The Craft of Writing – Film Focus – Gooey, Liquid, Incomputable: Writing About New Media Art and Material Histories of Tech
R1A 001 | CCN: 21376
Lou Silhol Macher
Location: Dwinelle 263
Date and Time: TU, TH 9:30am - 10:59am
We all use so-called “new media” in our everyday lives: from computer software to AI-powered apps, these platforms and technologies are the result of the digital turn. New media are difficult to define however, perhaps primarily because something only remains “new” for so long. Mostly, new media are often characterized by their supposed immateriality: software and algorithms seem to work behind or underneath the hardware, so much so that we forget that they too have a materiality, and a history. For instance, the clouds on which we upload our files have in fact very little in common with the ether if we consider the immense energy expenses required by the very concrete buildings storing and cooling the machines that make the clouds all but virtual. The marketing algorithms that analyze user reactions on social media in the form of emojis, likes, or simple text have a history that predates what we call “new media,” one rooted in the racial history of the US and the use of sentiment analysis in Japanese internment camps during World War II. These issues are brought into tension by new media artists such as Hito Steyerl (Liquidity Inc., 2014), American Artist (Black Gooey Universe, 2018), and Elisa Giardina Papa (Cleaning Emotional Data, 2020) whose works give shape to this apparent “immateriality,” and make these longer, invisible histories visible. How do we, as viewers of the art, write about these visual artworks and articulate for ourselves and others the theoretical points they make? How can we learn to read images, videos, and art installations to continue the conversation on paper, on our screens, in our writing? We will investigate these questions and more as we put your writing at the center of this class.