Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Week 11: Rhizome


Implies everything is geographically linked so while anything can connect to anything else, once it is connected it is there.

Paul: everything is all connected to everything else but if something gets broken it is already reset that it will reform. Why can't the connections stop, why are there no dead-ends?

Andy: for something to exist it must be connected.

Andrew: the problem is once you bring in a structure how do you talk about rhizomes?

Read: The Logic of Sense: Deleuze on Lewis Carroll

Can't bring conventional logic to come to bear on this model of rhizome

Paul: Not only does all information exist in the same place at the same time, but is equally accessible from any point. There is no sense that you can go back.

Andrew: ides that you can do "derive" - unstructured wandering, directed in an undirected way like walking around Paris with a map from Berlin, strategies to remove all sense of culture. The idea was to remove valued of art and culture. Repetition and difference all the time.

CONTEXT: This is a vision of a world (before computers)

Provides a conceptual model

Niecthze - his ideas were taken and then rewritten by the Nazis, it was taken up because one of his key notions was: "God is dead." Nightmareish vision of the world because God once was... He saw Wagner as an Übermensch. In his wake come important ideas like good and evil being subjective rather than absolutes.

Another idea is that all human's are driven by one's desire to have power, to overcome and be superior to.

Deleuze picks up on these ideas, reinterprets them, he is addressing these concepts. He is trying to negate most of them. The notion of the will to power is something that Deleuze critiques. For him, the world should be a flat or horizontal structure, you cannot rise above. That actually in a rhizomatic world, everything is equivalent, remaining a nomad and changing your point of view.

You're in a perpetual state of becoming, you are constantly in transit. Fits as a metaphor for the internet age. You are all equivalent, your computer is either online or offline.

The importance of a social desire. He says there is no distinction between the individual desire and social world, we are simply an expression of a larger social consciousness. Highly post-Marxist reading of the world, anti-individualist. Interesting from the perspective on web 2.0. We make everythign configurable to what we like (think amazon, ebay home page etc...) but Deleuze would say that it isn't really an individual choice but what society desires.

Jess: So wonder how Deleuze would see the long tail? There is only the long tail, we are all on the horizontal line. Anything vertical is redundant/hierarchical.

Extremely radical ideas.

Their idea is creative and different for philosophy, you can always move on and find something different. And empowering for the individual no matter who you are.

Andy: thinking about everything being connected...there are online archives in which you can get back to the past.

The idea of a library, and dictionary is about keeping in the good words and keeping out the bad words but really all words are equivalent.

Andy: Redgreen theory of evolution - idea is from looking glass, you have to run as fast as you can to be whoever you are, to kep the same positions: like constantly becoming.

Andrew: Old movies there are those old wagon wheels, but they appear to be static because the frame rate and actual rate differ.

Andy: also looking at car wheels turning, the appear to go backwards.

Paul: Indicator of change - playing Halo with friends over the internet ends up being a nice way to have a conversation...

XKCD - maps of online communities

Digital interpretation of is God Dead?:

This is also an example of manipulating a platform rather than creating it (like in Second Life)

Andy: technology is a generational thing

Paul and Jess: no!!!

Paul: one of the important changes is that technology seems to be more accessible, everyone has a tv


Usage will change. So people who might not have been interested in taking photos could start developing an interest because their new mobile has a camera.

Andrew: This convergence of technology could have existed some time ago. Because of how the market works etc...there is an incremental change.

One of the most interesting developments in creative technologies is the way they are used is not necessarily what it was made for (think of text messaging)

Have a look at Howard Rheingold's Smart Mobs (back to Deleuze's social desire).

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Week 10: Linguistics

Does Chompsky see language as innate?

Paul: he sees language as innate but not how we use it, the underlying structures are within us

"competence is best described as our tacit, internalised knowledge of a language.

Performance is external evidence of language competence, and is usage on particular occasions when, crucially, factors other than our linguistic competence may affect its form.

Competence both explains and characterises a speaker's knowledge of a language. Performance, however, is a poor mirror of competence. For examples, factors diverse as short term memory limitations or whether or not we have been drinking can alter how we speak on any particular occasion. This brings us to the nub of Chomsky's initial criticism: a corpus is by its very nature a collection of externalised utterances - it is performance data and is therefore a poor guide to modelling linguistic competence."

Competence: is the ability to use the knowledge (innate)

Performance: the use of knowledge (the evidence, demonstration of your understanding)

Andrew: This view is controversial because there is a tradition of emprirical science which seeks to define the world by observational evidence. If something exists a priori where is the evidence?

Basically it is Rationalism vs. Empiricism

"If we are unable to measure linguistic competence, how do we determine from any given utterance what are linguistically relevant performance phenomena? This is a crucial question, for without an answer to this, we are not sure that what we are discovering is directly relevant to linguistics. We may easily be commenting on the effects of drink on speech production without knowing it."

What is Rationalism:

"rationalist theories are based on the development of a theory of mind in the case of linguistics, and have as a fundamental goal cognitive plausibility. The aim is to develop a theory of human language processing, but actively seeks to make the claim that it represents how the processing is actually undertaken."

Think of Renaissnace, Enlightenment, when people decided to try to understand the world through a "rational" way...basic idea is to try to argue logically (think of Descartes: Cogito Ergo Sum

See Descartes dialogue here.

What is Empiricism:

"an empiricist approach to language is dominated by the observation of naturally occurring data, typically through the medium of the corpus. For example, we may decide to determine whether sentence x is a valid sentence of language y by looking in a corpus of the language in question and gathering evidence for the grammatically, or otherwise of the sentence."

Chomsky believes that all the utterances we make can be decoded as evidence of the underlying grammar. (ta da structuralism)

Andrew: Chomsky proposed a generative structure - we all have the possibility of language, not that we all have language embedded within us. Thus languages that form can be evidence of that competence.

normally, in linguistics there is a lot of weight on the sound of words, semantics

SEMANTICS: Is Meaning.

Once you introduce semantics, meaning of something, you have just introduced shared understanding and nuances and differences of meaning. - "Old men and women"

To understand semantics and this grammatical layer is Chomsky's main challenge. But as you can see Chomsky isn't so interested in categorising but rather wants to take it as evidence of a unique set of rules.

Andy's book: she starts off by discounting ideas that there are rules of grammar (like we shouldn't split infinitives). Has included comments from people attending her lectures who are appalled at her lectures

Paul: apply this idea to essay question. If we say a colour but we're looking at a hologram that colour might seem entirely different if it is placed at the front of the image or if it appears at the back. So in terms of the meaning structures, they're not really what the colours are but how they appear.

