Spring 2017 Seminar Schedule

Reconstructing Futures I:
Archeology of Abstraction

Instructor: Davor Löffler
Program: Media & Technology
Credit(s): 1
Module: 1 of 2
Date: April 1, 8, 15, 22
Time: Saturdays, 2:00pm - 4:30pm EST

Crows building a nest with hangers
Module I: Archeology of Abstraction

DESCRIPTION: This seminar is based on the materials from the upcoming publication, “Generative Realities: On the Temporality and Metaphysics of Technological Civilization”

Starting around 1880, with the fusion of industry, capital and science, the sphere of human domestication expanded into the realm of sub-mechanical, sub-corpuscular, sub-organic, sub-conscious, and sub-phenomenal processes. The interface to this realm of generative processes was “information”. Cast into cybernetics, it first allowed for the rendering of all kinds of dynamic relations as accessible units, while later in the form of algorithmization, it proliferated an entirely new continuum of objects, agencies and ontologies. Today, these developments are eroding modernity’s phenomena at all of its fronts – social, economical, political, scientific, industrial, cognitive, metaphysical, temporal, anthropological – thus heralding the beginning of a new civilizational stage, a fundamental shift in human-world-relations. But where does it lead? To answer this question this seminar will travel back in time to where it all began. Based upon the recently developed cognitive-archaeological “Tübingen Model of the Expansion of Cultural Capacities” we will examine stages in early cultural and cognitive evolution (3Ma – 25Ka) for developmental patterns and principles that might help us to understand the current transformation of the human structures by locating it within the progression of civilizational expansions. This formalization of the outside of cultural and social evolution will enable us to extrapolate forms of mind, society, temporality and metaphysics that we can expect to emerge both during and after our existence.

Beyond Price & Profit:
Art, Finance & the Question of Value

Instructor: Victoria Ivanova
Program: Art & Curatorial Practice
Credit(s): 1
Module: 1
Date: March 22, 29, April 12, 26
Time: Wednesday, 3:30pm - 6:00pm EST

Damien Hirst, For the Love of God, 2007
How can the art sphere function as an experimental ground for producing and circulating financial logics that deviate from those of financial capitalism? This seminar explores different theories of financialisation and how these may be applied in understanding the relationship between contemporary art and finance. Particular attention will be given to socio-cultural analyses of finance and the possibilities that these may open up for art as a platform for speculative modulation. Apart from textual references, the seminar will be based around a series of case-studies from the art field, both historical and current, while each session will involve a guest-speaker whose practice or current project is targeting different aspects of art’s potential as a vehicle for socially valuable financial paradigms.

22 March 2017 — Session 1

Deloitte and ArtTactic (2016) Art and Finance Report.

Ivanova, V (2016) Contemporary art and financialisation: two approaches. In: Finance and Society, 2(2): 127-37.

Knorr Cetina, K. and Preda, A. (2012) Introduction. In: Knorr Cetina, K. and Preda, A. (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of Finance. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1-12.

29 March 2017 — Session 2
with special guests, João Enxuto and Erica Love

Gupta, V. (2015) Programmable blockchains in context: Ethereum’s future.

Projansky, B. and Siegelaub, S. (1971) The artist’s reserved rights transfer and sale agreement.

12 April 2017 — Session 3
with special guest, Alexandra Pirici

Appadurai, A. (1988) Introduction: commodities and the politics of value. In: Appadurai, A. (ed.) The Social Life of Things. Commodities in Cultural Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Martin, R. (2012) A precarious dance, a derivative sociality. In: The Drama Review, 56(4): 64-79.

26 April 2017 — Session 4
with special guest, Emily Rosamond

Dowling, E., Harvie, D. (2014) Harnessing the social: state, crisis and (big) society. In: Sociology, 48(5): 869-886.

Rosamond, E. (2016) Shared stakes, distributed investment: socially engaged art and the financialisation of social impact. In: Finance and Society, 2(2): 111-126.

