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08:30-08:45 Session 8: Welcoming Remarks and Updates by SLSA2021 Team: Eastern Daylight Time - Detroit / Toronto, GMT-4

Zoom Link:

Anyone joining an SLSA2021 University of Michigan Zoom Meeting or Webinar using the Zoom desktop app or mobile app will need to use this version of the app or higher: 5.7.0.

Conference Registration and SLSA Membership link:

Speaker and Chair Guide:

SLSA 2021 Virtual Poster Exhibition:

Publication Partner The Scholar’s Choice PDF with book selection for SLSA2021 is available here:

Publication Partner The University of Minnesota Press virtual booth with a special 40% discount

09:00-10:30 Session 9A: Stream of Pre-Organized Panels "Energy and Individuation" 2: Media, Magic, and Aesthet
Derek Woods (University of British Columbia, Canada)
Jordan Sjol (Duke University, United States)
Kendra Lee Sanders (University of Chicago, United States)
Adam Nocek (Arizona State University, United States)
Derek Woods (University of British Columbia, Canada)
Stream of Pre-Organized Panels "Energy and Individuation" 2: Media, Magic, and Aesthetics

ABSTRACT. This stream of panels began with a pandemic reading group about Gilbert Simondon’s 'Individuation in Light of Notions of Form and Information,' published in English translation by Taylor B. Adkins in 2020. For SLSA, we expand to the broader topic of Energy and Individuation while remaining an overall focus on Simondon’s philosophy of science and technology. 'Individuation' begins with a refusal of hylomorphism (form imposed on matter from the outside) and atomism, opting instead to rethink how individuals emerge from unstable environments of matter, energy, and information. From this beginning, Simondon studies the differences and similarities of individuation across physical, biological, and psycho-social phenomena. Central to his theoretical project is the role of energy in this process, which for him entails a critique of thermodynamics—especially the concept of entropy and its dependence on the assumption of a closed system. As we hope to show, Simondon’s work on energy and individuation is relevant to a wide range of projects in the humanities, arts, and design. The implications of his writing have already been explored by thinkers from Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari to Bernard Stiegler, Yuk Hui, and many others, but we hope that the English translation of Individuation will lead to renewed interest in Simondon’s work in Anglophone theory and research.

The three panels of our stream feature the complementary variation at work in current approaches to energy and individuation. In “Scaling Environmental Information,” Thomas Lamarre, Mark Hansen, and Derek Woods discuss the role of concepts of environment, milieu, scale, magnitude, potentiality, and virtuality in Simondon’s ontology, raising examples like radioactive pollution and crystallization, but staying close to the Simondon’s two major texts, 'Individuation' and 'On The Mode of Existence of Technical Objects.' In "Media, Magic, and Aesthetics," Kendra Lee Sanders, Adam Nocek, and Jordan Szol look at algorithmic design, animation, and magic through the lens of Simondonian energetics. Finally, in “Ecological Economics,” Zach Yost, Burç Kostem, and Thomas Patrick Pringle study the implications of Simondon’s energetics for political ecology, thinking with examples such as the work of Turkish artist Serkan Taycan and YouTube’s recent foray into the sale of ecosystem services.

Energy and Individuation 2: Media, Magic, and Aesthetics

Chair: Derek Woods

Kendra Lee Sanders, Individuation and Green Screen Composited Characters

Simondon’s philosophy of individuation invites a new way to think about animated characters, especially those computer-generated and composited. While received accounts of animation tend to focus on the character and character animation, Simondon encourages us to take not the individual but the individual-milieu as the basic unit of analysis. The concern shifts from a character’s style and movement to its constituting relations.

This paper examines an instance of green screen compositing in the live-action TV series Fleabag (2016-2019). Although the effect betrays its manual construction—a stock footage fox layered onto a city street—it provides a clue about the milieu. Just as the milieu for Simondon is not reducible to the external environment, the character’s milieu is not simply the plate image. The palpable affordances and limitations of green screen technology call attention, for instance, to the media and human labor that contribute to the character. The milieu is, in effect, what happens between background and character, in the interval that brings them into relation.

This digital compositing milieu, which is not a computational substrate, consists of a whole infrastructure that extends to the spectator. Building on what Thomas Lamarre calls platformativity, I argue that green screen characters are individuated alongside the media platforms of which they are part and the viewers who watch them. I suggest that the three emerge through their intra-actions, which thereby entails consequences for what ‘realism’ might mean for contemporary digital media.

Jordan Sjol, Esoteric Simondon: Synthetic Magical Energy

“In current civilized life,” Simondon wrote in 1958, “vast institutions are concerned with magical life.” Holidays, vacations, and celebrations carry magical charges that compensate “for the loss of magical power [in] civilized urban life.” Today, in the face of a bleak future and exhausted hope, magical flashes abound, from crystal fetishism and queer astrology to alt-right gnosticism and reemergent theosophical cryptofascism.

This talk, too, comes to magic from exhaustion. Postmodernity, rationalistic anticapitalist critique, and disenchantment have all run out of energy. At least, we’re tired of them. But magical energy keeps mounting.

For Simondon, magical unity, the first mode of existence, splits into religion and technics, which—together—are its heirs. Yet amid widespread disenchantment, technics sans religiosity spiraled us into mass extinction, our paramount technical achievement. Still, the institutional Left, with boilerplate atheism and naive scientism (“believe science!”), won’t touch magic. I propose luxuriating in this magical energy with a joyful Simondonian esotericism.

The talk focuses on one magical impulse identified by Simondon: the physical attainment of key-places [haut-lieux], as when vacationers seeks mountains or beach. I take up two scenes. First, the capital insurrection, which had no goal beyond attaining a key-place. Second, the pandemic-era virtualization of events (including SLSA) and its forsaking of physical co-presence. Aware there’s no going back to magical unity, I wonder what a contemporary synthetic magical unity, both technical and religious, might look and feel like. What might its practices be? What corpses might it vivify?

Adam Nocek, Simondon and Biosocial Nutrients: Toward a New Model of Computational Energetics

In computer science and engineering, measuring the energy consumed by machine-learning algorithms is a relatively recent area of research and development (García-Martín et al. 2019). Generally, it consists in designing real-time models for determining how much power is consumed by algorithmic systems (on training large data sets, data mining, deep learning through convolutional neural networks, etc.); scientists and engineers then use these power models to measure, estimate, and manage algorithmic consumption, as well the energy consumed in software implementation and the use of various hardware components. This work fits squarely into what’s known as green or energy-efficient AI (Cai et al. 2017). Yet, what’s bracketed on this template of computational energetics, and what this paper attempts to map, is how the conversion of various forms of biosocial activity (e.g., human and nonhuman “ghost work” [Gray and Suri 2019]) into energy is also necessary for running machine learning systems at any scale. Using Simondon’s conception of “being-with-machines” as a critical frame (Simondon 2017), the presentation examines how the extraction of various biosocial nutrients by algorithmic machines is essential to an energetic view of machine learning ecosystems. This conception of energy exchange highlights what “being-with” advanced computation means in today’s extractive capitalism; it is then used as preparatory for imagining what an alternative “techno-geographic milieu” for computational energetics might look like. 

09:00-10:30 Session 9B: Roundtable: Game Arts Curator Kit
Chaz Evans (University of South Carolina, United States)
Tiffany Funk (University of Illinois at Chicago, United States)
Tiffany Funk (University of Illinois at Chicago, United States)
Chaz Evans (University of South Carolina, United States)
Rene Cepeda (Universidad de las Americas Puebla, Mexico, Mexico)
Luján Oulton (Universidad ORT Uruguay; Game Arts International Network, Uruguay)
Marie Claire LeBlanc Flanagan (Game Arts International Network, United States)
Jim Munroe (Game Arts International Network, Canada)
Brice Puls (Bit Bash, Video Game Art Gallery, United States)
Roundtable: Game Arts Curator Kit

ABSTRACT. This roundtable will share the ongoing collaborative work of the The Game Arts Curator Kit (GACK,, a wiki born of the first meeting of the Game Arts International Assembly (GAIA), in November 2019, Buenos Aires. GAIA’s founders, Jim Munroe and Ma. Luján Oulton, sought to unite the Game Arts community, fostering enervating exchanges between producers, game arts curators and community builders. GACK represents the collaboration of practitioners directly involved in this movement.

In comparing experiences during the inaugural GAIA symposia held in 2019 and its subsequent online manifestation in 2021, contributors found that similar models of how to support video games within local and regional communities have organically appeared in different parts of the world.

Though video games and related participatory media are expressed through a diverse set of practices, the gaming experience is often presented through narrow channels of distribution: there is a common perception that video games are commercially are an isolating experience. However, the diverse goals of game arts curators reflect a communal, networked energy: some aim for the recognition of games underrepresented by established cultural venues, or more importantly, of the people who are marginalized by them. Some seek to provide new context to explicate the meanings contained in the games as dynamic systems. Some aim to celebrate video game subcultures in ways that would be impossible without establishing independent venues. Others want to expand sets of knowledge and skill to larger groups. Despite the diversity of methods, the events and programs by these organizers—festivals, galleries, parties, meet-ups, jams, collectives, and more—reflect a need for collaboration, education, and mutuality.

The GACK toolkit wiki—and its forthcoming print version, facilitated by Video Game Art Gallery and its publications team—is an attempt to document at least a portion of the collective experience of this group in order to share it broadly with other video game curators and organizers, or those who may consider becoming video game curators and organizers.

09:00-10:30 Session 9C: SloMoCo Art Lounge no. 1 // Media Arts' Loss(y) and Found Futures
Jessica Rajko (SloMoCo, United States)
Stalgia Grigg (independent, United States)
Renee Carmichael (Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero, Argentina)
Kate Stevenson (DotDot, United States)
Alys Longley (DOTDOT, United States)
Daniel Lichtman (Purchase College, SUNY, United States)
Jessica Rajko (Wayne State University, United States)
Garrett Johnson (Arizona State University, United States)
SloMoCo Art Lounge no. 1 // Media Arts' Loss(y) and Found Futures

ABSTRACT. Presenters: 

Stalgia Grigg // Counter-Factual : This performative reading examines the relationship between machine learning and reactionary political power. If we create technology that ‘learns’ about the world as it is currently, that technology will not be suited to the task of divergence. Modern data science largely trains machine intelligence models using data with a claim to objectivity; ignoring the fact that all databases are subjective and in turn, interpellating the status quo into our most ‘futuristic’ software. As a counterbalance, I propose artist-led initiatives for generating speculative data that prefigures a world different than our own. If truth is slippery, and bias in datasets is unavoidable, how can artists knowingly use this to create data that doesn’t accept our current society as inevitable?

Renee Carmichael // : We could use the metaphor of the incomputable to explain much of the world that we live in today, as a sort of loss of all that existed before, of missing touches, truths and understandings. However, the incomputable is something that is specific and immanent to the ontology of computation. It as much about its formal nature as it is about its own immanent sensibility, showing that abstraction is always formally contingent. How then can we use this incomputable not to explain our world as metaphor, nor as binaries of codes versus bodies, but to find a way to move with its very specific materiality? As part of my research into movement, code and body, both academically and artistically, the incomputable appears again and again as a line between the formality of the academic and the experimental nature of my artworks. I propose a performance-lecture-experiment that attempts to get to the abstract and formal nature of the incomputable in the varied types of languages that come into play: body, movement, code, academic, processes, gestural, etc. This experience will be an invitation to enter from the liminal experience of constantly executing algorithms and not just their outputs. It will include dialogues with the algorithms that are being executed (Zoom/custom created ones), personal stories, choreographies of gestures and other materials to build a feeling of the incomputable through experience itself.

Kate Stevenson & Alys Longley // Let Us Drink the New Wine Together : is a work of real-time, multidisciplinary and multi-lingual contemporary virtual art that holds space for movements that spill ideas beyond disciplinary and codified boundaries. In this historical moment, virtual spaces have a vital role to play as we pivot between physical and digital presence, allowing collaborative practices between artists from around the world to create work in both analogue and digital form. We would love to invite the SloMoCo Art Lounge community to inhabit and explore this world with us. It requires a WiFi connection, webcam, microphone and a modern web browser. This project is a collaboration with the New York & New Zealand based collective DOTDOT and the project Mapeo De Bordes Porosos – an ongoing project led by New Zealand based artist Alys Longley with Chilean artists Máximo Corvalán-Pincheira and Macarena Campbell-Parra, in collaboration with over 50 artists from all continents of the world.

Daniel Lichtman // The Raisin Truck Makes Raisins : In this interactive workshop, participants will work together to quickly create an interactive 3D environment using photos, 360-degree photos and paper-based sketches. This collaborative exercise will speculate on possibilities for playfully mapping our disparate physical environs onto a single, collage-like virtual space. We will be using The Community Game Development Toolkit, a set of tools for the Unity game engine that make it easy and fun for artists, researchers, students and community members to create their own visually rich, interactive 3D environments and story-based games without the use of coding or other specialized game-design skills. The Community Game Development Toolkit provides intuitive tools for diverse communities, particularly those with little or no expertise in game design,  to tell their own stories through interactive, visual storytelling and world-building.

Organizer faciltators: Jessica Rajko & Garrett Laroy Johnson // SloMoCo 

Panel abstract Early visionaries of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) like Vannavar Bush or Douglas Engelbart evidence a techno-optimism spirit that would carry much of digital culture through the new millennium. In the last two decades, however, that optimism has been dissipated by new winds bringing calls for critical reevaluation of the ubiquity of unchecked applications of digital technology. Interdisciplinary media art was a sometimes high visibility source of criticism questioning investments in techno-optimism and creative practice work critiquing and problematizing digital technology’s myriad social, environmental, or geopolitical implications. Non-stop bad faith actions from Silicon Valley betrays that even big tech CEOs don’t honestly believe in the possibility of novel social and aesthetic encounters, let alone that computers might play some part in affecting meaningful, liberatory change.

