[-empyre-] to jacob & homay

Rob Jackson robertjackson3900 at gmail.com
Sat Jun 16 04:48:08 EST 2012

Hey all,

I'm really sorry if I'm slightly hijacking the thread here, but I too have been working
with Turing in my thesis on the non-human formalisation of computability theory. I
would be extremely interested to hear more from Homay's article on this (I consider myself as
a bit of layman when it comes to queer theory, so please put up with my ignorance!) I really, really
would love to hear these positions.

I work in the digital aesthetics, SR/OOO and computer science, so this thread is like a candy shop
for me. In fact my thesis (should I ever get it finished) is about how issues like the uncomputable, undecidability and other
unsolvable problems factor into aesthetic works, and how it does so implicitly or explicitly. My contribution
(or intervention as one would put it) is to suggest that undecidability - or Turing's formulation of the decision problem - is 
more general than is usually advertised in computer science. It occurs not just between humans aping for knowledge from some 
homogenous totality that is 'computation', but is everpresent in-between formal language systems themselves. It is not just the case that 
human knowledge has little complete mastery of computation; even computable systems have no mastery over other computable systems 
such is the complexity of them. Networks do not operate as fluid modes of informal flux; they are creaky and impure formal systems, comprised 
of modular compositions, operatively rubbing against others.

Uncomputability in-between formal systems of an equivalent language is the reason as to why glitches and especially viruses occur - 
its linked to what the exploit programmer Halvar Flake  recently called the "weird machine" - A weird machine is the unexpected state 
of a computing system which was not expected nor intended by the original author, but is nonetheless algorithmically recognisable 
in the formal language. If a language is shown to be undecidable, its permanently ambiguous, and thus it will always recognise something it can never expect/compute.

I have more detailed thoughts regarding this in a recent talk for those interested: [http://robertjackson.info/index/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/particmaterial.pdf]

It seems to me that human rationality is usually pitted in contrast with machines which are viewed either as; dumb surface 
tools reduced to the depths of human communication - or -  artificial systems which (may) have the capacity for sentience - or - material based historical notation devices. 
Why aren't they just looked as what they are and all the weirdness they contain? 
We shouldn't be too quick to align some previous philosophical system or political agenda and use it to dissect something or other - I think it's much more fruitful (and dare I say more honest) to build a philosophical system from the weirdness of things and systems.

I read Turing along these lines; a great philosopher, not just a great mathematician and engineer, 
A lot of popular literature (Martin Davis for instance) likes to separate the decision problem from Turing's later work on machinic intelligence (the 
Turing test is about the interrogator failing to decide on an input query!) and his forays into morphogenesis - but I don't think this can be done - I think the surprising irreducible quality of machines emerges throughout the Turing corpus. 

I don't really have an opinion regarding the links between Turing's sexuality and his work, but I do find it interesting 
that Turing's original formulation of the Turing test, was an interrogator trying to decide which messages were from a man or a woman (and then you substitute the man for 
the machine leaving the undecidable choice between a machine and a woman).

I'll stop - wrote too much again - sorry
thanks for hosting this important thread - look forward to the contributing debate.


I think the important element here, especially when one is talking about viruses, glitches

On 15 Jun 2012, at 18:14, micha cárdenas wrote:

> Here's one of those videos we're submitting to MIX that is part of Shu
> Lea Cheang's viral code spam performance:
> https://vimeo.com/37978993
> On Fri, Jun 15, 2012 at 10:08 AM, Zach Blas <zachblas at gmail.com> wrote:
>> hi all--
>> i’ve also been busy with micha putting together a curated set of
>> videos for mix nyc, a queer experimental video festival.
>> since this week is broadly on the topic of computation and the
>> nonhuman in queer media art & theory--and since it’s the last day on
>> this topic, i’d really like to bring in jacob and homay. while
>> michael, jack, and ian have really heated up the discussions on sr and
>> ooo, homay and jacob have different approaches to these topics that
>> i’d like to not let get completely side-lined.
>> jacob, micha and i for awhile have been interested in viruses. i was
>> thinking about viruses in relation to your work on uncomputability. in
>> the exploit, galloway and thacker talk about viruses as illegible and
>> incalculable. the virus also shows up in shu lea cheang’s new work
>> UKI, which she refers to as a live viral code spam performance.
>> http://www.u-k-i.co/index-project.html i’m also thinking about ricardo
>> dominguez and the electronic disturbance theater and how they’ve
>> conceptualized some of their work as viruses infecting capital and
>> dominant systems of power. i wonder if you have any thoughts on the
>> virus. perhaps it can be paired with the glitch. but the nonhuman in
>> queerness could also be approached through nonhuman things that have
>> strongly impacted queerness, and the virus would certainly be one of
>> those things. there’s a new issue of women studies quarterly on the
>> viral. maybe some people are addressing these questions in there? i’m
>> asking these questions and bringing up the virus because i’m curious
>> about building the repertoire of queer tech logics you’ve discussed
>> through and beyond failure and the glitch.
>> homay, micha shared your work on turing with me. and i remember in
>> your article you attempt to work through how Turing’s scientific and
>> computational research could be infused with his erotic desires. could
>> you say more about this? and maybe how turing helps you investigate
>> how queer desire can shape or affect computation?
>> --
>> zach blas
>> artist & phd candidate
>> literature, information science + information studies, visual studies
>> duke university
>> www.zachblas.info
>> _______________________________________________
>> empyre forum
>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
> -- 
> micha cárdenas
> PhD Student, Media Arts and Practice, University of Southern California
> Provost Fellow, University of Southern California
> New Directions Scholar, USC Center for Feminist Research
> MFA, Visual Arts, University of California, San Diego
> Author, The Transreal: Political Aesthetics of Crossing Realities,
> http://amzn.to/x8iJcY
> blog: http://transreal.org
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre

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