Andrew: There is no way of a pure reading of "things". Think of icons and symbols that we are constantly creating online.

Andrew: Why is Manovich's book called: "The Language of New Media."

Andy: It has an idea to do with grammar. There is a grammar of music, a way things are structured and how things fit together.

Andrew: What would be the advantage of having a grammar of new media?

Andy: It would make things a lot easier to read?

Paul: According to Chomsky there is an overall structure (synatax) for how languages are put together but that doesn't mean that the words in sentences (in dif. languages) mean the same thing or appear in the same way even if the overall sentence means the same thing.

Jess: Manovich is trying to give us Chomsky's universal grammar so that we all have a shared vocab with which to talk about new media

"James Peel, Goldberg Variations Series, after Bach, Variations no. 4, 2005

Jess think of Manovich:
"In contrast to the
West, where artists gave up on illusionistic pictorial space in favor of
the notion of a painting as a self-sufficient material object, many Russian
artists, both representational and abstract, continue to conceive of a
painting ("kartina") as a parallel reality which begins at the picture
frame and extends towards infinity. Thus, Eric Bulatov has described his
paintings as windows onto another, spiritual universe, while Ilya Kabakov
conceptualizes his installations as a logical expansion of pictorial
traditions into the third dimension -- a materialization of reality models
previously presented by painting."

What about the semantic web?

Jess: basically it's about using a "natural language" but it will also appear in a language that computers can recognise.

The Semantic Web is an evolving extension of the World Wide Web in which web content can be expressed not only in natural language, but also in a format that can be read and used by software agents, thus permitting them to find, share and integrate information more easily.[1] It derives from W3C director Sir Tim Berners-Lee's vision of the Web as a universal medium for data, information, and knowledge exchange.

At its core, the semantic web comprises a philosophy,[2] a set of design principles,[3] collaborative working groups, and a variety of enabling technologies. Some elements of the semantic web are expressed as prospective future possibilities that have yet to be implemented or realized.[4] Other elements of the semantic web are expressed in formal specifications.[5] Some of these include Resource Description Framework (RDF), a variety of data interchange formats (e.g. RDF/XML, N3, Turtle, N-Triples), and notations such as RDF Schema (RDFS) and the Web Ontology Language (OWL), all of which are intended to provide a formal description of concepts, terms, and relationships within a given knowledge domain.

Paul: although the information is likely to be (at least for the foreseable future) it almost def. won't be displayed in a book-based format...and photosynth isn't quite the pinnacle but it is moving to a 3d system

Andy: there's always a trade-off between making something usable and making it do a lot. Programming language has to be very explicit. The way you end up with simplicity is because there's a load of programming behind it so it's very explicit.

Andrew: The bit that interests me is understanding in terms of computing, Paul said "the computer will understand."

Andy: You mean when the computer understands it is because someone else (the programmer) has been very explicit.

Andrew: Fuzzy logic - a more natural answer. Like the aibo dogs, they look like dogs but actually aren't anything like dogs (have adpoted certain behaviour patterns that fool us - if we are fooled in fact)

Think of the famous computer against Kasparov chess game. Where the IBM super computer won but Kasparov was adamant that there was a human behind the screen. See here for more info.

"On an autumn day in 1769, a Hungarian nobleman, Wolfgang von Kempelen, was summoned to witness a conjuring show at the imperial court of Maria Theresa, empress of Austria-Hungary. So unimpressed was Kempelen by what he saw that he impetuously declared that he could do better himself. Very well, said the empress, and gave him six months to deliver on his promise..

The following year Kempelen unveiled an extraordinary contraption: a mechanical man seated behind a wooden cabinet. The Turk, as it became known, was fashioned from wood, powered by clockwork, and dressed in a stylish Turkish costume. Most astonishing of all, it was capable of playing chess. But how did it work? A torrent of pamphlets, books and articles followed the Turk wherever it went. Was it controlled by a dwarf, a monkey, or a legless war veteran lurking in its innards? Was it an elaborate form of puppet, or controlled by magnets? Or had Kempelen succeeded in building a thinking machine? Even eminent scientists failed to fathom the Turk's secret.

Kempelen's machine was a huge success in Europe and America. The subject of numerous stories, legends and outright fabrications, the Turk became associated with a host of historical figures, including Benjamin Franklin, Catherine the Great, Napoleon Bonaparte, Charles Babbage and Edgar Allan Poe. Along the way, this strange creation unwittingly helped to bring about the development of the power loom, the computer and the detective story."

Think of Vaucanson-duck, the mechanical duck that was so realistic:

"Vaucanson provided his own description of his duck after writing his Essay on the mechanism of the flute-playing automaton : "Sir, the new automatons that I intend to exhibit next Easter Monday and to which my flute player will be added, include as n°1 a duck, in which I show the mechanism of the viscera employed in the functions of drinking, eating and digestion; the way in which all the parts required for these actions function together is imitated precisely : the duck extends its neck to take the grain out of thehand, it swallows it, digests it and expels it completely digested through the usual channels; all the movements of the duck, which swallows precipitously and which works its throat still more quickly to pass the food

into its stomach, are copied from nature; the food is digested in the stomach as it is in real animals, by dissolution and not by trituration, as a number of physicists have claimed it; but this is what I intend to demonstrate and show upon that occasion. The material digested in the stomach passes through tubes, as it does through the entrails in the animal, to the anus, where there is a sphincter to allow its release."

Task: look at Turing in an overview way
Concentrate on Deleuze and Guattari A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia

Focus on their idea of the rhizome. Check out the excerpt available on Amazon which is the introductory chapter: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/reader/0826476945/ref=sib_rdr_ex?ie=UTF8&p=S00R&j=0#reader-page and here is an excerpt on the rhizome: http://www.gseis.ucla.edu/courses/ed253a/kellner/deleuze.html. Here is a good blog post that brings in the idea of binaries which we discussed in our feminism lecture: http://thinkingculture.blogspot.com/2004/12/deleuze-and-guattari-thousand-plateaus.html

Don't forget essay questions!

