[-empyre-] Machine Dreams
Margaret J Rhee
mrhee at uoregon.edu
Thu May 25 14:33:42 AEST 2017
Thank you so much Saba for your's and Mark's insightful and enriching
comments. I relate to your thought and feelings of nostalgia, and I also
agree fully. There was something really magical, the collegiality and
creative spirits of everyone present, that is often lacking in academic
or creative spaces. It is what has connected everyone, in fruitful and
creative ways, and embodied a creative and intellectual community, much
like when I think about empyre, and how it brings so many people
I love how you describe the robot:
"The robot is both labor and lovelessness, both desire through absence
and free from the pain of desire, both part of the order of things and
outside of them. In a world that is increasingly torn between the
inherited value of empathy and the alleged progress of technology, these
questions inform the heart (or the core, the CPU, the code) that drives
our choices and the well-being of our communities, and remind us to
consider our own responsibilities with regard to material and
I love how you render the robot as tethered in between, or both "labor
and lovelessness," and appreciate how you turn to the zine, and how it
does "echo" "shadow" the discussion at the event, and the role of the
collective. In part the gathering was also both/and in terms of the
creative and critical, the inspiration of the robot demanded it.
"...we find an echo of those thoughts, see the shadows cast by those
conversations, and discover the kind of literary experience that can
truly open a door into such a world."
oh, and the dream! thank you Saba for your worlds, and words of dreaming
and dream space. in which we are all, and then both. i am still thinking
of these worlds, and love how you bring up literature can open a door.
i would love to hear your's and Mark's thoughts on the role of literary
and the digital in opening up these worlds?
On 2017-05-23 11:39, saba razvi wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Hello, everyone.
> I’m glad to be here to celebrate the recent publication of the
> Machine Dreams zine. I’m also delighted to join in on this
> conversation with all of you, here at _empyre_!
> It is with such nostalgia and delight that I think about the Machine
> Dreams Symposium, which truly brought together the collegial and
> creative spirits of inquiry and exploration in the context of an
> amazing topic. What I remember most fondly (in addition to the
> excitement of a staging that brought so many of us together in real
> time to talk about ideas that have significance and resonant
> importance to our worlds) is the way in which the event captured so
> many different avenues and perspectives, considered the idea of robot
> and machine and otherness from a number aspects that indulged
> possibility and promise. The sense of depth fostered by this approach
> embraced multiplicity, instead of pursuing the monolithic, bringing us
> into an encounter with what is one of the most important myths or
> metaphors of our present time: the robot. The robot is both labor and
> lovelessness, both desire through absence and free from the pain of
> desire, both part of the order of things and outside of them. In a
> world that is increasingly torn between the inherited value of empathy
> and the alleged progress of technology, these questions inform the
> heart (or the core, the CPU, the code) that drives our choices and the
> well-being of our communities, and remind us to consider our own
> responsibilities with regard to material and psychological terrain.
> That we can bring some of that dynamism into a continued discussion
> now just showcases the lasting relevance of issues raised at the the
> event, such as the nature of personhood, the role of the individual
> among the collective, the value of labor and curiosity in an
> increasingly automated world, the distance between a longing that
> creates discipline and the discipline that effaces desire entirely. In
> the pages of the collection “Machine Dreams”, we find an echo of
> those thoughts, see the shadows cast by those conversations, and
> discover the kind of literary experience that can truly open a door
> into such a world.
> Mark, you bring up the notion of what draws us, as artists, into the
> idea of the machine and how it relates to the fundamentally human
> aspect of dreaming.
> I find this engagement of ideas to be an incredibly ripe and rich
> resource for the imagination. We wonder (on the page/screen) if
> animals dream, if plants do, if robots do, how aliens or monsters
> do…as if somehow the act of having a dream — an experience that
> leaves us at the whim of a narrative that is not under our control and
> in which we have no agency, but often a sense of delight and
> fascination just the same — can make possible a connection or
> community, a meaningful exchange with another. The dream is an
> intimate space, almost a sacred one, tied into oneiromancy and
> romantic fantasy as much as goal-setting and productivity planning.
