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).



Ephemera, 17(2): The Social Productivity of Anonymity (2017)

9 July 2017, dusan

“In a process that started decades ago, a multiplicity of forces is creating a slow, but steadily rising storm against anonymity. Discourses of transparency and accountability often describe anonymity as a threat. Technologies such as the IP-address-based Internet, sensory devices, and machine learning techniques further undermine anonymous encounters. In an age of near ubiquitous surveillance, anonymity is under attack. But what is at stake in such discourses and developments? Based on the premise that anonymity is always socially productive and always socially produced, this special issue draws attention to anonymity as a social form that demands renewed attention. The contributions explore its temporalities, its transformative powers, and its entanglements with public spheres, property relations, and practices of person making.”

Publisher Ephemera collective, with MayFlyBooks, May 2017
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License
ISBN 9781906948375
220 pages


Tristan Garcia: Form and Object: A Treatise on Things (2011–)

19 February 2015, dusan

“What is a thing? What is an object? Tristan Garcia aims to overturn 100 years of Heideggerian orthodoxy about the supposedly derivative nature of objects to put forward a new theory of ontology that gives us new insights into the world and our place in it.

Garcia’s original and systematic formal ontology of things strips them of any determination, intensity or depth. From this radical ontological poverty, he develops encyclopaedic regional ontologies of objects. By covering topics as diverse as the universe, events, time, the living, animals, human beings, representation, arts and rules, culture, history, political economy, values, classes, genders, ages of life and death, he shows that speculative metaphysics and ontology are alive and well.”

First published as Forme et objet. Un traité des choses, PUF, Paris, 2011.

Translated by Jon Cogburn and Mark Allan Ohm
Publisher Edinburgh University Press, 2014
ISBN 0748681493, 9780748681495
462 pages

On Graham Harman’s System and My Own by Garcia (2013), Harman’s response.
Interviews with Garcia: by Liam Jones (Figure/Ground, 2014), Philosophical Readings (2014).
Reviews and commentaries: Jean-Clet Martin (2012, FR, ES), Harman (Continent, 2012), Nathan Brown (Radical Philosophy, 2014).

Wikipedia (FR)

PDF, PDF (updated on 2018-5-8)