Andy: try a case study (online use of language) but keep in mind the ethics question, just firm up exactly what it is and your method that you'll use. Interesting read: The Path of the Argo: Language, Imagery and Narrative in the Argonautica of Apollonius Rhodius

Paul: We perceive holograms as being incredibly accurate representations or copies of what exists in the real world but how much of this understanding is innate and how much is about understanding how photos work etc... Is it Trompe L'oeille applied to a digital work (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trompe_l'oeil)

To what extent does photography viewing apply to holography....basically you'll need a compare and contrast question.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Week 9: Focus on Essay

Question re last week's feminism lecture: look at the language Irigaray uses; how does she refer to male and female genetalia? Does she use slang or colloquial terms for both or just the male?

*** Now to course-work ***

"There is no single best way to begin a writing project. What's best is what gets you going and builds momentum for the journey ahead. You may want to start right in on a draft or do some preplanning."

Essay brings a focus to the module. We'll talk about what we're expecting and how you might go about it.

Key: to apply the ideas we've been talking about as a way of making sense of digital culture.

This is an opportunity to demonstrate your understanding of the ideas and of course you ability to research.

DEADLINE: 30 Jan. 2007 (but this remains to be confirmed!!)

LENGTH: 2000-3000 words (but double-check your module handbook)

STYLE: Whatever style you use, MLA, APA, HARVARD, just use it consistently

ESSAY: we're expecting the centre of the essay to be an argument. There are two main ways of doing an essay: discuss or compare/contrast.

FRAME your essay as a QUESTION. "How" questions lead to deterministic arguments, "WHY" difficult, "what" questions are useful, "who" leads more to biographical and perhaps journalistic interpretation so try to avoid this one, and "when" has potential. The way you frame the question influences how the argument is played out.

Remember, don't be too general or too focused. An example of something extremely focussed see Philip Tagg on semiotics of film.

A potential "who" question: collaborative authorship, reliability of information, the nature of people who write it (but how you would determine this info.) Alan Liu is a good resource here (info on filtering the knowledge and how you measure the reliability).

Paul: how to understand spaces, holography, architecture, a 2d object to be appreciated in a 3d space. If digital life is a chaos of information, you're being constantly advertised to, and there are lots of kinds of info. coming at you at the same time.

Think of Creativity Conversation at the IOCT last week: "Creating Spaces: Virtual and Real" with Martin Richardson (Holographer) and Martin Michel (Product and Spatial Design). Talked about new way of reading cathedrals...have a ready of The Cathedral and the Bazaar by Eric Steven Raymond.

Check out "photosynth" by microsoft: photos arranged into a 3d cloud.

See TechCrunch's take on photosynth here and another interesting post here at Stink Digital.

Essay Idea: we don't need to think about the future anymore because it's already here...the future is not so impossible. Why?

Think of Institute for the Future

See also Map of Future Forces Affecting Education

TASK: for next week come to the session with your essay question ready!!

It might help to decided whether you want to do a quantitative or qualitative essay.


Moving to linguistics
think of the word television - half greek half latin

what is "the digital?"

What is linguistics?

Linguistics is the study of language – not just particular languages, but the system of human communication. Some of the basic issues of this field are?

* What is language? How is it organized?
* How is it analyzed? How are its units discovered and tested?
* Where is language stored and processed in the brain? How is it learned?
* What do all languages—including nonvocal systems of communication (e.g. writing and sign languages)—have in common? What do these properties show us about human cognition?
* How did language originate? What does it have in common with animal communication? How is it different?
* How many distinct families or stocks of languages are there in the 6000 or so known languages today? What original languages did they come from? How have they changed over time?
* What does dialectal and social variation show us about the use of language? How has this diversity affected issues of social, political, and educational policy?
* What is the relationship between language and culture? Language and thought?

Excellent source from Wake Forest.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Lecture 8: Feminism and Cyberfeminism

Rosi Braidotti Nomadic Subjects
Luce Irigaray This Sex Which is Not One
Rosi Braidotti Cyberfeminism with a Difference


Paul: Irigaray seemed almost entirely about "dicks" and "vaginas."

Jess: it's about "bodies."

Andy: First chapter of Irigaray (on Alice) "skirts" the issue.

"Irigaray questions the assumption that female sexuality is dependent upon male sexuality. She asks and attempts to answer, such questions as, Where is female sexuality located if it always refers back to the penis? Where does female pleasure reside? What is female desire and what does it look like, if it looks like anything at all? And why does Freud insist that the penis is the only true sex organ?"

Homosexuality for Irigaray is not sexual but economic.

"Irigaray says that in this phallogocentric model, the kind of sexuality that gets privileged is one based on looking because the one sexual organ, the penis, is visible. So the Freudian model of sexuality, which privileges the penis, is based on the visual; it is scopophilic.

They (girls) notice the penis of a brother or playmate, strikingly visible and of large proportions, at once recognize it as the superior counterpart of their own small and inconspicuous organ, and from that time forward fall a victim to envy for the penis. (Sexuality and the Psychology of Love, "Anatomical Distinction Between the Sexes", pg.177.)

Male sexuality is based on having a penis, which is privileged because it can be seen; it is visible (and larger); therefore, it is superior. In contrast, a woman's sexual organ(s) cannot be seen; therefore it is inferior and becomes equated with having nothing. In other words, male sexuality is based on having a penis, female sexuality is based on having nothing. This system sets up the simple binary opposition of penis/nothing.

According to Freud, since women have nothing, women are always trying to get a penis for themselves in order to fill the lack: " A little girl . . . makes her judgment and her decision in a flash. She has seen it and knows that she is without it and wants to have it" (Ibid, pg. 177). Freud theorizes that women do one or a combination of the following three things in order to fulfill the desire to have a penis:

1. She will try to acquire the penis for herself by having a baby, especially a male baby.

But now the girl's libido slips into a new position by means - there is no other way of putting it - of the equation "penis=child." She gives up her wish for a penis and puts in place of it a wish for a child (Ibid, p. 180-81).

This desire has its roots in the Oedipus Complex, when the female child yearns to have a baby by her father to make up for her lack of a penis. This "wish" is repressed and redirected to having a baby with a man other than her father.

2. She will find or attempt to find a husband who is like her father, whom she believes is capable of giving it (the penis) to her. In fact, Freud believes that in certain cases newly married women "wish to castrate the young husband and keep his penis" (Ibid, p.72).

3. She will try to procure the masculine rights and privileges that the penis represents:

The hope of someday obtaining a penis in spite of everything and so of becoming like a man may persist to an incredibly late age and may become a motive for the strangest and otherwise unaccountable actions. Or again, a process may set in which might be described as a "denial," ....Thus a girl may refuse to accept the fact of being castrated, may harden herself in the conviction that she does possess a penis and may subsequently be compelled to behave as though she were a man. (Ibid, pg. 178)

According to Freud, if a woman acts like a man, i.e., rational, logic, etc, she is in essence denying the `fact of her castration' and is neurotic.

