Eric Snodgrass: Executions: Power and Expression in Networked and Computational Media (2017)

15 August 2017, dusan

“This book looks at questions of power and expression as they are composed in various ways within networked and computationally-informed situations of the present. Drawing from the term as it is originally invoked in practices of computing, the research puts forward execution as a central conceptual framework for its investigations. In a computer program, a program becomes executable when it is able to execute a set of procedures within a designated set of relations and affordances. Similarly, the concept of execution developed here looks at the ongoing negotiations of various formative relations and affordances (technical, cultural, material, political) in practices of execution, describing certain notable techniques applied towards the task of making things executable.

The examples looked at include several dominant media and technology practices of the present, as well as several alternative practices that point to other possible modes of execution. In doing so, the research highlights certain politically-orientated issues involved in questions of execution, working to further develop specific approaches aimed at describing, questioning and intervening into practices of execution as they occur in the world.”

Doctoral Dissertation in Media and Communication Studies
Publisher Malmö University, Malmö, 2017
New Media, Public Spheres and Forms of Expression series, 11
Creative Commons BY-NC 4.0 International
ISBN 9789171045065
332 pages
via fcr

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Aymeric Mansoux: Sandbox Culture: A Study of the Application of Free and Open Source Software Licensing Ideas to Art and Cultural Production (2017)

7 July 2017, dusan

“In partial response to the inability of intellectual property laws to adapt to data-sharing over computer networks, several initiatives have proposed techno-legal alternatives to encourage the free circulation and transformation of digital works. These alternatives have shaped part of contemporary digital culture for more than three decades and are today often associated with the “free culture” movement. The different strands of this movement are essentially derived from a narrower concept of software freedom developed in the 1980s, and which is enforced within free and open source software (FLOSS) communities. This principle was the first significant effort to articulate a reusable techno-legal template to work around the limitations of intellectual property laws. It also offered a vision of network culture where community participation and sharing was structural.

From alternate tools and workflow systems, artist-run servers, network publishing experiments, open data and design lobbies, cooperative and collaborative frameworks, but also novel copyright licensing used by both non-profit organisations and for-profit corporations, the impact on cultural production of practices developed in relation to the ideas of FLOSS has been both influential and broadly applied. However, if it is true that FLOSS has indeed succeeded in becoming a theoretical and practical model for the transformation of art and culture, the question remains at which ways it has provided such a model, how it has been effectively appropriated across different groups and contexts and in what ways these overlap or differ.

Using the image of the sandbox, where code becomes a constituent device for different communities to experience varying ideologies and practices, this dissertation aims to map the consequent levels of divergence in interpreting and appropriating the free and open source techno-legal template. This thesis identifies the paradoxes, conflicts, and contradictions within free culture discourse. It explores the tensions between the wish to provide a theoretical universal definition of cultural freedom, and the disorderly reality of its practice and interpretation. However, despite the different layers of cultural diffusion, appropriation, misunderstanding and miscommunication that together form the fabric of free culture, this dissertation argues that, even though feared, fought, and criticised, these issues are not signs of dysfunctionality but are instead the evidence of cultural diversity within free culture. This dissertation will also demonstrate that conflicts between and within these sandboxes create a democratic process that permits the constant transformation of the free and open source discourse, and is therefore something that should be embraced and neither resisted nor substituted for a universal approach to cultural production.”

Includes an anthology of proto-free culture licenses, 1998-2002 (pp 382-452).

PhD Dissertation
Supervisor: Matthew Fuller
Publisher Centre of Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths, University of London, 2017
xxxviii+486 pages
via author

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Kim West: The Exhibitionary Complex: Exhibition, Apparatus and Media from Kulturhuset to the Centre Pompidou, 1963-1977 (2017)

18 March 2017, dusan

This doctoral thesis “studies the new Information Center model of the art museum that was developed by a group of artists, curators, architects, and activists connected to Moderna Museet in Stockholm between the mid-1960s and the mid-1970s. Through close readings of Moderna Museet’s unrealized Kulturhuset project, and a series of related attempts at rethinking the exhibition and the museum in relation to new information technologies, systems, and networks, it traces the origins, the critical implications, and the effects of this model, according to which the museum should function at once as a catalyst for the active forces in society, a vast experimental laboratory, and a broadcasting station.