Historically invested in enacted and creative studies of embodiment, soma, or gesture, contemporary artistic practices around the movement and computing nexus (interactive dance, computational sensing and gestural sound, responsive media ecologies and immersive installation) have quite smartly begun to reckon with the limits of algorithmic representation in their own practices and its repercussions in the lives of practitioners, audiences, and other interlocutors. In this ArtLounge, we revisit the techno-optimistic (and pessimistic) legacies of media arts to ask: in this period of much-needed critique, after a year of Zoom, has Media Art lost its capacity to engender wonder? Can notions of wonder extend beyond pyrotechnics and techno-fetishism to conjure deeper, more sincere forms of radical joy? Is there a latent quirkiness lurking (like the playfulness surfaced by Engelbart or media artists Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz) that might help practitioners to reimagine how media art might re-enchant the world? How can examining loss transversally -- as psychic or sensorial lack, in relation with somatic experiences of grief, as effect of algorithmic compression, as an effect of critique, as a loss of the will to again talk about techno-enabled loss -- help us to mourn and move on from ambitions not meant for this world -- and to dream, formulate, and plan new ones?

Bardini, T. (2000). Bootstrapping: Douglas Engelbart, Coevolution, and the Origins of Personal Computing. Stanford University Press.

Beer, S. (1993). Designing Freedom. House of Anansi Press Incorporated.

Bush, V. (1996). As We May Think. Interactions, 3(2), 35–46.

Fisher, M., & Colquhoun, M. (2020). Postcapitalist Desire: The Final Lectures. Watkins Media.

Halpern, O. (2015). Beautiful Data: A History of Vision and Reason since 1945. Duke University Press.

Manning, E. (2006). Prosthetics Making Sense: Dancing the Technogenetic Body. The Fibreculture Journal, 09, 18.

Turner, F. (2006). From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism. University of Chicago Press.

09:00-10:30 Session 9D
James Barilla (University of South Carolina, United States)
Nicola Giansiracusa (Universidade de Lisboa - Faculdade de Letras - PhD-COMP, Portugal)
Energy and Eros: Love and Narcissism in Carlo Emilio Gadda and Virginia Woolf

ABSTRACT. In this paper, I will explore the notion of energy in two modernist authors: the British Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) and the Italian Carlo Emilio Gadda (1893-1973). I will examine metaphors and images from physics, philosophy, and psychology, with special consideration for the recently discovered original version of Gadda’s antifascist pamphlet, Eros e Priapo (written in 1944-45), and Woolf’s short stories, along with some passages from To the Lighthouse (1927). For Gadda, energy was a polyhedric concept. A graduate in engineering, he almost instinctively connected it to notions like the electromagnetic field, electricity, and fluids. A dropout in philosophy, he considered energy a gift of nature, a “Schellingian vis,” as he defined it in his philosophical oeuvre, the Meditazione milanese [Milanese Meditation]. Finally, as a baroque novelist, he blended such interpretations with others from psychology, chemistry, biology, etc., in a linguistic pastiche mixing technical languages and Italian dialects. In Eros e Priapo, he connected electromagnetic forces, erotic pulsion, and mass psychology (Freud and Le Bon being possible influences). Woolf was more interested in depicting personal thoughts and relationships. Her literary style was different from Gadda’s, yet, as we know from a great deal of studies on her work, she equally drew from a wealth of different fields to express her concepts. In particular, she developed her depictions of love or marriage by drawing from atomic imagery. Through the common ground of literature and science, I will interpret these works as establishing a proportion which relates eros with emission, and narcissism with dispersion.

Rupeng Chen (university of edinburgh, UK)
“I have seen life in blocks, substantial, huge”: Virginia Woolf, Energyscape and Gasometer as a Literary Form

ABSTRACT. The rising of energy humanities makes it an urgent task to (re)investigate the “energy unconscious” in the literary texts (Yaeger). For Woolf studies, critical attention however falls short when looking into her embeddedness within both the real energy abundance and the fetishized abundance of energy supply. The present essay wants to focus on the gasometers in Woolf’s personal and public writings. Gasometer’s permeation in Britain since the late 18th century is crucial in turning the whole isles into an “energyscape” (Diamanti). This network of gasometers allows the displacement of backbreaking labours and toxic effects of coal industry and thus optimises the social and economic lubricant circulation of energies. I want to argue that first, Woolf herself is inhabiting this energyscape. Her celebration, along with her characters like Bernard and Susan in The Waves, of the presence of gasometers across the British Isles bespeaks the extent that the gasometer and the capitalist society’s organisation of energies are inscribed in not merely the everyday supply of heat but also into the aesthetic conception of “wholeness” or “solidity”. Nevertheless, on the other hand, this bounded wholeness indicates not the intractability but the resilient frictions within and without this form. In other words, when Woolf envisages the gasometer falling down, this infrastructure provides her with a chance to regain access to the undead remnants of alternative life-worlds, especially those of the working-class who are denied access to the gas supply, to re-evaluate the wholeness and its endeared frictionless circulation of energy.

Matthew Tedford (University of California, Santa Cruz, United States)
Embodied Virtual Reality: Responsibility, Relationality, and Continuity in Nature

ABSTRACT. Though often associated with the haptic, the concept of embodiment entails much more than just touch or even the five traditional human senses. A concern with embodiment necessarily entails a concern with affectability and with all sensations. Biological processes, involuntary functions, the autonomic nervous systems, and even thoughts are all features of embodiment. So when one tends to embodiment, they tend to how the external world (inasmuch as there is one) changes them. What then, this paper asks, do we make of experiences of virtual or simulated nature? Though the virtual is often positioned as distinct or even antithetical to embodiment, a non-dualist view of body and mind suggests that virtuality is embodied. If this is the case, how do we distinguish between virtual nature and ur-nature? Can we value these differently? Does accepting the embodiment of nature prime us to accept a future where nature can be completely substituted virtually?

Focusing on two case studies—the recent virtual reality work of artist Elizabeth LaPensée (Anishinaabe/Métis/Irish) and the 2018 film Aniara (dir. Pella Kågerman and Hugo Lilja)—this paper seeks to illuminate the potentials and limitations of virtual nature, as well as ethical implications of such experiences. Specifically, drawing on the thought of feminist science and technology studies scholar María Puig de la Bellacasa and philosopher Kyle Whyte (Potawatomi), the paper identifies responsibility and care as essential components of relational ontologies. The visual examples demonstrate the embodiment intrinsic to the virtual while still acknowledging the value of non-virtual nature.

James Barilla (University of South Carolina, United States)
River Electric

ABSTRACT. This creative nonfiction essay will weave narrative nonfiction and memoir together in an excavation of my own personal energy history, and a contemplation of the ecological implications of being situated in that landscape of industrial legacies. The piece will focus on the middle stretch of the Connecticut River, and the juxtaposition of three different environmental features: the hydroelectric dams and their accompanying fish ladders, which generate substantial hydroelectrical power for the region, the now senescent nuclear power plant further upstream, and the attempts to restore historic Atlantic salmon runs to the river. The river had once been labeled the longest sewer in America; the fact that the water was now clean enough to support a cold-water fishery was a tribute to all the efforts to bring it back to health. The return of the salmon run, extinguished over two centuries ago by dams that shut off their spawning access, was meant to be the culmination, the zenith of these efforts to make the river whole again. The essay will take the measure of the less-than-ideal passage a returning salmon might have made: swimming upstream from the mouth, lifted over the Holyoke Dam, then trucked to the fish hatchery on the interstate. That’s where most of these salmon wound up, but a few fish we’re tagged and released each year above the fish lift, and they made their way around a further dam and onward into Vermont, taking the measure of the natural and industrial history of the region. This essay will consider the journey of this fish as an energy audit of the memory, a way of uncovering the intersecting tensions between the industrial energy system through which electric power flows, and the ecological flow of the river.

09:00-10:30 Session 9E: Pre-Organized Panel: Sites of Contestation: An Exploration of Energy Struggles in Canada
Laurence Butet-Roch (Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change, York University, Canada)
Laurence Butet-Roch (Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change, York University, Canada)
Jacob MacLean (Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change, York University, Canada)
Alexandra Watt Simpson (Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change, York University, Canada)
Isaac Thornley (Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change, York University, Canada)
Pre-Organized Panel: Sites of Contestation: An Exploration of Energy Struggles in Canada

ABSTRACT. Conflicts related to pipelines and energy infrastructure have emerged as crucial sites of material-discursive contestation over what the future will hold for climate justice, labour, and decolonization movements. Pipelines are symptomatic structures grafted over the inherent contradictions that constitute fossil capitalism, settler colonialism, and ecological crisis. Interrogating the politics of energy infrastructure in terms of environmental justice, class conflict, and multiscalar problems of space and time, this panel will explore what makes energy infrastructure contested, visible, legible, and meaningful by offering a range of case studies on fossil capitalism in Canada. Weaving together a range of interdisciplinary perspectives — historical materialist, performative, photographic, and psychoanalytic — the panel will assess the tactics, images, and narratives employed by both the fossil fuel industry (and its supporters) as well as the diverse network of actors resisting extractive development. The presentations will broadly respond to the following questions: what rational justifications and affective appeals are mobilized to generate consent for fossil fuel development in Canada? Which narratives, fantasies, images, and experiences of embodiment are deployed to advance the interests of fossil capital? In turn, how can an analysis of these multiple tactics foreground and inform various modes of resistance?

Jacob McLean’s presentation, “United They Roll? The Uneasy Alliance Between Fossil Capital and the Canadian Far-Right,” will examine the United We Roll Convoy, which drew national media attention when far-right activists drove transport trucks 3,500km from Red Deer, Alberta, to protest outside the Canadian parliament in Ottawa, Ontario on Feb. 19th, 2019, demanding, among other things, more pipelines and fewer immigrants (Bartko, 2018; Dao, 2018; Issawi, 2019). The chapter will argue that United We Roll was the result of a sometimes-uneasy alliance between mainstream conservatives, fossil capital, and the far-right. Ultimately, I frame United We Roll as a foreboding development in Canadian political life and warn of the danger of fossil capital enlisting the ‘shock troops’ of the far-right to aid in their struggle against the growing momentum of the environmental left (Saull, 2014). 

Laurence Butet-Roch will share reflections on “Essential Oil: Canada’s Extractive Priorities in Pandemic Times,” a visual essay produced in collaboration with Amber Bracken and Sara Hylton. When reporting on an energy industry that maintains a hold on the discursive field via the entrenched colonial and extractive gaze, photography is confronted to its limitations. The aestheticism of images embracing expansive views of industrial sites is simultaneously denounced and celebrated, moving the discussion away from the ills depicted. Imperceptible flows of capital and oil go unnoticed, muddying the possibilities to acknowledge the chain of accountability. The stretched temporality of the cumulative consequences of fossil fuel extraction cannot fit within the arrested timeframe of the snapshot. This presentation will explore how a polyphonic approach can help photographers tap into the medium’s “subjunctive voice,” (Zelizer, 2013) compelling viewers to connect the dots and develop a civic gaze (Azoulay, 2015)

Alexandra Simpson’s presentation, “Along Line 9: (un)masking along the Line 9 pipeline,” brings together performance studies, decolonial and feminist theory and the energy humanities, and uses Enbridge’s Line 9 pipeline to investigate how visibility and invisibility are crucially connected within pipeline debates in so-called Canada. Provoked by the complexity of what it means to be seen and by whom raised by performance studies scholars (Carter, 2020; Levin, 2014; Phelan, 2003), this presentation explores how the act of masking and unmasking have been used as performance strategies both by Enbridge, but also by the activists and artists who have come together to resist Enbridge’s 2012 Line 9 reversal and expansion project. (Un)masking, on the one hand, can be a coercive process used to control the narratives that surround energy infrastructure and to create fissures between frontline communities and other consumers in order to maintain petro-colonialism and capitalism. On the other hand, (un)masking can productively complicate understandings and representations of (in)visibility in contemporary anti-pipeline and Indigenous activism and brings attention to the complex relationships between humans, the environment and energy networks. 

Isaac Thornley’s presentation, “Trans Mountain Pipedreams: The Libidinal Economy of Pipeline Politics,” will discuss how psychoanalytic concepts (such as fantasy and disavowal) can be integrated with historical and political-economic analyses to examine pipeline conflicts in Canada, specifically the Trans Mountain Expansion (TMX) project. The presentation will first assess the applicability of psychoanalysis to environmental politics; second, it will offer an analysis of the discourses mobilized in support of the TMX. The overall argument is that “Western alienation” serves as an origin story for Alberta’s extractive industries, one that configures resistance to pipeline development as a centuries-long attempt by “external entities'' to hold back Alberta from realizing its autonomy and self-sufficiency. “Western alienation” undergirds multiple scapegoat fantasies that work in concert to disavow the antagonisms inherent to tar sands expansion and pipeline development (settler colonialism, fossil capitalism, and climate change), serving to mobilize consent for the TMX.