Therefore, according to Irigaray's reading of Freud, in the Freudian paradigm, female desire is always the desire for a penis to fill the lack or nothingness. Male desire, on the other hand, is to get back to the mother's body, to have sexual relations with his mother as is evidenced in the Oedipus complex. The result is that male and female desire look different; the female attempts to fill her desire by getting a penis, and the male attempts to fill his desire by having sex with a female other than his mother.


Nomadic Subjectivity:

Andy: it is not a migrant but a nomadic as the fact you are constantly going.

how about in a feminist framework:

Andy: you are doing something rather than trying to become an outward goal that we get there, it is an evolving thing.

"The practice of "as-if", for Braidotti, is a "technique of strategic re-location in order to rescue what we need of the past in order to trace paths of transformation of our lives here and now."(p.6) Braidotti also understands "as-if" as "the affirmation of fluid boundaries, a practice of the intervals, of the interfaces, and the interstices." While grounded in postmodernist theory of repetition, parody, pastiche, etc., Braidotti is insistent that for "as-if" to be useful, it must be grounded in deliberate agency and lived experience. Postmodern subversions and parody "can be politically empowering on the condition of being sustained by a critical consciousness that aims at engendering transformations and changes." (p.7)

What makes a pastiche useful?

Andy: changes contexts. And, that context is lived experience.

Paul: but we shouldn't just do something different but something better...

But, there are no value-judgements in pomo...

What's wrong with "identity?:

Paul - it's static
Andy - identity is defined by whats round you while nomadism is defined by what you are

""desire to leave behind the linear mode of intellectual thinking, the teleologically ordained style of argumentation that most of us have been trained to respect and emulate" (29)

Braidotti - Cyberfeminism

Paul: Braidotti is saying that the visual is purely a masculine preserve and the female way to interact with things is a more sensory/audio/feel/touch language rather than looking at things. Because looking at things objectifies things.

Andy: Science fiction is good as it allows for alternative perspectives

Paul: see ikon gallery's set up on the future using *trashy* sci-fi (planets of the apes future). For Braidotti it's a way of imagining other ways of looking at things

Andy: alternative views openes it up to alternative organisations and societies etc...

Andy: in sci-fi you get entirely female societies

Jess: Is a single gender society better then?

Paul: are there roles in society better performed by women?

Jess: argghhhhhhhhhh!!!!!

Paul: but there are lots of ways of being "male"

Andy: it comes down to being a person, not a gender.

Jess: what about "being"....how about "becoming."

"The central point remains: there is a credibility gap between the promises of Virtual Reality and cyberspace and the quality of what it delivers. It consequently seems to me that, in the short range, this new technological frontier will intensify the gender-gap and increase the polarisation between the sexes. We are back to the war metaphor, but its location is the real world, not the hyperspace of abstract masculinity. And its protagonists are no computer images, but the real social agents of postin dustrial urban landscapes.
The most effective strategy remains for women to use technology in order to disengage our collective imagination from the phallus and its accessory values: money, exclusion and domination, nationalism, iconic femininity and systematic violence."

Web 2.0 and Feminism

The web is platform.
Paul: people can change their identities etc... online, nothing is static.
Paul: there isn't a sense that the "now" has any sense of permanence.

Paul: is there an ideological stance in feminism today? Or is it universal?

Andy: a difference acknowledged today between everyone is the same and everyone is different.

Jess: Context is crucial.

Feminist Manifesto:

Paul: defining it as feminism is limiting

Jess: by why is it important today that we think about gender?

(from blog post) "A "male" writer could be interpreted as "female" and vice versa. Writing without signifiers becomes androgynous. If all writing is androgynous and all users are reduced to text, then all users are androgynous. With a lack of signifiers, things other than gender can also be disregarded (age, race, etc)."

Andy: but gender isn't one or the other, so why don't we disregard it?

Andy: we exist on a gender spectrum.

Paul: "there is no gender spectrum."

Jess: but that implies there is a beginning and an end

Jess: read Judith Butler Gender Butler

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Lecture 7: Barthes, Derrida, Manovich - Part Trois

S/Z - structuralist analysis of "Sarrassine" by Honore de Balzac

Paul: The antithesis is the battle between two plenitudes (page 27) - in the structural analysis of Sarrasine Balzac is setting up things that are diametrically opposed (binary oppositions)

Beauty cannot assert itself in the form of a citation...it is referred to in an infinity of codes, so it is a construct, it is always signified (page 33)

Paul: Sarrasine is an impersonal network on symbols combined under the proper name of Sarrasine...we are searching for a transitory site of the text... (page 94)

What is "readerly" and what is "writerly."

Andy: Alice and Wonderland: "it means what I want it to mean"

Paul: interesting reading a structural analysis of language knowing it has been translated, there is no translation for masculine and feminine (think of Derrida's comment on the french word for "lie" meaning "beastly" but actual usage is far more subtle)

"What is most often called 'relevant'? Well, whatever feels right, whatever seems pertinent, apropos, welcome, appropriate, opportune, justified, well-suited or adjusted, coming right at the moment when you expect it--or corresponding as is necessary to the object to which the so-called relevant action relates: the relevant discourse, the relevant proposition, the relevant decision, the relevant translation. A relevant translation would therefore be, quite simply, a 'good' translation, a translation that does what one expects of it, in short, a version that performs its mission, honors its debt and does its job or its duty while inscribing in the receiving language the most relevant equivalent for an original, the language that is the most right, appropriate, pertinent, adequate, opportune, pointed, univocal, idiomatic, and so on."

Andrew: "pattern". Used to give presentation to artists, designers, computer programmers etc...and the use of the word "pattern" highlighted problem with translations. For scientists pattern = nobel prize, for maths you can de pattern, in art if one makes patterns implies no originality (mere pattern-making). You realise there is a whole subtext of meanings for one word. Thus, semantic and approach differences is what makes this Masters' course so different and challenging.

"knowing what you're not is just as valuable as knowing what you are" (Andrew)

How many humanities scholars have patents? Just goes to show you the different kinds of goals between sciences and humanities and raises questions and challenges for translations between ideas/schools of thought.

