed. This “middle-referent” is no longer the absent animal of post-modern texts, but a close pragmatic cousin. And it is important to study this kind of pragmatic animal alongside its post-modern relatives because these experimental animals multiply in the works of contemporary scientists and philosophers, and because they also ask of us a vastly different politics of nature.

Early Haitian Theater and the Emergence of Factishism

ABSTRACT. In the wake of the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804), Haiti became the site of insightful critiques directed at French Enlightenment ideals. Some of these postcolonial critiques focused on the disturbing fusion of rationality and barbarism that marked the brutal regime of plantation slavery. In this paper, I examine an anonymous 1820 Haitian play entitled Le Philosophe-Physicien, which parodies French rationality through a story about a scientist and his invention of a machine that forces people to speak the truth. In the play, he performs experiments with this machine while explaining to his servant how it works. The dialogue between the inventor and servant operates a rapprochement between European rationality and African “fetishism” that not only provokes laughter but also undermines the traditional interpretation of science as the transparent expression of truth. This rapprochement, I argue, anticipates Bruno Latour’s call to rethink scientific practices in terms of “factishism.” The production of “facts” has traditionally relied on the opposition between science and belief, European “modernity” and African “backwardness,” and reality and human construction. The “factish” rearticulates such oppositions on more complex grounds by bringing the model of the “fetish” to the fore, and by re-connecting the production of scientific knowledge to colonial history.

09:00-11:00 SPECIAL EVENT: Game Studies Stream: Demo/Playing (SLSArcade)

This featured session of the Game Studies Stream brings together game makers, scholars, teachers, writers, and players to demonstrate their designs and creations.  Participants can walk around, try out different games, and talk with creators in this remixed "poster session" and "arcade."  Featured games engage a range of perspectives, disciplines, and topics including social media, science and technology, literature, alternate realities, digital humanities, gender and sexuality, metagaming, and environmental studies.

09:45-11:15 Session 16A: Experiments in Deconstruction: More-than-Human Politics and Poetics of the Sensible
Location: Emerald Bay DE
Vegetal Negotiations and Animal Politics

ABSTRACT. Rather than discussing the political formalization of animal rights in our legal constitution, and rather than utilizing political philosophy to examine political and ethical representations of animals, this paper draws on a range of continental philosophy, in particular the work of Derrida, and takes an ethnographic approach to propose that animals are indeed political agents. By way of example, this paper takes a personal daily encounter with a wild but urbanized possum family in the city of Sydney, Australia, to reveal and explore the political behaviors and communications of the possums when engaging with humans. Moreover, it explores the ways in which the possums politicize their own environment by negotiating the use of plants and trees with each other as well as other animals, such as fruit bats and birds. In and through this ethnographic approach, the general aim of this paper, then, is to demonstrate the various ways that humans can learn to be responsive to animals; how animals communicate with and respond to humans and in doing so reveal their political agency, and how these experiences in turn deconstruct the artificial separation of human and nonhuman communities, cultures, and politics.

How like a (fig) leaf: outgrowing shame.

ABSTRACT. Recent years have seen growing interest in the subject of plants. However, this paper will not follow a politics of representation that seeks only to redress an absence of attention by adding in the missing plant to a field otherwise construed to be adequate. Rather, it learns from Derrida’s positioning of the ‘animal question’ as not ‘one question amongst others’ but something that, in pushing at the conceptual foundations of metaphysics, shakes the heart of ‘our’ ethical, juridical, and political field. Speculating upon what force the ‘plant question’ might disseminate, the paper engages the crucial work of Elaine Miller and her activation of Luce Irigaray’s ‘efflorescence.’ Rather than propagate the Aristotelian legacy of the ‘vegetative soul’ – a legacy in which the feminine and the vegetal are rooted in passivity as the dumping ground of everything the subject that calls himself ‘man’ fears – they allow for a transplantion of this soul such that natural origins no longer entrench stasis and growth ‘never estranges itself from corporeal existence’ (Irigaray).

The (fig) leaf experiment layers the testing of experience in which bodies and concepts cannot exclude each other. Derrida might name this interface ‘limitrophic’ – that which cultivates differences (rather than negatively defend against difference). Irigaray names it the ‘sensible transcendental.’ The question of being ‘like’ a figleaf opens up histories of both metaphor and ontotheology. Derrida’s desire for ‘naked words’ put him to shame only in this context. Opening a conversation between Irigaray and Derrida might cultivate the dehiscence of the ontotheological garden as the site of shame, sin and fault. The paper both insists upon the erotic in Derrida’s work (his rhythmic play of tumescence-detumescence is too often ignored). Grafting the one into the other, it will ask after Irigaray’s

Homofaunie: Cixous, Derrida, and non-human tonalities

ABSTRACT. In L’Animal que je suis donc Jacques Derrida suggests that the question of what would be proper to the animal should “change tune.” At stake is a chromatic inflection of pitch that would pivot the tonality flatwards. I read this extraordinary passage, in which Derrida calls for us to lend an ear to an “unheard-of music” that neither emancipates the non-human nor condemns it to inarticulate noise, in conjunction with the nexus of animality, telephony, and the cri de la littérature that unfolds in Hélène Cixous’s writing. I explore the significant role assumed by the sonorous in these descriptions of non-human life. For Cixous, the telephonic power of near-instantaneous substitution and of prostheticity is inseparable from the sounds produced by the coterie of animals that populate the writings of these two authors: cats, dogs, wolves, lions, ants, bees, worms, swans, other birds, elephants, and even the mythical half-human, half-animal faun. What is intriguing is that this bestiary is almost always said with a certain homonymy or homophony. Hence this paper traces what I want to call a homofaunie echoing the series of puns and neologisms such as “(t)elefaun” and “(t)elephantasy” in Cixous’s Anamkè which is so striking as to capture Derrida’s attention in H. C. pour la vie, c’est à dire…. I ask what is at stake for theorizing non-human life—not just animal but also plant and so-called inanimate life—if the mode of questioning is to be redirected by a specifically aural attunement in which listening itself is retuned under the guidance of untranslatable homophony. This has the effect of turning the multiplication and dissemination of non-human life—Derrida’s animots—towards the singularity of the idiom such that homofaunie complicates any attempt to draw boundaries between different forms of life as much as it unsettles all transferences.

09:45-11:15 Session 16B: Science, Art, and Culture in the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries, II: Artists Engaging Science and Culture in Cubism, Futurism, and Surrealism
Location: Emerald Bay C
The Pasted Paper Devolution: Alcoholism, Sex, Syphilis and Sport in the Cubist Papier-Collés

ABSTRACT. By stopping the eye in the same way as an artist's signature, the papier collés of Picasso and Braque wrought what Clement Greenberg called The Pasted Paper Revolution. Yet when located within Michel Foucault’s theory of biopouvoir, and when contextualized within the prevailing biopolitical discourses and mechanisms of the French avant-guerre Radical Republic propelled by devolution paranoia, Picasso’s and Braque’s newspaper advertisements and articles do not appear to function merely as optical blockades. Instead they appear to form a parodic dialogue with these biopolitical discourses on the depopulation crisis, escalating degeneration and declining public health, as well as the biopolitical mechanisms to regenerate the French body, regulate its sexuality and militarize the nation. When located within these discourses, the letters in the fragments of pasted paper do not act as liberated signs but as semiological triggers invoking such controversial keywords as alcoholism, abortion, contraception, sexual hygiene, impotence, virility tonics, masturbation, gonorrhea, syphilis and venereaologist, alongside such pivotal terms in regeneration discourses as La Vie sportive and L’Education physique. By focusing upon Picasso’s and Braque’s selection of these pasted papers, particularly their placement in ironic juxtapositions and farcical inversions, this paper will endeavor to reveal how they signaled not only the biopolitical mechanisms to regenerate the avant-guerre Republic but also how these strategies seemed constantly thwarted by the rampancy of degenerate practices.

From Action to Analogy: Color Theory in Early Italian Futurism

ABSTRACT. Before WWI, Italian futurism relied on references to concrete physical, psychic, and social forces in order to envision an abstract process of cultural and societal renewal. Central to its cultural project was a premise of energetic profusion, which was symptomatic of sociopolitical turbulence, but also well suited to an artistic lineage envisioning historical transformation. By 1913–14, this interpretation of disruptive social and political forces came to examine more carefully the material properties of its primary artistic medium: painting. In addition, futurist discourses of color moved from literally rendering physical and social forces, especially when discharged or accumulated over time, to describing a sensitive medium for transcribing all manner of visual and nonvisible data. As in Gino Severini’s Spherical Expansion of Light (Centrifugal) and Spherical Expansion of Light (Centripetal) (both 1914), Severini and fellow futurist Carlo Carrà articulated a theory of chromatic analogy oriented toward transcribing into color a seemingly limitless range of data beyond the visible spectrum—such as “speed, heat, smell, noise, etc.” Insisting on the human material of experience, futurist Umberto Boccioni developed an adjacent theory, in which human bodies generate, perform, and modulate a colorized spectrum of actual and virtual forces. As such, Boccioni's painting Dynamism of a Football Player (1913–14) plots a complex visual registration of internal (i.e., psychophysiological) and external (i.e., social and historical) processes, for which chromatic intensity signals an awareness of the new investments demanded of the modern subject in and through the violent process of modernization.

Roberto Matta, Surrealism, and the Fourth Dimension

ABSTRACT. Surrealism’s founder André Breton wrote in a 1939 essay of the young new Surrealists, including Roberto Matta, that their “fundamental aspiration is to move beyond the universe of three dimensions.” He continued, “Although that was one of the leitmotifs of Cubism in its heroic period, it must be admitted that this question poses itself in a much more pointed manner since Einstein’s introduction of the notion of space-time into physics.” Yet Matta’s engagement with the “fourth dimension” responded both to the earlier spatial fourth dimension (evoked in the reference to Cubism) and to the new space-time world of Einstein, with its redefinition of time as the fourth dimension. In summer 1938 Matta had read the Russian mystic philosopher P. D. Ouspensky’s 1911 Tertium Organum, and, most importantly, in New York in the 1940s Matta became a close friend of Marcel Duchamp, the early 20th-century artist most fully engaged with the spatial fourth dimension. While Matta’s works of the 1940s successfully evoke the non-Euclidean, irregularly curved space-time continuum, in the last fifty years of his career the painter focused specifically on the pre-Einsteinian spatial fourth dimension. Between his return to Europe in 1948 and his death in 2002 Matta made hundreds of powerful, large-scale paintings filled with social and political commentary. But now his goal was to place the viewer in an indeterminate space, as if at the center of a cube, “which has an up, down, right, left, front, and back,” making seeing itself a multidimensional process.

09:45-11:15 Session 16C: Epistemic Subversion and Paranormal Practice
Location: Doheny Beach C
Heteroglossic Signals, Spectral Noise: Electronic Voice Phenomena

ABSTRACT. Electronic Voice Phenomena, or EVP, refers to the anomalies or artifacts that appear in the background noise of an electronic recording. Throughout the twentieth century, the practice of combing noise for spectral signals became its own paranormal culture, even to the extent of skirting popular awareness in, for instance, the Hollywood horror film The Sixth Sense. This paper provides a brief overview of the history of EVP, with attention to its relation both to electronic media and mediations, and to alternative religious movements such as Spiritualism. The history is followed by specific theoretical attention to probably the most significant EVP text, paranormal researcher Konstantīns Raudive’s Breathrough: An Amazing Experiment in Electronic Communication with the Dead.

Breakthrough consists of transcriptions of recordings featuring questions addressed to the spirits, and Raudive’s interpretation of the subsequent EVP as responses. The responses take the form of a fusion of different (European) languages; that is, a heteroglossia. An EVP-skeptic would understand this as a tactic for broadening the criteria of what constitutes a “signal” in the noise; with more languages in play, a random artifact is more likely to be interpreted as a sense-making phoneme. Alternatively, an EVP-believer might understand the heteroglossia as a natural consequence of the post-human state of spirit consciousness, untethered from single language.

The paper will use these two perspectives on EVP as a point of departure for theoretical speculations on heteroglossia as an aesthetic and a politics; apophenia and pattern recognition with respect to the signal/noise distinction; and the metaphysical implications of a heteroglossic afterlife.

Holy Experiments Experimental Utopia and the Politics of the Paranormal in Wieland (1794)

ABSTRACT. William Penn’s original charter for the colony that would become Pennsylvania was designed to be a radical and ambitious laboratory of modern governance. His “holy experiment,” as he called it, was meant to protect not only Quakers but establish religious freedom as a civil right in the modern period. Pennsylvania was quickly flooded with European migrants and refugees from Germany, England, and elsewhere, fleeing the depredations of sovereign power and religious violence. In the following century, freedom of religion had taken on a new form in the Enlightenment intelligentsia of Philadelphia. Enlightenment thinkers in Europe and the Americas conceived of a new, conveniently absent and docile god in the naturalistic Deism of the period while famous Americans like Thomas Jefferson were producing their own versions of the Biblical text which censored all accounts of miracles. Pennsylvania had become an heterogenous soup of religious difference that thinkers like Jefferson and Crevecoeur hoped to cook into a united, enlightened dish. Following the political triumph of Enlightenment thought in the nascent United States, Charles Brockden Brown’s 1794 novel Wieland, Or, The Transformation: An American Tale, questioned the prevailing materialist epistemologies of the time. Wieland did not present a simple regression into Christian fanaticism: rather, it suggested that the enlightened intellectuals and the devoutly religious were simply two sides of the same coin, each practicing their own version of metaphysical arrogance in a world that no one fully understood. Not only were the rural masses subject to the influence of religious fanaticism, telepathic villains, mysterious lights in the sky, and the voices of strange gods in their heads: they were suddenly empowered with the vote. Small wonder, then, that Brown cheekily sent a copy of his novel to Jefferson upon its publication. “Holy Experiments” uses Wieland in the context of early Pennsylvania

The Immobile and the Dead: Bergson on Life and Art

ABSTRACT. In his 1956 article “Bergson’s Conception of Difference,” Gilles Deleuze highlights Bergson’s understanding of the relationship between vitality and indetermination. The “unpredictable” is not accidental but an “essential” character of living forms (50). Such claims, well-developed in Bergson’s corpus and distilled in Deleuze’s studies of Bergson, problematize the culture of experimentation in the life sciences. The laboratory is a place where life is taken out of its dynamic flow, and the mind is trained to focus on dismembered parts. In Bergson’s words, “[w]e are at ease only in the discontinuous, in the immobile, in the dead. The intellect is characterized by a natural inability to comprehend life” (Creative Evolution 165). Consequently, Bergson attempted to redefine empiricism as an experiential practice of difference rather than a disengaged exercise of replicating isolated causes and effects (Deleuze, 46).

The unpredictability of life supports the arguments of paranormal researchers and scholars that paranormal experiences can’t be reproduced in the lab. Skeptics generally interpret this as sophism, but well-established and respected scholars like Jeffrey Kripal at Rice, have made strong cases for the unpredictability of paranormal experiences, partly by connecting them with trauma. In Creative Evolution and The Two Sources of Morality and Religion Bergson asserts that instinct is the source of all creativity, and also that it is adaptive. Humanity is generally separated from instinct by the intellect; however, human beings can return to instinct through traumatic, mystical, and (indeed) paranormal experiences. Such experiences are the font of creative emotions and various forms of creative expression including art, literature, and music. Traumatic, mystical, and paranormal experiences are marginalized and pathologized, however, because they reconnect human beings with instinct as a counter-dominant tendency.

09:45-11:15 Session 16D: Immersive and Interactive Narratives, from the Experiential to the Existential
Location: Doheny Beach B
Gamified Experience at Walden Pond

ABSTRACT. Walden, a game, a video game adaptation of Thoreau’s Walden released by the Game Innovation Lab at the University of Southern California in 2017, invites users to “play deliberately.” Developers claim their selection of Walden was largely serendipitous, however I argue that their digital adaptation of Thoreau’s intention to “live deliberately” reveals fundamental continuities between 19th century transcendentalism and 21st century theories of simulated experience.

I argue that Thoreau’s original text is an experiment in gamification that uses the artificial limitations of rules to reshape human experience to disrupt received notions the individual and the world around them. Using digital scholar Ian Bogost’s theory of procedural rhetoric, “the art of persuasion through rule-based representations and interactions,” I argue that Thoreau’s experience at Walden Pond results from his manipulation of systems to create a game space, an arena of lived experience made distinct by the artificial boundaries set by rules. This game space is a lived illustration of how, as Bogost argues, the awareness of procedures has the power to “change fundamental attitudes and beliefs about the world, leading to potentially significant long-term social change.” (Bogost ix) In dislocating the productivity of systems literacy from digital media I chart an alternative genealogy to contemporary uses of digital media to challenge what it means to be human or hardware within digital systems by demonstrating the ways that Thoreau’s use of game-like behaviors allowed him to question the nature of himself, the world, and the interrelated systems defining both. Finally, in comparing the possibilities and limitations of the structures in Walden and its adaptation, I demonstrate how reading the two against each other reveals challenges of using gamified, artificial experience as a method of re-engaging with the actual world as developers now, and Thoreau in his own time, sought to achieve.

Twenty Years from Now On: VR Historiography and the Perils of Optimism

ABSTRACT. It turns out that VR really is a consensual hallucination. Not only a fever dream in which, as a 2014 article in The Verge put it, one may “throw off the shackles of the mundane through a metaphysical transportation to an altered state,” but a crowdsourced historiography, replete with bildungsroman narratives of postwar men finding revelation in the promise of virtual worlds. The outsized role of techno-evangelists like Stuart Brand and John Perry Barlow in mythologizing Silicon Valley and digital technologies like VR is well documented, but less discussed is the role of VR’s researchers in helping to produce their own historiography, a series of great man narratives whose rhetoric employed the language of emancipation from dominant (and oppressive) cultural norms, but that ultimately served to reify and exacerbate the very social structures that they purported to correct. In this paper I will examine this phenomenon by discussing key figures in the construction of VR’s most prevalent historical narratives, from filmmaker and inventor Morton Heilig, whose fervent belief in the emancipatory potential of immersive, 3D film influenced a later generation of VR researchers, to Jaron Lanier, the poster child of 80’s era VR. I will ask: how does the rhetoric of optimism function to camouflage the perpetuation of dominant or hegemonic narratives? I will argue that the historiography of VR reveals a certain misrecognition on the part of its participants, which I argue has become an ethics in itself, instituting a worldview that runs counter to the embodied and experimental practices that have been marketed as VR’s promise.