Image: Damien Hirst, For the Love of God, 2007

Difference & Repetition for the 21st Century

Instructor: Levi Bryant
Program: Critical Philosophy
Credit(s): 2
Module: 1 & 2
Date: February 16, 23, March 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, April 6
Time: Thursdays, 6:30pm - 9:00pm EST

Abraham Cruzvillegas, Blind Self-Portrait, Tratado de Libre Comer, 2009
DESCRIPTION:Published nearly fifty years ago in the tumultuous year of 1968, Difference and Repetition is increasingly recognized as Deleuze's primary magnum opus. This seminar will be devoted to a close and careful reading of this work, paying particular attention to his critique of representation, as well as the prevailing ontologies premised on identity, his alternate ontology of difference, his alternate account of time, and his alternate account of individuation. And yet, unlike many seminars on this book which might simply take a historicist approach, the beginning assumption in this case will be that the real question for today is how this text speaks to us in the present, and how it might begin to speak to us differently, in the unfolding future. While every text always already exceeds its historical horizon, the form and content constitutive of Difference & Repetition in particular, demands a fundamentally different approach: that it itself be read differentially.

REQUIREMENTS: Participants in the seminar will be required to present one day of assigned course readings and write a 10 - 20 page essay over Difference and Repetition at the end of the semester.

Image: Abraham Cruzvillegas, Blind Self-Portrait, Tratado de Libre Comer, 2009

Infrastructural Intelligence:
Cryptology & the History of Technology

Instructor: Paul Feigelfeld
Program: Media & Technology
Guest(s): TBA
Credit(s): 2
Module: 1 & 2
Date: February 14, 21, 28, March 7, 14, 21, 27, April 4
Time: Tuesday, 1:00pm – 3:30pm EST

Enigma Machine Cipher
DESCRIPTION:This course explores the infrastructuralization of artificial intelligence techniques including deep learning and convolutional neural networks along with the autonomization of capitalist processes in tools and entities like blockchain, DAO and Ethereum. By approaching them in the context of their cultural, philosophical, political, social, economic, and ecologic entanglements, students will gain a much more critical perception of the potential implications they carry than they might otherwise encounter. Of course, technological infrastructures have long become ecological both in terms of material needs requiring a restructuring of old and establishment of new infrastructures (such as rare earth mineral mining, transport, recycling, waste, etc.), and through which the Anthropocene has long become the Technocene. The ubiquity and behavior of these infrastructures both in IoT objects, as well as distributed systems, has been modeled after the techno-ecologic thought of the Baroque and Cybernetics and are thus in critical need of analysis. From institutional critique to infrastructural critique, the course develops countertactics in theory and practice, while closing with a hands-on cryptology workshop (PGP, TOR, encrypted messaging, introduction to Tails Linux etc.).

REQUIREMENTS: The seminar will be composed of eight two and a half hour sessions, each of which will be conducted as an extended seminar. During this period material blogged the previous week will be discussed alongside the set material. Based upon the set readings, online news and commentary, and ongoing class discussion, students will be expected to contribute ~400 words of content to the seminar blog on relevant topics. (This will additionally be posted to the google classroom page for everyone to read and comment upon as they wish, providing some preliminary threads for the group discussion). The final assessment will consist of a 2500 word extended white paper on a research topic agreed upon with the instructor in advance.

Image: Enigma Cipher machine Rotor, circa 1940s

Integrative Objects II:
Art Practice & Philo-Fiction under Collective Intimacy

Instructors: Anne-Françoise Schmid & Alice Lucy Rekab
Program: Critical Philosophy
Credit(s): 1
Module: 1
Date: March 15, 29, April 5, 6
Time: 1:00 - 3:00pm EST

Macoto Murayama: growth and form
DESCRIPTION:In this course we will continue the development of the concept of the integrative object. Implementing it in art and in philosophy under the condition of collective Intimacy, as began in the first New Centre seminar. This condition brings the gestures and styles of invention present within these two fields into relationship through practice. Within this course it is our desire to decompose the gesture of the philosopher, calling for a point of exteriority in the form an artistic creation, however this cannot be interpreted without the collective intimacy of all the ingredients of both philosophy and art. To understand the creative act of the artist we need collective intimacy without concept, but this is not possible without a point of exteriority of a common life or common a sense. The link between a work of art and an opus of philosophy is an asymmetrical connection. Schmid and Rekab therefore, will explore this connection through a series of 4 seminar meetings consisting of taught lecture, reading, discussion and practical work.