Read: Zazie in the Metro (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
by Raymond Queneau - about colloquial French language

Also look at his Exercises de style, 1947

"English writers write spoken English and American writers write spoken American. And the most striking thing of all is that their scientists, their scholars and their historians write an English that is the English of the man in the street, whereas in France, when it comes to science or history, we are still obliged to write in formal language. I want to write in a living language--in the language of the ordinary man. The language you want to write in is your so-called maternal language."


Derrida and Language

The moment of maximum freedom is reached by translation with Jacques Derrida's translation deconstructionist theory. That, even if Derrida's theory of translation states that it is enemy of the pursuing of freedom. Derrida's translation is free because it doesn't aim even to be free, because it overlooks any and all duty, be it philological or liberal, and revolts at any intention to communicate the prototext's content, to "imprecisely transmit an unessential content". In Des tours de Babel, of 1985, he enunciates the four principles of translation:

1. The translator's task is not revealed by any reception.

2. Translation has not as essential aim to communicate.

3. Translation is neither an image nor a copy.

4. Translation has no obligation to transport contents, yet must evidence the affinity between languages, must exhibit its potential (1985: 386-395).

Derrida's is a primordial translation allowed by the subjective interpretant sign, that has no aim to produce a text apt for being understood, that has no aim to communicate to the outside. A "free" translator is an exhibitionist who enjoys in flaunting his ability to translate his way. The Derridian translator is a narcissist, because he doesn't care about text except as a mirror of his bravura; he is interested in himself as capable translator.


Student Task from last week: Structuralist Critique

Paul's move from analogue to digital:

Andy's shift from digital to analogue (which for the purpose here must be re-translated to digital)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Lecture 6: Review

Going back to the beginning

The critical thing about this course is the reading which follows the train of thought of the module. Going back to the name of the module (digital cultures) what happens when you put the two words together. What is culture - how might one define it?

Andy: Accumulated knowledge but not necessary everything that gets accumulated in history, because not everything makes it into being culture.

Andrew: Whose knowledge?

Andy: collective knowledge...

Andrew: Where is this knowledge and how do you access it?

Andy: books, a collective subconscious of things remembered

Andrew: so the surrounding culture shapes our identity, some kind of context for everything. This was one of the major conclusions from our first lecture, that everything has a context: people and artifacts.

The other word is digital?

Andy: A bland definition as compared to analogue, whereby digital works by a binary signal, on or off, 1 or 0.

Andrew: So a system of encoding? How do the 1s and 0s operate?

Task: get a simple definition of digital

Whereas culture is all about context, digital numbers don't really have a context.

FlatLand by Edwin Abbot a short novel.

Critical Reading Must: Pierre Menard by Borges and Walter Benjamin's The Work of Art in an Age of Mechanical Reproduction and Lev Manovich's The Language of New Media and try also Tractatus Logico Philosophicus by Wittgenstein. Here Wittgenstein is trying to describe the universe in words but decides that words just aren't adequate for some things (like God) so we can't talk about it. A very *pure* attempt to do the impossible.

Wittgenstein: Believed in scientific fact but is there such a thing as scientific fact? (Andy's question). See Richard Feynman.

"We can't define anything precisely. If we attempt to, we get into that paralysis of thought that comes to philosophers… one saying to the other: "you don't know what you are talking about!". The second one says: "what do you mean by talking? What do you mean by you? What do you mean by know?"
Volume I, 8-2

Think syllogism: "a deductive scheme of a formal argument consisting of a major and a minor premise and a conclusion (as in every virtue is laudable; kindness is a virtue; therefore kindness is laudable."

Read Beckett's Murphy as there is a lot about the Modernist outlook. As Joyce said, Finnegan's Wake is not about something it is the something" - overall aim of the Modernist Project. Inspiration for musicians (John Cage, Barry Truax his riverrun, Roger Marsh).

Joyce, Vladimir Lenin and Tristan Tzara all in Zurich in 1917.

"ACCORDING TO ROLAND BARTHES, all narratives share structural features that each narrative weaves together in different ways. Despite the differences between individual narratives, any narrative employs a limited number of organizational structures (specifically, five of them) that affect our reading of texts. Rather than see this situation as limiting, however, Barthes argues that we should take this plurality of codes as an invitation to read a text in such a way as to bring out its multiple meanings and connotations. Rather than read a text for its linear plot (this happens, then this, then this), rather than be constrained by either genre or even temporal progression, Barthes argues for what he terms a "writerly" rather than a "readerly" approach to texts. According to Barthes, "the writerly text is ourselves writing, before the infinite play of the world (the world as function) is traversed, intersected, stopped, plasticized by some singular system (Ideology, Genus, Criticism) which reduces the plurality of entrances, the opening of networks, the infinity of languages" (5). This closing of the text happens as you read, as you make decisions about a work's genre and its ideological beliefs; however, when you analyze any one sentence of a work closely, it is possible to illustrate just how impacted with meaning (and possibility) any one sentence really is."

What is a myth? An anonymous story that attempts to explain a world view.

Derrida: does the author have any importance to a story?
"'there is no outside-the-text' signifies that one never accedes to a text without some relation to its contextual opening and that a context is not made up only of what is so trivially called a text, that is, the words of a book or the more or less biodegradable paper document in a library. If one does not understand this initial transformation of the concepts of text ...[and] ... context, one understands nothing about nothing of .... deconstruction ..."

"all those boundaries that form the running border of what used to be called a text, of what we once thought this word could identify, i.e. the supposed end and beginning of a work, the unity of a corpus, the title, the margins, the signatures, the referential realm outside the frame, and so forth. What has happened ... is a sort of overrun that spoils all these boundaries and divisions and forces us to extend the accredited concept, the dominant notion of a 'text' ... that is no longer a finished corpus of writing, some content enclosed in a book or its margins, but a differential network, a fabric of traces referring endlessly to something other than itself, to other differential traces."

TASK: Read!

Question: What is the culture of Wikipedia?

For interest: Read Alice in Wonderland and/or The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Edition ed. Martin Gardner. For more on Alice see here. In a way, Alice is a story that has achieved that *mythical* status - it has woven together mathematical principles, cultural ideas etc..."