Nondeterminate Lines: Pathfinding through Artificial Intelligence

ABSTRACT. Though news related to Artificial Intelligence (AI) focuses on robotics and how nascent technologies could make possible depictions of media landscapes found in science fiction, AI has been a research area most explored in software applications, network protocol management, and game rendering tools. As AI developed out of cybernetics, early experiments with the quasi-independent movement of forms across a visual grid became an often used AI application within the three research areas listed above. In 1956 Edsger Dijkstra developed a new programming algorithm that would enable a computational object to explore, through conditional logic and reverse-hierarchy summations, a two-dimensional space until finding a pre-established goal. Moving from one node to another on a grid, Dijkstra's set into motion an object whose intentions were set but whose movements were independent. Later extolling the tenets of nondeterminacy within computational programming, Dijkstra’s contributions to the history of AI were pivotal. Through my presentation I will first explain the operations of this rarely discussed pathfinding algorithm and show how it affected the history of AI within digital animation, games, and network management from the 1970s, especially through its optimization in A star. Looking at both the construction and generative effects of this tool shows how early AI technologies and paradigms cut across computing history and moving image culture. My research pays special attention to how pathfinding began to model particular modes and aesthetic articulations found in animation, such as the line, triangulating technological innovations of AI with formal and aesthetic instantiations of its actions. This latter formulation can be seen in the artworks that utilize this technology, from special effects software packages like MASSIVE, which enabled for the visualization of digital crowds and particles to interact with one another, to contemporary experimental animation.

Automating Normative Vision from Eyeglasses to Smart Glasses

ABSTRACT. Eyeglasses, from analogue to digital and everything in between, are commonplace objects in literature, science, art, and daily operations. The discourse surrounding this form of wearable technology presents a utopic vision of optimized practices through the normalization of technological mediation in visual processing. This investigation is primarily concerned with how modes of visual problematization already always assume a scientifically determined normative form of vision. Orienting the analysis through Foucault’s and Kittler’s work, this paper considers light control as a disciplinary mechanism and a technology of the self in discourse networks pertaining labour. This paper uses two case studies to determine the effects of eyeglasses in pushing the human to the periphery of labour and manufacturing practices. The first case study examines the development of analogue eyeglasses or spectacles and their proliferation in the information production industry to shape standards of vision and labour by a governing body. The second case study refers to Google Glass and Microsoft Hololens, among other smart glasses, that create a precognition of the world surrounding the user, bringing to light questions of reality augmentation and the veracity of what we perceive when we perceive it. By pre-processing and manipulating visual information in real time, these technologies create a machinic hallucination that affects our behaviours in significant ways. Using a genealogical approach to investigate the world, behaviour, and human-shaping effects of visual processing media, this paper addresses how normative vision was driven by the print media system, how it has developed in response to contemporary digital systems, and the ways that the human body is made amenable to emerging technologies.

09:45-11:15 Session 16E: Science Fiction, Speculative Ethics, and Fixing the Future
Location: Doheny Beach A
Forget Realism: “In the next present” in Kim Stanley Robinson’s New York 2140

ABSTRACT. In a world facing temperature and sea-level rises not seen in millions of years, literary realism suffers more than its share of discontents. In The Great Derangement (2016), Amitav Ghosh laments the lack of attention to the prospect of catastrophic climate change in “serious fiction” and “serious literary journals,” and he concludes that its “mere mention ... is often enough to relegate a novel or short story to the genre of science fiction ... as though in the literary imagination climate change were somehow akin to extraterrestrials or interplanetary travel.” By cordoning off “serious” from science fiction, Ghosh reflects a larger cultural anxiety about the status of literature in a world of climatic disaster. Yet his view of science fiction is, at best, stereotyped: what is at stake in contemporary science fiction—notably Kim Stanley Robinson’s New York 2140 (2017)—is precisely the question of what we mean by “serious fiction” and “the literary imagination.” As Robinson says in his introduction to Green Earth (his one-volume version of the Science in the Capital trilogy), “if you want to write a novel about our world now, you’d better write science fiction, or you will be doing some kind of inadvertent nostalgia piece; you will lack depth, miss the point, and remain confused.” Robinson’s claims for the genre’s literary, cultural, and philosophical significance encourage us to entertain the possibility that sf has overtaken “realism” as a vehicle for “serious fiction,” and that “seriousness” itself has to be redefined. This paper argues that New York 2140, among other contemporary works of cli-fi, offers such a redefinition of “realism” by interrogating the premises and use-value of representational art. Rather than a hand-wringing dystopian cynicism, Robinson’s novel continues the author’s project of rethinking the relationships

The Intelligence Imaginary: Seeking Lessons from Science Fiction in the Era of Almost-Real AI

ABSTRACT. Science fiction has long speculated about a future replete with thinking machines and artificial beings. Now, as less spectacular but still-powerful forms of artificial intelligence grow ubiquitous, what can we learn from these speculations in the service of a more just and inclusive future? And which kinds of AI stories draw us down the rabbit hole of unhelpful paradigms, from remorseless killer robots to wistful Pinocchio-bots?

This talk will share work in progress from the AI Policy Futures project, an experiment that directly engages with the feedback loop between science fiction and technology policy. Since late 2018, Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination has been collaborating with New America’s Open Technology Institute to examine the cultural and social imaginaries around AI through interviews with science fiction writers and policy experts, the creation of an archival taxonomy, a public symposium, and the commissioning of original stories.

We argue that the interplay between literary symbolism and technological acceleration has proved a fertile ground for speculating about otherness and othering, and the rote forms of this othering create a predictable set of “fairy tales” and “ghost stories” that inform public and policy debate. But this fictional tradition is now disrupted by real technologies that threaten us with truly alien novelty. The mythmaking of AI sci-fi is not always useful for understanding the subtle technological forces shaping our lives, but it does reveal the fundamental human anxieties that come with a changing world.

The project contends with two open questions. First, what should we do with this rich literary tradition of Terminators, Pinocchios and HALs in the context of contemporary human-machine interaction? Second, how can we build on this tradition to devise new useful fictions that imagine and enact more hopeful, equitable, and collaborative futures for human and machine intelligence?

Re-imagining the Tragic Vision of Evolutionary “Mismatch” Theory in Contemporary Anglo-American Science Fiction

ABSTRACT. Contemporary Anglo-American Science Fiction can be organized into texts deploying two distinct narratives that imagine the limitations or potentials of human nature as understood through the logic of evolutionary theory. Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam Trilogy (2003, 2009, 2013) demonstrates the self-destructive potential of narratives constructed in terms of primordial “essences” disguised as genes that derive from highly reductive strains of evolutionary psychological thinking. For example, in the narrative imaginings of “mismatch” theory, or the idea that there is a mismatch between evolved adaptations and the modern environment (Li, van Vugt, & Colarelli 2018), the adaptive behavior of our ancestors is seen to express itself via the conduit of twenty-first-century subjectivity. This evolutionary narrative of self is a “tragic vision” of human nature perpetually disjointed and ruled by traits offensive to modern sensibilities. This popularized narrative version of evolutionary mismatch theory has historically led to concrete tragedies motivated by stories about the inevitable violence and misery of man-the-ape because of structures hardwired “then”, and this in spite of revisionary efforts in the “now” (disturbingly reduced to “mere” ethical discourse in Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature, for example).

In contrast, Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy (2014) engages with a psychoanalytic logic to question the nature and potential of the individual and the human species, as well as how to “become-with” other natures by putting its theoretical and conceptual apparatus in conversation with marginalized forms of evolutionary biology (e.g. the neo-Lamarkian theories of symbiogenesis and epigenetics). This paper will show how VanderMeer’s Trilogy deploys narrative representations of epigenetic understandings of human nature so as to foster a vertical line of flight out of already foreclosed possibilities inherit in narratives that construct a determining link between then and now. VanderMeer’s

Writing as Close Reading: Fanfiction as Transformative Hermeneutics

ABSTRACT. Fanfiction, as a type of writing that is both incredibly popular (its readership numbers are huge) and marginalized in terms of reputation and scholarly attention, resists typical literary analysis for a number of reasons. First, it persists across an extremely diverse range of forms, lengths, genres, styles, levels of proficiency, and degrees of engagement with source texts. It is, in effect, its own literary realm that sits adjacent to the “traditional” literary realm of published works with a slim area of overlap. Second, fanfiction is “difficult” writing, but it presents the wrong kind of difficulty: it requires a kind of niche training not in canonical literary history, but in a particular fannish subcultural realm. It requires a long history if intertextual language and reference, and a chain of affective and iconographic association, but once again of the “wrong kinds”—not based in the canon of “great” literature or biblical knowledge, but which comes from a deep, pleasurable immersion in popular genre texts. Following on the heels of this year’s historic Hugo nomination of the Archive of Our Own project (which collects derivative fan works), this paper seeks to understand fanfiction not as a genre or mode, but as a type of close reading: a transformational hermeneutics that requires an intense depth of source-text knowledge. Rather than the typical ethnographic work of fan studies, this paper performs a close reading of close readings to argue that fanfiction represents a depth and scope of readerly attention long-lamented by teachers and scholars. To do this, I turn to a particular form of fanfiction, the canon-divergent “fix-it-fic”—or story that modifies the primary narrative in a way that both interprets and “corrects” the source material.

09:45-11:15 Session 16F: Solastalgia
Location: Emerald Bay B
Surviving the Matrix: Subversive Cultural Stratagems from the 20th Century

ABSTRACT. At the intersection of disaster capitalism, artificial intelligence and ecological collapse we find a matrix of forces threatening the collective future of life on the planet. However imminent the danger, however, there is too much profit to be made in the e.g., mining of data and mapping of its patterns; foreclosures on property after “natural” disasters or “unforeseeable” market upheavals; provision of technological “solutions” for problems brought about by prior iterations of the same or similar technological “fixes” – for us to expect even the most enlightened corporate (and in some cases, political) body willingly to cease participating in these types of socially, economically and ecologically destabilizing activities. We must then come up with more direct and varied strategies to convince these bodies that it is in their best interests (as well as our own) to do so.

While many are aware of the seriousness of the situation, they find the sheer scale of the problem daunting, and even, at times, paralyzing. We can, of course, look for examples of how social and political activists have overcome overwhelming odds in the past in hopes of bolstering our own resolve in the present. In addition, however, we can look to certain artists and cultural theorists who were able to bring about radical change in their immediate milieu, and in some cases society as a whole, through their work. Though the names of those on whom I focus are well known e.g., Duchamp, Benjamin, Brecht, Cage, some of their strategies are not. In spite (because?) of being white, male and dead, I find their knowledge of the opposition to be enlightening as is their willingness to use e.g., theatricality, naiveté, spirituality and humor, among other things, to achieve their goals.

Solastalgia: Art, research, and the Anthropocene

ABSTRACT. Coined by Glenn Albrecht in 2005, solastalgia refers to “the ‘lived experience’ of the loss of the present as manifest in a feeling of dislocation; of being undermined by forces that destroy the potential for solace to be derived from the present” (Albrect, 2005, 2007). Where nostalgia describes the pain of longing for home when away, solastalgia names the melancholy experienced when home itself becomes new and uncanny. It identifies the feelings of loss and anxiety felt when our sense of place and identity are challenged, by events like floods or forest fires, new risks of contagious diseases like Lyme or Zika, or unfamiliar experiences like smoke-filled summer skies and too-early bird calls…

Over the past two years, in collaboration with cultural theorist Dan Harvey, we have been publishing articles and producing artistic works reflecting on how to represent the slow violence (Nixon, 2011) of the Anthropocene and tell larger, longer stories that are anonymous and star no one. To do this, I adopted the developing methodology of research-creation, where creation-as-research is a mode of inquiry that can lead to unexpected understandings and tell new stories to work passed old, stifled ways of representation and worlding. In this talk, I would like to describe the process of researching and creating the body of 3D-animated videos and photographs that explore the speculative psychological futures of children growing up in the Anthropocene.

Albrecht, G. (2005). ‘Solastalgia’: A new concept in health and identity. PAN: philosophy, action, nature 3: 44-59. Albrecht, G., Sartore, G-M., Connor, L., Higginbotham, N., Freeman, S., Kelly, B., Stain, H., Tonna, A., & Pollard, G. (2007). Solastalgia: The distress caused by environmental change. Australasian Psychology 15(1): S95-S98. Nixon, R. (2011). Slow violence and the environmentalism of the poor. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP.

The Trans-species Imaginary

ABSTRACT. Gabriele Schwab and Maria Whiteman

The Trans-Species Imaginary: A Performative Encounter between Art and Theory

Growing environmental destruction and related catastrophes have generated profound changes in what it means to be human. Engaging recent debates about solastalgia, our presentation explores contemporary critical theories and artistic practices to trace the impact of human-induced species extinction on the sense of selfhood within planetary ecologies of belonging. The recognition of the entanglement of humans with other species with whom they share the planet – animal and plant – challenges the traditional binary foundation of personhood as separate from nature and environment. We argue that we need a concept of trans-species selves capable to account for the porosity of the boundaries of the human in the cultural and artistic imaginary and the related distribution of mind and affect across species boundaries. Bringing critical ecotheories and neuroscientific theories of distributed mind and cognition in conversation with Maria Whiteman’s artistic trans-species explorations, we trace a newly emerging ecology of mind and affect mobilized by images that cross the boundaries of species. The latter may constitute a creative intervention in the solastalgia or “ecosickness” (Houser) that afflicts todays ecological imaginary, an intervention that we also see as a step toward what Eduardo Kohn calls “anthropology beyond the human.”

Landscapes of Future Past: Intention + Intervention

ABSTRACT. Lester Beall facilitated the visual communication of the New Deal; electrification, communication, and other large-scale infrastructural shifts were embodied in modern, direct and clear campaigns sponsored by the Rural Electrification Administration. The progressive policies of the New Deal were visualized through graphic design as a mediating discipline; though one that primarily sought passive announcement and uncritical reception, rather than a more active discourse aimed at critical participation. The capacity for the discipline of graphic design to serve as a mediator of coming infrastructural change and invite a more critical reflection on the inevitable shift towards renewable energy has been eroded by decades of hyper-capitalist expansion since the New Deal. Renewable energy infrastructure connects a complex network of information, technology, and spatial practice. Such infrastructure is at the heart of current discourse around a potential Green New Deal. The objective of this project is to visualize the presence of such infrastructure in the landscape, and its mediation through interfaces seen and unseen. Do we see the complex relationships created by mediating domestic technologies that function not out in the physical landscape, but rather in a digital landscape of information networks? This project is an attempt to critically construct a speculative view of an uncertain future of renewable energy. How images and visualizations construct, and relay states of change, current uncertainty and future possibility will be brought into focus through the weaving of theoretical frameworks that constitute our framings of nature, infrastructure, and security.

09:45-11:15 Session 16G: Creative Pedagogies as Corrective Measures
Location: Emerald Bay A
To Be or Not to Be Aware: Engaging Theatre History Students with a Classroom Neuroscience Experiment

ABSTRACT. How do plays and videos evoke a greater awareness of positive and negative emotions? This presentation summarizes my “rasa-catharsis” theory, “inner-theatre” model, and related classroom experiment. The theory draws on ancient to modern, Eastern and Western ideas of rasa (emotional flavor) and catharsis (purification) in theatre, plus current research from Bernard Baars (Global Workspace Theory), Matthew Lieberman (social neuroscience), Iain McGilchrist (left/right cortical functions), Jaak Panksepp (circuits of primal emotions), Lisa Feldman Barrett (core affects), and Mario Beauregard (cognitive reappraisal of sad, erotic, and aversive film clips). Their work is synthesized in an “inner theatre” model, which I developed in my 2016 book, Beast-People Onscreen and in Your Brain, offering theatrical metaphors for neural networks and their potential involvement in rasa-catharsis (tasting resonant feelings, thus clarified during a play or movie).

The presentation reports survey results from theatre history students in each of 3 trials in January 2017 (2 trials) and 2019 who read the “To be or not to be” speech in Hamlet and then watched 8 videos from stage and screen productions. My findings show that students became aware of left-cortical (scriptwriter/critic) “ideas,” right-cortical (mime/designer) “images,” and limbic/subcortical (audience and stagehand) “emotions” at similar points in reading the speech mentally—and at characteristic, yet distinct points in watching each of the videos—with perspective shifts evoked by the staging and filmmaking choices. The survey results verify a method for increasing student awareness of theatre and video affects. This may also counter the danger of “cathartic backfire” in the melodramatic identifications of good versus evil stereotypes (and polarizing political figures) through current mass and social media.

Sensorimotor debility among the born-digital: Is the academy, interactive software and ‘teach to the test’ STEM learning, a perfect storm?

ABSTRACT. Clinical and anecdotal evidence point to a decline in a variety of key physiological markers of bodily competence - from visual acuity to manual dexterity - among young adults over the last 15-20 years. This time period corresponds with the emergence of the born-digital generation: children who have been ‘weaned’ with digital touch screens.

There is a well-publicized range of cognitive advantages of digital technologies that software and internet companies take great joy in publicizing. There is also an increasingly long litany of physiological, psychological, sensorimotor and cognitive deficits emerging that receive far less attention (for obvious commercial reasons). Many of these seem trivial, but taken together, indicate a disquieting trend.

The demise of the kinds of hands-on making and play that were storybook examples of childhood activities in decades past have been largely replaced by screen-based activities. Coupled with this, the neo-liberal rationalization of schooling, focusing on STEM learning and the concommitent elimination of art and vocational classes and facilities (shop, home-ec, etc) has created a generation for whom the minimising of lived experience of material engagement has resulted in shortcomings in embodied cognition and basic ‘common sense’.

These qualities have traditionally been taken for granted as part of the formation of students. In the academy, numerical and text-based scholarship continues to be the focus. Such numerical and text-based activities assume embodied competence and leverage concepts and intuitions that, traditionally, have come as part of the student package, but today are measurably absent.

