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Category: academic

Good artists copy, great artists steal

Episode 6 of Naive and Dangerous, the podcast series I record together with my colleague Dr Chris Moore. In this episode we return to emergent media with a focus on mashups. On top of that, we have our first special guest – the mashup researcher and artist Jamie Pye-Respondek. We had a lot of fun recording this episode, and we cover a lot of musical ground, while also straying into remix culture and the copyright insanity. Have a listen.

How to trust a sweater?

These are the slides for my paper How to trust a sweater: object provenance in smart clothing, to be presented at the 2019 Association of Internet Researchers Conference in Brisbane. In the paper I examine the dynamics of the entanglement of smart clothing and data, focusing specifically on the emergence of provenance as a key concept in the identity of smart clothing. I explore provenance in conjunction with emergent developments at the nexus of advanced materials and the fashion industry, as a way to inject ethical and sustainable practices throughout the production process of a given garment. I end with the notion of a prodigal object, acting as a relentlessly sociable gateway to local contexts.

The best memes are never funny

This is Episode 4 of Naive and Dangerous, the podcast series about emergent media I am recording together with my colleague Dr Chris Moore. In this episode we discuss memes and the phenomenon of meme warfare. We start with a historical overview, beginning with ancient Sumer and the gods Enki and Asherah symbolizing the ur-memes of chaos and order, and then move onto the Egyptian god Kek and the emergent phenomenon of Kekism. We then move on to a definition of memes as frames influencing our perception of reality, and the emergent phenomenon of swarm-driven meme warfare as a dynamic contest over perception. Have a listen.

On digital artefacts

I recently recorded 3 short YouTube lectures on developing digital artefacts. Previously, I’ve outlined how I use the concept of digital artefacts in my piece on teaching digital media in a systemic way. In brief, the digital artefact assessment framework I developed gives students the opportunity to work on projects with real-world implications and relevance, that is, projects with nonlinear outcomes aimed at real stakeholders, users, and audiences. The only criteria for a digital artefact are that 1] artefacts should be developed in public on the open internet, therefore leveraging non-linearity, collective intelligence and fast feedback loops, and 2] artefacts should have a clearly defined social utility for stakeholders and audiences outside the subject and program. Below is my lecture outlining the key aspects of the digital artefact development process.

Fail Early, Fail Often [#fefo] is a developmental strategy originating in the open source community, and first formalized by Eric Raymond in The Cathedral and the Bazaar.  In the context of teaching and learning, FEFO asks creators to push towards the limits of their idea, experiment at those limits and inevitably fail, and then to immediately iterate through this very process again, and again. At the individual level the result of FEFO in practice is rapid error discovery and elimination, while at the systemic level it leads to a culture of rapid prototyping, experimentation, and ideation. Below is my lecture outlining the use of the #fefo philosophy in developing digital artefacts.

Fast, Inexpensive, Simple, Tiny [#fist] is a developmental strategy developed by Lt. Col. Dan Ward, Chief of Acquisition Innovation at USAF. It provides a rule-of-thumb framework for evaluating the potential and scope of projects, allowing creators to chart ideation trajectories within parameters geared for simplicity. In my subjects FIST projects have to be: 1] time-bound [fast], even if part of an ongoing process; 2] reusing existing easily accessible techniques [inexpensive], as opposed to relying on complex new developments; 3] constantly aiming away from fragility [simple], and towards structural simplicity; 4] small-scale with the potential to grow [tiny], as opposed to large-scale with the potential to crumble. Below is my lecture outlining the use of the #fefo methodology in developing digital artefacts.

Comparative hierophany at three object scales – book chapter

This is the print version of an essay of mine to appear in an upcoming book I am co-writing with a few colleagues, titled 100 Atmospheres: Studies in Scale and Wonder. The book is coming out in July 2019 from Open Humanities Press, and it will be available in 4 different versions: as a standard paperback through Amazon, as free download through the Open Humanities Press site, through Scalar as an interactive space, and through Big Fag Press as a limited edition hardcover. Exciting!

Cyborgs: “Does it bother you that I’m not completely human?”

This is Episode 2 of Naive and Dangerous, the podcast series about emergent media I am recording together with my colleague Dr Chris Moore. In this episode we discuss the notion of the cyborg and the tension between being a cyborg and being a human. We start by unpacking the various meanings injected in the concept of a cyborg, using recent movies such as Alita Battle Angel and Ghost in the Shell as a starting point. As is our habit, we engage in extensive speculative analysis of the cyborg trope, from contemporary cinema, to cyberpunk, early science fiction imaginaries of robots, the assembly line, and ancient mythology. In the process we develop a definition of cyborg/humans and manage to have a lot of fun. Have a listen.

The Medium is the Message

These are the slides for the first two topical lectures from the subject BCM112 Emergent Media that I teach this session. In the first lecture I discuss Marshall McLuhan’s framework of understanding media, and the trajectory and dynamics of the process of convergence. I concentrate on the ways convergence affects industries, technologies, and audiences, establishing the parameters of the internet paradigm. In the second lecture I examine how ‘the medium is the message’ manifests itself in the process of digital production. I explore the kinds of experiences and production processes made possible by the emergence of a digital network economy.

“I’m sorry Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.” Why Humans Fear AI.

This is Episode 1 of Naive and Dangerous, a new podcast series about emergent media I am recording together with my colleague Dr Chris Moore. In this episode we discuss the fears surrounding the emergence of Artificial Intelligence and its effects across the fabric of human society. We engage in some speculative analysis of the AI phenomenon and its tropes from current cinema, to cyberpunk, 19th century Romanticism, the ancient Mediterranean world’s fascination with automata, and ancient mythology.