[-empyre-] Welcome to Week 3 on -empyre-: Internet/Online Representation

B. Bogart ben at ekran.org
Wed Apr 22 10:41:59 AEST 2015

Hello Soraya,

Phantasmal Media looks very interesting, thanks for mentioning it. I
have many questions now after this brief introduction and perusing the
book description on the MIT press website. By virtue of computational
media being "expressive" does not also imply it's imbued with ideology?

Personally, I see computation as any other media, imbued with
affordances that privilege particular uses. (This is getting close to
another -empyre- topic on tools.) The notion of "phantasms" is very
resonant in the context of my interest in mind wandering and dreaming as
processes of internal simulation (imagining oneself in different
scenarios). I have wondered whether all media are externalizations of
these processes of internal simulation. This is especially interesting
when one considers the links between black and white narrative media and
dreams (for details, see footnote *). It seems reasonable that identity
would play into this, as we could even consider self itself as a
function of social interactions and the sense of other as other and not

There is clearly an issue with diversity of viewpoints and values in
computation and I have often wondered about how operating systems would
be designed if computers originated outside of the western world.

* Schwitzgebel, E. (2002). Why did we think we dreamed in black and
white? Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A, 33(4),
649–660. http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/267/1/dreamb&w010430.pdf


On 15-04-21 02:43 PM, Soraya Murray wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space---------------------- Thanks to
> Anna and Ben for jumping in and engaging so much!
> I hope for more of this -- and of course there is much room for
> vigorous debate, especially in such an interdisciplinary gathering.
> And, insofar as new media is concerned, learning what the key debates
> around the interstices of identity are—and how to even give adequate
> expression to them—is still in process. I'm excited that -empyre- is
> supporting this, and encourage other listeners to join in.
> One of the recent texts I've been chewing on, as regards the
> relationship between computer science and specific subjectivities is
> D. Fox Harrell's recent work, Phantasmal Media (2013). Though I am in
> a different discipline, and it is clearly directed toward a computer
> science audience, I'm very interested in the way it asserts that all
> media (including computational) are expressive, and that they
> construct and manifest "phantasms". He describes phantasms not as
> specters, but as "combinations of mental images and and ideology
> constructed  by embodied, distributed, and situated cognitive
> processes" (343) and "cognitive phenomena that include sense of self,
> metaphors, social categories, narrative, and poetic thinking— [that]
> influence almost all our everyday experiences."  (from the book
> description) Among his many arguments, he seems to advocate for
> considering the centrality of this while a computational system is
> being developed, to allow for expanded potentials around how we think
> about and include a broader range of cultural norms and capacities.
> This strikes me as a direct and also very unabashed statement about
> the cultural narrowness of existing systems, and a call to do
> better-- but it's all within the language of computational science.
> As someone in visual studies, this is an approach that differs from
> how I might come at it. In my own discipline, we've long since
> understood how subjectivity plays its role in and through expressions
> within our own objects of study (though we may debate the degree to
> which it should inform our understanding). But Harrell's work seems
> to represent an intervention into issues of representation and
> identity politics at play in computational media. At the very least,
> he puts ideology at the center of a conversation that usually places
> it at the activist fringe.  It's not my intention to "cheerlead" for
> this text, and it may be that this intervention has been made in
> other areas of software studies. However, my experience of software
> studies theorization (except, perhaps, Wendy Chun) definitely falls
> squarely into formal discussion.
> Soraya
> ___________________________ Soraya Murray, Ph.D. Assistant Professor
>  Film + Digital Media Department University of California, Santa
> Cruz
> _______________________________________________ empyre forum 
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au http://empyre.library.cornell.edu

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