Matthew Plummer-Fernandez: The Art of Bots: A Practice-based Study of the Multiplicity, Entanglements and Figuration of Sociocomputational Assemblages (2018)

11 July 2019, dusan

“This thesis examines and analyses an emerging art practice known as artbots. Artbots are internet-based software applications that are imbued with character and configured to engage and entertain online audiences. This form of practice, and the community of practice leading it, was found to be underrepresented and misunderstood. I argue that this artform is original and warrants a more thorough understanding. This thesis develops a conceptual framework for understanding artbots that focuses on and enables questioning around pertinent aspects of the practice.

A wide range of literature was reviewed to provide theoretical underpinnings towards this framework, including literature on algorithm studies, science and technology studies, and software architecture. The devised framework examines artbot case studies through the notions of multiplicity, entanglement, and figuration, having understood artbots as heterogenous sociocomputational assemblages comprised of software components and human intraactivity.

The research followed a varied methodology that encompassed participant observation and my own practice-based experiments in producing artbots. The study resulted in several original works. In addition, a showcase titled Art of Bots brought together key proponents and artbots, further providing material that is analysed in this thesis. The study helped identify and discuss artbots with attention to how they utilise modular software components in novel arrangements, how normative human and nonhuman relations of interaction are being eschewed in favour of entangled interrelations, and how artbots challenge common narratives dictating technological constructs by inventing unique characters and figurations.”

Doctoral thesis
Publisher Goldsmiths, University of London, 2018
Creative Commons BY-NC-ND License
218 pages

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Elizabeth A. Povinelli: Geontologies: A Requiem to Late Liberalism (2016)

1 January 2018, dusan

“In Geontologies Elizabeth A. Povinelli continues her project of mapping the current conditions of late liberalism by offering a bold retheorization of power. Finding Foucauldian biopolitics unable to adequately reveal contemporary mechanisms of power and governance, Povinelli describes a mode of power she calls geontopower, which operates through the regulation of the distinction between Life and Nonlife and the figures of the Desert, the Animist, and the Virus. Geontologies examines this formation of power from the perspective of Indigenous Australian maneuvers against the settler state. And it probes how our contemporary critical languages—anthropogenic climate change, plasticity, new materialism, antinormativity—often unwittingly transform their struggles against geontopower into a deeper entwinement within it. A woman who became a river, a snakelike entity who spawns the fog, plesiosaurus fossils and vast networks of rock weirs: in asking how these different forms of existence refuse incorporation into the vocabularies of Western theory Povinelli provides a revelatory new way to understand a form of power long self-evident in certain regimes of settler late liberalism but now becoming visible much further beyond.”

Publisher Duke University Press, 2016
ISBN 9780822362111, 0822362112
xii+218 pages

Reviews: Shela Sheikh (Avery Review, 2017), Robin Wright (Society+Space, 2017), Timothy Neale (2017).

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Alexander G. Weheliye: Habeas Viscus: Racializing Assemblages, Biopolitics, and Black Feminist Theories of the Human (2014)

11 November 2017, dusan

Habeas Viscus focuses attention on the centrality of race to notions of the human. Alexander G. Weheliye develops a theory of ‘racializing assemblages,’ taking race as a set of sociopolitical processes that discipline humanity into full humans, not-quite-humans, and nonhumans. This disciplining, while not biological per se, frequently depends on anchoring political hierarchies in human flesh. The work of the black feminist scholars Hortense Spillers and Sylvia Wynter is vital to Weheliye’s argument. Particularly significant are their contributions to the intellectual project of black studies vis-à-vis racialization and the category of the human in western modernity. Wynter and Spillers configure black studies as an endeavor to disrupt the governing conception of humanity as synonymous with white, western man. Weheliye posits black feminist theories of modern humanity as useful correctives to the ‘bare life and biopolitics discourse’ exemplified by the works of Giorgio Agamben and Michel Foucault, which, Weheliye contends, vastly underestimate the conceptual and political significance of race in constructions of the human. Habeas Viscus reveals the pressing need to make the insights of black studies and black feminism foundational to the study of modern humanity.”

Publisher Duke University Press, Durham, 2014
ISBN 9780822356912, 0822356910
x+209 pages

Reviews: Ashon Crawley (LARB, 2015), Marianna Szczygielska (Parallax, 2015), Aditi Surie von Czechowski (Comp Stud South Asia, Africa and Middle East, 2015), Marianela Munoz and Charles Holm (Afro-Paradise, 2015), Megan H. Glick (Hypatia Rev, 2015), Shelleen Greene (Somatechnics, 2016), Amber Jamilla Musser (philoSOPHIA, 2016), Gabriela Radulescu (Allegra Lab, 2016), Ander Mendiguren Nebreda (Athenea Digital, 2017, ES).

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