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Lecture 5: Structuralism

10 Principles of Structuralism

  1. Meaning occurs through difference. Meaning is not identification of the sign with object in the real world or with some pre-existent concept or essential reality; rather it is generated by difference among signs in a signifying system. For instance, the meaning of the words "woman" and "lady" are established by their relations to one another in a meaning-field. They both refer to a human female, but what constitutes "human" and what constitutes "female" are themselves established through difference, not identity with any essence, or ideal truth, or the like.
  2. Relations among signs are of two sorts, contiguity and substitutability, the axes of combination and selection: hence the existence of all 'grammars', hence all substitutions, hence the ability to know something by something else, or by a part of it in some way -- hence metonymy and metaphor. The conception of combination and selection provides the basis for an analysis of 'literariness' or 'poeticality' in the use, repetition and variation of sound patterns and combinations. It also provides keys to the most fundamental elements of culture.
  3. Structuralism notes that much of our imaginative world is structured of, and structured by, binary oppositions (being/nothingness, hot/cold, culture/nature); these oppositions structure meaning, and one can describe fields of cultural thought, or topoi, by describing the binary sets which compose them. As an illustration, here is a binary set for the monstrous
  4. Structuralism forms the basis for semiotics, the study of signs: a sign is a union of signifier and signified, and is anything that stands for anything else (or, as Umberto Eco put it, a sign is anything that can be used to lie).
  5. Central too to semiotics is the idea of codes, which give signs context -- cultural codes, literary codes, etc. The study of semiotics and of codes opens up literary study to cultural study, and expands the resources of the critic in discussing the meaning of texts. Structuralism, says, Genette, "is a study of the cultural construction or identification of meaning according to the relations of signs that constitute the meaning-spectrum of the culture."
  6. Some signs carry with them larger cultural meanings, usually very general; these are called, by Roland Barthes, "myths", or second-order signifiers. Anything can be a myth. For example, two-story pillars supporting the portico of a house are a mythic signifier of wealth and elegance.
  7. Structuralism introduces the idea of the 'subject', as opposed to the idea of the individual as a stable indivisible ego. Toquote from Kaja Silverman in The Subject of Semiotics,
    The term 'subject' foregrounds the relationship between ethnology, psychoanalysis, and semiotics. It helps us to conceive of human reality as a construction, as the product of signifying activities which are both culturally specific and generally unconscious. The category of the subject thus calls into question the notions both of the private, and of a self synonymous with consciousness. It suggests that even desire is culturally instigated, and hence collective; and it de-centers consciousness, relegating it....to a purely receptive capacity. Finally, by drawing attention to the divisions which separate one area of psychic activity from another, the term 'subject' challenges the value of stability attributed to the individual.The value of the conception is that it allows us to 'open up', conceptually, the inner world of humans, to see the relation of human experience to cultural experience, to talk cogently of meaning as something that is structured into our 'selves'.
    There is no attempt here to challenge the meaningfulness of persons; there is an attempt to dethrone the ideology of the ego, the idea that the self is an eternal, indivisible essence, and an attempt to redefine what it is to be a person. The self is, like other things, signified and culturally constructed. Post-structuralism, in particular, will insist that the subject is de-centered.
  8. The conception of the constructed subject opens up the borders between the conscious and the unconscious. The unconscious itself is not some strange, impenetrable realm of private meaning but is constructed through the sign-systems and through the repressions of the culture. Both the self and the unconscious are cultural constructs.
  9. In the view of structuralism our knowledge of 'reality' is not only coded but also conventional, that is, structured by and through conventions, made up of signs and signifying practices. This is known as "the social construction of reality."
  10. There is, then, in structuralism, a coherent connection among the conceptions of reality, the social, the individual, the unconscious: they are all composed of the same signs, codes and conventions, all working according to similar laws.

Source: Professor John Lye

Barthes Narrative Codes
proairetic -- things (events) in their sequence; recognizable actions and their effects.

semic -- the field where signifiers point to other signifiers to produce a chain of recognizable connotations. In a general sense, that which enables meaning to happen.

hermeneutic -- the code of narrative suspense, including the ways in which the story suspends closure, structures parallels, repetitions and so forth toward closure.

symbolic -- marks out meaning as difference; the binaries which the culture uses/enacts to create its meanings; binaries which, of course,but disunite and join.

reference -- refers to various bodies of knowledge which constitute the society; creates the familiarity of reality by quoting from a large assortment of social texts which mediate and organize cultural knowledge of reality -- medicine, law, morality, psychology, philosophy, religion, plus all the clichs and proverbs of popular culture.

Source: Professor John Lye

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Lecture 4: Postmodern and Postmodernity

What is digital culture? - Recap? (nb live blogged!)

We are looking beyond the IOCT to address the idea of forming a critical framework, judgements and to theorise one's own artistic work. That way we can demonstrate an understanding of what we're doing. When you come to do your final projects this kind of critical thinking will stand you in good stead.

Languages of New Media

Paul explains that there is always an element of interactivity with digital media. It's not necessarily true that there is a huge change when one moves on to a computer but there are degrees of interactivity.

Andy: well, everything is interactive.

Paul: sometimes it isn't important is someone interacts with something, what was important was the process...doesn't need an interactive purpose.

Jess: but as artist/creator you were interacting in the process of creation.

Andrew: so when artists create interactive installations is that a meaningless phrase or is there a point being made?

Paul: thinks this is about the intention rather than the meaning behind it. With all works of art and all systems of representation the user is required to fill in gaps in system (Manovich).

Andy: thinks interactive is being used to define degrees of control that the audience has

Andrew: so an interactive installation seems to imply that the audience has more control than a *usual* installation.

Jess: so does interactivity mean (for Paul) that the user can *change* the content

Paul: yes, to change the way it is deployed and navigated.

Andrew: If I build a pool, fill it and swim in it, how is that *experience* different from swimming in another pool?

Andy: to really originate something you must be the first person to make it (i.e. the wheel). But, innovation as a pure form and then innovation with constraints.

Paul: reminds us of Pierre Mendard and the context of the work

Andrew: If you have a sock and it gets a whole and you darn it and you keep darning it then over time you replace the thread...is it still the same sock? *infinite regress*

Solipsism: if a tree falls in the forest does it make a noise? This is the problem with postmodernism, the only way anything can be said to have a meaningful is if we all share that social reality but with postmodernism there is no social reality.

Read Murphy by Samuel Beckett

"... the sane, having at their disposal all the most deadly weapons of the postwar recovery; on the other, a seedy solipsist and fourpence. ..."

Murphy 82.

Paul: with musicians, though the music might not have been written by the performer it takes on a new meaning/context

Jess: thus gains some originality

Paul on Manovich: not only creating the things you want to create but that everyone who sees your work understands what you're trying to create.

Andrew: "intuition": discuss!

