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Technocultural Futurisms: Code, Hack, Move

view of a phone charger from conference poster

Abstract

The 150th anniversary of the University of Illinois as a land-grant institution, founded on what was then a radically new vision of technical and agricultural education for ordinary U.S. citizens, offers a moment to reflect on the central role technology plays in the way we imagine the future. This symposium places this notion of technological futurity in conversation with work in critical race, gender, sexuality, transnational, and indigenous studies. “Technological Futurisms” are artistic and political movements that challenge existing visions of technology and dream up alternative futures. Our subtitle—Code, Hack, Move—foregrounds modes of active intervention, gesturing toward critical engagements that seek not to break or replace current regimes but to re-make and re-direct them. “Code” is the language through which our contemporary world is being articulated; “hack” suggests one possible way we might intervene in it; and “move” marks its affective potential, its ability to transform.

Co-Sponsors

  • African American Studies
  • American Indian Studies
  • Asian American Studies
  • College of Fine and Applied Arts
  • College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • College of Media
  • Gender and Women’s Studies
  • Latina/Latino Studies
  • National Center for Supercomputing Applications
  • Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research

Speakers

Speaker Biographies

Alondra Nelson (Keynote Speaker), Columbia University

Alondra Nelson is president of the Social Science Research Council. She is also Professor of Sociology at Columbia University, where she served as the inaugural Dean of Social Science. An award-winning scholar of science, medicine, and social inequality, her recent books include The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation after the Genome; Genetics and the Unsettled Past: The Collision of DNA, Race, and History; and Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination. Nelson has contributed to national policy discussions on inequality and the social implications of new technologies, including artificial intelligence, big data, direct-to-consumer genetics, and human gene-editing. She is chair of the American Sociological Association Section on Science, Knowledge, and Technology and is an elected member of the Sociological Research Association.

Lisa Nakamura, University of Michigan

Lisa Nakamura is Gwendolyn Calvert Baker Collegiate Professor in the Department of American Cultures at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She is the Coordinator of Digital Studies at the University of Michigan and serves on the Steering Committee of the FemTechNet Project, a network of educators, activists, librarians, and researchers interested in digital feminist pedagogy. Her recent books include Race After the Internet (Routledge, 2011), Digitizing Race: Visual Cultures of the Internet (University of Minnesota, 2007) and Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity, and Identity on the Internet (Routledge, 2002). Nakamura has written extensively on issues of race, gender, and sexuality in digital media. Drawing on social media, video games, online avatars, and other mediated visual representations, Nakamura’s work investigates how identities are negotiated in the contemporary digital milieu. She has been writing about digital media since 1994. She has faculty affiliations with the Departments of English, Women’s Studies, and Asian and Pacific Islander Studies.

Dave Gaertner, University of British Columbia

David Gaertner is a non-Indigenous Instructor in the First Nations and Indigenous Studies Program at the University of British Columbia, where he teaches and researches Indigenous studies, digital humanities, and Indigenous new media. He is the co-editor of Read, Listen, Tell: Indigenous Stories from Turtle Island (Wilfrid Laurier UP) and the author of Towards Truth: Troubling Reconciliation in Canada (forthcoming from UBC Press).

Patrick Jagoda, University of Chicago

Patrick Jagoda is Associate Professor of English and Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago. He is also the Co-Editor of Critical Inquiry and Co-Founder of both the Game Changer Chicago Design Lab and the Transmedia Story Lab. He specializes in new media studies, twentieth and twenty-first-century American literature, digital game theory and design, and science studies. Most recently, he is the author of Network Aesthetics (University of Chicago Press, 2016) and co-author with Michael Maizels of The Game Worlds of Jason Rohrer (MIT Press, 2016). He is currently working on his next book, Experimental Games. Additionally, he has published over thirty essays in humanistic journals such as American Journal of Play, American Literary History, American Literature, boundary 2, Critical Inquiry, differences, Modern Philology, PMLA, and Social Text; multimedia journals such as Audiovisual Thinking, hyperrhiz, and Kairos; and scientific journals such as Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, Journal of STEM Education, and Sex Education. Jagoda has also worked on several projects in the fields of game design, digital storytelling, and new media learning.  For more on this projects and writing, please visit http://patrickjagoda.com. 

Joana Moll, Universität Potsdam and Escola Superior d’Art de Vic

Joana Moll is a Barcelona/Berlin-based artist and researcher. Her work critically explores the way post-capitalist narratives affect the alphabetization of machines, humans, and ecosystems. Her main research topics include internet materiality, surveillance, social profiling, and interfaces. She has lectured, performed, and exhibited her work in different museums, art centers, universities, festivals and publications around the world. She is the co-founder of the Critical Interface Politics Research Group at HANGAR in Barcelona and the co-founder of The Institute for the Advancement of Popular Automatisms. She is currently a visiting lecturer at Universität Potsdam and Escola Superior d’Art de Vic (Barcelona). Please visit http://janavirgin.com.

