Essays



Title: Agree to Disagree Online
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 1997: Ongoings
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

Any collaboration is a negotiation. While most artistic teams hide the filibustering, intellectual posturing, and shifting alliances that lie behind their decisions, Agree to Disagree Online brings these facets of collaboration to the fore.

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Title: An American Gothic...Or a Pound of Prevention
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 1997: Ongoings
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

Manifest destiny: In “Excerpts from the Vancouver Lectures,” Jack Spicer relates the story: Yeats, 1918, a train bound for Los Angeles. His wife in a trance, automatic writing, taking dictation from “spooks.” Yeats poses the question: “What ore you here for?” And the spooks reply: “We are here to give metaphors for your poetry.”

Poetry, according to Ezra Pound in The ABC of Reading, is language concentrated, condensed. Pound postulates that poetry “is the most concentrated form of verbal expression.” It is this metaphorical (or possibly malaphorical) condensation, this condensed cultural automatic writing, or dictation, that I strive for.

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Title: Around the Antenna Tree: The Politics of Infrastructural Visibility
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 2007: Global Eyes
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

With the globalization of mobile telephony during the past two decades, cell towers have sprouted up across different parts of the world. The “unsightliness” of these towers has resulted in responses ranging from neighborhood protests to manufacturers’ concealment strategies. This essay explores the installation of towers in different locations from urban spaces to national parks and considers how their emergence relates to a set of concerns about technology, knowledge, and power.

In addition to examining cell towers in different environments, I describe various “concealment strategies,” including covering towers in tree camouflage, mosque minarets, flagpoles, birds’ nests, and other hiding places. I explore what is at stake in hiding infrastructure and how such practices end up trading technological awareness for a highly synthetic version of “nature.” By disguising infrastructure as part of the natural and/or built environment, such strategies keep citizens naïve and uninformed about the network technologies they subsidize and use. Finally, I consider whether it might be possible to develop modes of affective engagement with infrastructure sites such as cell towers by discussing the work of artists such as Robert Voit (Enchanted Wood), Marijetica Potrc (Permanently Unfinished House with Cell Phone Tree), and Olaf Nicolai (Antenna Tree).

Communication infrastructures are frequently visualized as flow diagrams designed to approximate the spatial relations of a network. As a result, there is a tendency to overlook the uniqueness of particular nodes in a network: their physical form, the stories of their development, or the practices that surround them once they are activated. The antenna tree, I want to suggest, represents the potential to develop a more nodecentric and materialist approach to the study of infrastructure. As a cell tower disguised as a tree, the antenna tree draws attention to the materiality of infrastructure in the very process of trying to conceal it. People often chuckle at these uncanny objects that have been designed to soften the severity of the steel tower with botanical plastics. This tower in disguise not only relays signals, but it is implicated in an array of industrial, legal, and socio-cultural relationships. Each antenna tree can be understood as a symptom of processes of fabrication and installation, state and local regulation, community deliberation, and urban transformation. Thinking around the antenna tree, then, involves considering the fields of negotiation that are produced as an effect of infrastructure development and placement.

In this essay, I describe the emergence of cell-tower concealment strategies and discuss art works by Robert Voit (Enchanted Wood) and Marijetica Potrc (Permanently Unfinished House with Cell Phone Tree) that integrate antenna trees and provoke discussions of infrastructural in/visibility. I explore what is at stake in hiding infrastructure and how such practices may end up trading technological awareness for a highly synthetic version of “nature.” By disguising infrastructure as part of the natural environment, concealment strategies keep citizens naïve and uninformed about the network technologies they subsidize and use each day. We describe ourselves as a “networked society,” yet most members of the public know very little about the infrastructures that support that designation in broadcasting, web, or wireless systems. This issue of infrastructure literacy becomes more prescient as we enter an era of ubiquitous computing in which many different kinds of objects and surfaces will be used as relay towers and/or web interfaces. Since infrastructure sites are becoming more pervasive and less invisible, the work of visual artists can be extremely important in drawing our attention to them and triggering conversations about their design, placement, and effects.