Andy: something you know without being told, people talking about interface design and what's intuitive for some people is not intuitive for others

Andrew: are there levels of intuition that exist apriori? (how birds know to migrate) With regard to elephant coming out of the wall, neuroscience is the most fertile ground right now for examining these things. There may be some kind of way of understanding what people know or want in a given situation.

Andy: But, if you put enough people in a room with a button and ask them what will happen one is BOUND to think an elephant will appear.

Andrew: how do we know intuition is intuition?

Andy: so there are cultural assumptions on what is intuitive.

Back to: Le Corbusier:

"If I hold up a primary cubic form, I release in each individual the same primary sensation of the cube; but if Iplace some black geometric spots on the cube, I immediately release in a civilised man an idea of dice to play with, and a whole series of associations which would follow. A Papuan would see only an ornament."

What Le Corbusier was interested in were universal truths. There was a strong element of idealism here. And of course the consequences of this we see in Leicester with the *design* of the buildings.

But there is some interesting 60s design in Leicester:
""The Engineering Building comprises large ground-level workshops (heavy machinery), covering most of the available site, and a vertical ensemble consisting of office and laboratory towers, lecture theaters and lift and staircase shafts."

James Stirling Michael Wilford and Associates. James Stirling, Buildings and Projects. p82.

Photo, exterior overview · Engineering Building · Leicester University, Leicester, England

Andrew: So, is it possible to have pastiche that isn't hideous?

(this question stumped us for a while)

Andrew: Culturally we've been through a shift. Pastiche had been used as a valued way of people learning how to create art (music and painting). The idea was to be as close to the model as possible = good training. But, with Modernist aesthetic pastiche become loathesome and unoriginal. Replicating the trodden path. But now the keywords are innovation, creation, and originality. Emphasis on developing one's own voice.

Jess: Pastiche now is about challenging and questioning previous contexts.

Think of "The Band" and their song that incorporates a brass band segment.

Implies the user/reader has a more elevated status as they can understand this questioning/challenge.

Andrew: postmodern thought is largely affiliated with technology. The main point here seems to be "what is original, what is pastiche, what is contextualising." clearly very important for postmodern theory (think Lyotard).

Paul: Interesting point that knowledge loses its "use-value" so knowledge is tied to commercialisation. So, in web 2.0 are things that are supposed to be of use-value are actually about commerce?

"The nature of knowledge cannot survive unchanged within this context of general transformation. It can fit into the new channels, and become operational, only if learning is translated into quantities of information. We can predict that anything in the constituted body of knowledge that is not translatable in this way will be abandoned and that the direction of new research will be dictated by the possibility of its eventual results being translatable into computer language. The 'producers' and users of knowledge must now, and will have to, possess the means of translating into these languages whatever they want to invent or learn.”

Jess: but it seems that lyotard is combining two knowledges, that of creation and that of dissemination (form and content)

Paul: Going back to the idea of exchange having value but now it's the content that has value.

Andy: In open source the idea is that information has a value but not necessarily a monetary value. It has a value when shared not on it's own.

Andrew: Howard Rheingold sees the commons of information being privatised.

Jess: so commodified knowledge can live alongside knowledge for knowledge's sake.

Paul: maybe the future is downloadable music where people get the info as well as the experience

Andrew: voluntary contributions (Radiohead) is not the future. People are prepared to pay what they think is fair.

Andy: having music freely available is more like a promotional tack rather than a way of making money.

Andrew: So the live gig is the privileged commodity.

Andrew: What is postmodernism?
"plagiarism by anticipation"

Student Presentations on "Everything is Mediated"


Paul: "Everything is Mediated"

Reading for Next Week:

Barthes, S/Z,
A Barthes reader / edited, and with an introduction, by Susan Sontag
A Derrida reader : between the blinds / edited, with an introduction and notes, by Peggy Kamuf.

Myths and Memories by Gilbert Adair

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Week 3 - Postmodernism

Notes on our discussion:

(nb our discussion on Barthes and Wittgenstein was in the context of digital culture)

"... ce qui m'a toujours préoccupé [...] c'est le problème de la signification des objets culturels."

~Barthes, Mythologies 64

"Dans la vie quotidienne, j'éprouve pour tout ce que je vois et entends une sorte de curiosité, presque d'affectivité intellectuelle qui est de l'ordre du romanesque."

~Barthes, Mythologies 192

Like Barthes, we're interested in exploring and questioning the perceived *naturalness* or *objectivity* of culture (its objects and codes). We talked about Barthes view (in "Operation Margarine") of French bourgeois culture. Interpriting an ad for margarine Barthes finds negatives or problems associated with a product (like margarine) are raised in order for its benefits to be revered which then outweigh any cons. Barthes explains that this technique is mirrored in discourses of religion, capitalism, and war. To put it simply, drawbacks are noted only as a way of further demonstrating the crucial significance the object or discourse has for culture.

"The episode always begins with a cry of indignation against margarine: 'A mousse? Made with margarine? Unthinkable!' 'Margarine? Your uncle will be furious!' And then one's eyes are opened, one's conscience becomes more pliable, and margarine is a delicious food, tasty, digestible, economical, useful in all circumstances. The moral at the end is well known: 'Here you are, rid of a prejudice which cost you dearly!"


Lugwig Wittgenstein - Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

"2.12 - The picture is a model of reality."

Here we debated what the word "world" means and whether there exists a *universal* understanding of "world" and does the term world include what lies outside of our perceptions?

For Wittgenstein a picture (any picture?) is a model of reality because the objects in the image relate to each other in the same way that objects in the world relate to each other. If the relations do not correspond, then the picture is not of something in the world. (But this can still be considered reality because the world includes the "non-existence" of things).