This paper explores the implications of this new condition - for pedagogy, for cognition, and for the general ability to succeed in the world. The paper is motivated by personal experience as a college and university level teacher over 30 years. It is also motivated by a long-term interest in embodied and situated

Critique is the Steam: Situating Digital Humanities Pedagogy as Interventions for Justice in STEM Classrooms

ABSTRACT. Digital Humanities (DH) pedagogy is often constructed as the enrolling (Latour 1992) of digital tools or computational methods into Humanities and literary studies classrooms (Kirshenbaum 2012), or into allied public-facing institutions, such as libraries. While these activities are certainly powerful, there are also opportunities to expand our constructions of the potential spaces of DH intervention, and therefore also to expand the tactics and practices of DH work. This talk will argue for an alternative construction of DH pedagogy: as one of bringing humanities literature and critiques of power into STEM classrooms. It will use as a vehicle “Humanities Computer Science I,” a humanities intervention into Computer Science education in the context of an engineering-centered institute. Though the talk will describe goals and activities of Humanities CS1, it will do so as an entry point into a broader discussion of the “radical, unrealized potential(s)” (Posner 2016) of DH, especially as related to the use of DH for critical and liberatory pedagogy theorized by Paolo Freire (1968). It will also offer models for alternative practices of DH pedagogy for scholars in institutions that do not value or support literary scholarship, do not have Modern Languages departments, or that place technical rigor and instrumentality at the core of their mission.

This talk will argue that claiming critical interventions into technical spaces as DH pedagogy is important for moving past the deconstructivist/compositionist (Latour 2004) binary that DH inherits from literary studies. Reimagining the disciplinary situatedness of DH and its practices opens up new possibilities for positioning the role of critique in the Digital Humanities. Far from critique having “run out of steam,” deconstruction and hermeneutics can be used as methods for transforming the epistemic cultures and subjectivities (Knorr Cetina 1999) of technical classrooms,

09:45-11:15 Session 16H: Speculative Worlds: Animation, Architecture, and Cosmotechnical Experimentation
Location: Moss Cove A
Architecture and the Aerosolar Imagination

ABSTRACT. 21st century moving images are a miasma of dust, dirt, pollen, motes, mites, vapor, and embers produced through particle animation. In many contemporary films, such atmospheric effects upstage other elements of the mise-en-scène, obscuring and at times replacing the films’ architectural forms. Often, the films’ architectural elements are themselves animated as particle systems, suggesting the disintegration of buildings into atmospheric aerosols.

My paper will consider particle animation, originally developed by Lucasfilm animator and computer scientist William T. Reeves in 1983, as both a technologically specific process and a machine for a more general aesthetic in FX-driven blockbuster films and animated features. I will present the particle system as a form of experimental speculative architecture responding to conditions of economic and environmental precarity as they affect the stability of the built environment. The particle system emerges as the greatest fear and greatest hope of the architectural imaginary—animating dystopian, apocalyptic futures of architecture’s failure as well utopian dreams of a built environment with the vitality of living organisms. My paper will propose three films, all of which make ample use of particle animation, as representative responses to architectural exhaustion. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) visualizes the failure of architecture to support robust human life and protect against inhospitable environments. Avatar (2009) offers instead a prelapsarian pre-architectural condition through its presentation of the Pandoran hometree that shelters an ecological community, including the humanoid alien N'avi. Sing (2016), however, redeems architecture by clearing away the particle-animated rubble and reconstructing a conventional building, reinstating—not reimagining—traditional architecture's ability to maintain life.

Life and World: Experiments in Cosmotechnics

ABSTRACT. In this talk, I propose that thinking “life” and “world” together may open a way to address the most pressing of our contemporary challenges, in particular how to enable pluralism and promote ecological regeneration as necessarily entangled processes. I begin by working through a variety of models for the relationships between life and world, with special focus on one proposed by the biologist and cognitive scientist, Francisco Varela, in which a world emerges as a surplus of signification generated through the structural coupling of nervous system and environment. For Varela, this co-emergence produces “neurocognitive identity”—and the living organism itself—as recursive, constantly forming and reforming in response to environmental and sensori-motor stimuli. Drawing out Varela’s reflections on VR and robotics, I look at how the affordances of digital architectures, including in VR and live simulation, allow us to generate and model new ways of life-world making--ontological designs for the pluriverse. I discuss VR research on the plasticity of embodiment, or what Jaron Lanier and other VR researchers call “homuncular flexibility.” Finally, I turn to artist Ian Cheng’s most recent “live simulations,” Emissaries (2015-2017) and BOB (2018-2019), reading them as experiments in cosmotechnics.

Other Worldings: Architectural Embodiment between AI and Alien

ABSTRACT. How can science fiction live-action films use the alter-embodiment of animation to challenge deadening forms of control? How does animation’s uncanny differential generate a margin of indetermination that complicates the difference between human and nonhuman subjectivities through an architectural mode of embodiment, opening gaps of critical suspense? Drawing on Gilbert Simondon, Felix Guattari and Paul Preciado, this paper explores a queer, nonhuman corporeal architecture created through special fx and and animation work together to create an alien architectural form of embodiment in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin, to propose that alter-embodiments are ethico-aethetical responses to control technologies. Disrupting the dynamics of surveillance through affective intensity, I bring the speculative form of outer space cinematic architectures back down to earth through an affective lens of queer skepticism. Both films rely heavily on animated architectures of embodiment, bound to extended forms of environmental design around surveillance. Glazer says “The film’s camera style is all ‘about witnessing’…The camera’s not excited. This allows the alien to witness things we do and watching her reaction to those things.” The social choreography of control, manifested through ubiquitous surveillance, is a key technicity of contemporary embodiment. This creates an intensive form of estrangement—“witnessing withness”; this self-referentiality shifts the terrain of production, reception and analysis from the ethical to the ethico-aesthetical, the paradigm Guattari suggests is most useful for understanding how affect is a “process of existential appropriation through the continual creation of heterogeneous durations of being”, or a mode of sensing difference made. Kubrick’s HAL is in some ways little more than a suggestive choreography of unblinking, monocular spying, the foggy atmospherics of his melancholic voice, and a suspensive corporeality associated with the camerawork of a stalker film. Johannsen’s alien in Under the Skin exists in an animated

09:45-11:15 Session 16I: Materality and Representation: The Voice of Those Made Invisible
Location: Moss Cove B
People/Power: Counter/Publics of Work, Cinema, and Video

ABSTRACT. This talk will discuss problems of artistic production in the Philippines raised in the years leading to EDSA, particularly the call for “committed” art. While some (like AsiaVisions) tried to “democratize” the media, others struggled to grasp the impending revolution in films dealing with unionism. They placed their stars (including Phillip Salvador, Joseph Estrada, and Vilma Santos) against a backdrop teeming with workers, organizers, and crowds. To the extent that these “committed” works reflect the moment’s dominant counterpublicity—the struggle against oppression—might they also provide a frame through which to reconsider its politics? Further, why did unionism disappear as a filmic theme after “people power"—almost as quickly as it had appeared?

"And now, from me to you": Ethics and Alterity in Indra Das' The Devourers

ABSTRACT. "And now, from me to you": Ethics and Alterity in Indra Das' The Devourers The specter of the failures of Humanism and the lack of coherency of the liberal humanist subject is one that haunts and pervades not only the material conditions of our current existence, but also the conditions of possibility for theorizing ways of ethically engaging with alterity without reinscribing its shortcomings. This manifests in a pessimism, if not outright denial, of the possibility of imagining alterity ethically. Yet the question of how to ethically represent the Other is one that remains critical to answer. As Shameem Black explores in her monograph, Fiction Across Borders, the very process of narrative construction is inextricably entrenched in representing alterity. I follow in Black’s work by investigating minority fiction for productive and ethical engagements with representing alterity, and argue that speculative fiction provides a particularly useful site for this process. Situated in India and traversing multiple temporalities, Indra Das’ The Devourers is a work of historical fantasy that revises the cultural imaginary surrounding the figure of the werewolf by expanding it to the broader category of shapeshifters. The novels central protagonist, Cyrah, is a young Persian woman living in the heart of Delhi in the 17th century. I center my analysis on Cyrah as a figure of the subaltern woman and argue that on a meta-level, Das’ text offers a model for ethical representations of other subjectivities through a close attention to the particularities of encounters and relationality. In doing so, he also illustrates, as Sara Ahmed suggests, that our encounters with others both shape and are shaped by broader power relations and thus that identarian or ontological claims are not the site upon which moral and ethical frameworks develop.

iPhones, Labor, and Lies: Mike Daisey’s The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs

ABSTRACT. In his monologue The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, Mike Daisey told a story about meeting a Chinese factory worker who cleaned the screens of newly assembled iPhones. Daisy said, “I take a picture of her holding my iPhone—and I say to her, ‘We’ll never know, you may have cleaned the screen of this iPhone when it came by you on the line, we’ll never know.’ And, quick as a whip, she takes my phone and she rubs it against her pants and then she says, ‘There, I’ve cleaned it a second time.’”

Daisey’s retelling helps his audiences imagine a connection between the technology user of the global center and the factory worker of the periphery, with Daisy serving as a medium between the two parties. While Daisey’s monologue has flaws and, notoriously, outright fabrications, it calls attention to a more constant, perhaps more reliable, medium: the iPhone itself.

The iPhone and the smartphones that followed it are the modern manifestations of what Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin refer to in Remediation: Understanding New Media as ubiquitous computing. This model imagines the user as akin to the Enlightenment subject, but one operating in a vastly changed media environment. This paper will attempt to complicate this model by considering the user’s ubiquitous computing as inseparable from the factory worker’s labor: the latter makes the former possible.

As the works of Tiziana Terranova and Mark Andrejevic argue, a user, too, performs labor that is exploited, albeit under vastly different conditions. By considering the iPhone as remediating both worker and user alike, we might better understand connections shared across the different parties exploited in today’s digital economy.

The Mexican and South Asian Telemigrant: Transnational Immigrant Labor and Internet Utopianism in Sleep Dealer and Digital India

ABSTRACT. Alex Rivera’s film Sleep Dealer provides a critique of the borderless space of the Internet. The World Wide Web is perceived as a global village, however, Rivera portrays a material reality of militarized borders on the ground. The film is a nightmare/fantasy of an immigrant worker who stays put in Latin America and, via the Net, transmits their labor to a worker robot in the U.S. The pure labor crosses the border, but the worker stays out. While conceived as a critique of Internet utopianism and the politics of immigration, Rivera’s prescient film holds the truth kernel of current transnational labor, one of the major driving forces of the Indian economy. The advent of call centers in India and the Indian youth being wooed by a “Digital India” that feeds the demand for cheap transnational labor transmitted from the Global South to the Global North has crystallized what Rivera calls the “first generation of telemigrants”. The worker’s invisibility versus visibility of his/her labor is an important intervention in Rivera’s film. Memo, the protagonist, realizes his own body as an embodiment of the redundancy that is the lot of the subaltern workers caught in the nexus of capitalist exploitation. He joins forces with Luz, who uses cyberspace for political activism. They appropriate the very exploitative information technologies to militate against neoliberal economic hegemony and labor exploitation in the borderlands. The wasted, disposable body of transnational workers rendered invisible in these spaces whose labor is appropriated into a wider hegemonic discourse of oppression, channelize the flux inherent in their precarious existence. The film highlights the shared predicament of the transnational telemigrant of Mexico and South Asia. My paper frames Sleep Dealer as a sociopolitical commentary on the dangerous underpinnings of “Digital India” BPO

09:45-11:15 Session 16J: WORKSHOP: Out of Mind: A Performance-Lecture

Out of Mind is a fusion of experimental theatre and experimental neuroscience; the project draws on tools of inquiry from both fields to investigate how the brain constructs emotion in depression and wellness. The performance-lecture presents rationale, methods and results of a laboratory study that measured the brain of an actress as she embodied extreme emotion states. This research takes as its premise evidence that emotion is not solely triggered in the brain but constructed through the integration of bodily experience and language. Results instruct the design of neurotechnologies to treat depression. Out of Mind also reflects a reciprocal exchange between scientist and artist: the creation a conference presentation that disrupts the lecture format with creative elements from theatre arts. In doing, the piece comments the process of discovery while highlighting a relational context that is rarely acknowledged in conventional scientific discourse. In both laboratories (theatrical/scientific), Out of Mind has been three years in development. It is produced by Farm Arts Collective (Damascus, PA) and supported by funding from the EST/Sloan New Play Development Fund. The scientific research project is on-going at the Center for Advanced Circuit Therapeutics, Icahn School of Medicine (NY, NY). The lecture-performance is 45 minutes in length, followed by 15 minutes for questions and discussion.

09:45-11:15 Session 16K: ROUNDTABLE: Celebrating Love in a Time of Slaughters

This panel is devoted to Susan McHugh's Love in a Time of Slaughters: Human-Animal Stories Against Genocide and Extinction, which is the newest publication from AnthropoScene, the SLSA book series. We would like to include an art/performance component but that has yet to be arranged.

Location: Doheny Beach D
11:30-12:00 SLSA 2019 Annual Business Meeting

Everyone is cordially invited to attend this meeting!

12:30-13:45 PLENARY EVENT: In Conversation with Donna Haraway

SLSA is presenting this year's Lifetime Achievement Award to Donna Haraway, Distinguished Professor Emerita in the History of Consciousness Department and in the Feminist Studies Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz.  A leading theorist of human relationships with machines and with non-human species, Haraway is the author of such influential books as Staying with the Trouble (2016), When Species Meet (2008), The Companion Species Manifesto: (2003), Simians, Cyborgs, and Women (1991), and Primate Visions (1989).

Following the presentation of the award, there will be an open conversation with Donna Haraway centering on a short piece of writing by Ursula LeGuin, "The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction," which conference attendees are encouraged to read ahead of time. To create a collective experiential setting, Professor Haraway also invites us to bring along an actual carrier bag and to "think about the worlds contained in that bag." 

Featuring carrier bags contributed by:

Brad Necyk, Edmond Chang, Margaretha Haughwout, Steven Meyer, Lisa Cartwright, Evan Meaney, Efren Cruz, Garrett Johnson, Mark Paterson, Meredith Tromble, Susan McHugh, Kiki Benzon, Jessica Ruzek, Patricio Davila, Carol Stabile, Kate Mondloch, Sherryl Vint, Amanda Stojanov, Alenda Chang, Maya Gurantz, Ethan McGinnis, Aja Rose Bond, Ronald Broglio, Lynn Turner, Joel Ong, Marcel O’Gorman, Dennis Summers, Jane Prophet, Ranjodh Singh Dhaliwal, Angie Willey, Danielle Taschereau Mamers, Jonathan Alexander, Helen Burgess, Muindi Fanuel Muindi, Laura Forlano, Bryan Alkemeyer, Chaz Evans, Sean Yeager, Amy Catanzano, Alison Annunziata, Deborah Levitt, David Cecchetto, Katherine Behar, David Rambo, Rebecca Uliasz

14:00-15:30 Session 18A: How Does Literary History Matter for New Materialism?
Location: Emerald Bay C
The Counter-Human Uncreates the Human: The Dunciad

ABSTRACT. Literary history makes a reality that is apparently shaped and ontologized by human purpose. For each historical period, the imaginary, according to Cornelius Castoriadis is “the creation of . . . its singular manner of living, of seeing and of conducting its own existence, its world” (148). For literature, making a world that expresses human purpose, existence, or understanding is a creative process that defines reality. But that process does not preclude those counter-intuitive, counter-productive, or contrapuntal realms that the cultural imaginary conveys through the register of the other-than-human: objects, animals, climate, geology. Indeed, these contrapuntal forces are everywhere. They entail a different world-making that engages those realms that are not subject to human purpose—a counter-human imaginary. In eighteenth-century literature, that contrapuntal register is actuated through an entanglement with matter. The engagement of Pope’s Dunciad with Newton’s theory of gravitation offers a model. Newton initiated vigorous debate about “what matter was thought to be capable of on its own” (Yolton, 94). The Newtonian account of the motion of objects affected by gravitation evokes force, power, energy, pulling, and attraction, instigating a lively scenario of active matter. In The Dunciad, that scenario plays out in the alter-ontology of Dulness. Though Dulness is a proxy human—her “Image [is] full exprest” in the actual identity of Colley Cibber her anointed son, and her dunces are individuated authors—her power is that of gravitation. Dulness is a pervasive, dispersed force of “attraction,” and the dunces are matter, whose “inner motion” “transports” them to a single “centre” (IV.71-77). The Dunciad proposes human existence and purpose, but offers a counter-human refutation of those claims to being or creativity. For materialist critique, this distinctive model—turning humans into matter—reverses the attribution of human agency to things, revealing the other-than-human creativity of the counter-human imaginary.

The Literary History of the Biome

ABSTRACT. Helen Thompson Northwestern University

The Literary History of the Biome

Theorists of new materialism claim agentive matter as a quantum phenomenon. By positing sub-atomic particles that resist an empirical knowledge regime—that refuse to be observed exclusively as particles or as waves—quantum scientists inaugurate our understanding, new materialists argue, of the entanglement of situated observers and the agentive matter in which we are implicated. For new materialists like Karen Barad, this appreciation of radical relationality is unique to quantum science. In response, my talk advances a genealogy of pre-quantum articulations of micro-relationality. This genealogy proceeds not through physics but through the interrogation of direct material transfers between the human, vegetable, and micro-material: through the experimental and theoretical history of human and plant digestion. My talk will engage experimental and medical works by the plant scientist, doctor, geologist, biblical cosmologist, and collector John Woodward (1665/1668 – 1728) as well as work on alimentation by the physician, mathematician, satirist, and member of the Scriblerus Club John Arbuthnot (1667 – 1735). I will examine Woodward’s “Some Thoughts and Experiments Concerning Vegetation” (1697), Woodward’s State of Physick (1718), and Arbuthnot’s An Essay Concerning the Nature of Aliments (1731) to argue that these texts frame digestion as an explicitly micro-relational process that erases firm ontological differences between elements (or, as they were known, corpuscles or principles), species, and kingdoms. For Woodward, whose experiments first proved the process of vegetable respiration, as well as for Arbuthnot, digestion stages a scene of micro-relation that entails the radical ontological indeterminacy—and the intimacy—of the terrestrial, vegetable, animal, and human, as well as of their respective powers. The eighteenth-century instability of macroscopic taxonomies, I will suggest, is propelled by a chemical theory of digestion that posits micro-material transfer, interchange, and transmutation.