REQUIREMENTS: The seminar will be composed of four two and a half hour sessions, each of which will be conducted as an extended seminar. During this period material blogged the previous week will be discussed alongside the set material. Based upon the set readings, online news and commentary, and ongoing class discussion, students will be expected to contribute ~400 words of content to the seminar blog on relevant topics. (This will additionally be posted to the google classroom page for everyone to read and comment upon as they wish, providing some preliminary threads for the group discussion). The final assessment will consist of a 2500 word extended white paper on a research topic agreed upon with the instructor in advance.

Image: Macoto Murayama: growth and form, 2016.

Mathematics of Inhuman Existentialism

Instructor: John Bova
Program: Critical Philosophy
Credit(s): 1
Module: 1
Date: April 12, 19, 26, May 3
Time: 5:00 - 7:30pm EST

Phases of the Moon, NASA Archives, 1964
DESCRIPTION:Is it possible for philosophy to occur in and through the tension between two apparently incompatible demands: for thinking to be answerable to a mathematical ontology no longer conflated with logicist regimentation, and for it to participate in an intimacy with existence no longer confined to the categories of the human? That is, is a contemporary mathematical existentialism—as Lucca Fraser provocatively baptized it—possible? Or, to ask the question yet a third way, what can being-in-itself and being-for-itself mean for us, now, at the null point of inflection which is our contemporary technological and political situation? In order to pursue this question, we will engage in a joint reconceptualization of two all-too-famous works, aiming both at making them speak to the projects of those coming to them for the first time, and at a strict defamiliarization for those who have previously taken their measure in the context of received interpretations.
1) Mostly ignored by academic philosophers and sloppily embraced at the level of a cultural phenomenon, Jean-Paul Sartre's Being and Nothingness has long been a source of inspiration and frustration to its few close readers. In our consideration, there will be no attributions of inauthenticity to food-service workers, no holes and slime, and Pierre, thankfully, will have left the building to a second degree. Instead, we will work at explicating the difficult and incompletely figured logic of reflexivity and detotalized-totality which underlies the book's most stunning intuitions. A guiding goal of the seminar is to arrive at a new interpretation of what can be called “Sartre's theorem”, the central nerve of Being and Nothingness: that being-in-itself-for-itself, the structural key to the interpretation of existence as the value which haunts it, is a contradiction. This theorem has never been explicated in a fully satisfactory way, in large part because the phenomenological tools available in Being and Nothingness are sufficient at most for suggesting and announcing it, but not for explaining its necessity or for understanding the possibility-space in which it is located and whose structure it expresses. Thus, if Sartre's theorem is to become useful for us again in the context of contemporary philosophy, it has to be liberated from the moribund phenomenological tradition which forms its ostensible methodological basis. 2) Enter Badiou's generation-defining Being and Event, which, as we propose to read it, enacts the first successful transplantation of existential logic into the alien soil of mathematics. The joint reading rebounds on both texts. We shall read Being and Event as a realization of a strikingly Sartrean program on vastly improved ontological hardware, while at the same time reading Sartre as a thinker of the event (one of the most crucial terms in Being and Nothingness), of the necessity of contingency (an explicit Sartrean thesis which has been revived in one way by Meillassoux—we shall explore others), etc.
The significance of the breakthrough is undeniable, however Being and Event is only the beginning of the project of a mathematical existentialism, not its end. The point of the joint reading is rather to enable us, by focusing on this act of radical translation between existential philosophy and mathematical ontology, to think more deeply into the ground of the remarkable phenomenon explaining the success and even the necessity of the graft, along the vectors of our own projects. That ground, I propose, is metalogic-metamathematics, the concept of which will occupy our reflection as both content and method. The phenomenon is that of a striking emergence by which the classic themes of existential philosophy, indeed of philosophy itself, which are rightly and inevitably repressed at the outset of logico-mathematical investigation, return by their own necessity, in critically clarified but infinitely more powerful form, when we cross the threshold from first-order logic to metalogic-metamathematics. In order to continue the project of philosophy under contemporary conditions, we must cross this threshold.

