Luciana Parisi: Contagious Architecture: Computation, Aesthetics, and Space (2013)

20 February 2015, dusan

“In Contagious Architecture, Luciana Parisi offers a philosophical inquiry into the status of the algorithm in architectural and interaction design. Her thesis is that algorithmic computation is not simply an abstract mathematical tool but constitutes a mode of thought in its own right, in that its operation extends into forms of abstraction that lie beyond direct human cognition and control. These include modes of infinity, contingency, and indeterminacy, as well as incomputable quantities underlying the iterative process of algorithmic processing.

The main philosophical source for the project is Alfred North Whitehead, whose process philosophy is specifically designed to provide a vocabulary for “modes of thought” exhibiting various degrees of autonomy from human agency even as they are mobilized by it. Because algorithmic processing lies at the heart of the design practices now reshaping our world—from the physical spaces of our built environment to the networked spaces of digital culture—the nature of algorithmic thought is a topic of pressing importance that reraises questions of control and, ultimately, power. Contagious Architecture revisits cybernetic theories of control and information theory’s notion of the incomputable in light of this rethinking of the role of algorithmic thought. Informed by recent debates in political and cultural theory around the changing landscape of power, it links the nature of abstraction to a new theory of power adequate to the complexities of the digital world.”

Publisher MIT Press, 2013
Technologies of Lived Abstraction series
ISBN 0262018632, 9780262018630
392 pages

For a New Computational Aesthetics: Algorithmic Environments as Actual Objects lecture by Parisi (2012, video, 72 min).

Reviews: Lecomte (Mute, 2013), Ikoniadou (Computational Culture, 2014).


PDF (24 MB)

Eric R. Kandel: The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain, from Vienna 1900 to the Present (2012)

31 January 2014, dusan

“A book by Nobel Prize winner Eric R. Kandel, The Age of Insight takes us to Vienna 1900, where leaders in science, medicine, and art began a revolution that changed forever how we think about the human mind—our conscious and unconscious thoughts and emotions—and how mind and brain relate to art.

At the turn of the century, Vienna was the cultural capital of Europe. Artists and scientists met in glittering salons, where they freely exchanged ideas that led to revolutionary breakthroughs in psychology, brain science, literature, and art. Kandel takes us into the world of Vienna to trace, in rich and rewarding detail, the ideas and advances made then, and their enduring influence today.

The Vienna School of Medicine led the way with its realization that truth lies hidden beneath the surface. That principle infused Viennese culture and strongly influenced the other pioneers of Vienna 1900. Sigmund Freud shocked the world with his insights into how our everyday unconscious aggressive and erotic desires are repressed and disguised in symbols, dreams, and behavior. Arthur Schnitzler revealed women’s unconscious sexuality in his novels through his innovative use of the interior monologue. Gustav Klimt, Oscar Kokoschka, and Egon Schiele created startlingly evocative and honest portraits that expressed unconscious lust, desire, anxiety, and the fear of death.

Kandel tells the story of how these pioneers—Freud, Schnitzler, Klimt, Kokoschka, and Schiele—inspired by the Vienna School of Medicine, in turn influenced the founders of the Vienna School of Art History to ask pivotal questions such as What does the viewer bring to a work of art? How does the beholder respond to it? These questions prompted new and ongoing discoveries in psychology and brain biology, leading to revelations about how we see and perceive, how we think and feel, and how we respond to and create works of art. Kandel, one of the leading scientific thinkers of our time, places these five innovators in the context of today’s cutting-edge science and gives us a new understanding of the modernist art of Klimt, Kokoschka, and Schiele, as well as the school of thought of Freud and Schnitzler. Reinvigorating the intellectual enquiry that began in Vienna 1900, The Age of Insight is a wonderfully written, superbly researched, and beautifully illustrated book that also provides a foundation for future work in neuroscience and the humanities. It is an extraordinary book from an international leader in neuroscience and intellectual history.”

Publisher Random House, 2012
ISBN 1588369307, 9781588369307
656 pages
via quackalist

Interview with the author (NPR)
Review (Alexander C. Kafka, The Chronicle Review)
Review (Roxanne Powell, The Vienna Review)
Review (Briefly Noted, The New York Times)
Review (Peter F. Buckley, The American Journal of Psychiatry)
Review (Jonah Lehrer, Wired)


Charts and Images from the book

Alexander Bogdanov: Tektology (1913–) [Russian, English]

3 December 2013, dusan

Bogdanov playing chess with Lenin during a visit to Gorky on Capri, Italy, April 1908. (source)

Tektology is a term used by Alexander Bogdanov to describe a discipline that consisted of unifying all social, biological and physical sciences by considering them as systems of relationships and by seeking the organizational principles that underlie all systems.

Bogdanov’s work on tektology, published in Russia in two volumes in 1913 and 1917, anticipated many of the ideas that were popularized later by Norbert Wiener in Cybernetics and Ludwig von Bertalanffy in the General Systems Theory. There are suggestions that both Wiener and von Bertalanffy might have read the German edition of Tektology which was published in 1928. (from Wikipedia)

In Bogdanov’s philosophical endeavours there was one very important motive: from his point of view the philosophy of Marxism should be a philosophy of modern natural science and in this respect he acted in full accordance with Engels’ thesis that “with each epochal discovery, even in the natural-historical field, materialism should inevitably change its form.” (from the Foreword)

English edition
Publisher Intersystems Publications, Seaside/CA, 1980
265 pages

Russian edition
First published as The Universal Science of Organization (Tektologia), 1913-1917
This edition: Tektologia: Universal Organizational Science
Publisher Ekonomika, Moscow, 1989
303 and 352 pages

English edition
Foreword by Vadim N. Sadovsky and Vladimir V. Kelle
Edited with an Introduction by Peter Dudley
Translated by Vadim N. Sadovsky, Andrei Kartashov, Vladimir V. Kelle and Peter Bystrov
Publisher Centre for Systems Studies, University of Hull, 1996
ISBN 0859588769
322 pages
via Ken

Aleksandr Bogdanov and Systems Theory (Arran Gare, Democracy & Nature, 2000)
Against Social Determinism (McKenzie Wark, Public Seminar, 2013)

Essays in Tektology (English, trans. George Gorelik, 1980, added on 2013-12-23, via Marcell Mars)
Essays in Tektology, 2nd ed. (English, trans. George Gorelik, 1984, added on 2014-3-25, via Marcell Mars)
Тектология. Всеобщая организационная наука. том 1 (Russian, 1989, DJVU)
Тектология. Всеобщая организационная наука. том 2 (Russian, 1989, DJVU)
Bogdanov’s Tektology, Book 1 (English, trans. Vadim N. Sadovsky et al, 1996)

See Monoskop wiki for further writings of Bogdanov.