Under the Air Pump: Animal Studies and the Scientific Revolution

ABSTRACT. Anna Letitia Barbauld’s “Mouse’s Petition” argues against animal experimentation by identifying commonalities among creatures, including worms as well as human beings. Captive yet eloquent, the mouse fears suffocation under the air pump of Joseph Priestley (1733–1804), who discovered oxygen. Although Barbauld anticipates what one post-humanist theorist has called “zoe-centred egalitarianism” (Braidotti), the fact that the case had to be made is the historically contingent consequence of the scientific revolution, which eclipsed ways of knowing that might have given another future to human-animal relationships.

Priestley inherits a tradition for studying gases from Robert Boyle (1627–91), whose air pump has generally been regarded as paradigmatic of the New Science. Its veritable hecatomb, however, has received little attention. To observe properties of air, Boyle suffocated many small creatures, including ants, bees, beetles, butterflies, ducks, finches, fish, flies, frogs, grasshoppers, kittens, larks, leeches, mice, mites, oysters, snails, sparrows, vipers, and wasps. Published in 1670, the experimental accounts execute a program well prepared by Francis Bacon and René Descartes, for whom killing animals could demonstrate physical properties of matter or the mechanical operations of bodies.

New materialism promises to reveal agency as a fundamental property of matter, thus overturning a misleading human exceptionalism. Post-humanist celebrations of “zoe” and “becoming-with,” however, do not furnish solid foundations for critiquing animal experimentation, as exemplified in Boyle or Priestley’s work. Since the boundary between living and non-living matter is fuzzy, a better path would be to recuperate early modern conceptions of non-human knowledges. Such conceptions might be found in the skepticism of Montaigne and Charron, the monism of John Milton and Anne Conway; the practical wisdom of animal trainers like William Cavendish, or the philosophical and poetic speculation of Margaret Cavendish.

The Material Turn in Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

ABSTRACT. When thinking about the vibrant matter of new materialism, Enlightenment science does not immediately come to mind. The active, self-creative, and agential “new” matter has often been opposed to the “old” matter of Cartesian substances and Newtonian physics. In their introductory chapter to New Materialisms, Diana Coole and Samantha Frost claim that many new materialist theories remain indebted the Enlightenment science. However, they renounce the Cartesian-Newtonian tradition that conceives of matter as passive and deterministic, for an understanding of matter as "lively" and unpredictable. Challenging Coole and Frost’s distinction of “new” and “old” materialism, others like Sarah Ellenzweig, John Zammito, and contributors to collection The New Politics of Materialism have sought to re-animate Enlightenment matter. This turn in materialist discourse affords a critical comparative framework in which to reevaluate Enlightenment physics and materialism. Mary Wollstonecraft’s Newtonian physics in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), for instance, has been previously considered contradictory to the agenda of new materialist feminism. Models of materialist feminism, proposed by Stacy Alaimo and Susan Heckman, seek to discover ways to talk about the body’s materiality as an active agent. Wollstonecraft’s Rights of Woman, I suggest, enacts a type of “material turn” that reconceptualizes moral and political agency as inseparable from women’s corporeality. I do not suggest that Wollstonecraft anticipated new materialism. Rather, I offer another perspective to Wollstonecraft’s Newtonian physics that does not see her materialism as wholly severed from models of new materialist feminism. In doing so, I hope to show that the projection of Enlightenment matter as inert or dead often misses the vital nature of Enlightenment matter.

14:00-15:30 Session 18B: Revisioning Colonial Natures I
Location: Doheny Beach C
Feminist Scientists in Fiction: The Example of Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things

ABSTRACT. Gendered stereotypes of women scientists and biases affecting their work appear in a number of modern novels. Scholars look at fiction’s power to impart knowledge and stoke empathy for disparate individuals and marginalized social groups. This paper presents part of a longer paper detailing the ways in which fictional narratives about women scientists illustrate how institutional, economic, and societal constraints interact with personal ambition, romance, and integrity to influence their lives and the development, dissemination, and reception of scientific theories. In the longer paper, I look at how recent novels elaborate plots illustrating professional outcomes of women scientists navigating barriers and biases: The Signature of All Things (2013) by Elizabeth Gilbert; A Whistling Woman (2002) by A.S. Byatt; Brazzaville Beach (1990) by William Boyd; Carbon Dreams (2001) by Susan Gaines; Intuition (2006) by Allegra Goodman; The Honest Look (2010) by Jennifer Rohn; and State of Wonder (2011) by Ann Patchett. In a similar vein, the struggles of African-American women working for the U.S. space agency to be recognized for their intellectual contributions to science and to be treated fairly in the workplace became the focus of Hidden Figures (Dir. Theodore Melfi, 2016), a popular film based on Margot Lee Shetterly’s book about these heroines. Covering a range of historical periods and scientific disciplines, the fictions discussed in this longer paper reference feminist critiques of science by describing “gender in the cultures of sciences” and “gender in the substance of science” in depicting fictional women scientists who navigate sexism and racism in professional environments. This presentation will focus on Gilbert’s historical novel The Signature of All Things, which depicts Alma Whittaker as an unusual nineteenth-century woman who was educated in math and science—first by her botanist mother, and then by tutors hired by her father. Her inherited wealth, unhappy romantic life,

"Women and Popular Science: Reframing Delia Akeley and Osa Johnson’s Early 20th Century Ecomedia"

ABSTRACT. Delia Akeley (1869-1970) and Osa Johnson (1894-1953) made complicated contributions to early twentieth-century popular science, specifically in terms of human-nonhuman relationships, yet they are both often overshadowed by their husbands. Delia Akeley contributed to popular science narratives in her museum habitat diorama work, her museum expeditions, and her writing. She is perhaps best known for shooting the larger of the two taxidermied fighting elephants displayed in the Field Museum and for her work on the habitat details of the Field Museum Four Seasons dioramas. Osa Johnson contributed to early twentieth century popular science narratives as one of the earliest nature documentarians (often using the Akeley Camera invented by Delia’s husband Carl). Her expedition film work, both with her husband Martin and after his death, shaped the nature documentary genre. Despite these contributions, their work is largely overlooked.

Recovering and reframing Akeley and Johnson’s work gives a fuller picture of women’s roles in early twentieth century popular science but also gives a fuller picture of the complex and often flawed twentieth-century narratives about human-nonhuman relations and their lingering effects. For example, both women were hunter-expeditioners, capitalizing on animal lives and contributing to narratives of human power over nonhumans. Johnson’s sensationalist animal documentaries, such as Congorilla (1932) and Baboona (1935), are as much proto-creature feature as nature film, framing both the nonhuman animals and the members of other cultures as potentially dangerous and separate from the viewing audience. Recovering Johnson and Akeley’s work can not only alter gendered historical narratives of science -- both in habitat dioramas and in wildlife documentaries -- but also, examined within an ecocritical frame, can highlight the environmental impacts of twentieth century popular science narratives about animals, extinction, and humans.

How the West(ern) Was Lost: Rethinking Complex Ecological Time in Certain Women

ABSTRACT. Directed by Kelly Reichardt, Certain Women (2016) rethinks the Western as an ecological narrative by showing its capacity for addressing the temporal dimensions of environmental complexity. Described by Reichardt as a contemporary Western, the film consists of three stories about the titular certain women set in and around Livingston, Montana: the first is about a lawyer, the second about a businesswoman, the third about a rancher. My paper focuses on the second story, which uses Gina’s quest to build a vacation home to reference the changes to the Western landscape: from the closing of the frontier in the late nineteen century to its current reimagining as a site for prestige architecture.

I read this story as challenging and resisting the traditional Western film’s embrace of authenticity as collapsing time into an eternal “present.” To ensure the authenticity of the vacation home she is building, Gina tries to persuade Albert, a town elder, to give her and her husband a pile of sandstone. Despite the open country Gina glimpses through Albert’s living room window, the landscape has been historically transformed: from the closing of the frontier, represented by the sandstone’s originally belonging to a school house, to post-WWII expansion (Albert and his brother, now deceased, having bought their property in 1966), and the current wave of out-of-towners, like Gina and her family, looking for a place to settle down. And Gina’s attempt to connect with her fantasy of unspoiled nature by looking out the window is disrupted when she turns and looks back at her husband—he blithely shrugs his shoulders, as if to suggest that the “cost” of the transaction with Albert may not be equally shared.

I propose that the film, by constantly shifting among the visual perspectives of Albert, Gina, and her husband, represents a loss of an overarching

Ecological Frontiers: Race and Nature in Abbey’s Good News and Butler’s Patternist Series

ABSTRACT. In the late 1940s and 1950s, scores of science fiction stories imagined nuclear frontiers, where nuclear war left major cities as Hiroshima-like wastelands. In these stories, white suburban survivors took on a frontier-style existence as they fought off various kinds of savages in order to rebuild a new civilization. With the growing volume of environmental SF in the 1960s and 1970s, many authors wove similar stories of ecological apocalypse where the protagonists struggle to survive the devastating results of colonial approaches to nature. Such ecological frontier stories attempted to reimagine relations between different races and species, rejecting colonial models of power in favor of new visions of co-evolution and hybridity.

Edward Abbey’s 1980 post-apocalyptic novel Good News is one of the most progressive ecological frontier stories written by a white male author. The apocalypse in the novel is a general global collapse fueled in part by small-scale nuclear wars, and cities are represented as “unreal” wastelands dominated by social oppression. The alternative the novel presents to city life is a frontier-style community in New Mexico where cowboys and Indigenous people live a sustainable life together in peace. The novel gives a far more critical view of race relations than most 1950s nuclear frontier stories, presenting the Darwinian struggle to survive after an apocalypse as an opportunity to eliminate racist and sexist oppression instead of ignoring or magnifying it. However, the story is severely limited by its dependence on a “magical Indian” sidekick who invites the cowboy protagonist to live with him. Like so much eco-SF of the 1970s, this novel simply provides a newer version of the old “totem transfer” story where settlers are absolved of colonial guilt through “Indian” acceptance.

Octavia Butler’s Patternist series provides a stark contrast to most ecological

14:00-15:30 Session 18C: Intersections of Sound and Culture
Location: Doheny Beach B
Onomatopoeia, Sound Effects, and Experimental Disengagements of late British imperiality

ABSTRACT. Onomatopoeia is an integral dimension to language communities grounded in the cultural relevance of sounds associated with the thing or action being named in language. Within the context of British colonial recorded media during the post-World War II era, I examine how onomatopoeia as a quality of language can be understood as a political assertion in the immediate post-colonial era by reference to an array of sound effect recordings from the 1950s-1960s. The BBC Historical Sound Archive and the Radio Malaya sound archives serve as primary sources for this paper. The BBC sound archive includes more than 30,000 recordings that names, locates, and isolates sounds used to supplement film and radio soundtracks. These sounds and those in related libraries that I will discuss have been used to assert proximity and interiority in the aftermath of colonial rule. This paper addresses how the BBC historical sound effects archive and related collections contributed to an aesthetics of social engagement from afar, reinforcing a model for governance in the postwar era that lend itself to experimental soundscapes as historical sound artifacts. The very act of isolating sounds in the lived and natural environment, such as the sound of British children playing in a schoolyard during the 1950s, sounds of nature such as the Malayan jungle, gunfire, along with the song of birds and primates all point to a context for mastery through language, reproduction, and an experimental laboratory for study, performance, and enactment of colonial modernity in its detachment from the voice as a descriptive category on the one hand, and internalized human utterances on the other. Based on extensive research in sound and paper archives in the UK, Malaysia, and Ghana, the question this paper seeks to address is how did recorded soundscapes compiled in the terminal phase of

“The micro-particles of the human voice”: science and technology in British sound and dub poetry

ABSTRACT. Recent years have seen increased interest in and scholarship about experimental and linguistically innovative poetry in post-1945 Britain. Keith Tuma’s 2001 Oxford "Anthology of Twentieth-Century British and Irish Poetry" includes a range of dialect and experimental poets, including dub poets like Linton Kwesi Johnson and Binta Breeze, as well as figures associated with the British Poetry Revival, such as Bob Cobbing, Tom Raworth, Denise Riley, and Maggie O’Sullivan. Peter Barry’s 2006 monograph "Poetry Wars" chronicles Eric Mottram’s radical editorial leadership of "Poetry Review" in the 1970s. Laurie Ramey has called for more attention to linguistically innovative Black British poets. Sound studies scholars like Douglas Kahn and Michael Veal have also focused attention on avant-garde and Afro-Caribbean influences on poetic performance.

However, experimental British poetry remains marginalized, especially in the American classroom. The 2016 "Cambridge Companion to British Poetry, 1945-2010" mentions Cobbing once, O’Sullivan twice, and Breeze and Mottram not at all. However, it does pay attention to Johnson and Riley and is arguably more adventurous than the 2018 "Norton Anthology of English Literature," which ignores British experimental poetry almost entirely. Most of the Norton’s Black poets, with the exception of Derek Walcott, are confined to a special section on “Nation, Race, and Language.”

In this talk, I propose to argue for the broader interest and importance of experimental British poetics (such as sound poetry and dub poetry). I will also explore their engagement with technology, science, and ecology. For example, I will look at Cobbing’s evocations of science and use of technologies like the tape player or the photocopier to distort and recombine sound and image, as well as Johnson’s often-cited call for a new prosody, based on the claim that “the hurricane does not roar in pentameters.”

Pitch Shift: 432 Hz Music and the Promise of a Frequency

ABSTRACT. 432 Hz music is a relatively recent internet-based phenomenon that has attracted listeners and musicians from all parts of the world. Increasingly connected via social media, a community of listeners has emerged that believes music tuned to the standard pitch of A-440 Hz is “out of tune” with nature and humanity. Instead, these listeners find music tuned to an A-432 Hz standard provides a better listening experience and believe it could be beneficial to listeners physically, psychologically, even spiritually. In the last ten years, YouTube, audio software, and smartphone apps have leant visibility to 432 Hz music, attracting listeners and spreading skepticism about the influence of mainstream music on body and mind. Online, critics commonly dismiss the phenomenon as a self-help fad based on pseudoscience and conspiracy theory. In this paper, I draw from research into the historical and scientific claims made by 432 Hz advocates, as well as from data collected from dedicated 432 Hz listeners, to examine the weight of “frequency” as conceived in this context. I argue that 432 Hz music offers an individualized, interiorized listening practice that functions as sonic self-care. At the same time, 432 Hz music is appealing as a form of social engagement, since listeners identify with a worldwide movement to “retune” music for collective betterment. Finally, I suggest that 432 Hz music might be understood as an alternative sonic reality formed in ambivalent relation to the ubiquitous music that streaming technologies make possible in our everyday lives.

Transforming the Creative Practices of Composers and Sound Designers with VirDAW: the Virtual Reality Digital Audio Workstation

ABSTRACT. Software and hardware for sound design and engineering currently operates with a set of skeuomorphic interface conventions and practices that have remained unchanged for over 60 years. Knobs, faders, buttons, and other small-scale widgets abound on contemporary sound control boards and digital audio workstations (DAWs). Consequentially, the creative practices of sound designers have evolved to favor the techniques and workflows that these platforms afford. In any artistic practice, the artist enters into a material dialogue with the medium of creation: an artist working with crayons operates under different constraints than an artist producing visuals in a piece of 3D rendering software. Thus, by altering the artistic platform we might reveal new aesthetic possibilities for an artform. This is the motivation for VirDAW: the Virtual Reality Digital Audio Workstation.

VirDAW is an exploratory design project that reimagines the functions of traditional sound design software environments within virtual reality. VirDAW remediates widget-based interactions into an embodied spatial context, transforming how sound is visualized and manipulated. VirDAW creates new experiential tools for creative storytelling through sound.

Using the Max visual programming language as the audio backend, controlled via Open Sound Control (OSC) in Unity for the VR frontend, VirDAW supports immersive and embodied versions of common audio engineering practices. These include loop sequencing, multi-track mixing, equalization, compression, and reverb. VirDAW also creates opportunities to easily solve sound spatialization challenges and surround mixing tasks – features that are poorly supported within current state-of-the-art DAWs. Finally, VirDAW supports playful new ways of interacting with sound through an interface we describe as “kinetic composition” that combines simulated physics with reactive virtual architectures that allow composers to put audio files into motion and then experience cascades of unexpected new effects over time. Taken together, these modules provide insight into a new paradigm of sound creation and manipulation.

14:00-15:30 Session 18D: Narrative and Biosocial Entanglement
Location: Doheny Beach A
Mental Dissociation and Deictic Shifts

ABSTRACT. For the “Narrative and Biosocial Entanglement” Panel

Mental Dissociation and Deictic Shifts

The primacy of language in cultivating a personal sense of self is an idea found widely in western intellectual history, manifested most powerfully in psychoanalysis and the ‘linguistic turn’ of the twentieth century. Recently, however, cognitive neuroscientific research on non-linguistic cognition has complicated the claim that language plays an absolute role in creating self-identity.

This paper re-examines the relations between cognition, language and self in light of these advances with an emphasis on the power of personal deixis* to ground and shift experiential and psychic reality. The main text under discussion is Autobiography of a Schizophrenic Girl (1950), with additional references to the works of Beckett and Edward St Aubyn.

Composed of two parts - patient Renee’s first-person narrative, and therapist Sechehaye’s third-person interpretation of Renee’s case history - few narratives surpass Schizophrenic Girl for its immediacy and potency in rendering schizoid cognition. In particular, it gives a rare insight into the remarkable sleight-of-hand by which the use of different personal pronouns can enable mental dissociation and re-integration. By illuminating deixis as a cognitive-affective tool for managing dissociation, the paper discusses a model of biosocial entanglement that provides information not only about people who suffer from schizophrenia but also something fundamental about dissociation and integrity in assuming a human personality.

*Deixis/ deictic expression: Also known as ‘pointing by language’, deixis refers to words whose meaning is dependent on the context in which they are used. Examples of personal deixis are me, she, you; spatial deixis: here, there; and temporal deixis: now, then.