09:00-10:30 Session 9F
Andrew Moon (The New School for Social Research, United States)
Andrew Moon (The New School for Social Research, United States)
Remaking Low-Frequency Science at a Laboratory and Field Station in Singapore

ABSTRACT. Infrasound is conventionally understood to be produced by massive energetic disturbances to the atmosphere that propagate low-frequency pressure waves over vast distances. Knowledge about these disturbances is largely limited to surveillance initiatives during the Cold War that operationalized infrasound to locate the source of nuclear tests. Recently, earth scientists trained in seismology have turned to infrasound to uncover the diversity of its source. This has led to the characterization of ice sheets, ocean waves, volcanic vents, ash plumes, planetary atmospheres, and much more. The interest in infrasound can be understood in response to state science agencies and the reinsurance sector seeking greater remote access to the blind spots of satellite and light-imaging technology used to standardize and value environmental risk. In practice, this raises a unique set of questions for collaborating scientists. How do you trace the origin of an infrasonic wave observed at a distant location? How do you know the phenomena observed is a “wave” and not something else? And how can this science translate into a financial service? The paper draws on ethnographic research with an international scene of scientists and technicians at a laboratory and a field station in Singapore. I narrate how their work unfolds by focussing on attempts to collect and preserve the shape and form of infrasonic waves that pass over a ground-based sensing array from distant regional locations. In doing so, I consider how a certain history of science and technology is present in this work, situated by a sociotechnical challenge to renovate seismological expertise, standards, and instruments (instituted to study waves in the Earth) to apprehend infrasonic waves that attenuate–lose energy, scatter, and deform–in the atmosphere.

Joel Duncan (University of Gothenburg, Sweden)
Toward a Petropoetics (with William Carlos Williams and Eileen Myles)

ABSTRACT. This paper argues that experimental American poets from William Carlos Williams to Eileen Myles have harnessed automobility to develop innovative poetry. The perspective of driving was central to Williams’ development of his imagist collage aesthetic, while a century later Myles’ poetry links the flow of oil to the flow of their poetry’s quotidian experiences (like driving) and objects (including cars). Yet Williams and Myles have also been acutely attuned to the environmental consequences of mass automobility, such as traffic, trash, and climate change, leading them both to abandon automobiles in ways that have yet to be appreciated by critics. This paper will build on critical insights from ecopoetics and petrocultures research to develop a conception of petropoetics encompassing Williams’ and Myles’ experimental work. Petropoetry is poetry that utilizes oil—in this case as it fuels automobiles—to develop distinctive environs that reflexively confront the enthusiasms and catastrophes of petromodernity. Experimental poetic techniques, this paper will argue, are inseparable from energizing technologies such as cars. Rather than throwing the baby of experimental poetry out with the bathwater of oil, though, this paper will show how poets such as Williams and Myles have themselves confronted, confessed, and thematized (to paraphrase Carrie Noland) the complicity of their petropoetics with the ills of petromodernity.

Ian Kennedy (University of Michigan, United States)
Negentropic Aesthetics: On Nam June Paik's Participation TV

ABSTRACT. At his 1963 exhibition Exposition of Music—Electronic Television in Wuppertal, West Germany, Nam June Paik premiered Participation TV, a modified analog television whose electron beam visualized the voices of participants using an attached microphone. Two additional televisions at the exhibition performed conversions of sound into image: Kuba TV, which invited participants to influence the visuals by manipulating a tape recorder, and One Point TV, which did the same with a radio. While the energy animating the images produced by Paik’s radio and tape player derived from the West German power grid, the energy powering the images in Participation TV hinged more precariously on the limits of what one's body could do and the exhaustibility of one's musical imagination. Whenever the participant stopped singing, the undulating abstract patterns would disappear, shrinking down to a static white dot in the middle of the screen.

In this presentation, I argue that Participation TV is thus a uniquely entropic artwork, one requiring the sustained negentropic labor of its participant. For Erwin Schrödinger, negentropy names the capacity of living beings to defer the inevitable dissipation of energy described by the second law of thermodynamics. Participation TV enacts a play of entropy and negentropy in Schrödinger’s biological sense, tying the life of the image to the expenditure of breath as one sings. Yet it also, I propose, speaks to a broader sense of entropization articulated by Bernard Stiegler, where what is at stake is the extraction—and depletion—of creative energy by societies of control.

Adam Gabriele (Arizona State University, United States)
Guerilla Fiction: Corporate Scenarios as Artistic Activism

ABSTRACT. I study Silicon Valley "futurists" who craft scenario narratives aimed at informing institutional action under uncertainty. These scenarios are not just "creative" in the sense of creating speculative secondary worlds; they also influence the decisions, governmentality, and ethical prioritizations of companies that literally create worlds by shaping discourse, social space, and more. Scenarios are critical intervention points where activist-minded creative artists could subtly, even subversively, shift institutions and ultimately the culture of innovation in Big Tech through narrative. Consider the words of Pierre Wack - the pioneer of corporate scenarios: "We wanted to change our managers' view of reality. The first step was to question and destroy their existing view of the world." Wack's priority was Shell's long term profitability, but I highlight the fact that these words suggest scenarios are deliberate attempts to reshape decision-makers' worldviews and value prioritizations. As such, I argue they should be considered an unrecognized or underexploited genre of radical fiction - an opportunity for guerilla activism aimed at changing corporate worldviews from the inside. The main obstacles scenario writers with idealistic hopes face in Big Tech are the depleting and alienating effects of emphasis on "innovation theater" over actual change, Sisyphean efforts ending in disappointment or alienation more often than not, and moral conflicts arising from involvement in institutions that have apparent negative impacts on the world. These forces subsume humanistic hope and sap potentially world-changing creative ENERGY. I argue that were these individuals not individuals but members of a larger movement, it might deepen those energy reserves and increase the chances for substantive change.

Kim Lacey (Saginaw Valley State University, United States)
Artificial Creativity: Computers Acting Creatively

ABSTRACT. In this presentation, I will suggest that artificial intelligence can act creatively. Many will disagree with this assertion, and many already have (engineer Janelle Shane, for one, is quite adamant about this notion). Others, like Gerdried Stocker and Sarah Harman, argue that computer creativity would be, in fact should be, like something we have never seen before, thus our current conceptualization of creativity will have to be re-imagined. I happen to agree with the latter—that AI can be creative, and it cannot be anthropomorphized, but is an entirely different type of creativity altogether. Rather than asking “can computers be creative?” in this presentation I ask, “can computers act creatively?” There is an important distinction between “being creative” and “acting creatively.” If creativity, writ large, implies an emotional self-awareness, then “being creative” implies an ontological disposition—a fundamentally philosophical question about what it means to have the ability to translate interior, emotional states and whether anything aside from humans can exhibit such qualities. On the other hand, “acting creatively” might open possibilities for what computers are actually doing. If machines do not have self-awareness yet alone the capability (or even energy) to express themselves, then any exploration into computers and creativity must focus solely on the end product. Consequently, computers can act creatively, not only in the mimetic sense that they are merely copying styles, but by creating aesthetically pleasing products.

09:00-10:30 Session 9G: Pre-Organized Panel: Literary Histories of AI and the Human - The Energetics of Cultural Interaction
Sarah Dillon (University of Cambridge, UK)
Sarah Dillon (University of Cambridge, UK)
Jenny Moran (University of Cambridge, Ireland)
Louisa Shen (University of Cambridge, UK)
Nathaniel Zetter (University of Cambridge, UK)
Pre-Organized Panel: Literary Histories of AI and the Human - The Energetics of Cultural Interaction

ABSTRACT. Since May 2020, the Faculty of English and the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge have been jointly running an Andrew W. Mellon Sawyer Seminar entitled ‘Histories of AI: A Genealogy of Power’. A global, multidisciplinary community of scholars and practitioners have been collaboratively and energetically interrogating the multiple histories of AI and their imbrication in issues of hidden labour, cognitive injustice, encoded behaviour and disingenuous rhetoric. In this panel, two members of the Seminar committee (co-PI, Sarah Dillon, and Graduate Dissertation Fellow, Jenny Moran) team up with two recent doctoral graduates from the Cambridge Faculty of English (Louisa Shen and Nathaniel Zetter) in order to develop insights arising out of the Seminar’s disingenuous rhetoric theme. In particular, these papers together aim to start to develop a literary history of AI – that is, a history of AI that (1) engages with the science and technology themselves as to some extent storytelling enterprises, (2) investigates the direct or indirect influence of literature on AI research, and (3) brings literary critical skills of close reading, archival research and critical theory to bear on AI’s histories. In doing so, these papers together constitute an investigation of how literary histories of AI raise questions about the human, in particular focusing here on race, colonialism, emotion, gender, perception, and the act of reading itself.

11:00-12:30 Session 10A: Pre-Organized Panel: Hinterland Aesthetics
John Winn (Duke University, United States)
Benjamin Crais (Duke University, United States)
John Winn (Duke University, United States)
Aaron Dowdy (Duke University, United States)
Pre-Organized Panel: Hinterland Aesthetics

ABSTRACT. Since at least the publication of Raymond Williams’ The Country and the City, scholars across disciplines have theorized the growth of industrial modernity alongside the natural, though historical, environments upon which such growth depends. Because of these scholars, we now understand the countryside to be just as modern and dynamic as the cities and factories it supports. However, it is often assumed that the aesthetic appeal of the countryside died out with the waning of romanticism, eclipsed by modernity’s appeal to speed, fragmentation, the city, and the machine. Contrary to this, our panel argues that the countryside continued to inform the modernist aesthetics of the 19th century and the 20th century in the spatial form of the hinterland. The hinterland has offered an aesthetic predicated on the extraction and distribution of the various resources that sustain urbanization. Our panel traces the origins of this aesthetic from the years following the Civil War in the United States to its redefinition in Jon Jost’s and James Benning’s films dealing with the relationship between landscape and economic stagnation. This panel outlines an aesthetic tradition that emerged out of the scientific rationalization and industrial exploitation of the hinterland—an aesthetic of resource extraction and distribution. Rather than peripheral to the cultural forms of modernity, the hinterland provides a pivotal cultural and perceptual logic for making sense of the systems and resources that fueled industrial modernity.

11:00-12:30 Session 10B: Arts Lounge: Impulsive Maneuvers
Ed Osborn (Brown University, United States)
Meredith Tromble (San Francisco Art Institute, United States)
Ed Osborn (Brown University, United States)
Meredith Tromble (San Francisco Art Institute, United States)
Devavani Chatterjea (Macalester College, United States)
Dawna Schuld (Texas A&M University, United States)
Lexygius Sanchez Calip (Independent, United States)
Giuliana Funkhauser (Independent, United States)
Laura Hyunjhee Kim (University of Texas at Dallas, United States)
Patricia Olynyk (Washington University of St. Louis, United States)
Gail Wight (Stanford University, United States)
Arts Lounge: Impulsive Maneuvers

ABSTRACT. Our Arts Lounge Impulsive Maneuvers explors an uptempo body of seven time-based artworks observing, enjoying, or contemplating our vibratory environment. The artworks invite viewers to heightened awareness of the play of matter and energy that surrounds them daily. The full works will be presented prior to the event through a webpage with a curated set of Vimeo links; art historian Dawna Schuld and biologist Devavani Chatterjea will kick off the lounge by playing and commenting on excerpts from the works, instigating conversations on energy as represented in the works and elicited from viewers. We anticipate an engaged dialogue that is highly responsive to the input of attendees, encompassing humor as well as serious thought about the transmission of energy through art, the role of art in forming group energies, harnessing acoustic energy to create meaning, and other aspects of observing and feeling the vibratory world of which we are a part.

The group of artists is diverse along several dimensions including race, gender, and age and their video artworks (ranging from 30s to 15m) present a criss-crossing network of energetic themes. Lexygius Calip, Meredith Tromble, and Gail Wight frame subtle energetic shifts in the environment, such as evaporation, photosynthesis, and breeze, as aesthetically gripping experiences. The constant oscillation of bodily resonance from life to death is figured in different ways by Calip and Patricia Olynyk, who re-imagines living forces interpreted from bones, and Giuliana Funkhouser for the Witch’s Collective, with a work about an ancient aspen tree, also tying back to the theme of photosynthesis. Tromble and Laura Hyunjhee Kim both represent energy with dance in their videos, while Ed Osborn and the Witches Collective highlight sonic diffusions in their works.

Works to be discussed include Lexygius Calip’s For Everything That Is Shall Be Again, which uses deceptively simple motions and materials to convey the subversive aspect of uncertainty, impermanence, and constant change; The Witch’s Collective The Whispering about an ancient arboreal being's long-lived energy in relation to our own microscopically short lifespans; Laura Hyunjhee Kim’s Soul (Re)cycling with Raccoons in Human-Time, which responds to the energy of (non)human companionship, an installment of Patricia Olynyk’s Mutable Archives, a sensory-rich hypnotic journey in which a ghostly figure rising from ocean waves lapping the shore heightens awareness of the matter and energy from which the story of a Dutch suicide unfolds; Ed Osborn’s Terrainor, which explores spaces of expanded phonography; Meredith Tromble’s Bwyta Golau (Eating Light), which marries drawing with dance to evoke empathy with the photosynthesizing plants that feed us all; and Gail Wight’s Homage to the Wind, a meditation on the invisible energies of Earth’s atmosphere.

Links to the artworks to be discussed can be found here:

Participants Ed Osborn (Co-Chair), Brown University; Meredith Tromble (Co-Chair), San Francisco Arts Institute; Devavani Chatterjea (Respondent), Macalester College; Dawna Schuld (Respondent), Texas A&M University; Lexygius Sanchez Calip, Independent Artist; Giuliana Funkhouser (Witches Collective), Independent Artist; Laura Hyunjhee Kim, University of Texas at Dallas; Patricia Olynyk, Washington University of St. Louis; Gail Wight, Stanford University. 

