D. Fox Harrell: Phantasmal Media: An Approach to Imagination, Computation, and Expression (2013)

13 May 2018, dusan

“An argument that great expressive power of computational media arises from the construction of phantasms—blends of cultural ideas and sensory imagination.

In Phantasmal Media, D. Fox Harrell considers the expressive power of computational media. He argues, forcefully and persuasively, that the great expressive potential of computational media comes from the ability to construct and reveal phantasms—blends of cultural ideas and sensory imagination. These ubiquitous and often-unseen phantasms—cognitive phenomena that include sense of self, metaphors, social categories, narrative, and poetic thinking—influence almost all our everyday experiences. Harrell offers an approach for understanding and designing computational systems that have the power to evoke these phantasms, paying special attention to the exposure of oppressive phantasms and the creation of empowering ones. He argues for the importance of cultural content, diverse worldviews, and social values in computing. The expressive power of phantasms is not purely aesthetic, he contends; phantasmal media can express and construct the types of meaning central to the human condition.

Harrell discusses, among other topics, the phantasm as an orienting perspective for developers; expressive epistemologies, or data structures based on subjective human worldviews; morphic semiotics (building on the computer scientist Joseph Goguen’s theory of algebraic semiotics); cultural phantasms that influence consensus and reveal other perspectives; computing systems based on cultural models; interaction and expression; and the ways that real-world information is mapped onto, and instantiated by, computational data structures.

The concept of phantasmal media, Harrell argues, offers new possibilities for using the computer to understand and improve the human condition through the human capacity to imagine.”

Publisher MIT Press, 2013
ISBN 9780262019330, 0262019337
xix+420 pages

Reviews: John Harwood (Artforum, 2014), Brian Reffin Smith (Leonardo, 2015).



Matteo Pasquinelli (ed.): Alleys of Your Mind: Augmented Intelligence and Its Traumas (2015)

10 November 2015, dusan

“One day, it will not be arbitrary to reframe twentieth century thought and its intelligent machines as a quest for the positive definition of error, abnormality, trauma, and catastrophe—a set of concepts that need to be understood
 in their cognitive, technological and political composition. It may be surprising for some to find out that Foucault’s history of biopower and technologies of the self share common roots with cybernetics and its early error friendly universal machines. Or to learn that the desiring machines, which “continually break down as they run, and in fact run only when they are not functioning properly” (Deleuze and Guattari), were in fact echoing research on war traumas and brain plasticity from the First World War. Across the history of computation (from early cybernetics to artificial intelligence and current algorithmic capitalism) both mainstream technology and critical responses to it have shared a common belief in the determinism and positivism of the instrumental or technological rationality, to use the formulations of the Frankfurt School. Conversely, the aim of this anthology is to rediscover the role of error, trauma and catastrophe in the design of intelligent machines and the theory of augmented cognition. These are timely and urgent issues: the media hype of singularity occurring for artificial intelligence appears just to fodder a pedestrian catastrophism without providing a basic epistemic model to frame such an “intelligence explosion”.”

With texts by Benjamin Bratton, Orit Halpern, Adrian Lahoud, Jon Lindblom, Catherine Malabou, Reza Negarestani, Luciana Parisi, Matteo Pasquinelli, Ana Teixeira Pinto, Michael Wheeler, Charles Wolfe, and Ben Woodard.

Publisher meson.press, Lüneburg, November 2015
Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0 License
ISBN 9783957960658 (print) 9783957960665 (PDF)
212 pages



Thomas Metzinger, Jennifer M. Windt (eds.): Open Mind (2015)

9 April 2015, dusan

Open Mind is an open access collection of 39 original research publications on the mind, brain, and consciousness.

The contributions were written by 92 junior and senior members of the MIND Group, including internationally renowned researchers working in various areas of philosophy, psychology, cognitive neuroscience and neuroethics. The collection commemorates the 20th meeting of the group.

Thomas Metzinger founded the MIND Group in 2003 to provide young German philosophers with a platform that would help them establish contacts in the international research community and participate in the latest developments in contemporary philosophy of mind. An ever-changing group of advanced undergraduate students, doctoral candidates, and young researchers from different countries meets twice a year in Frankfurt am Main.

Publisher MIND Group, Frankfurt am Main, January 2015
Open Access
ISBN 9783958571020
c1578 pages

Project website
Book announcement

Individual papers (HTML, PDF, EPUB)
single PDF (78 MB)
single EPUB (284 MB)