“Given that every object must occur in some state of affairs or other (2.0121), we know that given all states of affairs, all objects are given as well. But we have already seen that given the totality of objects, all possible states of affairs are given (2.0124). In other words, given all existing states of affairs, we can construct, by way of the objects they contain, all possible states of affairs — both those that exist and those that do not exist. It is in this way that the structure of reality is implicated in the structure of the world. For quite trivial
reasons, the structure of the world is implicated in the structure of reality. Of course, it still remains a mistake to identify the world with reality, but, in the end, this is something that can be set right without undermining the basic principles of the Tractarian ontology.”

~~~R. J. Fogelin, Wittgenstein (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1976) 12.


Talking about absolutism led us back to Barthes and his "Death of the Author." We talked about images and representations and the imbued coded meanings. We talked about context (that of the *original* author and that of the reader/author).

"We know that a text does not consist of a line of words, releasing a single “theological” meaning (the “message” of the Author-God), but is a space of many dimensions, in which are wedded and contested various kinds of writing, no one of which is original: the text is a tissue of citations, resulting from the thousand sources of culture. Like Bouvard and Pecuchet, those eternal copyists, both sublime and comical and whose profound absurdity precisely designates the truth of writing, the writer can only imitate a gesture forever anterior, never original."

We kept coming back to the question of authenticity of voice and of text.

While structuralist critics would see the text as deeply related to a real-life author. As Barthes notes:
"The image of literature to be found in ordinary culture is tyrannically centred on the author, his person, his life, his tastes, his passions, while criticism still consists for the most part in saying that Baudelaire's work is the failure of Baudelaire the man, Van Gogh's his madness, Tchaikovsky's his vice. The explanation of a work is awlays sought in the man or woman who produced it, as if it were always in the end, through the more or less transparent allegory of the fiction, the voice of a single person, the author 'confiding' in us."

For Barthes, texts are tissues of quotations, patchworks of others texts. Thus, there is no organised whole constructed by an authorial presence.


Task: After collecting evidence during our walk along the canal, create a multimodal response to the notion of "authorship" in a digital culture.

(where is the apostrophe?!)

Reading for next week: Lev Manovich's The Language of New Media.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Postmodern Inclinations: The Photograph

During this week's interesting discussion which seemed to keep coming back to literacy (what is it exactly), power, representation, and subjectivity I paused for a moment and captured a moment of "what really happened" as Barthes would have it: "the photographer had to be there ("The Photographic Image," Image/Music/Text 31)

This is me watching Professor Andrew Hugill watching his Second Life avatar watching a video...mise en abyme anyone?

"What is the content of the photographic message? What does the photograph transmit? By definition, the scene itself, the literal reality."
(Barthes, "The Photographic Message" 17)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Week 2 - Modernism

Today's discussion grew out of the assigned readings which included Borges' "Pierre Menard," Benjamin's "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," and John Lechte's Fifty Key Contemporary Thinkers: From Structuralism to Postmodernity.

I jotted (on a laptop of course) as the discussion evolved:

  • Why is "aura" important to Benjamin?
  • Situate Benjamin within the climate in which he was working; modernist artists and composers were beginning to talk about defining aspects of the time including a look to the future, the importance of originality, universal concepts (grand narratives). One such believer in universality was Le Corbusier:

"If I hold up a primary cubic form, I release in each individual the same primary sensation of the cube; but if Iplace some black geometric spots on the cube, I immediately release in a civilised man an idea of dice to play with, and a whole series of associations which would follow. A Papuan would see only an ornament." (1920)

  • In other words, it seems Le Corbusier believes one can strip away cultural context in order to reveal only the surface meaning. This is, according to Le Corbusier because everyone "reads" primary forms in the same way.


  • Does abstraction imply a stripping away of cultural significance?


  • Without art in the world what would happen? Does art have a "utility" value? (Think of Malevich's Suprematist Composition: Red Square and Black Square)

Reading for next week:

Roland Barthes, Image/Music/Text, "Death of the Author" essay, and Mythologies

Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus by Ludwig Wittgenstein

Lev Manovich's The Language of New Media

Task: research the concept "literacy."

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Leading To Modernism...

Put your thinking caps on:

"Does a number have a context?"

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Week 1 - Introduction

This week marked the beginning of the Digital Cultures module. Off to a great start we're reading Borges' "Pierre Menard" and Benjamin's "Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction."

A few questions:

In "La postulación de la realidad" Borges maintains that in order to create verisimilitude in stories (and this was the aim) the author must create and imagine
"una realidad más compleja que la declarada al lector y referir sus derivaciones y efectos" (219)
[nb. my rough translation more or less: a reality more complex than the one declared/shown to the reader and then to refer/tell of the consequences and effects.] How does this idea of creating such a complex reality fit with Pierre Mendard?

"He did not want to compose another Quixote --which is easy-- but the Quixote itself. Needless to say, he never contemplated a mechanical transcription of the original; he did not propose to copy it. His admirable intention was to produce a few pages which would coincide--word for word and line for line--with those of Miguel de Cervantes."

"In spite of these three obstacles, Menard's fragmentary Quixote is more subtle than Cervantes'. The latter, in a clumsy fashion, opposes to the fictions of chivalry the tawdry provincial reality of his country; Menard selects as his "reality" the land of Carmen during the century of Lepanto and Lope de Vega. What a series of espagnolades that selection would have suggested to Maurice Barrès or Dr. Rodriguez Larreta! Menard eludes them with complete naturalness. In his work there are no gypsy flourishes or conquistadors or mystics or Philip the Seconds or autos da fé. He neglects or eliminates local color. This disdain points to a new conception of the historical novel."

How can the same words be so much richer? How can Cervantes' original worlds invoke only truisms but Menard's rendition point to a whole new conception of the historical novel? What might this mean for the role of culture in interpreting writing (or art etc...)? What might this imply for us today, possibly reading online those original words crafted in the 1600s through the Menardian production? (*think of how this might reconstruct the past through the contemporary and how that shapes the reader and culture*)


Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

"Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be. This unique existence of the work of art determined the history to which it was subject throughout the time of its existence. This includes the changes which it may have suffered in physical condition over the years as well as the various changes in its ownership. The traces of the first can be revealed only by chemical or physical analyses which it is impossible to perform on a reproduction; changes of ownership are subject to a tradition which must be traced from the situation of the original."

"The presence of the original is the prerequisite to the concept of authenticity"

"Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be. This unique existence of the work of art determined the history to which it was subject throughout the time of its existence. This includes the changes which it may have suffered in physical condition over the years as well as the various changes in its ownership. The traces of the first can be revealed only by chemical or physical analyses which it is impossible to perform on a reproduction; changes of ownership are subject to a tradition which must be traced from the situation of the original"

In terms of the digital do the terms "original" and "reproduction" hold true in the same way?

If for Benjamin the (easy) reproduction of art implies greater access which leads to a political slant, then with today's more accessible environment where Web 2.0 ethos tells us we're all experts, what role might politics play in reproduction? Is there a move from reproduction as art to digitization as content/information?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Digital Culture

"The machine is always social before it is technical."

From Gilles Deleuze and Claire Parnet, Dialogues II (Columbia University Press, New York, 1987)70.

Friday, September 7, 2007


Welcome to the Digital Cultures module, part of the Creative Technologies Master of Arts/Master of Sciences at the Institute of Creative Technologies, De Montfort University.