11:00-12:30 Session 10C
Jonathan Basile (Emory University, United States)
Jussi Parikka (FAMU / Academy of Performing Arts, Prague, Czechia)
Abelardo Gil-Fournier (FAMU at the Academy of Performing Arts, Prague, Czechia)
Green Grass Computation

ABSTRACT. From references in science fiction (Asimov, LeGuin, Robbins) to popular images such as the Windows bliss wallpaper, the image of grass has its own life in representations and fictions of computational media and artificial intelligence. Vegetal life persists at least in metaphoric and representational ways in computational infrastructures of high-energy demand. Furthermore, current literature in the Plant Sciences (Trewavas, Mancuso) and Plant Studies (Marder) have discussed extensively topics such as vegetal signalling, intelligence and plant thinking. Themes of metamorphosis, transformations of matter and energy, and the imaginaries of alternative forms of ecologies of sensing are part of the broad field of discussions

In this paper, we address grass as computational media through an elaboration of the concept of the managerial surface, proposed by John May as a response to current practices in environmental sciences and landscape design, where imaging and modelling collide in a “statistical-electrical control space” (2020). The paper is less directed in mapping the representations of grass or plant energies in digital culture of technical images than outlining a conceptual and historical case for techno-scientific practices of that operationalise large-scale green surfaces. While the observation of certain vegetal patterns in remote sensing is correlated to specific features of the terrain (Pietrusko), the systematic registration of greenness as Green Chromatic Coordinates (GCC), Leaf Area Index (LAI) and Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) present vegetal surfaces as a form of computational mediation at the landscape scale.

We argue that grass presents a case where this connection between imaging and modelling can be understood in relation to discussions that relate early photography and computation (Batchen 2002, 2006) and recent accounts in history of science about statistics and experimental practices (Coen 2007, 2018) as well as about computation, statistics and labour (Daston 2018, Pasquinelli 2019). Such historical references build a case that helps to understand both the speculative proposal in this paper about green grass computation and the empirical practices where colour coded surfaces are a particular kind of a computational image at a landscape scale.

This paper draws on our on-going research on vegetal surfaces where the current interweaving of environments and operational images has been discussed in relation to image-based AI models (Gil-Fournier and Parikka 2019) and the concept of ground truth (Gil-Fournier and Parikka 2020). Also the audiovisual essay Seed, Image, Ground (2020) discussed related topics (

Bethany Berard (Carleton University, Canada)
Conversions of Light: Energy as Information

ABSTRACT. Sean Cubit argues that despite persistent attention to the indexical relation, cameras, both analogue and digital, “record the fall of light, not a world of objects” (2014, 245). In this paper, I argue that photography’s capacity to produce information is distinct from other sources as it requires a natural energy source to create information. I developed an “operative diagrammatic” (Parikka, 2011, p. 62) of stable components of how cameras work. This diagrammatic is developed across the Kodak Brownie Camera (1901), the first commercially available Leica camera (1925), Kodak’s 35mm colour film (1935) and the Polaroid SX-70 (1972). These cameras have been selected in part because they are all “firsts” in that they advance or disrupt photographic practice in particular ways while still maintaining the core ontological capacity of producing, storing, and transmitting information (Shannon, 1948). This paper emphasizes that the informational capacity of photography starts in, and with, the mechanics and outlines why this technical mode of thinking about photography is integral to how an informational account of photography can be developed. The camera makes something new possible materially, in how time and space can be composed and compressed visually, how events and likeness can be recorded and preserved, and what can be learned about the natural world; all of which remains possible regardless of how the camera might change, because of light.

Jonathan Basile (Emory University, United States)
Cybernetics, Information Theory, and Irony

ABSTRACT. A task that has proven both necessary and difficult for machine learning algorithms has been the identification of irony. It is essential for any type of rigorous “reading” performed algorithmically to be able to distinguish ironic and non-ironic statements—for instance, when social media posts are used as a measure of public opinion on a brand, product, or political platform, one must be able to distinguish whether praise and blame are sincere or ironic.

This limit to algorithmic reading points to problems that are essential to information theory, artificial intelligence, and to computational literary analysis or the digital humanities. It is often said that information theory fails to capture meaning, but I would argue that irony is a better figure for what it leaves out. I will look at the work of classic ironists and rhetoricians such as Plato and Aristotle, as well as Schelling’s “On Unintelligibility” and Paul de Man’s “The Concept of Irony” to better understand the necessity and impossibility of making irony the object of positive knowledge.

Dr. Victoria Emily Sharples (University of Derby, UK)
The (in)separability of matter: on prāṇa, energy and permeation.

ABSTRACT. The (in)separability of matter: on prāṇa energy and permeation.

‘The (in)separability of matter: on prāṇa, energy and permeation’ is a paper in response to a three-year practice-led study, which speculates on (non)human bodily ‘intra-activity’ (Barad, 2007) relative to cremation practices at Pashupatinath Temple and along the sacred and contaminated Bagmati River in Kathmandu through Gas Chromatography–Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) and Inductively Coupled Plasma–Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) ash analysis readings. It is the outcome of field research, laboratory experiments and a series of participatory projects which aim to unbalance asymmetric tendencies which assume the ontological separation of the human and non-human through collective; microperformative, practices. Realised between 2018–2020, Ash is an international (e)mail art project in which three pieces of Nepalese Lokta paper were placed on the surface of the Bagmati downstream from Pashupatinath. Once dried, participants sent their contributions to the UK using their closest postal service. Contributions were received from artists Sagar Manandhar and Pratima Thakali from Kathmandu University, and from Nepali musician Anil Shahi. On arrival, the substrates were incinerated and analysed through GC-MS and ICP-MS at the University of York and the University of Leeds. Through the intersection of art, ecology and New Materialism, this paper calls into question the permeability of organic and machinic matter as agential, osmotic and energetic (Salter, 2020). It builds on the assumed ‘aliveness’ of ‘live art’ practice (Hauser & Strecker, 2020), and calls on ‘passive’ matter to contribute to this discourse. For ENERGY: SLSA 2021, this paper unpacks the spiritual substance of prāṇa as an energy-current that permeates all.

11:00-12:30 Session 10D: SloMoCo Art Lounge no. 3 // Transduction and Movement Computing Energetics
Lisa Jamhoury (SloMoCo, United States)
Lisa Jamhoury (independent, United States)
Garrett Johnson (Arizona State University, United States)
Kris Paulsen (Ohio State University, United States)
Brent Brimhall (independent, United States)
Courtney Brown (Southern Methodist University, United States)
Ru Ferguson (Southern Methodist University, United States)
Luke Fischbeck (independent, United States)
Nina Sarnelle (independent, United States)
Selwa Sweidan (University of Southern California, United States)
SloMoCo Art Lounge no. 3 // Transduction and Movement Computing Energetics

ABSTRACT. Zoom Link:

This art lounge is part of a three-part SloMoCo/SLSA mashup hosted by SloMoCo

Transduction in movement and computing manifests itself in many ways. In this art lounge, three artist collectives present works that consider transduction in networked space. Dr. Kris Paulsen, author of Here/There: Telepresence, Touch and Art at the Interface, will join the event as a respondent.

The presented works include “Skin Hunger,” created by Courtney Brown, Melanie Clemmons, Ira Greenberg, and Brent Brimhall and performed by Courtney Brown, Brent Brimhall, Ru Ferguson, dancers; "Touch Praxis," created and presented by Nina Sarnelle + Selwa Sweidan; and “Field Guide,” presented by Luke Fischbeck and Nina Sarnelle.  

The presented works will be experiential performances or interactive works. Each presentation will last approximately 15-20 minutes with 5-10 minutes of response time. Some works featured in this event will request participant involvement. We invite participants to join at their comfort level.

More on Transduction and Movement Computing Energetics

Adrian Mackenzie writes that “transduction is a process whereby a disparity or a difference is topologically and temporally restructured across some interface. It mediates different organizations of energy” (2006, pg. 26). For Gilbert Simondon, the transduction operation becomes implicated in the ubiquitous process of ontogenesis (Barthélémy, 2012). Readers and students of Simondon often point to the crystals and crystallization as the transduction object lesson par excellence. In this ArtLounge, we offer up and interrogate the transductive processes already underway in movement and creative coding practices that engage the moving, thinking, feeling, body with custom responsive media systems.

In media art and creative coding, a common technique uses input from a sensor of one modality (e.g. sound) and use digital logic/signal processing to drive an output of another modality (e.g. video, light, haptics). In some circles, this process is referred to as transduction. But, interactive performance, installation, or even quotidian computing situations where the human is in the loop introduces more complex and dynamic registers of organization which are subjected to tranductive operations (metabolism, affect, gestures and meaning). This sets off a question: How can the heterogeneous (bio-physical-semiotic) flows and exchange of energy in interactive media systems created by movement and computing practitioners offer embodied human and non-human insights into both the limits and desires of computation?

The problem of transduction, manifested as tensions between computed and experienced movement, has animated much discourse Movement and Computing community. Aside from the corporeal and metabolic expenditure of energy by moving people in interactive dance settings, energy also figures in gesture, which oscillates between the register of aesthetics and semiotics. In Laban Movement Analysis (LMA) system (developed by choreographer Rudolf Laban and others), “effort” is one of four categories of movement. Effort is conjugated by relationships to polarity and factors space, weight, time, and flow. How is energy re-organized in a notated choreographic score, or in a motion capture archive, or a score computationally generated from a motion capture archive? Or when Laban’s descriptors are mathematically described, implemented as a signal processing descriptor, and used to interpret sensor data generated by a dancer (Larboulette & Gibet, 2015)? What registers of energy are we talking about here, what is preserved and lost across these phases of individuation?

Barthélémy, J.-H. (2012). Glossary: Fifty Key Terms in the Works of Gilbert Simondon. In Gilbert Simondon: Being and Technology.

Bataille, G. (1991). The Accursed Share: An Essay on General Economy.

Combes, M., & LaMarre, T. (2013). Gilbert Simondon and the Philosophy of the Transindividual.

Larboulette, C., & Gibet, S. (2015). A Review of Computable Expressive Descriptors of Human Motion.

MacKenzie, A. (2006). Transductions: Bodies and Machines at Speed.

Salter, C., & Sellars, P. (2010). Entangled: Technology and the Transformation of Performance.

Simondon, G., & Adkins, T. (2020). Individuation in Light of Notions of Form and Information.

Sha, X. (2014). Poiesis and Enchantment in Topological Matter.

11:00-12:30 Session 10E
Sookyung Cho (UCLA - Digital Humanities, United States)
Sookyung Cho (UCLA - Digital Humanities, United States)
Kant on Kindchenschema: an imaginary discussion between Lorenz and von Uexkull on aesthetical common sense and caring behavior.

ABSTRACT. What makes human society continue? Especially, I wonder what is the source of the energy, if any, that evidences the connection of the generations so as that the human species can proliferate. Caring for others is the answer in this article. As evidence of the social factors in a biological program, I will critically review Konrad Lorenz’s Kindchenschema. Kindchenschema is a set of biological traits of youthfulness that signals and triggers an adult’s protective behavior toward the object with such traits. Then, by contrapuntal with von Uexkull’s Umwelt, I will set up the imaginary discussion on how such biological cues of other beings can shape the special meaning and function as a rule of inner and outer momentum of our social behaviors. Acknowledged the historical fact that the two scientists are influential and rivalry in the late modernism era, I will explain Immanuel Kant’s Sensus Communis Aestheticus as a resolutive theoretical root. Aesthetic judgment works as the foundation of our (social) cognition and, therefore, how an individual’s perception of the world is deeply related to other (human) beings and caring for each other. Even though our subjective experience is inward but also is open to a sensual, cognitive, and social-behavioral frame of mind.

Mark Pizzato (UNC-Charlotte, United States)
Religious Energies in Churches and Temples as Brain Theatres

ABSTRACT. How do religious buildings reflect the fusing of brain energies, current or past, in theatrical ways that involve spiritual matters, yet also group politics, for good and ill? This presentation will focus on just a few examples from a large research project on hundreds of churches and temples in Europe and China, comparing architectures, artworks, and performance spaces through evidence from neuroscience. The project also involves various cultural theories that will be sketched briefly, regarding Christian and Daoist examples: Ravanica Monastery in Central Serbia, St. John Lateran in Rome, and Sanyuan Palace Kundao Yard in Shanghai. Comparisons with Chinese Buddhism will be mentioned also. “Inner theatre” networks of the visitor’s brain are reflected and potentially affected differently through these traditions. But they also involve common, animal-human drives and emotions with the outer theatre interactions of observers or believers, performing in quotidian, historical, or cosmic frameworks. From grief, rage, fear, hope, and gratitude in communal spaces to transcendent joy--yet collective ordering and sacrificial scapegoating--such inner/outer theatre energies, shaped by sacred sites, show the best and worst of human nature and culture. They are also at play in secular, political theatres, such as online, social-media groups with mythic, conspiracy-theory identities, producing in-person crowd power, foolish or strategic, as with the “Stop the Steal” rally and storming of the Capitol building in January 2021, or Black Lives Matter protests, through in- and out-group trust/disgust and conflicting “moral” values. This, too, will be considered as the ghostly grouping of brain (to) theatre energies.

