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robertogreco : detournement   4

Tools – Undergraduate Seminar-Studio @ The New School | Fall 2019 | Shannon Mattern + Or Zubalsky
“Silicon Valley loves its “tools.” Tech critic Moira Weigel notes the frequency with which tech chiefs use the term, and she proposes that its popularity is largely attributable to its politics — or the lack thereof; tool talk, she says, encodes “a rejection of politics in favor of tinkering.” But humans have been using tools, to various political ends, for thousands of years. In this hybrid undergraduate seminar/studio we examine a range of tools, the work they allow us to do, they ways they script particular modes of labor and enact particular power relationships, and what they make possible in the world. After building up a critical vocabulary (of tools, gizmos, and gadgets), we’ll tackle a number of case studies — from anvils, erasers, and sewing needles to algorithms and surveillance technologies. In our Monday sessions we’ll study the week’s case through critical and historical studies from anthropology, archaeology, media studies, science and technology studies, and related fields; and in our Wednesday sessions we’ll explore that tool’s creative applications, either by studying the work of artists and creative practitioners, or by engaging in hands-on labs. Each student will develop a research-based “critical manual” for a tool of their choice.


• We’ll think expansively, historically, and speculatively about what constitutes tools and technology
• We’ll consider how tools embody particular ideologies, and how they shape human (and non-human) identity, agency, interpersonal relationships, labor, thought, and creative expression
• We’ll identify tools that can serve us in our own lives — in our academic work, our creative pursuits, our social relationships, and so forth
• We’ll learn how to assess the various affordances and limitations, strengths and weaknesses, of different tools, and the politics and values they embody
• We’ll test the limits of our tools and “creatively misuse” them to determine how they might serve purposes for which they weren’t intended
• We’ll develop skills of critical reading; material analysis; détournement (productive disfigurement, creative misuse); cross-media and technical communication; and basic computational thinking


Students will be able to…

• use computation as a tool to enhance their liberal arts education — to better analyze, communicate, create and learn
• engage in project-based and collaborative learning that utilizes computational/algorithmic thinking
• gain a broader understanding of the historical and social factors leading to the increasing presence of computational systems in our lives
• work through the social and political implications of/embedded within computational technologies and develop an accompanying ethical framework
• appreciate the challenges of equity and access posed by increased reliance on computational technologies as well as their potential to reinforce existing inequalities in society
• think critically about the ways they and others interact with computation including understanding its limits from philosophical, logical, mathematical and public policy perspectives
• understand the intrinsic relationship between the physical world, analog environments and digital experiences”
shannonmattern  syllabus  syllabi  tools  2019  affordances  disabilities  accessibility  conviviality  history  ideology  siliconvalley  detournement  computationalthinking  algorithms  alogrithmicthinking  criticalthinking  computing  computation  howweteach  howwelearn  teaching  communication  labor  thought  expression  creativity  anthropology  archaeology  mediastudies  moiraweigel 
18 days ago by robertogreco
English 508 (Spring 2016)
[See also: ]

[From the description page:

"In both theory and practice, this seminar brushes against four popular assumptions about digital humanities: 1) as a service to researchers, the field merely develops digital resources for online discovery and builds computational tools for end-users; it does not interpret texts or meaningfully engage with “pre-digital” traditions in literary and cultural criticism; 2) digital humanities is not concerned with the literary or aesthetic character of texts; it is a techno-solutionist byproduct of instrumentalism and big data; 3) digital humanities practitioners replace cultural perspectives with uncritical computer vision; instead of privileging irony or ambivalence, they use computers to “prove” reductive claims about literature and culture, usually through graphs and totalizing visualizations; and 4) to participate in the field, you must be fluent in computer programming, or at least be willing to treat literature and culture quantitatively; if you are not a programmer, then you are not doing digital humanities.

During our seminar meetings, we will counter these four assumptions by examining, historicizing, and creating “design fictions,” which Bruce Sterling defines as “the deliberate use of diegetic prototypes to suspend disbelief about change.” Design fictions typically have a futurist bent to them. They speculate about bleeding edge technologies and emerging dynamics, or they project whiz-bang worlds seemingly ripped from films such as Minority Report. But we’ll refrain from much futurism. Instead, we will use technologies to look backwards and prototype versions of texts that facilitate interpretative practice. Inspired by Kari Kraus’s conjectural criticism, Fred Moten’s second iconicity, Bethany Nowviskie and Johanna Drucker’s speculative computing, Karen Barad’s notion of diffraction, Jeffrey Schnapp’s small data, Anne Balsamo’s hermeneutic reverse-engineering, and deformations by Lisa Samuels, Jerome McGann, and Mark Sample, we will conduct “what if” analyses of texts already at hand, in electronic format (e.g., page images in a library’s digital collections).

Doing so will involve something peculiar: interpreting our primary sources by altering them. We’ll substitute words, change formats, rearrange poems, remediate fictions, juxtapose images, bend texts, and reconstitute book arts. To be sure, such approaches have vexed legacies in the arts and humanities. Consider cut-ups, constrained writing, story-making machines, exquisite corpses, remixes, tactical media, Fluxkits, or détournement. Today, these avant-garde traditions are ubiquitous in a banal or depoliticized form, the default features of algorithmic culture and social networks. But we will refresh them, with a difference, by integrating our alterations into criticism and prompting questions about the composition of art and history today.