Image: Phases of the moon, NASA Archives, 1964

Photography, Social Media & the Politics of Platform Homosexuality

Instructors: Mohammad Salemy & Ashkan Sepahvand
Program: Media & Technology
Credit(s): 1
Module: 1
Date: June 4, 11,18, 25
Time: 11am - 1:30pm EST

Berghenk Experience, Installation, Rens Mors, 2016
DESCRIPTION:“Yes, we copy normal relations, we either occupy the place of the subject or that of the object, but we copy them in any case. Today's homosexual does not embody polymorphic desire: he moves univocally beneath an equivocal mask. His sexual objects have already been chosen by social or political machination, and they are always the same. If, to boot, consciousness gets involved in political struggle, then the heterosexual and exogamic tendencies of today's homosexuality will become a caricature, and we will see more and more cases where a dick can only make love to a head and a head to a dick.” – Guy Hocquenghem (1973)
What happens to male homosexuality in the age of cybernetics and social media? From the heydays of newsgroups of the early internet to the dating sites of the 1990s, gay men have been quick to utilize the spatial possibilities of the cyberworld to construct new forms of “being social in the world” which often both contradicts and compliments their physical existence. With an eye on this history, this seminar explores how digital photography, mobile computing and social media have together transformed the practice and performance of homosexuality on the global stage. Drawing from the fields of anthropology, philosophy, queer studies & art, the seminar speculates not only on the future of male homosexuality but also how, as always, transformations of the category of game ay will have consequences for all other forms of sexuality.

Image: Berghenk Experience, Installation, Rens Mors, 2016

Plato, a Reality Game in Four Levels

Instructor: Reza Negarestani
Program: Critical Philosophy
Credit(s): 2
Module: 2
Date: April 29; May 6, 13, 20, 27; June 3, 10, 17
Time: 11:00am - 1:30pm

Tiepolo Ceiling Lamp
In a time when proclaiming oneself as a philosopher or worse as a Platonist is an open invitation to the public charge of elitism, idealism, logocentrism, patriarchy and even fascism, reengaging the work of Plato seems to be more of a tasteless attempt to undo all the great achievements of the late twentieth century theoretical thought and its fight against philosophical haughtiness and human exceptionalism than an ill-advised academic career choice. But provocation – objective, disinterested, formal and persistent – is the job of philosophy, that is the courage of truth. Taking its cue from Rosemary Desjardins's reconstruction of Plato’s rational enterprise and Alain Badiou’s Plato’s Republic, this course aims to elaborate and rekindle the nature of this philosophical provocation by presenting Plato as an archetype Promethean thinker. Our reading methodology will be informed by analytic and continental readings of Plato as well as the Tübingen school of Platonic studies that seeks to integrate the formal and dramatic aspects of the dialogues into a recipe for a fully-fledged cosmological thought.

Image: Tiepolo Ceiling Lamp, Manuel Vivian, 2014

Post-Philosophy II:
Marx, Laruelle, Irigaray and Braidotti

Instructor: Katerina Kolozova
Program: Critical Philosophy
Credit(s): 1
Module: 2 of 2
Date: May 6, 13, 20, 27
Time: 2:30-5:00pm EST