Brittany Carlson (University of California, Riverside, United States)
Dismantling the Mathematical Objectivity Myth: A Study in Ephemera

ABSTRACT. In contemporary science studies, the role of mathematics is largely attributed to establishing scientific objectivity, which ascribes considerable power to mathematics as a purely objective force. Scientific objectivity is measured and communicated through mathematical data. Mathematical data is gathered following standards set forth by scientific communities. Scientific communities take mathematical models and practices as an objective truth without questioning the inherent objectivity in mathematics. Traditionally, mathematics, as a field, is described as the study of patterns. However, little critical energy in science studies has been allotted to uncovering the history, the culture, and the human agency behind identifying these patterns and, ultimately, the mathematical discovery process. In this paper, I reveal the history, the culture, and the human agency behind the mathematical discovery process. By looking at mathematical pedagogy reformation at the turn of the nineteenth century, I will examine several instances where the narrative and the visual become critical facilitators of mathematical discovery as mathematical language mixes with natural language and becomes quite perplexing for learners. This phenomenon is not unique to the nineteenth century. Instead, I contend that the materiality of the discovery process is the only universal aspect of mathematics and will show examples, which include Zulu beadwork and Sundara Row’s paper-folding, to demonstrate the importance of one’s environment and material culture on the discovery of mathematical patterns and phenomena. As a result, the substantial power of mathematical objectivity is dismantled and disseminated amongst its discoverers.

Hee Sook Lee-Niinioja (Independent scholar, Finland)
A Semiotic Border of Positive-Negative Energies in Werther’s Nature and Female Beauty

ABSTRACT. The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774), written by Goethe, was a vital novel during the ‘Sturm and Drang’ period in German literature and influenced the later Romantic Movement. It is an epistolary novel of Werther, a sensitive and passionate young artist to his friend Wilhelm. He gives an account of his stay in Walheim and feeling for nature and love for Lotte, which led to his suicide. The novel’s cultural impact was immense. Napoleon read it seven times during his war campaigns, while passionate Europeans felt farewell to this world due to their uncontrollable inner turmoil. It was the 19th-century’s European identity for young people.

Goethe quoted: “Energy will do anything that can be done in the world; and no talents, no circumstances, no opportunities will make a two-legged animal a man without it.” A thought emerges: “What is the semiotic border of Werther’s energy in the positive serenity and negative melancholy?”

Semiotics is an interpretative framework to describe the process of encoding and decoding. Decoding interprets and evaluates the meaning as regards the relevant codes. Lotman’s semiosphere is that the process of a sign operates in the set of all interconnected environments. The border is in the beholder’s perception, and that one person's semiotic space is another person's non-semiotic space. The crossing point of the border of a given culture depends on the position of the beholder. My paper analyzes semiotic texts-images on Werther’s positive-negative energies in nature and love through the original texts and their various book illustrations.

11:00-12:30 Session 10F: Pre-Organized Panel: Datafication, Aesthetics, Sensory Experimentation (New Books)
David Parisi (College of Charleston, United States)
Mark Paterson (University of Pittsburgh, United States)
David Parisi (College of Charleston, United States)
Erica Fretwell (University of Albany, SUNY, United States)
Jacob Gaboury (UC Berkeley, United States)
Pre-Organized Panel: Datafication, Aesthetics, Sensory Experimentation (New Books)

ABSTRACT. This panel showcases three recently-published books that engage historically with science and the senses, experimental methods, aesthetics, datafication, and computation: Erica Fretwell’s Sensory Experiments: Psychophysics, Race, and the Aesthetics of Feeling (Duke University Press), Jacob Gaboury’s Image Objects: An Archaeology of Computer Graphics (MIT Press), and Mark Paterson’s How We Became Sensorimotor: Movement, Measurement, Sensation (University of Minnesota Press).

These projects involve thematic and methodological crossover, involving the excavation of archival materials that deal with bodies, objecthood, and instruments of scientific measurement, forms of graphic inscription and representation, and translations and collaborations between the worlds of science and the arts. Fretwell, Gaboury, and Paterson deal with ideas of standardization, the use of graphic methods for ordering data, and how imaging technologies in different eras produce certain forms of visibility and involve the ordering of data through graphical representation. Each also involves the centrality of forms of aesthetic experience, although in different ways. The examination of the senses in the physiology laboratory is the starting point for both Fretwell and Paterson, with what became known as ‘psychophysics’ of sensation in the nineteenth century, which measured thresholds and therefore marked gendered and racialized difference from normative subjectivities. Gaboury’s archaeology explores the origins of early computer graphics, and the role the technology played in the transformation of the computer from a calculating machine into an interactive medium that shapes and informs our relationship to the built, sensible world. For these three new books the panel will consider the ways our sensorily experienced world has historically been mapped, graphically represented, remediated, and re-imagined through other means.

11:00-12:30 Session 10G: Stream of Roundtables "Petromyopia" 1: Spinning History
Devin Griffiths (University of Southern California, United States)
Devin Griffiths (University of Southern California, United States)
Jamie Jones (University of Illinois, United States)
Siobhan Carroll (University of Delaware, United States)
Walter Gordon (University of Alberta, Canada)
Michael Rubenstein (Stonybrook University, United States)
Stream of Roundtables "Petromyopia" 1: Spinning History

ABSTRACT. This is the first in a proposed stream of *four* moderated, non-concurrent roundtables will examine the place of oil within the environmental humanities and ecocriticism, taking as its point of departure Christopher Jones’s claim that the “energy humanities, as a field, currently pays too much attention to oil and too little attention to other energy topics.” In recent decades, a host of critics have called attention to the centrality of oil to the great acceleration (Imre Szeman), carbon democracy (Timothy Mitchell), and the culture of modernism (Stephanie LeMenager), particularly in the United States. These round tables will pose a series of questions about the focal function of oil for the energy humanities. Among them: is it possible to pay too much attention to oil? Did/will past and future power regimes operate differently? Is global warming the product of fossil capital, whether based in coal, oil, or gas (Andreas Malm), or on the dependency of all capital on the energies of “cheap nature” (Jason Moore)? Is Patricia Yaeger’s generative concept of the “energy unconscious” tied to specific energy infrastructures, and their fuels, or is there a place for a conscious/unconscious of energopower (Dominic Boyer) per se? And does a focus on oil center the energy humanities on the industrial cultures of hemispheric north, especially, in North America? Each panelist will offer roughly ten minute of remarks, leaving extra time for an active moderated discussion with attendees and each other. This roundtable, moderated by Griffiths, will discuss the fuel regimes and energy cultures that predated or anticipated, and yet continue to haunt, oil cultures. Biomass and riparian energy systems, from peat harvesting and whaling, to the use of hydropower in industrial agriculture and electricity generation, loom large alongside and within energetic modernism, providing shadow histories of petroculture. Jones will discuss the challenge of writing about "energy" avant la lettre, drawing especially on Cara Daggett's etymology of the term in The Birth of Energy. She will propose a new "energy archaeology," modeled after media archaeology, adequate to explore the history of the U.S. commercial whaling industry. Carroll will remind us that peat remained an important source of fuel in Britain well into the nineteenth century, often to the frustration of industrialists promoting coal as the fuel of the future. She’ll use the ecohistorical concept of the “peat archive” to re-think nineteenth-century narrative, arguing for the importance of alternate fuel models to the development of literary form. Gordon will explore the archive of twentieth-century African American literature as an antidote to petromyopia. In examining the importance of other materials to this literature, in works like W. E. B. Du Bois’s Dark Princess and Ann Petry’s The Street, he’ll trace the link between petromyopia and racial erasure. And Rubenstein will suggest the 1974 film Chinatown as a tragic-epic petrofiction that overlays three historically distinct resource infrastructures: in this way, Chinatown figures the water crisis in the early 1900s as a meditation on the energy crisis of the early 1970s.

11:00-12:30 Session 10H: Workshop: An Atlas of Media Topography
Sam Kellogg (New York University, United States)
Rory Solomon (The New School for Social Research, United States)
Sam Kellogg (New York University, United States)
Rory Solomon (The New School for Social Research, United States)
Alejandra Bronfman (SUNY Albany, United States)
Nadine Chan (Claremont Graduate University, United States)
Shannon Mattern (The New School for Social Research, United States)
Rafico Ruiz (Canadian Centre for Architecture, Canada)
Workshop: An Atlas of Media Topography

ABSTRACT. What is the shape of mediation? Since the emergence of media studies, the field has variously hailed mediation as a channel, as a vessel, as a radiance, as an injection, as one-to-many or many-to-many, as flow, or as propagation, among other formulations. Media objects have been described as possessing “bias” along dimensions of space or time (Innis), as envelopes or enclosures that recursively repackage prior forms (Bolter and Grusin), as ecologies or interconnected systems (Postman, Ong), as strata within an assemblage (Parikka, Mattern), or as unfolding through a historical periodization from centralized to decentralized (Baran, Galloway, Hu). Across many recent conceptualizations, the figure of the network, represented by abstract topologies and diagrams, remains a familiar point of reference, becoming something of a master concept across numerous fields of thought.

With this workshop, we start from the premise that mediation is a fundamentally spatial process, and endeavor to shift from a topological to a topographical register of analysis (Starosielski), inquiring about specific topographical forms and patterns that mediation and circulation take. In this, media studies can benefit by borrowing from the language and conceptual apparatus of topography, with its attention to different types of landforms and the various processes and relations which such landforms differentially materialize and afford. Canyon, mountain, gorge, canal, scree, plateau, escarpment, island, littoral, saddle point, cornice, fleuve, archipelago, mesa, butte: all these and more may be deployed both literally and figuratively, as metaphor for communication pattern and as physical geographical feature which various mediation techniques may leverage and privilege for optimal functioning.

Assembling an atlas of topographical media accounts for how messages, signals, affects, information, values, and concepts are mediated spatially: digging into the ways that abstract topologies are situated in earth (Haraway) and shifting attention from figures to grounds. In contrast with path dependency discourse, the historical approach that emphasizes successive phases of infrastructural remediation, media topography draws attention to the originary topographical features that precede these glacial patterns. Media topography describes both the ways in which the earth always already mediates, and the ways in which humans and nonhumans strategically leverage or deploy geographic features for the purposes of implanting media within specific topographies—physical and figurative, “natural” and sociocultural.

We seek works in the fields of intrastructure studies, the environmental humanities, digital media studies, critical race theory, queer studies, indigenous studies, and media industries analysis that consider how the types of mediation examined by these various modes of inquiry are emplaced into different topographic formations. We hope to emerge from this panel with the beginnings of a topographical language for media studies, and an atlas of concepts that can be used to understand how mediation unfolds, and how it is situated and embedded in various planetary presents.

13:00-14:30 Session 11: Keynote Plenary: Zakiyyah Iman Jackson, Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, and Imani Cooper Mkandawire, “Theorizing in a Void”: Towards a Theory and Practice of Black Feminist Mathematics and Science

Zoom Webinar Link: 

Youtube Streaming Link:


“Theorizing in a Void”: Towards a Theory and Practice of Black Feminist Science and Mathematics insists on complicating the materiality of nothingness –dark matter, dark energy, voids– as metaphor for unconcealing the politics of blackness within Western science and mathematics, bringing together black women scholars across STEM and humanities-based disciplines who enter conversations within the sciences in both traditional and creative ways. The dialogue will range from representation, contributions, and politics of black women in the sciences, personal narratives, to larger analytical questions where, when, and what is blackness in the sciences of the American academy and Western scientific thought? What does it mean, and what should it look like to etch towards a black feminist praxis of science and mathematics?  

Plenary Speakers: Zakiyyah Iman Jackson and Chanda Prescod-Weinstein 

Moderator + discussant : Imani C. Mkandawire 



Zakiyyah Iman Jackson is an associate professor of English at the University of Southern California. Professor Jackson is the author of Becoming Human: Matter and Meaning in an Antiblack World. Her research explores the literary and figurative aspects of Western philosophical and scientific discourse and investigates the engagement of African diasporic literature and visual culture with the historical concerns, knowledge claims, and rhetoric of Western science and philosophy. 

Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein is an assistant professor of physics and astronomy and core faculty in women’s and gender studies at the University of New Hampshire. Originally from East L.A., Dr. Prescod-Weinstein is a graduate of Harvard College, University of California — Santa Cruz, and the University of Waterloo. One of under 100 Black American women to earn a PhD from a department of physics, she is a theoretical physicist with expertise in particle physics, cosmology, and astrophysics, with an emphasis on dark matter. In addition, Dr. Prescod-Weinstein is a theorist of Black feminist science, technology, and society studies, and a monthly columnist for New Scientist. Her research and advocacy for marginalized people in physics and astronomy have won multiple awards, and her first book, The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred, is now available from Bold Type Books. 

Imani Cooper Mkandawire is a Phd. Candidate in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Digital Studies Institute at the University of Michigan. Imani’s scholarship is at the intersection of theory and practice, focusing on the goal of bringing together anti-racists pedagogy for STEM education, and efforts for anti-racists / inclusive digital technology. Her work traces how relations of power and knowledge are articulated in processes of machine learning, and learning content of STEM curricula including computer science and physics, while generating original pedagogical material for both classrooms and machine learning processes using the artistic and scientific heritage of Africa and its diasporas. 

Imani Cooper Mkandawire (University of Michigan, United States)
15:00-16:30 Session 12A
Stephanie Rothenberg (SUNY Buffalo, United States)
Stephanie Rothenberg (SUNY Buffalo, United States)
Aphrodisiac in the Machine

ABSTRACT. “Aphrodisiac in the Machine” is an environmental science fiction project that manifests in a variety of formats online and offline including art installations, videos and performances. It explores the ethical and economic contradictions within the desire to be more sustainable both individually and on a global scale. Inspired by black feminist writer Audre Lorde’s notion of the erotic as a power of feeling, “Aphrodisiac in the Machine” posits more-than-human sentience as a lubricant to speculate a new kind of eco-machine. The project plays with the libidinous myth of the oyster, a hermaphroditic organism, being bioengineered in a futuristic aquaculture farm. Technology is eroticized and energy is sensualized as intersexual bioengineered cyborg oysters convert toxic water into an aphrodisia-inducing fluid called Aquadisia Water given out freely to the public.