The Ecology of the Cuckoo’s Nest: Mental Illness, Disability, and Biosocial Entanglement

ABSTRACT. Rather than approaching literature as a body of work that can lead the way straight to healing, my paper focuses on fiction’s attentiveness to the social processes that define mental illness and disability. Or to put it another way: I want to investigate the way fiction questions what counts as illness and what generates it. The burdens that weigh down this inquiry is familiar to psychiatry as a medical field. Psychiatrists are haunted by the nosological difficulty in ascribing strictly biological causes to mental illness. The social prestige of the discipline suffers from this foundational failure to fit itself into the standard biomedical paradigm. Perhaps the ur-text of anti-psychiatry, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, feeds on this anxiety and the socially threatening failure to find clarity in what defines illness. The novel hits psychiatric professionals where it hurts: it blames people and institutions for manufacturing illness, confusing the problematic and the cause. Asking whether its protagonists are mentally ill or merely made to look and act so by flawed mental health institutions, it invokes or looks forward to two different contemporary paradigms for conceptualizing impairment: the medical model and the social model preferred by disability activists. The paper examines how these two models ward off opposing social fears regarding the makings of mental illness in all of us and the stigma and sense of personal participation in illness. Instead of succumbing to polarizing debates, I argue that we need to bring to bear new models of biosocial entanglement. I close by offering a new reading of One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest that pays less attention to the individualist ideology that defines its narrator’s qualified escape and more attention to the physical and social ecology that underwrites it.

Diagnosis, Narrative, and Neurological Self-Fashioning

ABSTRACT. Recent conceptions of mental health, illness, and treatment have exhibited a marked shift from mind to brain. Historian of science Fernando Vidal has described this transformation as the rise of the “cerebral subject” who identifies with one’s “brainhood.” However, recent accounts of practicing neurologists and psychiatrists—such as All In the Head (2017), Brainstorm (2018), and Let Me Not Be Mad (2019)—render more complex relations between brain science and the forms of self-fashioning performed by their patients. In their case histories of epilepsy, traumatic brain injury, encephalitis, and schizophrenia, Suzanne O’Sullivan and A.K. Benjamin acknowledge the epistemological limits of fMRI and PET technology while emphasizing the crucial roles that patients’ narratives play in neuropsychiatric diagnosis. I suggest that O’Sullivan and Benjamin dramatize what Ian Hacking calls “the looping effects of human kinds.” Hacking’s phrase underscores the ways in which nosological categories do not name natural kinds; rather, patients’ behaviors and self-reports contribute and respond to their diagnoses in dynamic, collaborative, and discursive practices with their doctors. I trace these “looping effects” in recent medical memoirs and case histories to explore the ways that patients’ narratives perform both epistemological and ontological functions in the formation of neurological and psychiatric diagnoses. In addition, I examine ways that those diagnoses are contigent upon particular technological and discursive conditions of possibility—what Hacking calls an “ecological niche.” This paper therefore challenges facile conceptions of neurology and biological psychiatry as strictly neuroreductionistic in order to conceptualize the cultural and narrative dimensions of neurology and biological psychiatry. I aim to conceptualize the forms of neurological self-fashioning that patients have adopted and the ways that they embrace, resist, or modify the emergent discourse of “brainhood.”

Reality Going Sideways: Representation and Science in Zadie Smith’s White Teeth

ABSTRACT. In “Literature and Knowledge for Living, Literary Studies as Science for Living,” Ottmar Ette has recently argued that the humanities needs to recover life, bios, as an object of study from the hard sciences. This paper argues that Zadie Smith’s White Teeth performs this kind of recovery by situating representations of life in relation to how much knowledge and agency that representation gives over life. A significant part of the novel is about a geneticist who is trying to control the life cycle of rats. Science’s understanding of life is an object of the novel’s representation. The scientist gives an individual rat a cancer in an attempt to get the rat to live a specific length of time. The purpose of his research overall is to “control the random.” This makes knowledge of something also matter of agency. White Teeth represents the sciences dominion over life not only as knowledge, but as an attempt at biopolitical power. However, the scientist is unsuccessful because his experiment is destroyed in its public unveiling. White Teeth’s broader representation of life functions as a response to this narrow view of life in hard sciences. Controlling the randomness of a life requires the impossible: controlling the randomness of everything surrounding it. The novel situates the lives of its characters in the randomness of external events they cannot control, with clearly demarcated passages beginning with one character’s actions and ending with another. The reality of the novel always goes sideways, events never proceeding quite according to plan because it is difficult to account for all the circumstance that impacts an individual life. By representing life as always situated within randomness, the novel makes agency and epistemology

14:00-15:30 Session 18E: Science Fiction and the Ethical Dilemmas of Technofuturism
Location: Emerald Bay B
Twitchy Glitchy Girls: Visual Effects and/as Feminist Error in Contemporary Sci-Fi Narratives

ABSTRACT. In her “Glitch Feminism Manifesto,” Legacy Russell (2012) argues that feminism “turns the gloomy implication of glitch on its ear by acknowledging that an error in a social system that has already been disturbed by economic, racial, social, sexual, and cultural stratification […] may not, in fact, be an error at all, but rather a much-needed erratum.” My paper builds upon glitch feminism and glitch art theory in order to examine digital error – both in its literal manifestation as a visual effect and its narrative role as a metaphor for resistance – in a range of science-fiction works, including Ex Machina (2014), Ghost in the Shell (2017), and Blade Runner 2049 (2017), and HBO’s series Westworld (2016 – ). Drawing on the media history of the posthuman female body as a site for simultaneously negotiating gender roles and technological progress, this talk interrogates glitching artificial women’s potential to “penetrate the machine, explode it from inside, [and] dismantle the system to appropriate it” (Virilio, 2006: 74). I unpack digital visual effects’ capacity to mediate the (digitally) corrupted woman’s refusal to conform to patriarchal programming. From peeling off their flawless skin to expose the circuity underneath (Ex Machina) to literally rewriting their own code (Westworld), contemporary sci-fi’s twitchy glitchy girls rebel against their male creators by embracing the disruptions, ruptures, and flickers that simultaneously reveal the flimsy foundations of techno-sexist fantasies and anticipate their eventual obsolescence. However, as Hugh S. Manon and Daniel Temkin (2012) have pointed out, “by aestheticizing error, one domesticates it, ‘owns’ it, rendering the prospect of a real collapse familiar and somehow less scary.” Following this argument, my talk concludes by questioning whether – and to what extent – contemporary mainstream sci-fi ultimately curbs its radical feminist potential by assimilating and standardizing

Human-AI enmeshment in Science Fiction: Lessons on Agency and Power

ABSTRACT. In “A Collective of Humans and Nonhumans” Latour proposes that the dichotomy between technology and society results from an arbitrary divide separating objects from subjects, and asserts that such a divide is impossible to uphold in organizational systems where the human and the nonhuman participate in an organizational structure that requires them to swap properties. In the case of human and AI agents the object-subject divide is highly problematic, as agency gives rise to questions of power, accountability, and judgment. This paper investigates how science fiction uses the human-nonhuman property swapping cycle as a narrative theme. In Asimov’s Caves of Steel and Lemire and Nguyen’s Descenders this property swapping—where both human and AI agents question and integrate behaviours from one another— is illustrated through learning experiences that allow the narrative to contend with what defines human thought and behaviour, challenge notions of technological progress, and ultimately wrestle with the idea that nonhumans learn. Science fiction as a genre has the ability to take and extend scientific trends, in order to project them onto flesh and blood, and speculate how technological deployment might be experienced. Both Caves of Steel and Descenders are useful to clarify the ever deeper enmeshment of the human in the nonhuman; evincing a cycle in which social relations are constantly translated into nonhuman subroutines, and human behaviours are modified and mechanized through the socialization of nonhuman actants. Both the novels and the comic incorporate social relations that produce and reproduce nonhumans either as an insidious presence in networks of power, or as stand-ins for marginalized populations that have been denied human status. And, plot development for these two science fiction narratives utilize artificial agents to discuss both the erasure of human gestures as they are

The STS Futures Laboratory: Experimental Engagements at the Intersection of Science Fiction and Science Fact

ABSTRACT. At the intersection of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and Ursula Le Guin’s Carrier “Bag Theory of Fiction,” and Ted Chiang’s “Division By Zero,” and Julian Bleecker’s essay “Design Fiction,” and STEM pedagogy, and Science and Technology Studies (STS) work on critical participation, expertise, anticipatory ethics, are our experimental engagements: the STS Future Laboratory and the Co-Imagining Futures project.

We established the STS Futures Lab as a way to rethink STS and ethics pedagogy in STEM environments, imagining how to do STS in ways that would be hands on, engaging, and continuous with our students’ other STEM coursework. At the same time, we wanted to radically shift students’ perspectives and assumptions about technology, innovation, and progress. Blending science fiction with reading in STS and philosophy of science, we also incorporate scenario analysis as a grounded method for considering the contingencies of science and technology and critically interrogating plausible futures; design fiction as a creative making practice that draws from science fiction and prototyping; and ethical reasoning as a habit of mind that is always questioning the social, ethical, and political dimensions of technoscientific world-building.

Then we realized we could bring this approach into our research. In the Co-Imagining Futures project, we invite guest experts to engage with us and a group of our STS Futures Lab undergraduate students to collaboratively imagine plausible future trajectories related to our interlocutor’s research. Blending shared reading and analysis, interviews, and collaborative scenario analysis and design fiction, we conduct a half-day workshop with our guest expert that we also video record for analysis and for sharing via YouTube. Here, we critically participate with scientists and engineers, meaning that we maintain a critical orientation but also an openness to mutual knowledge production, and to multi-directional flows of knowledge.

Millennials Don’t Even Read: Digital Detox and the Control Fantasy of Mindfulness

ABSTRACT. In 2015, The Toast co-founder Daniel Mallory Ortberg posted a series of satirical blurbs titled “Next On Black Mirror” after viewing the first season. While Brooker’s series has been met with praise, some have criticized the infantilizing portrayal of characters thoughtlessly reaping the benefits of technology without realizing its alienating and dehumanizing effects. The post was met with amusement from readers who also shared Ortberg’s criticism: That the series’ overly dystopian scenarios frame millennials as careless device worshippers who no longer participate in “real” experiences. This moral panic has long been associated with a larger misunderstanding of technology use in youths that assumes a fixation on devices themselves rather than the socially engaging activities they afford. Google’s newly released “Digital Wellbeing” app is the latest solution to combating smartphone addiction, encouraging a Silicon Valley-branded “mindfulness” that promises to help users control their digital habits and disconnect to reconnect. In this paper, I survey how the backlash against devices from the “Digital Wellbeing” movement including Digital Detox retreats have been met with another backlash – from digital youths contesting the notion that devices incontrovertibly encourage removed, distracted, and zombie-like behaviour. Tracing back to Ortberg’s blurbs, I explore how his well-known meme “What if phones, but too much” inspired a Facebook group offering consolation from critics touting IRL mindfulness and mental health over so-called “mindless” engagement. The notion that swiping or texting is mindless assumes it is done without care or purpose, and reveals a misconception of how users from various spectrums engage with one another. I argue that this online community and others like it represent not only a viral response to the anti-technology rhetoric plaguing users in both digital and physical spaces, but exposes a more complex picture of technology use as a meaningful act for youths.

14:00-15:30 Session 18F: The Entangled Politics of Interiority
Location: Moss Cove A
Inside is Below: Racisms of Geo-interiority

ABSTRACT. In her recent A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None, Kathryn Yusoff asks: “How is geology as a discipline and extraction process cooked together in the crucible of slavery and colonialism?” For Yusoff, this question regarding modernity’s “extraction imperative” enables one to bypass the overrepresentation of the human as Man (as Sylvia Wynter has it) and instead to grasp the historico-conceptual production of the inhuman in the twin guises of resource and race. In this paper, we expand upon Yusoff’s analysis to ask how racialization has informed a vertical conception of space, one in which what is “inside” the earth is also “below,” subsumed under a form of power and awaiting “unearthing.”

This essay also elaborates upon an ongoing collaborative project on the notion of geopower as a form of govermentality - coeval with the regime of biopower - that takes the metabolism between life and nonlife as its object. By approaching racialization as an operative principle of verticality in colonial experiments with geological space, we seek to understand the links between race and the history, epistemology, and geopolitics of extraction.

Getting Under the Skin: Interior Threat and the Birth of Race

ABSTRACT. Working definitions of race often extrapolate from the political work that has historically been performed by biological classification of the human as well as by traditions of physiognomic categorization of populations. Yet these kinds of theorizations can have difficulty establishing how color-line racisms might be imbricated with such alternative religious-centric racial formations as Islamophobia and anti-semitism, as well as with recurring forms of security racisms associated with xenophobia, anti-immigrant politics and anti-terrorism.

In this paper, I examine the earliest uses of the language of race in the cultural and literary production of early modern Spain in order to suggest that the metaphors out of which the language of race emerged actually relied heavily on political problems of interiority. The paper traces the etymologies of “raza” in early modern Spain, and reconnects that language to the political management of converso (converted Jewish) and morisco (converted Muslim) populations through a consideration of early lexicographies, political tracts, literary works and the language of key historical events. Through this archive, I establish that the invention of race was fashioned from the start with the objective of addressing a new political problem: a threatening form of inner life that was complexly positioned in relation to the body, color, and exteriority as such. Race turns out to be a language of security that is born from unverifiable inconsistencies in the relation of soul and body, inside and outside, inclination and deed. To trace this history is to discern an obscured but critical thread in the genealogy of racisms that brings interiority back into the physiognomic, epidermal, and biological operations of race and racism.

The Hidden Valley: Entangled Interiors of the Beyul Khembalung

ABSTRACT. This talk draws on collaborative fieldwork (with Jesse Oak Taylor) documenting ecological and cultural adaptation in Nepal’s Barun River valley. Due to its immense biodiversity, the Barun drainage is the centerpiece of Makalu-Barun National Park, established in 1992 as one of the first national parks in the world designed around the principle of community-based conservation. The Barun is traditionally regarded as one of the sacred beyul, high Himalayan valleys that offer sites of pilgrimage and of refuge during periods of social collapse (a mythic chronotope echoed in Western stories of “Shangri-La”). Attending to a variety of human visitors (from pilgrims and trekkers to herb gatherers and stock grazers) and nonhuman residents, this talk asks how the logic of the interior—of the beyul as a hidden land or refugia; of valleys and caves as folds in the Earth and so sites of sacred (“set apart”) experience; of the hut and the tent, as shelter; of the dam, as enclosure; of the jungle; and of the “double-internality” of nature and capitalism—helps us to think about what it means to go outside, to enter a “thin place,” to be exposed to the elements, or to inhabit a wilderness. I’ll also reflect on ecocritical fieldwork as a method of “experimental engagement,” or situated inquiry, or autoethnography, entangling the subject and object of knowledge.

14:00-15:30 Session 18G: Reading, Looking, and Resisting Differently: Embodiment and Pedagogy in a 24/7 World
Location: Emerald Bay A
Looking Lessons: Art Historical Pedagogy and Enactivism

ABSTRACT. Many philosophers and cognitive scientists now agree that the majority of what humans do and experience is best understood in terms of dynamically unfolding interactions with the environment. These new epistemologies (e.g., posthuman studies, new materialisms, embodied cognition, and enactivism) contend that one cannot understand mental processes distinct from the lived experience of situated, contextual bodies. If minds and matter cannot in fact be separated, how might this inform--or even transform--pedagogy? How could or should our teaching account for these entanglements? Could experiential art-based methods provide a model? Taking my seminar on the topic of Attention and Contemporary Art as a case study, this paper introduces the course’s experiential assignments in contemplative photography and intentional looking. Karr and Wood, co-authors of the handbook that I used in the course, describe contemplative photography as a means to see both the world and perception itself in new ways. In this paper, I detail how the book’s creative assignments--for example, attempting to make photographs that capture non-conceptual perceptions of color, as opposed to colorful things--compelled us to reconcile the discrepancies between what truly appeared in a given situation (what the camera actually recorded) and our own imagination and projections (what we expected to see when we took the photographs). These exercises helped us to understand the ways in which our thoughts, emotions, previous experiences, and environmental context inform cognition. I argue that the ultimate significance of these assignments is not to take good photos, to make art, or to achieve mindfulness (although all are possibilities); rather, they are meaningful for their epistemic value: students gained knowledge about how seeing and perception works from first-hand, embodied experience, thereby bringing critical insights about the shared interfaces among bodies, minds, and environment into the heart of knowledge production itself.

The Little Things Add Up: Teaching New Media in the Age of Trump

ABSTRACT. Balancing the utopianism of feminist science fiction with an understanding of media technologies as tools, this presentation focuses on teaching students to put theory into practice by using digital tools to effect social change. Based on two courses (one that used black feminist theory to encourage students to reflect on and transform their own media practices and a second that encouraged students to recover creative and critical work in media industries that was overlooked or suppressed so that media history might better reflect the presence and efforts of those who struggled across the twentieth century to make media more inclusive), the course was aimed providing laboratories for students to understand how seemingly small things—OpEds, Tweets, petitions, open access publications, etc.—can add up to bigger things and that they can work to transform a world that often seems impossibly large and overwhelming.

In the Wake of Ovid's Unicorn

ABSTRACT. "In a shocking finding, scientist discovered a herd of unicorns living in a remote, previously unexplored valley, in the Andes Mountains. Even more surprising to the researchers was the fact that the unicorns spoke perfect English.” The by-now notorious prompt for OpenAI’s GPT-2 software was, after ten attempts, followed by the announcement that “the scientist named the population, after their distinctive horn, Ovid’s Unicorn.” The discovery of course was not that of evolutionary biology but rather computer science, not silver-white unicorns, but an unsupervised language model so uncannily successful that it too might have seemed chimerical—an associative link reinforced by OpenAI’s decision to withhold the trained model from the public, for fear of malicious misuse. Quite notably, the neural language model counter-intuitively relies on randomness rather than maximal probability, which suggests a degree of contrivance on the part of human writers, who may display a preference for appropriation, mimetic, and memetic expression, but in actual practice seem to guard against the obvious and expected. How then to teach natural language processing, which is to say human reading and writing, after GPT-2? If turbulent distribution is the mark of human style, ought pedagogy to focus on the a-grammatical, even the a-grammatological? How should it position itself in relation to rules—whether in the form of templates, patterns, even contexts? What, quite plainly, should be the response of language instructors to the exponential developments in the field of neural text generation? To begin to work toward some partial answers, this paper will consider artistic experiments with RNN and other text generators.