Ben Grosser, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Ben Grosser creates interactive experiences, machines, and systems that examine the cultural, social, and political implications of software. Recent exhibition venues include Arebyte Gallery in London, Museu das Comunicações in Lisbon, Museum Ludwig in Cologne, and Galerie Charlot in Paris. His works have been featured in the New Yorker, Wired, the Atlantic, the Guardian, the Washington Post, Libération, and Der Spiegel. The Chicago Tribune called him the “unrivaled king of ominous gibberish.” Slate referred to his work as “creative civil disobedience in the digital age.” His writing about the cultural effects of technology has been published in journals such as Computational Culture, Media-N, and Big Data and Society. Grosser is an Assistant Professor of New Media at the School of Art + Design, and Co-Founder of the Critical Technology Studies Lab at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, both at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Ricardo Dominguez, University of California, San Diego

Ricardo Dominguez was a Founding Member of Critical Art Ensemble (1986) and a Co-Founder of The Electronic Disturbance Theater (EDT) (1998), a group who developed virtual sit-in technologies in solidarity with the Zapatistas communities in Chiapas, Mexico, in 1998. His recent Electronic Disturbance Theater 2.0/b.a.n.g. lab project with Brett Stalbaum, Micha Cardenas, Amy Sara Carroll, and Elle Mehrmand, the Transborder Immigrant Tool (a GPS cell phone safety net tool for crossing the Mexico/U.S. border) was the winner of “Transnational Communities Award” (2008). The project was also under investigation by the U.S. Congress in 2009-2010 and was reviewed by Glenn Beck in 2010 as a gesture that potentially “dissolved” the U.S. border with its poetry. Dominguez is Associate Professor and the MFA Director of Visual Arts at the University of California, San Diego; he is also a Hellman Fellow; he has received two Society for the Humanities Fellowships at Cornell University (2013/14 and 17/18), and he was recently awarded the Rockefeller Arts & Humanities Fellowship 2018/19. He is the principal investigator of b.a.n.g. lab at the California Information Technology 2/QI at UCSD. He also is the co-founder of *particle group*, with artists Diane Ludin, Nina Waisman, and Amy Sara Carroll, whose art project about nano-toxicology entitled *Particles of Interest: Tales of the Matter Market* has been presented in various venues. His essays and plays can be found online.

Alexander R. Galloway, New York University

Alexander Galloway is a writer and computer programmer working on issues in philosophy, technology, and theories of mediation. Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University, he is the author of several books on digital media and critical theory, including The Interface Effect (Polity, 2012). His collaboration with Eugene Thacker and McKenzie Wark, Excommunication: Three Inquiries in Media and Mediation, has recently been published by the University of Chicago Press. With Jason E. Smith, Galloway co-translated the Tiqqun book Introduction to Civil War (Semiotext[e], 2010). For ten years he worked with RSG on Carnivore, Kriegspiel, and other software projects. Galloway’s newest project is a monograph on the work of François Laruelle, published in October 2014. Galloway has given over two hundred talks both across the U.S. and in ten countries around the world. His writings have been translated into 11 languages. He is the recipient of a number of grants and awards including a Creative Capital grant (2006) and a Golden Nica in the 2002 Prix Ars Electronica (Linz, Austria). The New York Times has described his practice as “conceptually sharp, visually compelling and completely attuned to the political moment.” A member of the NYU faculty since 2002, Galloway has also held visiting posts at the University of Pennsylvania (Spring 2012) and Harvard University (Fall 2016).

Nishant Shah, ArtEZ University of the Arts

Nishant Shah is the Dean of Research at ArtEZ University of the Arts, where he is building a new graduate school that seeks to define and shape the role of art and design in unpredictable futures. He is Professor for Culture and Aesthetics of Digital Media at Leuphana University, where he teaches and advises research at the intersections of digital technologies, gender and sexuality, and digital humanities. He was the co-founder of the Centre for Internet & Society in Bangalore, India, which continues to engage in questions of internet governance, digital activism, and material infrastructures of the internet. He has been a knowledge partner with development aid agencies like Hivos, an advisor on global knowledge networks like digital media and learning at UCHRI and the Network of Centres for Internet & Society, and has authored academic and public writing that he characterizes as radical humanism and persistent digital feminism. Nishant’s current preoccupations are around the material histories of computational digital networks, and thinking through conditions of being human in the face of ubiquitous sapience and artificial intelligence.

Lauren McCarthy, UCLA Design Media Arts

Lauren McCarthy is an artist based in Los Angeles and Brooklyn whose work explores social and technological systems for being a person and interacting with other people. She makes software, performances, videos, and other things on the internet. She is the creator of p5.js. Lauren has exhibited at Ars Electronica, Conflux Festival, SIGGRAPH, LACMA, Onassis Cultural Center, IDFA DocLab, and the Japan Media Arts Festival, and worked on installations for the London Eye and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. She holds an MFA from UCLA, and a BS in Computer Science and BS in Art and Design from MIT. She is an Assistant Professor at UCLA Design Media Arts. She is a Sundance Institute Fellow and was previously a resident at CMU STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, Eyebeam, Autodesk, NYU ITP, and Ars Electronica

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Illinois 150: The 21st Century Research University and the Public Good by Kevin Hamilton, Paul Michael Leonardo Atienza, Jessica Harless, Kelsey Hassevoort, Robin Holland, Marcelo Boccato Kuyumjian, Allison LaHood, Beatriz Esmeralda Maldonado, Robert M Rouphail, Majid Shafiee-Jood, Lettycia Terrones, and Kevin Wallington is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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