The project focuses on the neoliberal concept of natural capital and what is known as ecosystem services, the provisioning and regulating of natural resources for human survival. One area that has received much development is aquaculture. It is a form of sea farming that has been gainfully employed to more sustainably secure future food resources and offset the environmental degradation of land-based industrial farming. Yet as these systems scale up they become another extraction machine presenting a new set of environmental problems. Can this new and improved bioengineered oyster push humans past the mere libidinal and sexualized state of capital conquests of other bodies and into a new state of sentience – a Sentience 2.0? We invite you to take a drink!

Julie Funk (University of Victoria, Canada)
She ripples happily: coding hormones and slimy narratives in With Those We Love Alive

ABSTRACT. As a medical field of the 20th C., and developed alongside mid-century cybernetic interests, endocrinology is often presented in medical and science communication discourses as organizationally indistinct from media. Hormones are “chemical messengers, “communicat[ing]” and “respon[ding]” to its system and environment (Dunn, “How Do Hormones Work,” Biometric-tracking devices for endocrinological intervention, such as insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors, mesh these distinct biochemical and digital regulatory feedback loops in such a way that code begins to act as exogenous hormones.

This talk speculates how we might extend the ontoepistemological organization of hormones-as-media to narratives in which endocrinological processes become both media and content through representations of the hormonal as exogenous and agential. Namely, this talk will explore how hormones seep and ooze into the very logic of Porpentine Charity Heartscape’s 2014 interactive fiction on trans abuse and trauma, With Those We Love Alive (via Electronic Literature Collection Volume 3). Here, the communicative potential of hormones is leveraged as a world-building function and feature in the code variable $hormone_day, a character and author cameo in Slime Kid, and an interactive call to mediate the player’s flesh through both the pain and pleasure of the game’s "estroglyphs."

Corporal Outis (Independent artist/scholar, United States)
The Surprisingly-Familiar and Not-so-Alien Art of the Star Wars Galaxy

ABSTRACT. My name is Corporal Outis. I have talked and performed at many of your human performance art festivals and conferences around the world, encased in my shiny white plastoid armor. I like to think of myself as the official art appreciator of the Empire.

The art of my galaxy—the Star Wars universe—is quite diverse. We have paintings, sculptures, performance art, just like you. In fact, the strangest thing about our art is that it is an awful lot like your art. There are paintings from our galaxy that look almost exactly like paintings from your own Byzantine era, or by your Picasso and Kandinsky. We have artists engaging in absurdist interventionism like your High Red Center, and artists engaged in self-destructive anti-life machines, like a mix of your Viennese Actionists and Survival Research Laboratories. Our art spans many contexts, including “primitive” artworks made by beings living in caves, religious didactics installed in temples, “street art” by artists like Sabine Wren, and “gallery art” like that of light sculptor Ves Vollette.

You would think that our art would feel quite different from yours here on Earth. However, the opposite is true. Our art seems to show that the beings of the galaxy may not all be human, but they are humanistic in their values and feelings.

Grand Admiral Thrawn stated that “when you understand a species’ art, you understand that species.” In this case, I will show that that art is a mirror.

See for more context on my past experiences working with the people of Earth.

Alan O'Leary (Aarhus University, Denmark)
Another Cyborg Manifesto (Workshop of Potential scholarship)

ABSTRACT. This film-presentation proposes a rationale for a constraint-based or ‘parametric’ practice of videographic criticism, which I dub a Workshop of Potential Scholarship or OuScholPo, and extracts from a short manifesto composed according to the simple constraint of division into ten equal segments of fifty words each. Videographic criticism refers to the audiovisual analysis of audiovisual material and screen media, often in the form of video essays, which as a medium of academic practice has in recent years become increasingly mainstream (Mittell 2019, O’Leary and Renga 2020). By parametric procedures, I have in mind the adoption, by the videographic scholar, of more or less arbitrary self-imposed constraints (Biskjær and Halskov 2014) on (1) the selection of elements from the media object(s) or phenomena studied and (2) the formal means by which the analysis is undertaken or presented. My title alludes to OuLiPo, short for Ouvroir de littérature potentielle (Workshop of Potential Literature), a group founded in the early 1960s to explore constraint-based approaches to writing. OuLiPo proposed the acronym Ou-X-Po to envisage possible fields (designated by ‘X’) that might themselves adopt parametric procedures. I set out here an OuScholPo where ‘Schol’ stands for videographic scholarship. Writing of the practice and possibilities of an algorithmic literary criticism with close analogies to the project of OuScholPo, Stephen Ramsay speaks of how parametric procedures do not so much provide data about the object or text under study as they liberate ‘certain energies’ in that object or text (2011: 38). In other words, the goal of a parametric scholarship is less to generate information about the material studied then to offer provocations for further work. The knowledge fashioned is procedural and creative rather than propositional: it suggests not ‘Given this, what do we now know?’, but ‘Having made this, what can we do next?’. Just as did its founders did of OuLiPo, I place OuScholPo in the tradition of Pataphysics, a ‘science of imaginary solutions’ that has informed speculative creativity in the arts, philosophy, literary criticism and latterly the digital humanities, since the early twentieth century. Pataphysics is an absurdist branch of knowledge concerned with what eludes understanding by conventional means, and it speaks powerfully to our posthuman moment ‘in which the decentring of the human by its imbrication in technical, medical, informatic, and economic networks is increasingly impossible to ignore’ (Wolfe 2010). But the debate on the proper character of videographic scholarship has ignored the implications of this decentring. My argument is that parametric approaches to videographic criticism constitute a posthuman mode of knowing, emerging with and from the assemblage of hardware, parametric system, software and organism. ‘We are all chimeras,’ Donna Haraway famously wrote in her ‘Manifesto for Cyborgs’ of 1985, ‘hybrids of machine and organism.’ Since then, we scholars have (e)merged ever more with the digital. The challenge is to imagine a scholarship that speaks from this cyborg position and doesn’t just speak about it. My conviction is that a parametric videographic scholarship—OuScholPo—can do this.

Devon Ward (Ball State University, United States)
Vital Signs: Representations on the Agency-Personhood Continuum (APC)

ABSTRACT. In 2017, the Whanganui River was granted environmental personhood by the New Zealand government, thereby giving it the rights and responsibilities of a legal person. The impetus for this decision was born out of successful advocacy for the Maori belief system, which views the river and its surrounding ecology as social beings within the community. Symbolically this case may have far reaching consequences beyond New Zealand that impact the relations between humans and nonhumans during a time of impending environmental crisis. Chris Fowler writes, “Particular concepts of the person are bound up with specific ways of perceiving the material world and valuing its features.” By granting a river the legal status of a person, there may be follow-on effects that impact culture.

This paper examines the connections between the concept of environmental personhood and material agency, which is often represented in contemporary art and design as an expression of stochastic activity, vitality, energy, resistance or sociality. By tracing the links between these two concepts, a working theoretical model called the Agency-Personhood Continuum (APC) is used to examine potential strategies available to artists and designers who wish to represent the emerging cultural concept of environmental personhood.

15:00-16:30 Session 12B: Roundtable: Transhistorical Energy Humanities
Kristin George Bagdanov (University of California, Davis, United States)
Elizabeth Miller (University of California, Davis, United States)
Kristin George Bagdanov (University of California, Davis, United States)
Elizabeth Miller (University of California, Davis, United States)
Kevin MacDonnell (Rice University, United States)
Jeffrey Insko (Oakland University, United States)
Ashley Sarpong (University of California, Davis, United States)
Chris Walker (Colby College, United States)
Upamanyu Pablo Mukherjee (Warwick University, UK)
Thomas Davis (Ohio State University, United States)
Roundtable: Transhistorical Energy Humanities

ABSTRACT. From peak biomass to peak oil, energy regimes and their methods of extraction and distribution have defined how humans relate to the environment and to each other. The “Energy Humanities” purports to help us understand not only the extent to which energy determines or shapes social relations but also the ethical implications of the extractive relations in which we knowingly and unknowingly participate. Is there any ethical energy consumption under capitalism? If so, what have these alternative forms of energy production, consumption, and distribution looked like? What imaginative infrastructures equitably distribute power and how do they enable us to build more livable futures for all? And if not, what historical methods, modes, and forms have developed in the face of the inevitably extractive practices of energy consumption in order to make its effects even a little less toxic? What are the incremental moves that are often overshadowed by a focus on transitions, crises, and transformations and yet are nonetheless essential in measuring how energy accretes to alter every aspect of our lives? These more subtle developments include the unconscious, speculative, shadowy, and decaying aspects of energy--the remainders that are left out of our per capita emission calculations and climate change models.

The unifying approach of this roundtable is to consider energy as both a historical and a transhistorical form. Reckoning with the demands of decarbonization and energy transition today requires us to conceptualize energy in these historically multiple, specific and yet also transtemporal terms. From the early modern era to today, from biomass to renewables, our energy ontologies have emerged both from the specific material conditions of energy production and consumption across the globe and from the material and discursive legacies that extend backward and forward across various human means of exploiting and redoubling the work of nature.

This roundtable will explore these material and discursive legacies across a range of literary and cultural contexts. We begin with 17th century plantation economies to explore how the early modern Atlantic system of energy figures the logics of extraction and accumulation. We then theorize nascent conceptualizations of steam power in the 18th century, and later, how the post-1870 acceleration of the energy-extraction complex is central to our understanding of the concomitant rise in science fiction, utopia, and fantasy. We consider the trajectory of energy justice and empire in the South Asian context in the 19th and 20th centuries as well as how extractive practices fueled abolition in the United States. Ending with 20th and 21st century America’s energetically neoliberal imaginaries, we theorize the modern fantasy of halting time and rupturing energetic relations through cryogenics; how nuclear energy is a critical appendage of the fossil fuel industry that fuels fossil capital; and the work of speculation within capitalist energy systems.

We cannot live without energy. But we can make life more humane, equitable, and sustainable by changing our relationships to and through energy. Together, we hope to provoke a productive conversation about our energy histories and futures.

15:00-16:30 Session 12C
WhiteFeather Hunter (The University of Western Australia, Canada)
WhiteFeather Hunter (The University of Western Australia, Canada)
Molly McKinney (Independent Scholar, United States)
COVID-19 and the Embodiment of Disruption: Assemblages of Agency and the Turducken of Chaos

ABSTRACT. Disease agents intra-act with material bodies, cultures and sociopolitical structures to create overlapping patterns of force, often reflecting hierarchies within cultural value systems. As a disease agent infiltrates a situational niche, it has the potential to overcome or “trick” defences and amplify itself most potently. The current result of this amplification is pandemic, causing large-scale system disruption and cultural structural breakdowns. Pandemic impacts are most frequently measured quantifiably and horizontally: as numbers or abstract percentages of those killed, geographies covered, and duration of disease lethality. However, pandemics have the quality of being most lethal and widespread vertically, greater affecting those positioned lower in socioeconomic and cultural hierarchies. These may be groups of people who, within sociopolitical configurations that value some bodies over others, are less able to protect themselves against disease agents and become statistically subsumed. This chapter will examine some of the vertical, qualitative impacts—-specifically, of the COVID-19 pandemic—-by locating nesting agents of disruption in what will be presented as an analogous “turducken” of chaos. The turducken dish–-an interaction of three different bodies: chicken, duck and turkey will serve as a “meaty” metaphor for exploring body politics within a time of pandemic. We will illustrate how the system corpus (here, the turkey) has engulfed and invisibilized both female host and mediator (the ducks) that embody and/or interface with the virus (the chicken) in attempts to control some of the disruptions specific to the pandemic and reinvigorate the gluttonous appetite of capitalism. We will support a material feminist analysis of this analogy with personal recounts: from the patient perspective—-as presenting atypically, and therefore repeatedly pigeonholed as hysterical and delayed from care; as well, the experiences of a front-line medical worker—-as presenting with concern for personal safety and resistant to the instituted expectation of 'heroic' self-sacrifice.

Judy Ehrentraut (University of Waterloo, Canada)
Adam Cilevitz (University of Waterloo, Canada)
Conjuring the G(host): Mutual Isolation and the Horror of Telepresence

ABSTRACT. Energy has never strictly existed in the physical realm; it transforms depending on circumstance, intermediated and visible from the non-physical astral plane. As humans living in physical bodies, we reside in the third dimension, but can engage with the astral plane, or the “aether,” through a doubling of the body. To disengage from earthly existence is to awaken a spiritual self; this is not a division of body and mind, but an esoteric astral body. Techno-paganism, the substitution of technology for magical objects in spiritual practice, sees the internet as a decentralizing force in ritual. In this paper, we conceptualize astral projection as the digitization of the body via telepresence applications like Zoom. During this pandemic year, isolation, exhaustion, and ennui have accumulated to create stagnant and negative energy within the home space, untamed and stifled in quarantine. This paper re-imagines the ritual of the séance as a virtual magic circle, held together by latent energy captured and released into liminal space. Through the lens of found footage horror films that utilize single-take webcams and split screen point-of-view, we survey the horror of telepresence as a transubstantiation of absent presence that feeds the malevolent spirit. Using classical film theory to frame and theorize the long take, we distinguish between the “real” and the “image” -- establishing the camera as an access point to the aether, allowing us to “see” the abject horror of the intangible, of indexical spirits mediated by technology, typically invisible to the naked eye.