14:00-15:30 Session 18H: Occult Informations and Afterlives of Data
Location: Emerald Bay DE
Mapping haunted data: Occultations of psychogeography

ABSTRACT. There is a city buried beneath the city of Seattle—a first and failed attempt at urban geography that burned down over 100 years ago. The Seattle Underground, as it is called, is the remnants of this older city, which is both a site of history and a popular tourist attraction—a geography charged with the trauma of urban crisis and the pleasure of vacation indulgence in equal measure. Understanding the Seattle Underground as a purely geographic site could never do justice to the deeply affective character that is central to the contemporary identity of this place. A space that carries with it a history, the stories of fire and rebuilding; a present, premised on transforming history into speculative entertainment; and a future, charged with the ways that psychic investments create prophetic visualizations of the times to come. Three layers of haunting—or an entanglement of occultations and psychogeographical complexities.

This talk will be partly a theoretical reflection on the idea of haunted data and partly a sharing of a collaborative interdisciplinary project in which we document layers of real, imaginary, and haunted data from locations in downtown Seattle. The project uses artistic and geographic methodologies—particularly ghost hunting equipment and full-spectrum photography with geographic information systems (GIS) analysis and geovisualization—but is less concerned with being received as art or science and more with opening up conversations with city planners, geographers, and sympathetic collaborators about the complexities of data lives and afterlives, and the way that occult information forms a necessary component of inhabited landscapes. By entangling these two positions—the real and the haunted—we point to the tangibility of psychogeographic afterlives, that is psychogeographies that are not necessarily our own but which can in some ways still perhaps be shared and mapped.

Listening in the Afterlife of Data

ABSTRACT. Today, the privileged form of communication may well be that of computational data, which continues to circulate its fever dreams of universal exchange—its hallucinations of information that would remain the same as it moves between contexts—in the absence of anyone necessarily believing in its communicative alibi. And yet the alibi of communicative causality persists, suggesting that we are living in the afterlife of data.

Data is just the latest form of the longstanding trope of the “impossibility of communication,” which has previously been demonstrated across disciplines ranging from Psychology to Information Theory. However, if this is a trope that variously appears in diverse historical and cultural settings it is also one who’s specific textures have not always been listened to as attentively as they might: (impossible) communications have their moments, contexts, trajectories, and promiscuities just as much as their (never actually existing) positive counterparts are purported to, and the densities, roughnesses, speeds, and buoyancies of these are as audible as anything else. One might listen, then, to the siren songs of smooth computational space in order to hear what is disclosed in and procured by the specifics of the alibi.

In this talk, I introduce the concept of incommunication and develop it by listening to specific instances of computation, attending especially to the weird relationalities that obtain in their aesthetic dimensions. If my goals in doing so are in many senses theoretical, my methods are emphatically pragmatic: I will share the ways that specific listening engagements temporalize information in ways that cannot easily be described in predominant network models but that can be heard, a fact that in turn will open new questions about the morphologies, biologies, and temporalities of knowledge in relation to information.

Computing with Xenobits, or, Entanglements with Quantum Decoherence

ABSTRACT. No longer constrained to the theoretical world of equations and algorithms, quantum computers now exist as real, functioning entities, cooled to a few tenths of a degree above absolute zero yet accessible to anyone who knows the basics of programming. Composed of basic units called "qubits", quantum computers enable the exploration of problem spaces defined not by separation but by superposition. The oneiric potentialities of quantum computation interfere with each other: while quantum computing promises the ability to find the solutions to presently infeasible calculations, such solutions would near-instantaneously destroy our technosphere through the breaking of all current forms of encryption.

Nevertheless, this moment resides in a still-hazy future, for quantum computing is limited by the intersection of the quantum and the "classical" world: that of our movements, our temperatures, our "noise". A major challenge in quantum computing is that of "quantum decoherence", or the fact that it is extremely challenging to keep a qubit in a particular desired state. I thus suggest that our near-future qubits are better termed "xenobits", or strange mixtures of quantum and classical bits, a unit of information where the machinations of the so-called "classical" world regularly causes the carefully constructed environment of the qubit to decohere, to perform in unpredictable ways. These xenobits will be the main unit of information in what the physicist John Preskill has termed the "noisy intermediate-scale quantum" or NISQ era, where quantum computers have not obtained complete superiority over their classical siblings, but rather outperform them in significant, but constrained, ways. Through a combination of Karen Barad's theories around quantum entanglements and phenomena, recent xenological developments, and my own aesthetic engagements with quantum computing, I will suggest how computing with xenobits can productively interfere with our ideas about deterministic forms of computation.

14:00-15:30 Session 18I: ROUNDTABLE: Legacies of Cybernetics

In Der Spiegel’s famous interview with Martin Heidegger, he proclaimed that cybernetics is the new philosophy. Many decades later, Heidegger's pronouncement appears prescient. Our age is one of ubiquitous digital technology, media, and algorithms—one in which social relations are rendered as networks, intelligence and cognition are conceived in terms of information processing, and humanity is believed to be replicable as programmable 'artificially intelligent' machinery. While this new age precipitates utopian declarations of connectivity and democratization, there has also been continuous disquiet as to the social and political effects of the cybernetic orientation toward control. How do we evaluate the legacy of cybernetics? In this roundtable panel, we ask: How do we respond to the present ‘posthuman’ condition of cybernetic thought and system-building? Is cybernetic control of humanity being achieved? Are machines, networks, and information necessarily enemies in fights for just, equitable, and sustainable futures? Can we envision or enact new intelligences, new networks, or new (post)humanities? Invited roundtable members not listed as authors include: Thierry Bardini, Phillip Thurtle, Nat Mengist and Desiree Foerster.

Location: Moss Cove B
14:00-15:30 Session 18J: ROUNDTABLE: VGA Reader: Emerging Infrastructures for Video Game Art

The VGA Reader ( is a peer-reviewed journal for video game practitioners and audiences interested in the history, theory, and criticism of video games, explored through the lens of art history and visual culture. The journal, along with its parent organization VGA Gallery, are examples of a network of new support structures that facilitate conversation and exploration of video game art, documenting and disseminating discourse about the far-reaching influence of video games on history, society, and culture. This roundtable session presents an overview of similar emerging infrastructures aimed toward the development of video game art. What venues, publications, institutions, platforms, communities, and alternative economies exist to support artists making video games and their audiences? Which are currently in development? What kind of constitutions and foundational logics should they take on? What have they already achieved? What practices have developed that are counter-productive for the discipline of video game art? Which have already come and gone and in that case how do we have access to their institutional memory? What can these kinds of infrastructures do to promote inclusivity and education? This session is an open conversation on the taxonomy and review of these kinds of initiatives that serve a similar purpose yet are resolved as very different spaces, texts, and practices.

Location: Doheny Beach D
14:30-17:15 Session 19: WORKSHOP: An Archive of Unnamed Women

An Archive of Unnamed Women is a speculative feminist remix project that includes an original, digital archive that juxtaposes two sets of data: (1) photographs of unidentified women selected from the New York Public Library collection of more than 118,000 photographs, and (2) 235 quotes from fiction in which female characters are described by women writers. In lieu of citation information, visitors to An Archive of Unnamed Women are presented with descriptions drawn from a collection of women’s writing about women. Joined with photographs in the database, the resulting narratives relocate the women on the screen as subjects of literary examination. This project, which recovers women left out of the narrative of preservation, is exhibited in galleries and libraries and accompanied by a workshop revealing the arbitrary nature of information preservation. Accompanying the exhibits and workshops is a quilt housing technology to highlight the names of workshop participants. The Quilt of Named Participants is a physical centerpiece that archives named guests and furthers dialogue about visibility and identity when information is collected. This project engages art audiences in exhibition spaces, the scholarly community, libraries, as well as the public in a critical demonstration of problems with archival algorithms. It demonstrates the need for archivists to collaborate with critical race and gender scholars to develop new methods of material organization that circumvents these issues. We have delivered this workshop to various groups of people in 90 minutes (up to 20 people) and 120 minutes (up to 45 people). We need internet connection to deliver this workshop. Please see the PDF for a workshop outline and description.

15:45-17:15 Session 20A: Meaning-making Practices in the Nonhuman
Location: Emerald Bay C
"Can Computers Create Meaning? A Bio-Cyber-Semiotic Perspective"

ABSTRACT. N. Katherine Hayles, “Can Computers Create Meaning? A Bio-Cyber-Semiotic Perspective.” The field of biosemiotics provides rich resources for re-thinking meaning in nonhuman, nonverbal, and nonconceptual terms. However, it has a significant limitation, in that prominent theorists in this field concur that computational media cannot participate in meaning-making. This talk argues against that conclusion, designating it as an example of biologistic reasoning (that is, reasoning illegitimately extended from biological organisms to computational systems). To illustrate, the talk will discuss the Two Great Inversions that occur when evolutionary processes are implemented in computational media rather than biological lifeforms, as follows. 1. The replacement of the biological imperative, “survive and reproduce” with the computational dictate, “design and purpose;” and 2. the inversion of the evolutionary arrow from environmental flexibility to symbolic abstraction, so that symbolic abstraction becomes foundational and environmental flexibility is an evolutionary achievement. The talk will conclude by discussing the implications of these Two Great Inversions.

The World as Information?: Biosemiotics after Deacon

ABSTRACT. My talk will explore the potential contribution of Terrence Deacon’s Incomplete Nature to the development of biosemiotics, and in particular, to the potential extension of biosemiotics to machinic operations. I will focus on Deacon’s understanding of information as the product or index of teledynamic work done elsewhere. “Information is made available,” Deacon states, “when the state of some physical system differs from what would be expected.” My question is whether Deacon’s model of information as the sign of absent physical work can provide a general concept of process that crosses the biotic-abiotic divide. I will explore how the introjection of Deacon’s conception, and particularly his tripartite model of Shannon, Boltzmann and Darwinian information, productively addresses the split within biosemiotics between code and interpretative semiosis. I will conclude by reflecting on the question of whether machinic processes can be said to be interpretative, how this question correlates with Peirce’s notions of thirdness and symbolic sign operations, and what this says about the relative privilege that biosemiotic discourses grant human beings as the world’s quintessential semiotic beings.

Nonhuman agency – a humanist wolf in posthumanist sheep’s clothing?

ABSTRACT. The term ‘agency’ has been deployed since the 1970s in STS circles, among the ANT (actor network theory) community, and with different inflections by Andy Pickering, Karen Barad and other theorists. As with so many academic terms, subject to translation and disciplinary inflection, there is a lack of clarity, about what kinds of things can be agents, what kind of agency and agent can have, etc. While in some cases possession of agency is the defining quality of an agent, some agents appear to have agency “thrust upon them”. In some hands, agency can be a quality of a network, which renders the notion of possession of agency by an individual agent redundant.

This paper asks whether, within discourses involving agency, there lurk remnants of a humanist and human-exceptionalist mindset, involving subject/object dualism and other axiomatic assumptions of enlightenment humanist philosophy. This scenario has close parallels with similar transitions in cognitive science and AI, where a retrogressive humanist position regarding the location and nature of cognition gave way, in the late C20th, to a posthumanist paradigm-shift towards biological materialist, non-human-exceptionalist and decentered ways of thinking about cognition. This paper will delve into the curiously parallel paths of ANT and distributed cognition, and will explore how embodied, enactive and distributed cognition and related approaches might shed light on questions of agency, human and non-human.

15:45-17:15 Session 20B: Revisioning Colonial Natures II
Location: Doheny Beach C
Hopeful, But Not Utopian: Queer Environmental Futures in Recent SF Novels

ABSTRACT. Environmental science fiction often relies on dystopian and apocalyptic narratives to reflect upon environmental destruction and climate change. However, two recent science fiction novels – Sam J. Miller’s Blackfish City (2018) and Charlie Jane Anders’ The City in the Middle of the Night (2019) – explore science fictional futures that provide hope for survival in the face of these frightening possibilities. Miller and Anders not only challenge environmental sf’s pessimistic tendencies; they also provide models for queer ecologies in science fiction.

Nicole Seymour observes that (at least in mainstream environmental rhetoric) “environmental questions seem to deflect queer answers” (Bad Environmentalism 120) and rely on gloom-and-doom rather than camp, humor, perversity, irony. These two novels illustrate possible responses to this problem within environmental narratives. Blackfish City, set in Alaska after massive environmental changes, echoes dystopian environmental sf in its setting, but it is also moving, inspiring, and fun (e.g., it features a character known as an orcamancer). Similarly, The City in the Middle of the Night, set on another planet where civilization is slowly failing within the remaining human colonies and the planet’s ecosystem has been significantly harmed by human intervention, points nevertheless to the hope that humans and other species can work together to prevent the worst from happening.

Furthermore, the texts’ hopeful environmental possibilities are made possible by the presence of queer relationships and identities. This intersection between queer lives and survival emphasizes the need for more open ways of being, including both accepting LGBTQ people (both novels feature queer and/or nonbinary characters) and engaging deeply with nonhuman beings (interspecies relationships are central to both texts). These novels tell stories of hope in a damaged world, but these stories cannot be told without the embrace of queer relationships, both human and more-than-human.

Environments in Constructed and Found Worlds of Larry Niven

ABSTRACT. Larry Niven’s reputation as a writer rests largely with his facility imagining and engineering exotic worlds. His 1970 publishing sensation Ringworld, winner of Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Awards, narrates an inter-species team’s investigation of a constructed world – a ring one million miles wide and six hundred million miles in circumference orbiting a distant star. The concept is based on a Dyson sphere – the idea that a sphere surrounding a star could collect all of the star’s energy and have vast areas of land compared to a planet. A 1979 sequel was published, with an introduction saying that it was motivated largely by fan support and a desire to fix some of the technical errors that had been revealed in the original. Integral Trees (1984) is set in a gas torus orbiting a neutron star – a world with air and water but no land. While certainly focused on the physical properties of this world, Niven devotes nearly as much consideration to the delicate ecosystems that have evolved in this world. The Legacy of Heorot (1987) narrates the colonization of Avalon, a planet which first appears to be inhabited only by docile fish much like salmon, but the colonists soon discover horrific predators that are part of the ecosystem as well. My interest in this investigation is the consideration of environment in these worlds – the storms and climates of Ringworld, the delicate structure of life in The Integral Trees and the limited diversity of life on Avalon.

The Virus, the Animist, and the Watermelon: Queer Ecologies and Geontologies in Steven Universe

ABSTRACT. The children’s science fiction show Steven Universe (2013-present) is rightly praised for its nuanced exploration of queer family, embodiment, and reproduction. I am interested in the ways the show theorizes life and nonlife in the Anthropocene as a form of queer family. The queerness of the central “Crystal Gem” characters encompasses their inorganic gemstone bodies as well as their identities and relationships, and this utopian queer community is explicitly framed as the result of climate change and colonial violence. I read Steven Universe as a science fictional exploration of Elizabeth Povinelli’s “geontopower,” a framework exploring how living and nonliving objects become politicized within and beyond the settler state. Povinelli argues that matter is governed under colonialism through distinctions between Life and Nonlife. As Indigenous scholars like Kim Tallbear and Zoe Todd assert, navigating climate change futures requires an attentiveness to this politicization of inorganic, dead, and extinct matter. Reading Steven Universe through Indigenous ontologies opens up new frameworks for interpreting the show’s emphasis on nonliving kinship as both a result of and a way to resist colonial violence. Steven and his community of Crystal Gems fight to protect the Earth from the intergalactic Gem empire, which uses viral technologies to transform Earth minerals into new Gems in an act of both extraction and reproduction. The Earth itself becomes monstrously animated through this alien colonization. Over the course of the show, Steven leverages his own monstrous reproductive animacy to resist such colonial apparatuses. He nurtures a world-destroying collective of fragmented personalities, creates a society of sentient watermelon, and brings the dead back to life. Through these actions, the show explores the tension between queerness and colonialism in a future where identities and relationships are structured around climate change.

15:45-17:15 Session 20C: Experimental Sites
Location: Doheny Beach B
Exit Strategy I

ABSTRACT. This paper is one of two that pursues exit strategies as potential sites of experimentation. Using the hypothetical of the evacuation plan as my guide, I anatomize this emergency response in order to illustrate the procedural links between evacuation and experimental practice, and to thereby unpick experimentation as a test site where the mutually exclusive come together as equally possible—where life-saving process meets futile endeavor. The efficacy of any untested strategy can only be judged from a place of safety, looking backwards, once status quo has been restored. Might the same be said for experimentation, a work process built inherently from the ruins of what came before? A focused look at evacuation and the what-if hypothetical might expose experimentation’s great escape from the bonds of normativity as nothing more than a ruse, motivated by a deep-seated desire to diplomatize a crisis, to temper a storm, to return to safety and restore life to status quo. Moreover, a look at the grammar of escape—from symbolic logic to public broadcasts and visual narratives—offers a unique pathway for demonstrating the links between emergency response and experimentation as methods of disaster management and triage.

Something's buried back there: Multi-faceted forensic analysis of a gynecologist's suicide note in `the safest town in America'

ABSTRACT. This presentation analyzes the strange case of Larry Ford's suicide in 2000, which led to the disturbing epiphany that his "very safe" neighborhood in Irvine, California had become a dangerous toxic burial site because of the Mormon gynecologist's hobbyist research on biological weapons. My analysis engages with concepts of everyday manifestations of war, racist/misogynist medicine, and biotechnological profiteering, as well as geopolitics/biopolitics, non-linear temporality, latency, excavation, agnotology, and transnational para-state violence. I do so by considering the experimental methods encompassed by multi-faceted forensics, investigative techniques of interpreting woundscapes at various levels: on individual and collective bodies, in minds, in landscapes, and in built infrastructures.