Agnes Martin, Falling Blue, 1963
Humanity is a theologico-philosophical creation and it is – as a consequence – always naturalized. Thanks to philosophy and theology, nature is always humanized. As long as the technological component of the radical dyad called the cyborg can be humanized or transformed into pure transcendence constituting the only accessible reality (= pure rationality), it is neither monstrous nor inhuman. It is not posthuman either. It is profoundly humanist. As a consequence, it will also be naturalized. The rationalist mind determined by its anthropocentrism in the last instance will unavoidably mimic and reproduce nature. Therefore, in spite of the commitment to hybridization it will never be inhuman or monstrous. The technological extension and the biological body are both alien to subjectivity which is essentially and unavoidably a philosophical creation, they both assume the position of the real vis-à-vis the subject. Subjectivity, on the other hand, is always already philosophical. It is nothing but the automaton of signification which re-presents the human or constitutes it as representation. What makes in (non-)human is precisely the subject’s failure to fully represent. Technology precedes subjectivity – just as the body does – and it cannot, therefore, have an ontological status – it is pre-philosophical. It precedes it as téchne (τέχνη) precedes philosophia (φιλοσοφία). It is the real vis-à-vis the subject of language. The hybridization of the two constitutes a category of society or the “species being” of humanity. Perfecting the imperfect nature – because “irrational” – cannot be its purpose since the idea that nature contains meaning or sense, i.e., a certain causa finalis, is theological-philosophical. In order for something to be susceptible to perfecting, it should contain the tendency to be perfect. Minimally, it should be grounded in the possibility to constitute a meaning, a purpose. It should contain a telos, i.e., it should be a theological category. Marxist and post-philosophical investigation of the hybridity at issue does away with philosophy’s self-sufficiency and resorts to materialist argumentation making use of philosophical material in a scientific manner. The latter refers to the position with regard to the instance of the real rather than to mimicking mannerism. There will be a remainder in this process that will be called metaphysical and our claim to science in post-philosophical terms will be concerned with accounting for such metaphysics. In this course we shall explore the question of whether and to what extent we can speak of materialist, feminist and Marxist metaphysics without philosophy. In our investigations we shall resort to Karl Marx, François Laruelle, Luce Irigaray and Rosi Braidotti.

Image: Agnes Martin, Falling Blue, 1963

Project for a Post-Monetary Economy

Instructor: Stefan Heidenreich
Program: Social & Political Thought
Credit(s): 2
Module: 1 & 2
Date: Thursday April 27, May 4, 11, 18, 25, June 1, 8, 15
Time: 3:00 – 5:30pm EST

Escalator Collage from wallup.net, 2016
DESCRIPTION:The purpose of an economy is to distribute goods and to allocate tasks. Matching-algorithms and artificial intelligence could devise better procedures for distributing goods and tasks, leading to a post-monetary economy. For now, money will still govern all economic transactions, but the monetary regime may only be a transitory phase. From the viewpoint of media history, there is strong evidence that points its demise.As David Graeber has recently shown, coins and currencies replaced earlier notation based methods of crediting. By compressing the data, money facilitated a stunning growth in quantity of trade, far beyond the capacity and the extension of then existing notation systems. With data systems that can track and compute all transactions, we can start to design non-monetary modes of organizing distribution and allocation. The technical requirements have existed for nearly a decade. Methods governed by algorithms or artificial intelligence can theoretically allow for more efficient, just, and productive forms of economy exchange. To be clear: the concept of the post-monetary is not about substituting money with digital currencies like bitcoin. The aim is to replace money altogether, with all its inconsistencies and drawbacks, with its psychologically disturbing need to assign quantifiable value to everything and its socially destabilizing inequalities. One of the revolutionary side effects of a post-monetary economy would be to limit huge accumulations of wealth.
The course consists of two modules, each of four weeks. It will take the format a research & development group meeting. In first part, I will present the initial proposal for a post-monetary economy as published in the book, “Forderungen” (German only, Merve: Berlin, 2015). The second part will contribute to an upcoming publication, “Money. Project for a Post-Monetary Economy”
The course consists of two modules, each of four weeks. It will take the format a research & development group meeting. In first part, I will present the initial proposal for a post-monetary economy as published in the book “Forderungen” (German only, Merve: Berlin, 2015) The second module will contribute to an upcoming publication “Money, Project for a Post-Monetary Economy”

REQUIREMENTS: Each module of the two-part seminar will be composed of four two and a half hour sessions, each of which will be conducted as an extended seminar. During this period material blogged the previous week will be discussed alongside the set material. Based upon the set readings, online news and commentary, and ongoing class discussion, students will be expected to contribute ~400 words of content to the seminar blog on relevant topics. (This will additionally be posted to the google classroom page for everyone to read and comment upon as they wish, providing some preliminary threads for the group discussion). The final assessment will consist of a 2500 word extended white paper on a research topic agreed upon with the instructor in advance.