Stephanie Kinzinger (UNC at Chapel Hill Department of English and Comparative Literature, United States)
Playing with "Control": Spatial Epistemology in Interactive Gameplay

ABSTRACT. Control, a video game developed by Remedy Entertainment and released in 2019, takes place in the fictive U.S. Federal Bureau of Control, an agency in alternate New York City that researches and contains paranormal energies and entities that disrupt the composition of reality. In this Lovecraftian detective paradigm, the player enters as Jesse Faden, who must find a way to eliminate the Hiss, a paranormal entity that manipulates matter and energy, before it escapes the FBC and fractures the laws of reality. Within the uncanny reality of the FBC, questions of ontology and epistemology abound, as people within the agency are driven into madness and mundane objects are saturated with transferrable energies. I argue that Control is a modern iteration of a Lovecraftian space where paranormal elements disrupt our understanding of how reality is composed and how we understand it. I use Michael Saler’s (2012) conception of imaginary worlds as shared, alternate, and productive spaces to look at Control as a space that challenges players to inhabit and reflect on the systems that contain our version of reality. Ultimately, I contend that experiencing the breakdown of reality and the self in an interactive video game offers new insights into how universes are built through energetic (i.e. interactive) imagination and play.

Stephanie Springgay (McMaster University, Canada)
Incipient energy and walking research-creation

ABSTRACT. Recently artists and scholars have argued that we need walking practices that break with ableist, racist, extractive and settler colonial logics, and instead focus on ones that are situated, relational, and ethical. This has led to question about who gets to walk where, how we walk, where we walk, and what kind of publics we can make. Further there is a move from individual walking to collective group walking practices that consider the radical relatedness of walking together. Walking research-creation becomes accountable to Indigenous knowledges and sovereignty to Land, considers the geosocial formations of the more-than-human, prioritizes affective subjectivities, and emphasizes movement as a way of knowing. This paper takes up WalkingLab’s queer walking tour in the Toronto Financial District, The Bank The Mine The Colony The Crime and reflects on the energy regimes that dominate everyday life. The walking tour focused on the global extractive industry headquartered on the city’s infamous Bay Street. This glass, metal and concrete zone is a reactor of the imagination, where the abstract codes of global finance fuse with the settler colonial logics of racialized extraction and neoliberal capitalism. But what else might the imagination generate if we assembled ourselves otherwise? What flows of incipient energy, rebellious presents and radical futures flow beneath the surface, ready to erupt?

Riley Wilson (University of Michigan, United States)
“If you’re seeing this, it’s meant for you”: algorithmic divination and deferred desire on TikTok

ABSTRACT. Despite being the most downloaded social media app of 2020 and boasting nearly 700 million monthly users, TikTok is extremely understudied, perhaps in part because of its highly-personalized nature, in which the algorithm deals videos to each individual user based on data and past activity. However, subcultures created by “the algorithm” are rich sites of inquiry for understanding popular conceptions of time, desire, and power.

My project explores “manifestation” TikTok, one of these niche subcultures. Here, content creators repackage new age mantras into 60-second videos, insisting that one’s energy determines the direction of their life and that viewers’ dreams “already exist energetically.” Creators deal in the already / not yet, conceptualizing users’ desired outcomes as just out of reach yet extant. This conflated temporality emphasizes self-narrativization as integral to enlightenment, both inscribing success as something wholly personal and personalizable, and producing what Rebecca Coleman calls an “imperative of transformation” central to neoliberalism.

I consider how the subculture’s particular emphasis on energy and “good vibes” serves to obscure the human agency and power behind the algorithm’s code. TikTokers will assert that the algorithm is such that “if you’re seeing this video, it’s meant for you,” disregarding complaints about TikTok’s intentional erasure of non-white, LGBTQ+, and disabled content creators.

Finally, I reflect on how TikTok’s algorithmically-optimized feed shapes our ability to make claims about the “user” more broadly, and what is at stake for scholars of the digital in relying so heavily on personal experiences online.

15:00-16:30 Session 12D: Stream of Pre-Organized Panels "AWEsome Stream" 3: Becoming possibilities: an exploration of boundaries, barriers, and potentials of energy through Gilbert Simondon’s notion of anxiety
Michael Beach (University of Washington, United States)
Michael Beach (University of Washington, United States)
Anisha Uppugonduri (N/A, United States)
Angela Sakrison (Arizona State University, United States)
Muindi Muindi (University of Washington, United States)
Garrett Johnson (Arizona State University, United States)
Stream of Pre-Organized Panels "AWEsome Stream" 3: Becoming possibilities: an exploration of boundaries, barriers, and potentials of energy through Gilbert Simondon’s notion of anxiety

ABSTRACT. For Gilbert Simondon, nothing is given, nothing is fully complete in the ongoingness of becoming; with this unresolved remainder comes possibilities. However, these possibilities rely on energy to individuate; and for Simondon, energy can move in a variety of ways, to the body and the transindividual collective, or be bound up in a construction of potential through an internal mechanism, what he calls anxiety. “[T]he subject feels as if it exists as a problem posed to itself,” however, “[i]f the experience of anxiety could be adequately supported and endured long enough, it would lead to a new individuation within the being itself, to a veritable metamorphosis” (ILFI 282-283). In this workshop, we will explore anxiety through a series of experiential and embodied exercises including modulating sound and motion to heighten our noticing capacities and raise awareness to different intensifiers and flows of energy. We will draw on a handful of concepts from Simondon, e.g. individuation, metastability, and transindividual collective (no prior knowledge required) and make use of them to deepen our appreciation of anxious potential. How does emotion open onto a field of possibilities? How can we give these possibilities to the body? And back over to anxiety? How can we think about anxiety, and other negative feedback loops such as paranoia, in new ways? How might we support and endure anxiety for future becomings? This workshop is facilitated in partnership with the AWEsome group. For more information, visit:

15:00-16:30 Session 12E: Roundtable on Antoine Traisnel's Capture: American Pursuits and the Making of a New Animal Condition
Peggy McCracken (University of Michigan, United States)
Bénédicte Boisseron (University of Michigan, United States)
Susan McHugh (University of New England, United States)
Derek Woods (University of British Columbia, United States)
Cary Wolfe (Rice University, United States)
Antoine Traisnel (University of Michigan, United States)
Peggy McCracken (University of Michigan, United States)
Roundtable on Antoine Traisnel's Capture: American Pursuits and the Making of a New Animal Condition

ABSTRACT. Roundtable on Antoine Traisnel's *Capture: American Pursuits and the Making of a New Animal Condition* (University of Minnesota Press, 2020).

*Capture* offers a critical genealogy of the representation of animals as they came to be perceived as elusive and endangered over the nineteenth century. From Audubon’s still-life watercolors to Muybridge’s trip-wire locomotion studies, from Melville’s epic chases to Poe’s detective hunts, the nineteenth century witnessed a surge of artistic, literary, and scientific treatments that sought to “capture” the truth of animals at the historical moment when animals were receding from everyday view. In *Capture,* Antoine Traisnel reveals how the drive to contain and record disappearing animals was a central feature and organizing pursuit of the nineteenth-century United States cultural canon. He shows that the compulsion to contain and record animals ushered in a visual regime where animals are rendered both known in advance (via technologies of knowledge and control) and unknowable (essentially fugitive, always on the verge of disappearance). As such, capture is deeply continuous with the projects of white settler colonialism and the biocapitalist management of populations. Not only did the new regime of capture breed new aesthetic, literary, and medial genres and techniques (lifelike painting, detective fiction, the moving image), Traisnel argues, but it profoundly shaped the modern animal condition and contributed to normalizing the mass exploitation and erasure of animals as we know it today.

15:00-16:30 Session 12F
Megan O'Donnell (University of Delaware, United States)
Megan O'Donnell (University of Delaware, United States)
Fairies, Fire, and Fossil Fuels in Victorian Literature and Science

ABSTRACT. Fairies gave imaginative form to the often invisible work of energy, heat, and power in Victorian science and literature. Miniature, sometimes invisible, and neither human nor nonhuman, the figure of the fairy afforded a lens through which Victorians could “see” energy at work across scales of space, time, and materiality that exceed human perception. For instance, Arabella Buckley describes in her popular science book for children The Fairy-Land of Science (1879) how striking a match “set[s] the invisible fairies Heat and Chemical Attraction to work” to release “sunbeams of ages and ages ago” from a lump of coal. Meanwhile, Mary De Morgan populates her literary fairy tale “Through the Fire” (1877) with glowing hot “fire-fairies” who live deep within the earth’s core and arise to tend fires ignited on its surface––from the flickering flame of a candle to the roaring flames of a coal fire.

This paper will trace how such fairy stories converge with Victorian discourses on thermodynamics and fossil fuel extraction. The paper contributes to a growing body of ecocriticism that examines Victorian literature, science, and energy from scholars such as Barri Gold, Allen MacDuffie, and Elizabeth Miller by revealing how the figure of the fairy influenced public knowledge about the nature of energy and offered provocative news ways to imagine human relationships to energy systems. Ultimately, I argue the fairy stories examined in this paper envision an ecological perspective of energy––one that considers human responsibility in accelerating entropy and resource exhaustion while still challenging anthropocentric notions of agency.

Charlee Bezilla (Northern Virginia Community College, United States)
The Machine-Man and Imperial Energy in French Proto-Science-Fiction

ABSTRACT. Long before the development of high-tech modern sci-fi franchises, a marginal writer of the French Revolutionary period, Nicolas-Edme Rétif de la Bretonne (1734–1806), imagined the ways that bodily energy might be employed in conjunction with mechanical technology in the service of imperial expansion. This presentation will explore the ways in which two of Rétif’s proto-science-fiction novels enact the trope of the machine-man as a colonial tool. His novels The Australian Discovery by a Flying Man (La Découverte australe par un homme-volant, 1781) and The Posthumous Ones, or Letters from the Tomb (Les Posthumes, ou Lettres du tombeau, 1802) depict, respectively, voyages to the southern hemisphere, at the time only recently explored by Captain James Cook, and to outer space and neighboring planets. Both novels follow the imperial projects of their protagonists as they use technology to enhance their own bodies and those of the indigenous inhabitants. Drawing on Michel Foucault’s conception of biopower as well as the work of theorists of the body and technology such as Donna Haraway, Marshall McLuhan, and Bernard Stiegler, this presentation will examine how the protagonists’ programs for improving and perfecting their societies are centered on manipulating their own fleshly energy and that of their colonized subjects. Through targeted readings of passages and illustrations from each novel, this presentation will show how an eighteenth-century author writing at the very beginnings of the industrial age conceived of the ways human energy could be coopted as a technology of colonization.

Zachary Price (Oregon State University, United States)
Theorizing Molecular Vitalism: Molecular Movement and Luminosity in Popular Film

ABSTRACT. Since the 2000s, popular cinema has increasingly used digital effects to plunge inside the bodies of their live-action characters and visualize a hidden molecular world. Animators base these effects off biological images of live-cell imaging. As Hannah Landecker has argued, the development of bio-fluorescent protein tags in the 1990s has increased the use of live-cell imaging in vivo, allowing scientists to capture the movement of molecules in crowded environments, which drastically affect gene expression. Landecker calls this focus on the movement of molecular processes “Molecular Vitalism.” Others, such as Nikolas Rose, similarly note within a biopolitical register, “a new mobility on the elements of life,” which enables molecules to be stripped of affinities, moved between bodies, and opened to new markets of exchange — what he calls “Molecular Vital Politics.”

How does the visualization of molecular movement, and the luminosity required to view it, shape today’s paradigm of life on screen? A series of recent popular films — Annihilation, Prometheus, BPM, Cemetery of Splendor — help to negotiate cultural understandings of Molecular Vitalism by reflecting on its impact to a general audience. These films momentarily suspend narrative progress to allow for live-cell imaging of their characters’ insides and argue that only through visual effects technologies can audiences keep pace with a character’s spontaneous and interior transformations. Examining molecular movement in popular film, at an aesthetic and production level, reveals the areas of cross-pollination between the movie industry and biological sciences in visualizing the emergent energies that define life in the 21st century.

Bibliography: 1. Hannah Landecker, “The Life of Movement: From Microcinematography to Live-Cell Imaging,” Journal of Visual Culture 11, no. 3 (2012): 378–99.

2. Nikolas S Rose, The Politics of Life Itself: Biomedicine, Power, and Subjectivity in the Twenty-First Century (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007).

Doug Stark (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, UK)
Aesthetic Exercise Machines: Video Game Training in Harun Farocki’s Serious Games and Parallel Series

ABSTRACT. From How to Live in the FRG to Parallel, the late Harun Farocki’s oeuvre regularly places in relief those quotidian labors and technological procedures that typically recede from conscious awareness. Towards the end of his career, Farocki produced two series – Serious Games I-IV and Parallel I-IV – offering meditations on a now ubiquitous, virtual vista for repeated practice: video games. Indeed, video games, various scholars have explored, function as veritable training grounds insofar as they cultivate player perceptual, cognitive, and sensory-motor capacities over time. This paper begins by attending to excerpts from Farocki’s Serious Games series in elaborating on how scholars have predominantly framed the video game’s training function as an intensification of power relations – a tacit form of psychosomatic militarization or economization. The paper’s second part then draws on excerpts from Farocki’s Parallel series to explore how the video game’s training function operates in excess of these instrumentalities. Commentators often implicitly cast Farocki’s films as exercises teaching us how watch film and attend to images more generally. Along similar lines, my contention is that Parallel serves as an aesthetic exercise teaching us to see the video game as, itself, a medium for aesthetic exercise. This claim is twofold: firstly, pace Alexander Baumgarten, that repeated play refines the player’s faculties, opening them to a greater manifold of experience; secondly, pace Gilbert Simondon, that this process is not reducible to psychosomatic capacitation. As Parallel I’s computer-generated image genealogy emphasizes, new experiential vistas result from properly machinic exercises developing human and technology simultaneously.