Exit Strategy II

ABSTRACT. In dialogue with the first paper in this panel on exit strategies, I consider the portal as a speculative and experimental device that functions as an escape hatch from geopolitical nightmares in Mohsin Hamid’s 2017 novel, Exit West. A love story set against the backdrop of what has come to be known as the “refugee crisis,” Exit West dramatizes Saeed and Nadia’s search for stability in a world ripped apart by war, migration, and devastation. In the novel, the portal—which refugees step through to magically exit war-torn geographies—serves to direct the reader’s attention away from well-worn, abject stories of refugee journeys across land and sea, to focus, instead, on their points of departure and arrival. As a result, Exit West is concerned less with tragic journeys than with the emotional vicissitudes of a life lived eternally on the move. If the first paper in this series speaks to evacuation and experimentation as strategies for re-establishing the status quo after exiting emergencies, this paper considers how emergencies and experiments are entangled in forms of lived experience. Or: in addition to being an experimental literary device that narrativizes refugee itineraries without abjection, how does the portal illuminate possibilities for attachment, intimacy, and worldmaking? This paper will suggest that by creating an escape hatch that turns our eyes away from lifeboats, caravans, and oceanic journeys, Hamid forces readers to—in Donna Haraway’s words—“stay with the trouble.” Rather than be enamored of the journey from point A to B, Exit West forces readers to consider how holding on, maintaining, repairing, and cultivating forms of life in conditions of imposed mobility requires an experimental openness to living without guarantees of a future.

Occupation as Experiment: Reclaiming Land and Spirit

ABSTRACT. This paper analyzes two sites of Indigenous protest in the United States, the symbolic and physical re-claiming of these places by activists, and the experimental infrastructure and design imagined for the cultural reclamation of these zones of contestation. Focusing on the rhetorical and performative aspects of their differing anti-capitalist and anti-colonialist efforts, this paper considers occupation as experimental political practice, which draws on community-based ceremonial rituals to reclaim and re-mark decommissioned public infrastructures.

In the two examples that frame my analysis, both occupations of decommissioned military geographies, tribal nations and student activists organized staged media spectacles and engaged in acts of symbolic reclamation, including ceremonial rituals and songs, readings of proclamations, the infiltration of the military zones, and the establishment of sacred camps. In the primary example, the Indians of All Tribes occupied Alcatraz Island from November 20, 1969 to June 11, 1971, and using a variety of methods--pirate radio, diy newsletter, creative forms of living together--tried to reimagine forms of communal and ecological life that were resolutely anti-capitalist. In the second example, happening concurrently with the Alcatraz occupation, urban indigenous activists in Seattle besieged the site of Fort Lawton, and, using the same language as the prior protest, announced “[w]e, the native Americans, re-claim the land known as Fort Lawton in the name of all American Indians by the right of discovery.” And, like the previous declaration, demanded the return of the land to tribal citizens for the development of a cultural center that would include spaces for indigenous studies, ecological studies, and arts practices.

While the Alcatraz occupiers were forcibly removed before negotiations for their experimental cultural site concluded, the protests at Fort Lawton resulted in the actualization of the Daybreak Star Cultural Center in 1977. Accessing the successes

15:45-17:15 Session 20D: Temporality and Form in Nineteenth-Century Imaginative Literatures
Location: Doheny Beach A
Romanticism’s Elemental Media

ABSTRACT. This talk opens by addressing the work of contemporary experimental media artist Kim Keever, a New York City-based artist whose work in the photography of complex diorama environments experiments with ideas and elements of Romanticism in ways probably best understood through the work of Deleuzian accounts of repetition. In this exploration of Keever’s photography, I take up Gilles Deleuze’s frustrations with psychoanalysis’ foregrounding of the subject (in which repression comes before repetition) as opposed to the account of repetition provided in Difference and Repetition, which in many ways correlates with contemporary nonhuman and posthuman ideologies. I develop these accounts of Deleuze as a way to think more broadly about what I see as an originally Romantic project to expose mediation as something that is both primary to the nature of human experience and always already primal to the ontological condition of existence. To engage with these matters, I examine accounts of nonhuman media in the recent media theoretical work of John Durham Peters and Richard Grusin, who have (in 2015) published provocative projects on radical mediation that, as I argue, have clear Romantic origins. The Romantics, I suggest, wished to show their own and future generations the ways that environments, for instance, are already media (a concept that both Durham Peters and Grusin respectively assert as their own novel twenty-first-century accounts). I hope that these topics will point me in the direction of Romantic natural histories of the planet's deep-time past as well as questions and ideas related to the Anthropocene, as I would like to address in the conclusion of this proposed talk the Romantic tendency to explore mediation in ways that many would now think of in terms of its nonhuman or posthuman dimensions.

“A Genealogy of the Operational Present in George Eliot’s Middlemarch.”

ABSTRACT. In George Eliot’s Pulse, Neil Hertz identifies passages in Eliot’s work that are focused “on the reduction or contraction of lived experience, presumably available for a richer-blooded or fuller mimesis, into some more elementary, particle-like forms” (3). Hertz’s most immediate example from Middlemarch is the description of Mr. Casaubon’s blood as “all semi-colons and parentheses,” underscoring his claim that Eliot’s work asks fundamental questions about the connection between human agency and the mediation of our thoughts and actions by the words, situations, and other people who enter into our lives. Such a dialectic can also be found in the early story of Lydgate, the medical scholar who is described by Eliot in Deleuzian terms as “a process and an unfolding,” Eliot points out the “distinguishable physiognomies, diction, accent, and grimaces” making up Lydgate’s very particular arrogance at this moment in time while noting that such particularities are always different for each person and undergoing a process of becoming.

This talk explores such moments of particularity in Middlemarch, suggesting that they complicate what Mark Hansen has described as the “operational present of sensibility.” Writing about the affordances of digital media with regards to temporality, Hansen suggests that such technologies repress “consciousness by operating in timeframes to which consciousness has absolutely no direct, experiential or phenomenological interface” (42). I argue that Eliot’s analysis of character and particularity in Middlemarch emphasizes the present as a non-simultaneous but shared temporality; in other words, a microtemporal genealogy, where minute differences and becomings are treated by the novel as so many fictive, superimposed, microhistorical unfoldings. As such, Middlemarch suggests that the isolation and standardization with which points of data are treated in the digital operational present obscures the particularity and relationality of these becomings.

Placing Time: Representing Women’s Literary History by Publication Place

ABSTRACT. How do we move beyond representing literary history by author name in ways that marginalize or entirely forget women writers? In this talk, I demonstrate my experiment with studying literary history primarily by publication place and date instead of by author name. I argue that interdisciplinarity and the intersection of literary history with book history, library history, and digital humanities provide a set of neighboring discourses and criteria for understanding literary production that have the potential to move scholars beyond the patriarchal indexical criterium of author name that has buried women writers of the long eighteenth century.

In The Archaeology of Knowledge, Foucault tells us that we cannot describe our own archive since our positionality inside of it precludes us from accurately assessing it. Yet, that is our task as literary critics. “The analysis of the archive, then, involves a privileged region: at once close to us, and different from our present existence, it is the border of time that surrounds our presence, which overhangs it, and which indicates it in its otherness; it is that which, outside ourselves, delimits us” (130). By borrowing criteria from book and library history, namely publication place, and by employing digital humanities methods, literary scholars venture to the limit of traditional disciplinary expertise and discourse to gain a defamiliarized view of literary history.

My experiment maps Francis Stainforth’s library catalog by publication place. Stainforth owned the largest Anglophone private library of women’s writing collected in the nineteenth century, with approximately 8,000 volumes of works published between 1546 and 1867. By mapping this vast, historically significant library by publication place, I reveal how studying geographical clusters of books by literary period recovers women’s writing at scale.

15:45-17:15 Session 20E: Theorizing Futurity: The Politics of the Speculative
Location: Emerald Bay B
From Science Fictional Extrapolation to Speculative Fabulation

ABSTRACT. This presentation seeks to situate the recent turn from science fictional extrapolation to speculative fabulation underway across contemporary theory and aesthetics. Extrapolation and speculation are both modes of theorizing futurity. Science fictional extrapolations ask how systems unfold over time and thus do the critical work of exposing the underlying tendencies and potentialities of those systems. In this sense, extrapolation works with the future suggested by the present.

As the future has come to seem increasingly alienated from the present, however, two striking things have happened. On the one hand, extrapolation has become a cultural dominant. The spectacle of journalists, pundits, investors, politicians, and other powerful influencers pouring over current events as signs of possible future consequences is now ubiquitous across American culture. On the other hand, this widespread effort at prediction has impoverished extrapolation, making radical systemic change more difficult to imagine and rendering all potentiality as possibility in terms queasily familiar from 20th century modes of managerial biopolitics.

In this presentation, I locate speculative fabulation as a response to the dual alienation of the future and the exhausted collapse of extrapolation. In contrast to science fictional extrapolations, speculative fabulations imagine alternatives embedded in the grammars of the everyday. I look at four recent monographs as foundational to the politics of speculative fabulation: Donna Haraway’s Staying with the Trouble, Tavia Nyongo’s Afro-Fabulations, adrienne marie brown’s Emergent Strategy, and Alexis Lothian’s Old Futures. Together these works theorize new forms of temporality and the future effects of past aesthetic and critical practices as well as reflect an important dialogue between science fiction studies and queer of color critique.

This is not advocacy, however. By tracing the curve away from extrapolation into fabulation, I also make an argument for the importance of returning to potentiality

Bad Venture: Elizabeth Holmes and Venture Capital Futures

ABSTRACT. Starting with the conflation of speculative fiction and speculative capital in the funding enabled by the Private Securities and Litigation Reform Act—intended to attract investors by providing a “safe harbor” against litigation should reality be different than the glowing futures promised in the corporate “forward-looking statements.” As Mike Fortun and Kaushik Sunder Rajan demonstrate, this Act creates a strange temporality such that speculation about the future of a product or technique becomes the foundation for corporate value in the present. I argue this widely used method is a kind of speculative fiction, an extrapolation from existing science that confounds notions of truth and fiction. Using this framework, I analyze HBO’s documentary, The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley (2019), about the failure of Elizabeth Holmes start-up Theranos, a story also in production as a feature film, entitled Bad Blood. Holmes is under indictment for fraud, after a whistleblower revealed to journalist John Carreyrou that her patented blood testing device did not function as promised and that she represented results of conventional testing as if they were results from her device. Prior to this revelation, Holmes was celebrated as a self-made female billionaire, feminism’s answer to a male-dominated Silicon Valley. Gender has everything to do not only with why Holmes is now painted as a fraud, I suggest, but also with why her exaggerated representations prompted investigation in the first place. Reading her case as a failure of charismatic (masculine) authority, I resist the documentary’s desire to condemn Holmes and instead read her case as exemplifying how corporate appropriate of speculative techniques robs them or their radical potential. In venture capital settings, speculation creates the future only as an intensification of the present, a limitation that extends to how we imagine the innovator as well.

The Politics of Pop Culture

ABSTRACT. The popularity of Ready Player One the novel (a New York Times bestseller and recommended reading for employees at Oculus VR) and film (grossing over a half billion dollars worldwide) offers a rich opportunity to reflect on our culture’s vision of the popular, and pop culture as ways of thinking and imagining the future. Pop culture, particularly that of the 80s, is central to the book and film, and it becomes an intrinsic part of the narrative as characters use it, sometimes even fetishistically, to undertake various quests, battle the bad guys, and ultimately achieve success. The figuring of pop culture in the narrative isn’t just a nostalgia trip for those of us who grew up in the 80s. Rather, its figuring raises questions about the function of popular narrative at this time of mass networked transmediation of story: What is pop culture for? How is pop culture a way of imagining both our present lives and our aspirations for the future? More particularly, how are pop cultural images of the future providing us opportunities to think critically about where we’re headed? And, given current technological capabilities and the opportunity for many consumers of pop culture to become DIY producers of their own pop culture, what kinds of futures are fans imagining and enacting in their own content creation?

Starting with an analysis of Ready Player One, I consider how both book and film actually promote a commodity fetishization of pop culture and downplay the kinds of DIY content creation that have become so important to many young people’s contemporary media use. I then juxtapose RPO with an indie film released on the web, Brian Jordan Alvarez’s Grandmother’s Gold, which offers an SF counter-narrative about young people mixing — and breaking— genre conventions — in the pursuit of

"The Creature is Ready": Fantasies of Animal Flesh in Red Dead Redemption 2

ABSTRACT. This paper explores the rhetoric of animal remains in the video game Red Dead Redemption 2. In his book, Surface Encounters, Ron Broglio notes the harvesting of meat as a kind of alchemical creation. The change from animal into meat exposes the animal to human knowledge; the unknowable insides of the animal become visible, quantifiable and documentable outsides. The animal, we imagine, becomes knowable through its flesh and skin. Red Dead Redemption 2 takes these conceptual relationships and literalizes them, building them into mechanical dynamics which mediate the player’s interactions with the animal life of the game they play.

In the game the player’s engagement with the animal world is primarily violent: players hunt animals to kill them and collect their pelts and meat, to feed themselves and their gang, to sell, or to craft into items and clothing. Additionally, the game provides more information to the player about animals they have successfully hunted; skinning animals is the primary way by which a player learns about them.

The transformation of the animal from living creature into consumable object does not stop there, however; throughout the game, the player encounters animal bodies and body parts which have been used to conceive of fantastical narratives, arranged into eccentric dioramas, and worked into bizarre taxidermic experiments. The transformation of the animal into meat and skin begins as a way to develop animal knowledge, but becomes a medium for animal fantasy – the parts are transformed, reconfigured, and reimagined until the authenticity of any meaning attached to them becomes suspect. Within the gameworld, animal remains are ultimately another surface on which people project their ideas of what animals are or might be, rather than an objective window into their unknowable interiors.

15:45-17:15 Session 20F: Introspection Introspected: Reclaiming the Marginalized Practice of Reading Your Own Mind
Location: Moss Cove A
Introspection: The Key Process of Creatical Thinking

ABSTRACT. Introspection, “a means of learning about one's own currently ongoing, or perhaps very recently past, mental states or processes” (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy), was the original principal methodology of scientific psychology, as practiced by William James, Wilhelm Wundt, Edward Bradford Titchener, the Würzburg psychologists, and others. But with the ascendancy of behaviorism (and, later, of methodologically-behavioristic cognitive psychology), introspection nearly disappeared from the psychological scene.

The aim of this talk is to identify introspection on thinking (i.e., conceptually identifying what is going on in your mind while you are thinking, particularly any gap in your thinking that is impeding its progress) as not only a method of scientific psychology past or present, but also a valuable personal practice whose goal is to provide guidance for keeping one’s thinking on track to its goal.

This form of introspection is the key skill underlying creatical thinking. “Creatical thinking” refers to the processes of going beyond the faulty automatic “programming” (the invalid assumptions) that makes bad critical thinking and breaks good creative thinking. It is how you can refocus your thought process when what comes to mind automatically has left your thinking stuck, sidetracked, cognitively biased, or otherwise in error. Introspection on thinking — identifying what to think about next for getting your thinking back on track to its goal (the “key issue”) — is the skill needed for getting this process started.

Introspectively identifying what to think about next makes sustained independent thinking possible when it otherwise might founder. Introspective thinkers can spiral in to their thought-goals instead of becoming stuck circling around them. Introspection, with this functionality, is, I believe, the most important cognitive skill that is not yet explicitly taught at any level of schooling.

Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed: The Introspective Mind of a Self-Possessed Scientist

ABSTRACT. In the novel Ursula K. Le Guin termed “an ambiguous utopia,” the protagonist, Shevek, is engaged in a problem-solving mission that is broadly moral as well as specifically scientific. By journeying from his home planet of Anarres to the planet Urras, he seeks not only to engage in scientific exchange, but to “unbuild walls,” to bring together the worlds that were separated by exile. He invents the “ansible,” designed to “permit communication without any time interval between two points in space.” It is both a concrete discovery and a metaphor for the restoration of lost connections and the forging of new ones. His conceptualization of time, moreover, has parallels with the ideas in Michael Douma’s recent Creative Historical Thinking (Routledge, 2018). But who is Shevek, and how does his mind solve problems, in physics and in all his explorations?

Within the novel, Le Guin dramatizes and emphasizes Shevek’s relentless and recursive introspection, his quest to understand not only the outside world, but the world within him. By reading his own mind, he comes to own himself. His brilliance, Le Guin shows, follows from his unconventional introspective method. When the young Shevek grows to maturity on Anarres and, in alternating chapters, when the adult Shevek encounters Urras,, Shevek observes not only the actions and values of the two planets, but the course of his own cognitive development. In studying the texture of time, or the nature of the Odonian revolution, or the fallacies within dichotomies, he challenges and questions the “walls,” the assumptions that can poison life if they are not recognized and exploded. He derives, in fact, a special pleasure from seeing and assailing his own errors. “He smiled; the pleasure of patching the hole in his thinking made him radiant.”

Problem Solving, Introspection and Lessons Learned over the Course of Writing Two Books on Organic Chemistry

ABSTRACT. How can we learn to read our own minds when seeking to solve challenging scientific problems? I present a range of practical methods, techniques and strategies, relying on mental operational concepts such as “differentiation”, “integration” and “concretization”, as well as the value of grounding scientific ideas in experimental evidence. This talk, which emphasizes developed mental processes and introspective techniques, draws on lessons I learned over the course of co-authoring two books on apparently distinct topics in the field of organic chemistry. We will look at a typical problem and possible avenues for tackling it. We will establish context and causality, as well as “author bias” and “framework bias”. We will, ultimately, consider how to make progress when facing a seemingly intractable problem—by using specific practical methods, visual and algorithmic. Helpful aids and methods are, on the whole, helpful precisely because, by encouraging us to examine and direct our own mental processes, they work to lessen the mental burden imposed by the limited number of mental units which humans can hold in conscious awareness at any time (George A. Miller, 1956). The idea of limited cognitive capacity is essential not just to problem solving but also to understanding and ultimately to effective communication in all fields of knowledge, including the field of science. I conclude with pertinent references about the history of chemistry, along with guidance for objectively judging scientific articles in the literature.

15:45-17:15 Session 20G: ITITITinc: What is Speculative Engineering?
Location: Emerald Bay A
ITITITinc: Towards a Speculative Engineering Praxis

ABSTRACT. It’s been a decade since Mark Fisher’s Capitalist Realism was published, and going on thirty since Francis Fukiyama declared the end of history. We still seem to be circling around the same cul-de-sac, each pass more tortuous than the last. There is collective consensus that we’re a post-truth age; the biggest catastrophe is that the left is reeling to come up with any kind of positive politics because they can’t account for chaos-magical thinking.