Instructor: Jentery Sayers
Office Hours: Monday, 12-2pm, in CLE D334
Office Phone (in CLE D334): 250-721-7274 (I'm more responsive by email)
Mailing Address: Department of English | UVic | P.O. Box 3070, STN CSC | Victoria, BC V8W 3W1

Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it. —Karl Marx"]

[via: "when humanities start doing design without designers because design's too self-absorbed to notice being appropriated"
includes screenshot of Week 7 note from ]
jenterysayers  text  prototyping  digitalhumanities  speculativedesign  design  english  syllabus  maryanncaws  johannadrucker  wjtmitchell  jeffreyschnapp  evekosofskysedgwick  technosolutionism  brucesterling  fredmoten  karenbarad  jeromemcgann  marksample  bethanynowviskie  fluxkits  detournement  poetry  exquisitecorpses  algorithms  art  composition  rosamenkman  anthonydunne  fionaraby  dunne&raby  syllabi 
february 2016 by robertogreco
A Situationist classic: Asger Jorn and Guy Debord's Fin de Copenhague: Observatory: Design Observer
"According to legend, Fin de Copenhague was composed and printed in the space of just 24 hours. Or maybe it was 48 hours. Either way it was pulled off with a dizzying burst of speed and with nonchalantly scathing brilliance by the Danish artist Asger Jorn, credited as main author, and the French theorist and writer Guy Debord, who is named as “technical adviser for détournement” — back to that in a moment.

Fin de Copenhague (Goodbye to Copenhagen) will be familiar, at least by reputation, to scholars and admirers of the Situationists, and perhaps to aficionados of the artist’s book, though not many will have perused an original copy since only 200 were printed by Permild & Rosengreen in Copenhagen, and published by Jorn’s “Bauhaus Imaginiste” in May 1957. I have never seen one myself. Christie’s sold a copy in 2011 for $14,427. What I do have, and show here, is a reprint published in 1986 by Editions Allia in Paris (it was reprinted again in 2001). It is one of those books that I count myself lucky to have stumbled upon by chance without knowing, at the moment I picked it up, anything about it. In fact, I couldn’t say now why I did pick it up, many years ago, because it has the plainest, most misleading cover. The original, unreproducible covers, made of super-tactile flong embossed with pages from newspapers, were all different."
2013  1957  rickpoyner  books  situationist  asgerjorn  guydebord  detournement  design  art  color 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Uncreative Writing - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education
"W/ an unprecedented amount of available text, our problem is not needing to write more of it; instead, we must learn to negotiate vast quantity that exists. How I make my way through this thicket of info—how I manage it, parse it, organize & distribute it—is what distinguishes my writing from yours.

…Marjorie Perloff has recently begun using the term "unoriginal genius" to describe this tendency emerging in literature. Her idea is that, because of changes brought on by technology & Internet, our notion of genius—a romantic, isolated figure—is outdated…updated notion of genius would have to center around one's mastery of information & its dissemination. Perloff…coined another term, "moving information," to signify both the act of pushing language around as well as the act of being emotionally moved by that process…posits that today's writer resembles more a programmer than tortured genius, brilliantly conceptualizing, constructing, executing, & maintaining a writing machine."

"For the past several years, I've taught a class at the University of Pennsylvania called "Uncreative Writing." In it, students are penalized for showing any shred of originality and creativity. Instead they are rewarded for plagiarism, identity theft, repurposing papers, patchwriting, sampling, plundering, and stealing. Not surprisingly, they thrive. Suddenly what they've surreptitiously become expert at is brought out into the open and explored in a safe environment, reframed in terms of responsibility instead of recklessness.

We retype documents and transcribe audio clips. We make small changes to Wikipedia pages (changing an "a" to "an" or inserting an extra space between words). We hold classes in chat rooms, and entire semesters are spent exclusively in Second Life. Each semester, for their final paper, I have them purchase a term paper from an online paper mill and sign their name to it, surely the most forbidden action in all of academia. Students then must get up and present the paper to the class as if they wrote it themselves, defending it from attacks by the other students. What paper did they choose? Is it possible to defend something you didn't write? Something, perhaps, you don't agree with? Convince us.

All this, of course, is technology-driven. When the students arrive in class, they are told that they must have their laptops open and connected. And so we have a glimpse into the future. And after seeing what the spectacular results of this are, how completely engaged and democratic the classroom is, I am more convinced that I can never go back to a traditional classroom pedagogy. I learn more from the students than they can ever learn from me. The role of the professor now is part party host, part traffic cop, full-time enabler.

The secret: the suppression of self-expression is impossible. Even when we do something as seemingly "uncreative" as retyping a few pages, we express ourselves in a variety of ways. The act of choosing and reframing tells us as much about ourselves as our story about our mother's cancer operation. It's just that we've never been taught to value such choices."
technology  writing  creativity  research  literature  marjorieperloff  internet  information  genius  2011  plagiarism  digitalage  poetry  classideas  marcelduchamp  readymade  remix  remixing  remixculture  briongysin  art  1959  christianbök  machines  machinegeneratedliterature  automation  democracy  coding  computing  wikipedia  academia  gertrudestein  andywarhol  matthewbarney  walterbenjamin  jeffkoons  williamsburroughs  detournement  replication  namjunepaik  sollewitt  jackkerouac  corydoctorow  muddywaters  raymondqueneau  oulipo  identityciphering  intensiveprogramming  jonathanswift  johncage  kennethgoldsmith 
september 2011 by robertogreco

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