Image: Escalator Collage from wallup.net, 2016

The Concept of Acceleration:
The 21st Century Critique of Political Economy

Instructor: Nick Land
Program: Critical Philosophy
Credit(s): 2
Module: 2
Date: March 5, 12, 19, 26, April 2, 9, 16, 23
Time: Sundays, 10:00am - 12:30pm EST

Roger Hiorns, Untitled, 2011
The objective of this two-module seminar is philosophical rigorization of the concept of “acceleration” as it is encountered in various species of contemporary thought. It is anticipated that such cultural tendencies will proliferate and intensify, although that is itself a self-reflexive characteristic of the social process which the seminar seeks to abstractly model. The first module provisionally, though not dogmatically, assumes a level of conceptual invariance across different species of accelerationism -- broadly coincident with the term 'acceleration' itself in its recent and often merely impressionistic philosophical usage. The second module will enter into a more active, technical, and critical mode, as it attempts to work with the concept of acceleration, investigating its capacity for further escalation. Reinforcement, intensification, or acceleration of acceleration, is the inevitable expectation. The entire content of the seminar is presented as a disputable and disputed contemporary controversy. The political temperature of the seminar environment will be dependent upon student demand, but the baseline will be absolute coldness.

Image: Roger Hiorns, Untitled, 2011

The Future Is Unmanned:
Technologies for Corrupt Feminisms

Instructors: Virginia Barratt & Petra Kendall
Program: Media & Technology
Guest(s): Linda Dement, Lucca Fraser, Amy Ireland, Rasheedah Phillips, Francesca da Rimini, Sandy Stone (+ guests TBD)
Credit(s): 1
Module: 1
Date: Sunday February 26, March 5, 12, 19
Time: 5 – 7:30pm EST


“...it was a hundred years before anything akin to Ada’s software would find the hardware on which to run...but technical developments are rarely simple matters of cause and effect” -Sadie Plant

DESCRIPTION: Instead of beginning, this seminar will submerge itself into the middle of a swamp of feminisms parthenogenetically spawned from the algo-digital mire. We will survey the strategic insurgencies and tactical affective gestures of technologized feminisms, analyse incompatibilities and system failures and play in the ludic space of anti-re/productive slimes with the aim of encouraging a proliferation of ever-new and divergent permutations of future-oriented feminisms at ease with computation. In a world of increasing global complexity and technological mediation, our understanding of gender, race, and other areas of subjectivity are being transformed at their core leading to profound cultural shifts that must be responded to and pushed in a progressive direction. In a retrochronic feedback loop we will look forward in order to look back, trans-generationally, to see how current and future technologized feminisms have created space for earlier progressive cyberfeminist concepts to become operational, and how these futures are sporulating ant-arboreally and creeping slime-wise. The increasing emergence of collaborative ventures like Laboria Cuboniks, Cybertwee, FemTechNet, Black Quantum Futurism, TransHackFeminist, GynePunk Collective, DeepLab and other collective cyber/feminist, hacktivist and futurist projects are demonstrative of the abiding importance and the tentactular reach of progressive techno feminisms across the membrane of sciences, technology and culture.

REQUIREMENTS & Details: The seminar--stretching across four two and a half hour sessions--will be structured as a collaborative reading and discussion group. sessions will navigate the feral domain of technologized feminisms with the aim of intensifying the strategic insurgencies of early cyberfeminists. A tentacular scattering across the membrane of feminisms. Each session will begin with an introduction to the set texts by the instructors, followed by prepared student presentations and class discussion. Session Preparation: Students are expected to do the required readings assigned for each week, along with participating in presentations and discussion both in session on Google Hangouts On Air and asynchronously on the discussion board provided by the seminar (Google Classroom). In addition, each student is expected to prepare a presentation related to one of the texts dealt
with in the course and lead a group discussion on this material. These will be assigned in the first session.

Image: Christina McPhee “Anemone-Antinomie” 2011, ink and gouache on hotpress paper, 54 x 44 inches / 137 x 113 cm

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