In this study, the museum is understood as an exhibitionary apparatus, the specific characteristics of which are configured in relation to other apparatuses for display, distribution, and interaction, which together form an exhibitionary complex, caught in a process of gradual integration with the expanding network of cybernetic media. The study asks under what conditions the exhibitionary apparatus might preserve its particular modes of social and aesthetic experience, while acting as a transformative force on and through the new information environments.”

PhD dissertation in Aesthetics, School of Culture and Education, Södertörn University
Publisher Södertörn University, Stockholm, 2017
Open access
ISBN 9789187843761
359 pages

Review: Anders Kreuger (Kunstkritikk, 2017).

DiVA

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Lucie Vágnerová: Sirens/Cyborgs: Sound Technologies and the Musical Body (2016)

6 November 2016, dusan

“This dissertation investigates the political stakes of women’s work with sound technologies engaging the body since the 1970s by drawing on frameworks and methodologies from music history, sound studies, feminist theory, performance studies, critical theory, and the history of technology. Although the body has been one of the principal subjects of new musicology since the early 1990s, its role in electronic music is still frequently shortchanged. I argue that the way we hear electro-bodily music has been shaped by extra-musical, often male-controlled contexts. I offer a critique of the gendered and racialized foundations of terminology such as “extended,” “non-human,” and “dis/embodied,” which follows these repertories. In the work of American composers Joan La Barbara, Laurie Anderson, Wendy Carlos, Laetitia Sonami, and Pamela Z, I trace performative interventions in technoscientific paradigms of the late twentieth century.

The voice is perceived as the locus of the musical body and has long been feminized in musical discourse. The first three chapters explore how this discourse is challenged by compositions featuring the processed, broadcast, and synthesized voices of women. I focus on how these works stretch the limits of traditional vocal epistemology and, in turn, engage the bodies of listeners. In the final chapter on musical performance with gesture control, I question the characterization of hand/arm gesture as a “natural” musical interface and return to the voice, now sampled and mapped onto movement. Drawing on Cyborg feminist frameworks which privilege hybridity and multiplicity, I show that the above composers audit the dominant technoscientific imaginary by constructing musical bodies that are never essentially manifested nor completely erased.”

PhD Dissertation
Publisher Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Columbia University, 2016
Advisor: Ellie M. Hisama
242 pages

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Sophia Roosth: Crafting Life: A Sensory Ethnography of Fabricated Biologies (2010)

25 August 2016, dusan

“This ethnography tracks a diverse set of practices I term ‘constructive biologies,’ by which I mean efforts in the post-genomic life sciences to understand how biology works by making new biological things. I examine five fields of constructive biology – synthetic biology, DIY biology, hyperbolic crochet, sonocytology, and molecular gastronomy – investigating how they are enmeshed in sensory engagements that employ craftwork as a means of grasping biology.

Synthetic biology is a community of bioengineers who aim to fabricate standardized biological systems using genetic components and manufacturing principles borrowed from engineering. DIY biology is a community of “biohackers” who appropriate synthetic biologists’ terminologies, standards, and commitment to freely exchanging biomaterials in order to do hobbyist biological engineering in their homes. The Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef is a distributed venture of thousands of women who are cooperatively fabricating a series of yarn and plastic coral reefs in order to build a material simulation of oceanic morphologies and evolutionary theories. Sonocytology, a technique in nanotechnology research, uses scanning probe microscopes to “listen to” cellular vibrations and “feel” the topologies of cells and cellular components. Molecular gastronomy is a movement in which practitioners – physical chemists and biochemists who study food, and chefs who apply their results – use biochemical principles and laboratory apparatuses to further cooking and the culinary arts.

In analyzing these fields, I draw on histories of experimental biology, anthropological accounts of artisanship, science studies work on embodiment and tacit knowledge in scientific practice, and sensory ethnography. Based on data gathered from participant-observation and interviewing, I argue for thinking about making new biological things as a form of ‘crafting,’ an analytic that illuminates five aspects of contemporary biological manufacture: 1) sensory cultivation, 2) ongoing participation with biological media and forms, 3) the integration of making biological things and practitioners’ selfmaking, 4) the embedding of social relations, interests, norms, and modes of exchange in built artifacts, and 5) the combination of making and knowing. In this study, I argue that both biology the substance and biology the discipline are currently being remade, and that increasingly, life scientists apprehend ‘life’ through its manufacture.”

Dissertation thesis
Supervisor: Stefan Helmreich
Publisher Massachussetts Institute of Technology, September 2010
326 pages

Publisher

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