> The dream is both entirely mechanical, based on body processes that we
> do not control, and entirely biological, based on being psyches, at
> once; as such, it invites us to consider what makes us special, after
> all. Is it the ability to follow directions or create them, to process
> information or to process it with some synthesis into individual
> agency and motivation that matters? Are we interested in the fantasy
> of a singularity because it frightens or fascinates us, because we
> want to be creators and the created? Are we interested in how to
> control a fictional or potential robot because we want to know how to
> limit its agency to keep it from harming us or because we enjoy the
> power over a being that comes from deprivation of its agency, from its
> subjugation into commands and orders. How we answer this questions
> shapes the paths we take through the world, I think.
> As humans, and as artists, in a changing society aware of its state of
> flux (but not the consequences or courses those changes will invite),
> we are interested in the limits of our abilities as much as we are in
> maximizing our potential, as if knowing those boundaries could free us
> or create machine helpers to free us. Does it free us to give in to
> empathy or to reject it? Does it free us from the tyranny commands or
> grant us the freedom to give in to the glory of giving them? So much
> of being human has to do with vulnerability — or fragile, mortal
> bodies feel far less magnificent than the potential we might believe
> our consciousnesses to contain, but machines, too, break down and
> become bothersome — as durable as they are, they wear their designs
> and their constructedness on the outside, inviting deconstruction as
> much as investigation in a way that the privileged human in the
> Anthropocene does not. Alterity and empathy take on greater
> significance in these conversations. After all, designing something
> beyond the human does mean considering what human is — considering
> its flaws and its abilities, and how we define what those things might
> be in the context of globalization and decolonialization, war,
> environmental degradation, genuine diversity, and the allure of
> technological development that affords power or freedom. It also means
> considering what the role of the human is, by exploring what it is
> not, what it creates to reject a reflection of itself, its weaknesses
> and its vulnerabilities. These questions tie in to issues that I
> confront in my own poetry and in my own critical inquiry into
> literature, some of what most delighted me to see refracted in the
> symposium and the zine!
> These are some of the things that come to mind as I flip through the
> new collection and consider your own words. I’m looking forward to
> expanding on these avenues and exploring new ones, as this
> conversation develops!
> ——————————————On, Mon, 22 May 2017
> 08:45:04 -0700, Mark Marino
> Message: 2
> Date: Mon, 22 May 2017 08:45:04 -0700
> From: Mark Marino <markcmarino at gmail.com>
> To: empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> Subject: [-empyre-] Machine Dreams
> <CAN6oc6NQzGY4u1q_Q+TrgSNdSYEi23_iwZB1S41NgSjGSBhoew at mail.gmail.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
> Hi, Machine Dreamers,
> I'm so excited for this week's discussion. Our Machine Dreams
> was one I will not forget. For those of you who missed it, you can
> watch a
> somewhat pixelated version here.
> As I read over our publication from Machine Dreams, flip through the
> of Radio heart, or think about our time together, I'm struck by the
> humanity of the whirls with robots. Or rather, I'm struck by the
> parts of
> humanity that emerge from the whirls.
> Why are we so drawn to the machines of our machine dreams, as people,
> artists, as dreamers? I'm starting to think that it is not their
> to be completely human but instead their ability to fully embody one
> of the human attributes without manifesting the full meat sack of
> squishy embodied being. In other words, they allow us to imagine
> our humanity in part. Not metonymic but in isolation.
> An emotion. A logical flow. A sense of consideration without
> Knowledge without understanding.
> But our intense encounter with even that part of humanity -- that part
> humanity isolated from the whole -- is transformative.
> "I still hear you radio heart beating
> Inside the meat of mine."
> And of course, no doubt this partiality is part and parcel of our
> experience of one another.
> That is my first thought. Looking forward to our conversation.
> Mark Marino
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
Margaret Rhee, Ph.D.
Visiting Assistant Professor
Women's and Gender Studies
University of Oregon
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