[-empyre-] Welcome to Anne Balsamo our guest moderator for May, 2012:, Designing Culture: The Technological Imagination at Work

Anne Balsamo annebalsamo at gmail.com
Thu May 3 10:01:49 EST 2012

May 2012 on -empyre- soft_skinned space
Designing Culture: The Technological Imagination at Work
Moderated by Anne Balsamo (US).
http://empyre.library.cornell.edu/ <http://empyre.library.cornell.edu/>
Thank you to Renate and Tim for the invitation to participate in the
empire-soft_skinned space forum. Hello to Ana Valdez--so wonderful to read
your words on empyre the previous month.
As Renate described, Each week for the month of May, I will engage guest
participants in discussions about the ³technological imagination at work.²
This notion is developed in my recent book:  Designing Culture: The
Technological Imagination at Work (Duke University Press, 2011).
The book is an extended examination of the relationship between culture and
technological innovation based on my experiences working on and with
innovative technologies in a US context during the past twenty years.
Central to my analysis is the creative work and world-making labor of the
technological imagination:
I elaborate it as follows:
³The wellspring of technological innovation is the exercise of the
technological imagination.  This is a quality of mind that enables people to
think with technology, to transform what is known into what is possible.

This imagination is performative; it improvises within constraints to create
something new. It is through the exercise of their technological
imaginations that people engage the materiality of the world to create the
conditions for future world making.

In the active engagement between human beings and technological elements,
culture too is reworked through the development of new narratives, new
myths, new rituals, new modes of expression, and new knowledges that make
the innovations meaningful. When people participate in the activities of
producing ³innovation,² their technological imaginations are engaged in a
complex process of meaning making whereby both technology and culture are
created anew. What gets reproduced is a particular (and historically
specific) form of technoculture.²
Roughly, the month¹s discussion follows a trajectory from considering the
work of the technological imagination at the ³meso² level of innovation‹with
a focus on the design practices of those who were formally employed or
engaged at institutional sites of innovation‹to a consideration of the
³micro² level of the work of innovation that unfolds on the streets, in the
shops, and other makerspaces around the world.  Weeks three and four will
feature two projects of the technological imagination that specifically
focus on innovation in the service of ³public good.²  The first focuses on
the creation of a global curriculum in feminist technologies studies, the
second addresses the creation of public interactives that support the
cultural rembering and research on the history of AIDS and the AIDS Memorial
Weekly topics on empyre-soft_skinned space:
WEEK 1:  Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration:  ART, SCIENCE, DESIGN,

The guest discussants this week all worked at XEROX PARC and participated in
the famous PAIR Program (PARC Artist-In-Residence) in the 1990s-2000.  Scott
Minneman (US) and Dale MacDonald (US), long-time PARC research scientists
and engineers, collaborated on several projects with well-known digital
media artists Jon Winet (US), Margaret Crane (US), and Mark Meadows (US,
France). During this week¹s forum, we will discuss the practices of
collaboration across disciplinary and professional domains to explore the
productive (or not) tensions and inspirations that emerge from truly
cross-disciplinary collaborations to create innovative technology-based art.

Each discussant with begin by offering a bit longer biography and
reflections on their cross-domain collaborations.

WEEK 2: Tinkering in a Digital Age: Innovation from the Ground Up
The guest participants this week are actively engaged in the creation and
curation of DIY culture in the United States. They each have
cross-disciplinary backgrounds and practices that merge
art-science-design-engineering. Nitin Sahweny (US) established Voices Beyond
Walls initiative to conduct digital storytelling youth media workshops in
Palestinian refugee camps.  Andrew Schrock (US) is co-editing a dynamic-book
(d-book) called Ways of the Hand: Tinkering in a Digital Age (with Anne
Balsamo).  Cara Wallis (US) studies the media use and creation practices of
users in Mainland China, and brings to the discussion insights about the
cultural logics of the production of Shanzhaiji.
WEEK 3:  FEMTECHNET:  A Massively Distributed Online Curriculum for teaching
courses in Feminist Technology Studies
Very recently, Alex Juhasz (US) and Anne Balsamo (US) initiated the
activation of a global network of feminist scholars of science and
technology with the aim of creating a digital curriculum of pedagogical
materials that include historical as well as contemporary feminist
scholarship and research.  This effort coincided with the creation of a new
digital platform, called FEMBOT, created by Carole Stabile (US) and Kim
Sawchuk (CA) to stage discussions about feminist technology and media
studies. Discussion this week will include people engage in the FEMTECHNET
project and the FEMBOT platform.
WEEK 4:  Digital Humanities and Cultural Memorials:  Building the Digital
Experiences to support the display of the AIDS Memorial Quilt
In the summer of 2012, the AIDS Memorial Quilt will be on display in venues
throughout Washington DC, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the initial
creation of the Quilt.  The Quilt will be featured in the Smithsonian
Folklife Festival (June 27-July 8th).  In July 2012, the AIDS Memorial Quilt
will be laid out (for the first time since 1996) on the National Mall in
Washington in conjunction with the XIX International AIDS Conference (also
happening in DC at that time).  Guest participants this week include Paula
Treichler (US) and Alex Juhasz (US) discussing the cultural significance of
the AIDS Memorial Quilt.

