Executable Culture, Arguments with Objects

Jentery Sayers | University of Victoria | @jenterysayers
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University of Waterloo | 10 April 2015

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Theory + Media

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Executable Culture

Asking how input becomes output
Examining the architectures of computation
Studying how politics + aesthetics are entangled
Privileging surprise over control
Resisting the notion of "withdrawn" objects

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McPherson on Media Studies

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Some Examples

Primarily by media practitioners who are also theorists

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Rosner and Ames on Negotiated Endurance

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Belojevic's Glitch Console

Blends circuit-bending with repair
Changes the default state of a console
Troubles make-break binary

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Rodgers on Pink Noises

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Rodgers's Wind Farm with ARP 2500

Noise is discursive + material / natural + artificial
Piece expressed from multiple sources
Both analog and digital
Synthesis with dissonance

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Agre and Galloway on Grammars of Action

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kopas's LIM

Abstraction + mechanics afford broad range of interpretations
"as little verbal language as possible" (kopas)
"as little specific imagery as possible" (kopas)
Grammars of action have visceral effects

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Kirschenbaum's Forensic Imagination

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The BitCurator Project

Parts of theory become preservation tool
Curation is also a way of seeing
Assumes curious status as instrument

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Barad's Agential Realism

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Architecture as Catalyst

Models where features are entangled
Prompts new ways of talking about space
Expression of environment is embodied

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Architecture as Catalyst

Movement co-produces structure
Built environment depends on changing factors
Understand agency through "stitched" cameras

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Berry's Abduction Aesthetic

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Arnall's Robot
Readable World

Computational patterns are phenomenologies
Prototype positions that cannot be assumed
Highly speculative design

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Samuels and McGann's Deformance

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Sample's Bots

Playing with surveillance data
Surprise emerges from manipulation
Complete control is not possible

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Some Questions

What doesn't congeal or stick?
What cannot be saved or archived?
What's unknown? What escapes?
What changes over time?
When is ephemerality the medium?
How to account for bodies and context?

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For Instance...

Interfaces, platforms, default settings
Performance, participants, accomplices
Settings, intra-action, timing
Affect, surprises, glitches
Repair, care, maintenance

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One More Example

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Kraus's Conjectural Knowledge

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Kits for Cultural History

Identify the inaccessible and prototype it for interpretation

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What We Don't Know

Did it work?
Who used it?
What was the mechanism?
How many were made?
Under what assumptions was it made?

What We Conjecture

Remediation of the telegraph sounder
The designs are hyperbole
Never actually worked
Blended supernatural with realism
Satire of British mourning culture

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Related Issues

Feedback: How to circulate and review?
Fedback: What is the license for speculation?
Feedforward: How to design for repair and change?

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Thank You

Jentery Sayers | University of Victoria | @jenterysayers
Feedback, Fedback, Feedforward
University of Waterloo | 10 April 2015

Special Thanks to Beth Coleman, Marta Borowska,
and Margaret Ulbrick

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