15:00-16:30 Session 12G: Arts Lounge: Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights: A Staged Reading
Kim Adams (New York University, United States)
Kim Adams (New York University, United States)
Vignesh Sridharan (New York University, United States)
William Page (Brown University, United States)
Arts Lounge: Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights: A Staged Reading

ABSTRACT. “Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights” by Gertrude Stein A staged reading

In Gertrude Stein’s 1938 revision of the Faust myth, Doctor Faustus sells his soul to invent electric light. Her libretto, “Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights,” is a classic of avant-garde theater in the United States, often performed as a play, and on at least two occasions scored as an opera. Recently the play was performed at Yale University’s Whitney Theater (2019) and at St. Ann’s Warehouse, in Brooklyn, New York in an adaptation by the Wooster Group (2005). We propose to perform a staged reading of the text as an art event at the 34th Annual Meeting of the Society for Literature, Science and the Arts in October 2021.

In the myth, and its many interpretations, Faustus sells his soul for celestial knowledge. When Stein replaces the demonic power of Goethe and Marlowe’s Faust with electric light, she reveals the Prometheus myth hidden beneath the devil’s bargain. Stein’s Faustus is a medical doctor as well—the female lovers of the many retellings are condensed into the character of “Marguerite Ida and Helena Annabel” who Faustus is called upon to cure. Her ailment, a viper’s bite, and Faustus’s intervention, link the spiritual poisons of humoral medicine with the scientific practices of modern medicine. Stein’s experimental language allows us to rethink the relationship between biomedical science, technology, and the arts in the early twentieth century and would contribute to an expansive discussion of energy, science, and literature at the conference.

In “Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights” energy takes the form of light: electric light, candle light, and starlight. The visual schema of our virtual performance will build upon these textual images and reference the drawings of costume and set designs produced by Oliver Messel, contemporary with the text’s initial publication, which are held in the Beinecke Library’s collections. Rather than the aesthetic of a Zoom call, where you see each of the speaker’s faces, we hope to show a more abstract visual representation of moving light during the performance. We are exploring collaboration with the Roger Williams Museum of Natural History and Planetarium, in Providence, RI, to produce an astronomy live stream that will accompany the reading.

The play will be read by members of the Electric Text reading group at New York University ( Roles have not yet been assigned, but the main characters of the play are Doctor Faustus, Mephisto, Marguerite Ida and Helena Annabel, a Boy and a Dog. We anticipate one reader per each part. The performance will be directed by Vignesh Sridharan, with production by Kim Adams, and music provided by William Page. We anticipate that the reading will last approximately an hour and ten minutes, leaving twenty minutes for audience talk-back and discussion.

15:00-16:30 Session 12H: Stream of Pre-Organized Panels "The Antipodean Stream" 1: Making Works of Art with Energies
Heather Contant (Università Ca' Foscari, Italy)
Heather Contant (Università Ca' Foscari, Italy)
Douglas Kahn (Sydney University, Australia)
Janine Randerson (Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand)
Rachel Shearer (Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand)
Claudia Arozqueta (University of New South Wales, Mexico)
Pia Van Gelder (Australian National University, Australia)
Stream of Pre-Organized Panels "The Antipodean Stream" 1: Making Works of Art with Energies

ABSTRACT. This stream consists of two panels: 

Panel 1 (Friday, October 1, 2021): Making Works of Art with Energies 

Panel 2 (Saturday, October 2, 2021): Creating Creative Movements with Energies

Antipodean Stream 1: Making Works of Art with Energies

ABSTRACT: This stream features research about energies and the arts emerging out of Australia and New Zealand. Focusing on non-extractive and non-fuel-based conceptions of energy throughout history, this stream features two panels from established and emerging scholars: the first highlighting various understandings of energy in the creation of specific artworks and the second delving into the relationships between energies—in this expanded sense—and historical movements.

  Our first panel, “Making Works of Art with Energies” discusses works of art that have dealt with various conceptions of energy from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It features original research on historical and contemporary case studies to illustrate how artists have elucidated, been inspired by, and worked with these diverse conceptions to produce individual projects and works of art. This panel also focuses on the importance of attending to an artists’ own descriptions and understandings of energy as a way to combat the hegemony of extractive energy conceptions and regimes.


Paper 1: "Extracting the Energy Humanities" by Douglas Kahn, University of Sydney

ABSTRACT: The field of energy humanities as currently practiced can more correctly be called energy resource humanities for its near exclusive attention to sources and systems of fuel and power generation or, in the vernacular of the last several decades, fossil fuels and their alternatives. The reduction of energy to energy resources echoes the reduction of physical transformations of what would now be called forms of energy to an abstracted energy in the nineteenth century. Select notions of what energy is inhibits accurate and complexly situated usages and understandings attending energies and predisposes a humanities that ignores longstanding activities of artists (in the general sense of the term). In the United States, artists did not start saying energy in the way energy humanities means it until the 1970s and have since invoked it in composite ways that may or may not refer to resources. Properly attending to the energies artists say, energies in their cognates, un/translations, salient associations, doings and making, requires collaborative means and analytical rigors that themselves would ground an energy humanities in less extraction.


Paper 2: "Hau: energies in phase change" by Janine Randerson, Auckland University of Technology and Rachel Shearer Auckland University of Technology

ABSTRACT: In what melts or evaporates, a gain of energy occurs. We consider this phenomenon in several artworks where te ao Māori, the Māori world, phase transitions, and more-than-human relations manifest. In the video The Beauty of Invisible Grief (2017) artist Jasmine Te Hira (Te Rarawa, Ngapuhi, Cook Islands, England) wears a hei tiki pendant made from frozen water of her ancestral awa, river. Bodily contact warms the ice pendant against her heart, molecules break apart, dissolving to ice, she shares her hau, translated as breath, wind and vitality. In the work Te Huri Wai: Wai, Hine-pu-nui-o-toka, Hine-aroraki, Hine-aroaro-pari, Hine-hauone, Hine-roriki, Hine-rotia (2021) Rachel Shearer (Pākehā, Rongowhakaata, Te Aitanaga ā Māhaki) and Cathy Livermore (Kai Tahu, Waitaha, Kati Mamoe) sonically navigate the interplay of hau as the breath of the personified winds and water, the fundamental elements of weather in the ancient stories of southern Aotearoa. Also on this southern isle, a glacier named Haupapa is an agent in Shearer and Randerson's sound, data sonification and video collaboration, along with glaciologist Heather Purdie and Kai Tahu kaumatua, elder, Ron Bull. Haupapa is an energetic phase changer from ice to wai, water, sublimation, and evaporation to hau, winds, gas. In physics, in a phase change, a corresponding energy must be dissipated to bring a form of cohesion, or higher form of order (Prigogone and Stengers, 1984). However, the glacier is more than a dissipative structure in the ablation zone, a barometer of climate change or a hydrological resource; we respond to living energy, life force, hau. From a Māori perspective, Kirikirikatata, the Mount Cook Range where the glacier resides, is genealogically tied to Aoraki, the highest peak and ancestor, binding the cosmological world of the atua, deities/ancestors to our present materializing and dematerializing world.


Paper 3: "Lighting Body Energies: Mark Boyle and Joan Hills’s Son et Lumière light shows" by Claudia Arozqueta

ABSTRACT: In the 1960s the Scottish London-based artists Mark Boyle and Joan Hills ideatedSon et Lumiere, a series of light and sound shows that explored various forms of body energy and its flow. Son et Lumière: Bodily Fluids and Functions involved amplification of heartbeats and respiration, the extraction of bodily secretions, and the exploration of physical exertion. Presented in London underground clubs, the explicit performances provoked controversial reactions in the public. This paper will study the Son et Lumière performances, the way it presents the body as a source of energy and as a fuel-dependent machine susceptible to dysfunctions and fatigue. The analysis is informed by my larger historical research project on the use of vital signs in the visual, media and sound arts.



15:00-16:30 Session 12I: Arts Lounge: Breath is a False Flag – A Guided VR Excursion and Conversation
Paul Catanese (Columbia College Chicago, United States)
Paul Catanese (Columbia College Chicago, United States)
Jane Prophet (University of Michigan, United States)
Arts Lounge: Breath is a False Flag – A Guided VR Excursion and Conversation

ABSTRACT. "Breath is a False Flag" is a work-in-progress, taking form as video-based studies, breath activated inflatable sculptures, virtual-reality environment(s), and networked performance(s). In these prototypes, breath, brain, and heart data from an ensemble of sleeping performers generates visual scores interpreted musically and spatially by non-sleeping ensemble members; they are the next phase of development of Paul Catanese’s multimodal opera "Century of Progress / Sleep".

Informed by Douglas Kahn’s expansive vision of energies in the arts, sleep may also be viewed as a plural, with operations and activities rooted in extraction, interconvertibility, and indefiniteness. Related observations from sleep science include that “wake” and “sleep” are not discrete states, but patterns that occur simultaneously, and in degrees. To paraphrase Buiatti and Longo from their paper on multilevel interactions in biology: Living system dynamics are not stable or unstable, but far from equilibrium processes that undergo a flow of energy; a simultaneous blend of stability and instability. In a certain sense, the body is asleep and awake at the same time. In this terrain, breath provides a through-line, a way to navigate, observe, and attend to roiling continents of sleep.

This work has been shaped by the events of the past eighteen months; a period defined by breath. During this time, watching breath as data, trying to hold breath (physically, conceptually, emotionally), the legibility, musicality, and potency of breath has emerged as an organizing principle for this work, which is guided by a series of questions: When is our breath no longer an extension of the body? When is one no longer responsible for their breath? What is the half-life of that responsibility? Was our breath ever our own?

ARTS LOUNGE Formulated as a guided “listening / viewing” experience and conversation within a browser-based VR environment hosted by Paul Catanese and Jane Prophet. Functioning as studio-visit, micro-performance, staging prototype, and conversation space, this lounge allows meeting inside the artwork as a setting for discussion. The excursion will last approximately forty-five minutes, with remaining time for conversation.

VR ENVIRONMENT We intend to use the Mozilla Hubs VR Platform. Mozilla Hubs works inside web browsers without any plugins, providing voice and text chat. It simultaneously supports participants joining via VR headset, or mobile devices.

ABOUT CENTURY OF PROGRESS / SLEEP Century of Progress / Sleep is a multimodal opera that has been developed in phases since 2016 that reflects on mischaracterizations of science, lawless theories of knowledge, and epistemological chaos. It has been realized in forms that include installation, virtual reality, solo performance, ensemble performance, performance in planetarium dome, and studio recording released as vinyl record with artist’s books.

PROJECT PARTNERS Research and development for "Breath is a False Flag" include the University of Michigan Stamps School of Art and Design, and U-M Sleep Research and Circadian Disorders Lab during a year+ long visiting artist association with Paul Catanese. Additional partners include: LivingArts Engine, the Performing Arts Technology Department, and the professional association, ASET / The Neurodiagonostic Society.

15:00-16:30 Session 12J: Roundtable: Coding Power: critical code studies approaches to the forms and limits of software in society
Jeremy Douglass (UC Santa Barbara, United States)
Mark Marino (ELO, United States)
Mark Marino (ELO, United States)
Jeremy Douglass (UC Santa Barbara, United States)
Lai-Tze Fan (University of Waterloo, Canada)
Zach Mann (University of Southern California, United States)
Sarah Ciston (University of Souther California, United States)
Roundtable: Coding Power: critical code studies approaches to the forms and limits of software in society

ABSTRACT. In the digital age, power and computer source code are increasingly coextensive -- our world is shaped by the power to read, write, and run code. Code is a means of production, commerce, wealth, and even thought, and it both consumes energy and exerts power as it is executed on networked digital machines. To address these concerns, we propose a round table, entitled “Coding Power: Critical code studies approaches to the forms and limits of software in society.” Rather than a series of talks, this free-flowing conversation will consider a variety of contemporary and historical contexts in which code intersects with energy and power.

Critical code studies (CCS) applies philosophical heuristics to the exploration of the extra-functional significance of computer source code (Marino 2006, 2020). This approach sees code not as the end of its investigation but rather as a means of exploring techno-culture. Using CCS methodologies, this roundtable will approach these code and software environments, analyzing both software objects and (where possible) code as well, treating the code as a cultural text signifying in its own way, contiguous with and yet adding onto and complicating the signification of the software itself. We will share what Jeremy Douglass (2011) calls “code snippets” in order to illustrate key observations. At issue will be the power that each object employs, exerts, and of course, encodes. Also at stake are the possibilities for us all to exert our own power over code through software literacy and through programming literacy, methods that Annette Vee (2017) has discussed as means of achieving power over the machines that surround us.

In discussion, participants will develop responses based on their active research into disparate legal, financial, consumer electronic, and literary-poetic objects, exploring how code limits or enables power through its symbolic form as well as through the processes it triggers. Topics include machine learning and cloud-based virtual assistants (Alexa), predictive policing algorithms (PredPol), cryptocurrency and private key mnemonics (Bitcoin and BIP-39), developing spaces for creative critical coding, and early computer poetry (Coetzee’s 1960s work on the Atlas 2 supercomputer). At issue: how code is imbricated with power and energy, and how reading and writing code collectively can and should empower cultural critique.

Douglass, J. (2011). Critical Code Studies Conference—Week Two Discussion. Electronic Book Review.

Marino, M. C. (2006). Critical Code Studies. Electronic Book Review, electropoetics. (Revised/extended in MIT 2020).

Vee, A. (2017). Coding Literacy: How Computer Programming Is Changing Writing. The MIT Press.