Thank you for reading, I look forward to a lively month of discussions.



On 5/2/12 7:50 AM, "Renate Ferro" <rtf9 at cornell.edu> wrote:

> Welcome to Anne Balsamo (US)  for the May 2012 on -empyre-
> soft_skinned space, Designing Culture: The Technological Imagination
> at Work
> I met Anne at Irvine at the Digital Arts and Culture conference a
> couple of years ago.  It was before her book Designing Culture was
> published but our conversations revolved around the subject of
> tinkering which for both of us was an important part of the creative
> process.  Anne's book now out is the one that I recommend to all of my
> art, architecture and engineering students both undergraduates and
> graduates as they begin their collaborative work in prototyping
> physical computing projects. I am thrilled that she accepted the
> invitation to moderate this month's discussion and I look forward to
> her guest's discussion in our -empyre soft-skinned space.
> A bit about the month--Each week for the month of May, Anne Balsamo
> will engage guest participants in discussions about the ³technological
> imagination at work.²   The conversations will explore topics that
> focus on practices and projects that ³take culture seriously² as a
> platform for technological innovation.  These projects‹and indeed the
> participants‹demonstrate the rich possibilities when cultural theory
> animates the technological imagination. She will be sending out this
> month's introduction soon but I would like to welcome her to -empyre.
> Her biography is below.
> Anne Balsamo (US): Biography
> In her new book, Designing Culture: The Technological Imagination at
> Work (Duke, 2011), Anne Balsamo offers a manifesto for rethinking the
> role of culture in the process of technological innovation in the 21th
> century.  Based on her years of experience as an educator, new media
> designer, research scientist and entrepreneur, the book offers a
> series of lessons about the cultivation of the technological
> imagination and the cultural and ethical implications of emergent
> technologies.  Balsamo is full professor at the University of Southern
> California, where she holds joint appointments in the Annenberg School
> of Communication and the Interactive Media Division of the School of
> Cinematic Arts.  From 2004-2007, she served as the Director of the
> Institute for Multimedia Literacy at USC where she created one of the
> first academic programs in multimedia literacy across the curriculum.
> She was one of the co-founders of HASTAC (the Humanities Arts Science
> Technology Advanced Collaboratory)--an international virtual network
> that promotes the work of the digital humanities.  In 2002, she
> co-founded, Onomy Labs, Inc. a Silicon Valley technology design and
> fabrication company that builds cultural technologies.  Previously she
> was a member of RED (Research on Experimental Documents), a
> collaborative research-design group at Xerox PARC who created
> experimental reading devices and new media genres.  She served as
> project manager and new media designer for the development of RED's
> interactive museum exhibit, XFR: Experiments in the Future of Reading
> that toured Science/Technology Museums in the U.S. from 2000-2003.
> Her earlier book, Technologies of the Gendered Body: Reading Cyborg
> Women (Duke UP, 1996) investigated the social and cultural
> implications of emergent bio-technologies.
> Her curatorial and design work includes several projects of ³public
> humanities,² including an interactive documentary of the 1995 NGO
> Forum at the 4th UN Conference on Women, an exhibition for the
> International Museum of Women, a webcast of the 1996 Summer Olympic
> Games, and, most recently (and currently) a series of digital
> experiences to support the exhibition of the AIDS Memorial Quilt (The
> Quilt in the Capital) in Washington DC in the summer of 2012.  Her
> areas of research focus on the cultural implications of emergent
> technologies, the design of public interactives, and the distributed
> museum.  She has received support for this research from the MacArthur
> Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and through the National
> Endowment for the Humanities Digital Start-Up Grants.  Her first book,
> Technologies of the Gendered Body: Reading Cyborg Women (Duke UP,
> 1996) investigated the social and cultural implications of emergent
> bio-technologies.  Drawing on this early work in feminism and
> technology studies, she is now involved in a global effort to build a
> massively distributed online curriculum called FEMTECHNET that will
> support the simultaneous delivery of a network of embodied and online
> courses during September ­ December 2012.

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