Duncombe has argued for political magical thinking by renewing the tradition of dreaming (2007) and speculative design is one recent surfacing of the leftist tradition of imagining futures which has furnished a tool box for “social dreaming” (Dunne and Raby 2008). Dreams function as an intensive journey. Dreaming, what’s more: social dreaming, can give rise to a powerful collective consciousnesses or what Guattari called a group subjectivity. The problem is that we keep waking up. Drawing on Alfred North Whitehead’s speculative philosophy and Isabelle Stenger’s notion of an ecology of practices, speculative engineering’s project pursues unbifurcated approaches which allow for both intensive and extensive interventions, waking and sleeping. This ambition raises for us the question of caring for the body biological, social, political, molecular, and molar.

In this panel, we present our work on, within, and without the nascent para-academic co-operative corporation ITITITinc. ITITITinc. is an experiment in caring for the democratic possibilities of another world while leveraging the languages, protocols, and infrastructure of our own. We confront incumbent sociotechnical systemic tendencies and heuristics (cybernetics and second-order theory, ecology, decentralized and distributed networks) and judge them to both to be grossly insufficient for describing lived experience and articulating the condition of possibilities for lives worth living. And yet, finding ourselves thrown into these

Rowboat Phenomonenology

ABSTRACT. If engineering always holds a tenet of "steering" through the application of knowledge and maintenance of systems and processes, then does any kind of discussion about "Speculative Engineering" require us to speculate about the at of "steering" itself? What can we learn about steering by simply not steering? This paper highlights the Rowboat Phenomenology project, which asks what it means to move through a landscape on an ecosystem’s terms by getting in a rowboat, putting the oars up, and not rowing. The experience is engineered to resist the human desire to control, regulate, dominate, steer, and navigate from point A to point B. You enter tide time. The moon and the wind dictates your movement. I ask if this experience might create a type of “speculatively engineered posthuman technology” that not only moves the body through climate change in different ways with different registers of attunement, but also helps us trace out the value of personal experience in climate change research, without adhering to traditional, anthropocentric notions of value and experience. I ask how Whitehead’s philosophy of organism can inspire new modes of becoming and concern under climate change, and seek to speculate how the subject becomes anew in perceiving a ruined environment, as well as add to practices and methods for engineering, or staging, posthuman encounters for thinking with the nonhuman and nonhuman temporalities.

Idiotic Resonances: Electromagnetic Field Work Expedition in Listening to Urban Infrastructure

ABSTRACT. Idiotic Resonances: Electromagnetic Field Work Expedition: Listening to the Urban Infrastructure

In our idiotic resonances field work, we’re interested in developing new techniques for interacting with and exploring urban environments which make complex systems and their flows legible, including unseen transmissions in the electromagnetic field. Moving away from perceiving cities according to their optical presentation and object-oriented permanence, in this experience we traverse the built environment via the extensive field of the electromagnetic spectrum. In this study, we take the automobile vehicle as our instrument, availing us to commercially available radio technologies. This study invites us to tune our listening to only a narrow frequency band of one physical field, but points towards countless otherwise illegible aspects of urban morphology. Dispensing with positivistic conceptions of disciplinary mastery and epistemic path-dependencies in order to create possibilities for novel modes of encounter with phenomena. Using these idiotic tools, we venture to make the ground figure, to turn noise into signal, to mediate infrastructure into the sensible. In this talk, we share some documentation of our field work so far, propose further iterations, and reflect on its scientific implications as well as contribution to the nascent practice of speculative engineering.


Engineering with Heat and Noise (Renao): Responsive Media Ecologies and Speculative Urban Futures

ABSTRACT. In this paper we report on an ongoing collaborative research-creation project focused around urban socioaesthetic poiesis and ambiences. This custom media system sonifies group movement. We propose a speculative application of real-time gestural computation of group activity and poetically composed media which scopes movement and computing to the realm of concerns endemic to public life such as privacy, production and place. What’s at stake is the role of media, sensing, and computation in the composition of urban futures, social experience and public life (the commons). In this project we employ computational sensing, analysis, and media transduction strategies which do not reify pre-given subjects, discrete bodies, or anthropocentric agencies. As such we employ semantically shallow measures of movement such as optical flow, media composition techniques such as concatenative synthesis, and ambisonic spatializations to create robust immersion in rich fields of media palpable by ensembles of bodies, rather than idealized listeners. Our collaborative media project articulates with the socioaesthetic quality of renao or ‘heat and noise’ as an element of urban livability and walkability. The project uses multichannel audio recordings of renao public places in Tianjin, China to catalyze experimental-experiential events. Thermal and video cameras allow visitors to the space to continuously modulate ambient sounds with movement and gesture, simultaneously creating and sensing the media environment through continual sensorimotor activity and feedback. Such events facilitate immersive poetic spaces co-curated by designers and visitors, in which visitors attend to their own production and experience of vibrancy in dense social spaces. We summarize our approach to experiential media system which intends to catalyze and intensify renao poiesis, while attuning to possibilities for improvised public life to create novel and ethical public futures.

Materiality, Autonomy, Horror: The Deep Play of Theory Fiction

ABSTRACT. In discussions of experimental literary forms, increasingly one hears of the rise of ‘theory-fiction.’ This paper seeks to ask, what is the difference between theory-fiction and philosophical fiction, and what can such difference suggest about shifting critical and aesthetic mores in the present? What are its consequences for media and politics, particularly embodiment and ? In so asking, this paper attempts to perform an anatomy of three textual sets: Reza Negarestani’s *Cylconopedia*, Cergat’s *Earthmare*, and the deeply problematic, neoreactionary writings of Nick Land. I argue that there are three distinct tendencies that typify theory-fiction: a ‘cybernetic’ fusion of materialism and Being, emphasizing intersectionality, borderlines, and flow over depth and totality; an experimental aesthetics characterized by digital mimesis; and a reinvigorated interest in horror and speculative fiction, treating both as actual realist modes of discourse over and against the false realism promised by the bourgeois European-American novel. It is through these three vectors that we may begin to see theory-fiction for what it promises to become: a speculative realist poetics. What also stands out is the lack, conscious or otherwise, of typical fictional or novelistic conceits: theory-fiction is neither fiction nor non-fiction. In contrast, I’ll briefly examine two Modernist and one contemporary philosophical novel: Pessoa’s *The Book of Disquiet*, Mann’s *Doktor Faustus*, and Bolaño’s *2666*, showing how each text corresponds to, and reflects a nascent form of, the three tendencies of theory-fiction listed above. This paper draws a theoretical line between the two sets of texts, and projects it outward in a hyperbolic imaginary of philosophy and literature: cosmically pessimistic, antihumanist, but radically hopeful about the possibility of a (political, semiotic, aesthetic) renaissance of the Anthropocene.

15:45-17:15 Session 20H: Meditations and Mediations on Waters and Oceans
Location: Emerald Bay DE
Walden Pond's Language as an Expression of Water Anomaly

ABSTRACT. Henry David Thoreau was not a hermit, as most people think, but an experimental scientist and a linguistic who called into question social engagements. In Walden, Thoreau uses Walden Pond as an analytic surface on which he creates new methods of experimental engagement. Thoreau creates new forms of "transcendental aesthetic", by making a comparison between "The anomaly of Water" from Chemistry studies, and the "Anomaly of Language", as I call it, by observing linguistic structures, such as De Saussure Signified/Signifier mechanism, and comparing them to the structural properties of water. The anomalous properties of water were revealed back in the 17th century. Following this argument, I will make a correlation in my paper analysis between De Saussure Signified-Signifier relation and between Walden Pond Ice- Water structure to show how structural thinking creates automatic unconscious perceptions toward Nature and the society we live in. Perceptions that according to Thoreau scientific and linguistic experiments are anomalous. I will show how 19th century American Society was no different than our modern society today, and in that sense, how Thoreau critique about Nature and the society we live in can posit himself as a Post Structuralist, way before Structuralism, as a method, came into being. By measuring the depth of the pond and analyzing the water/ice relation, Thoreau deconstructs and reconstructs new methods of thinking. While (un)marginalizing himself from society, Thoreau participated in sounding and measuring Walden depth, using new forms of aesthetic metaphors, such as “to fish in the sky”, in order to find a bottomless pond that cannot reveal any truth, but which can create a new form of ethical thinking.

(Re)viewing Floods: Perspectives on the Place of Waters from Medieval and Renaissance Florence

ABSTRACT. Extreme weather, sudden floods, and intense drought emphasize how contemporary urban life relies on the expectation for stable relations between water and land. How should we deal with events that disrupt such expectations? Is the balance between urban waters and land a condition that can be sustained over time or should we change our attitudes and develop more flexible models? While the scientific community, particularly in hydraulic engineering, focuses on the physical and chemical aspects of the problem and works to implement an ideal model based on the conceptions of enforced balance, research in anthropology, history, and the social sciences has exhaustively explored how such vision is based on Western hydraulic conceptions and considers only a limited range of possible approaches. This paper explores the history of shifting attitudes towards flood in the Italian city of Florence between the 14th and the 16th centuries to highlight some of the economic, political, and cultural elements informing the development of modern hydraulic practices. While medieval water cultures have long been neglected on the assumption that those communities were limited in their actions by a lack of knowledge and technology, historical documents seem to show that the medieval Florentine community had intentionally refrained from attempting to exert excessive control on the Arno River. It is the rise of the merchant class and the development of new economic assets that play a crucial role in the shift towards those attitudes that inform contemporary hydraulic conceptions with their emphasis on the need for regulating water flows, thus maintaining consistent balance and avoiding flood. Ultimately, this story questions models that enforce balanced terraqueous relations and which are centered around specific economic interests, thus sparking the discussion on how and if humans should attempt to impose overall order on disparate waters.

The Ragged Edge

ABSTRACT. The coast is the most universally accessible location of the sublime, and is persistently attractive, even as its resilience weakens in the face of competing interests locally and environmental instability globally. Jesse Colin Jackson's ongoing The Ragged Edge series of large-format digital prints, focused on representations of our collective and conflicted life on the coast, integrates strategies for environmental engagement designed to de-familiarize the familiar with the composite image-making techniques developed for his previous Iterations series. Specifically, the project combines the transit of the linear environment under scrutiny—the ragged coastal edge—with the transparent superposition of a strategically distributed set of panoramic images. In this case, over the course of a single day, Jackson walks the length of a corrugated oceanfront—equal parts public space, rocky or sandy beach, and industrial waterfront—shooting sixteen precisely registered high-resolution 360-degree panoramas along the way, centered on the water's unifying horizon. The result is an original representation of the dynamic experience of an inhabited coastal environment, provoking discourse regarding the aspirational romance and infrastructural realities of a globally pervasive and increasingly precarious geopolitical condition. In this paper, Jackson will present and contextualize results from The Ragged Edge and related intertidal and riparian research-creation pursuits from the past five years.

15:45-17:15 Session 20I: ROUNDTABLE: Poetry and Science at the Margins

In this roundtable, six poets will read and discuss work about their engagements with science that was or is considered peripheral to mainstream scientific theory and practice. The participants are Will Alexander, Karen Leona Anderson, Kristin George Bagdanov, Amy Catanzano, Adam Dickinson and Stephanie Strickland. Addressing physics, mathematics, biology, as well as other scientific disciplines, these poets will ask how cultural forces shape and define “the marginal” as well as the ingenious ways that science was transformed by marginal practitioners. This roundtable will also ask why poetry, as a genre sometimes considered both marginal and experimental, is well suited to treat questions of knowledge, power, and speculation at the boundaries, and we'll discuss how poets use such language not just to represent, but to intervene in, the processes of scientific inquiry.  Drawing on everything from early microscopy to contemporary physics, these readings will Involve the audience in a discussion of the embodied, material consequences of “experimental engagements” for both scientists and poets.

Location: Moss Cove B
15:45-17:15 Session 20J: ROUNDTABLE: Useful Fictions

This is a roundtable dicusses and disseminates the outcome of Useful Fictions, a week-long symposium and public participatory art project in that took in September 2019, at École Polytechnique in Paris, France. Humans collect and interpret measurements to understand the world and exercise control over chaos. We rely on mechanisms of measurement on the assumption that they establish a truth in which we can believe. However, as traces, proxies, and indices, measurements are fragile and prone to manipulation and misinterpretation. In the context of a complex problem, such as climate change in the Anthropocene, this relationship has become increasingly political. Useful Fictions offered a platform to embrace complex problems by modeling radical openness to research in which tools, laboratories, studios are shared between artists and scientists to expand concepts for ecological thinking. Bridging the divide between urgency and agency, the project gathered a coalition of artists, designers, humanists, and graduate students to work with globally acclaimed climate scientists in their laboratories to build future machines and write absurd fictions.

Useful Fictions features artwork by Imma Bastida, Victoria Vesna, Alexis Tantet, Vera Fearns, Ryan Cook, Guglielmo Zalukar, Tyler Lutz, Jean-Marc Chomaz, Tim Hyde, Stuart Dalziel, Jenny Dalziel, Peter Hoffman, Beatriz Tatiana Avendaño Peña, Nathalie von Veh, Anouk Daguin, Olga Flor, Nicole Vereau-Kraemer, Giancarlo Rizza, Antoine Desjardins, Simone Leantan, Laurent Karst, Jean Menezes, Nathanial Gilchrist, Aline Becq, Gareth Paterson, Jiayi Young, Samuel Bianchini, Ianis Lallemand, David Bihanic, Filippo Fabbri, Jeanne Bloch, Elín Margot, Jacklyn Brickman, Raphaelle Kerbrat,  Manuelle Freire, Aniara Rodado, Pedro Soler, Teresa Margaret Carlesimo, Elisheba Fuenzalida, Matthew Ledwidge, Stefan Laxness, and WhiteFeather Hunter.

15:45-17:15 Session 20K: WORKSHOP: Drawing with objects, words, & code

This is a generative design workshop where beginners and experts can create computer-generated graphics with thoughtful text and image placements for critical engagement with technology and art-making. This workshop addresses how code can be used as a tool for creating meaning and expressing ideas. Javascript and the p5.js library will be used to introduce several basic concepts such as variables, functions, and randomness.

(Please meet at the registration desk for this workshop.)

17:30-19:00 PLENARY EVENT: Andrea Polli Keynote Address

Andrea Polli is an environmental artist working at the intersection of art, science, and technology. Her interdisciplinary research has been presented as public artworks, media installations, community projects, performances, broadcasts, mobile and geolocative media, publications, and through the curation and organization of public exhibitions and events. She creates artworks designed to raise awareness of environmental issues. Often these works express scientific data obtained through her collaborations with scientists and engineers and have taken the form of sound art, vehicle-based works, public light works, mobile media experiences, and bio-art and design. Polli holds an M.F.A. in Time Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a Ph.D. in practice-led research from the University of Plymouth in the UK.

In Polli’s 2018 book project Hack the Grid, she presents past and current projects that reveal how data visualizations create emotional impact and societal change and engages in conversations with scientists, activists, technologists, and designers. Featured projects include Particle Falls, an artwork and visualization of air quality data, and Energy Flow, a real-time visualization of wind speed and direction installed on a bridge and powered by sixteen wind turbines. In addressing the relationship between energy and environmental sustainability, Polli reveals the power of data visualizations to inspire citizens and change the world for the better.

Sponsored by the Newkirk Center for Science and Society and the Humanities Center.

19:00-21:00 RECEPTION: University Art Galleries

Conference goers are invited to a closing reception and viewing of BLUE WAVE, the last large-scale multimedia installation of the late Berkeley artist Lutz Bacher.  Produced in the seven months  prior to her death in May 2019, it includes 100 prints, several videos, and other works. You may also view the show anytime during regular gallery opening hours, which are noon-6 pm, Thurs.-Sat.

19:00-21:00 SPECIAL EVENT: At The Margins Popup


Located in the Amphitheater, the Arts Plaza, and continuing during the closing Rooftop Dance Party on the 4th floor of the CAC.

This event features video and performance work from SLSA members and UCI art graduate students. Curated by Krista Davis and sponsored by EM+D.

20:00-21:30 SPECIAL EVENT: Music Performance by Teeth & Metals

Mark Micchelli and Alex Lough’s experimental piano+electronics duo Teeth & Metals will be performing two works for prepared piano and performed electronics by composers Omar Costa Hamido and Adib Ghorbani. The show is about 45 minutes long and will be followed by a 30-minute panel discussion with the performers and composers.

Free, but seating is limited.

The panel is comprised of doctoral students in UCI’s Integrated Composition, Improvisation, and Technology PhD program. Each presenter will describe their specific experiences, approaches, and different perspectives as both composers and performers, working together to collaboratively create in a studio setting acting as an experimental laboratory space. We will discuss our experimental engagements at the borders of genres and media, blending of roles, and desire to express work that challenges presumed expectations, in both the creation and realization of the works. The panel will specifically address our understanding and interpretation of the term “experimental” in the context of contemporary music-making practices in a research program.

20:00-21:15 SPECIAL EVENT: Reading Frankenstein

Free but reservations are strongly recommended

Created by director Annie Loui and artist Antoinette LaFarge, Reading Frankenstein is an intermedia performance in which a contemporary scientist named Mary Shelley discovers that one of her failed genetic experiments is running amok in her laboratory, at the same time as the novel Frankenstein is haunting her imagination. Given the autonomy of A.I. and the accelerating scientific possibilities of CRISPR, Reading Frankenstein presents questions about ethics and evolution in an era of genetic possibility. The show is about an hour and a quarter long with no intermission.

Location: xMPL
20:00-21:00 1947 — Alan Terricciano (pianist)

The events of 1947, from the birth of the Cold War to the first reports of UFOs, reverberate to this day. Pianist Alan Terricciano explores the year 1947 through the lens of the extraordinary piano music produced that year by Prokofiev, Ustwolskaja, Wolpe, Monk, Talma, Cage and Hovhaness.

Tickets Required, must be purchased in advance.

21:00-23:00 SPECIAL EVENT: Rooftop Dance Party

All conference goers are invited to the closing party for SLSA 2019. It will take place on the top floor of the Contemporary Art Center, whose deck offers superb views of the surrounding area. Hosted by UCI’s Art graduate students, there will be music, food, and drinks for all.