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Title: Audiovisual Discourse in Digital Art
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 2004: Synaesthesia
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

This paper discusses art systems that employ image and sound as equal elements. This can be called the evolution of the “audiovisual discourse” in art and technology. Recent software for manipulation of audio and visual material is briefly described, and audio/visual digital artworks, developed during an artist-in-residence-based project, are illustrated as examples of contemporary artistic projects concerned with this theme. Different artistic approaches in the use of audio/visu­ al systems are identified on the basis of the historical research and the second author’s work, as a technologist, in collaboration with the artists participating in the project. Finally, the role of the computer as audio/visual instrument is discussed.

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Title: Building Possible Dreams
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 2007: Global Eyes
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

Never before have media had such a strong effect on life as in the 21st century. Looking at the history of moving images in the previous century – the visions and agendas of filmmakers, corporations, and governments – we find evidence of the potential for humanistic inclusion and exclusion. Do digital media increase our understanding of life and cultures? Is there the potential to know ourselves better by recreating life in an artificial environment? Is the fascination with artificial worlds proof of our limited understanding of the “analog” human experience? It is possible to control and destroy cultures. When it happens, human heritage is impoverished, and the world has less
diversity and less focus. The corporate digital media revolution is a kind of involution, a return to the type of destruction of colonial eras that exploited continents. With the current level of destruction at its highest level, our life experience is disconnected
from the physical world. Digital media can be a negative game, entertaining young people with virtual destruction, preparing them for analog wars and a multifaceted system of economic domination. Misinformation, decreased plurality of viewpoints, increased disconnection with life, and the spectacularization of human experience are only some of the symptoms of the strategies used by the corporate media world. Our analog lives need analog values connected to nature and respect for our planet and its fragile resources. These values must inform our digital world.

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Title: Computer Aesthetics: New Art Experience, or The Seduction of the Masses
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 1986: A Retrospective
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

In the early twentieth century, Modern artists, notably Suprematists, Cuba-Futurists and Constructivists, rejected scientific perspective and descriptive art [1]. Although this dismissal of the world of appearances in art was never accepted by the general public, Modernism evolved from that rejection.

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Title: Computer Graphics as Artistic Expression
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 1986: A Retrospective
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

Computer graphics has been in existence for more than twenty years. From the beginning, people experimented on ways to use the new medium – in addition to scientific, technical and commercial application – for artistic goals. Around 1965, Germans Frieder Nake and Georg Nees and the American, A. Michael Noll, strove for that goal; they were followed by individuals such as Kenneth Knowlton, the team of Charles Csuri and James Shaffer in America, and the Japanese Computer-Technique Group. All of them were represented in the large exhibition “Cybernetic Serendipity” in 1968 in London.

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Title: Computer Graphics as Stainless Steel Output
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 1997: Ongoings
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

A history of hand-held graphics might include Tarot cards, playing cards, the carte de visite, business cards, credit cards, and more recently telephone cards. While each of these subsets has a differing history and function, they also have shared attributes that continue to attract our interest.
Proportions, scale, content, cast, and techniques of production all merge with more recent communication functions. Borrowing from these physical and conceptual traditions suggests possibilities for an artist using digital typography to create a kind of permanent ephemera. Incorporating stainless steel output offers an option for the designer to employ a technology similar to computer chip technology and to investigate the conversion of
digitized art to artifact.

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Title: Computer Sculpture: New Horizons
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 1994: Art and Design Show
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

An essay that focuses on oppor­tunities for a new approach to computer-generated sculpture through the use of the interac­tive, user participatory attributes associated with virtual reality technology. The text briefly reviews the progress of sculpture from a static, physical art form through the use of computers as sculpture visualization tools, towards true ‘virtual sculpture’ as a metaphysical, three-dimensional experience. The author discusses two of his own recent prototype virtual reality pieces to demon­strate his projection of possible future trends in the viewers’ immersion in sculpture as an activity and an art form, not merely as an observer of a set of objects.

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Title: Computers, Art And Context
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 1989: Art Show
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Title: Design Speech Acts: "How to Do Things with Words" in Virtual Communities
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 1997: Ongoings
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

Cyberspace is language-based (cf. Cicognani, 1996, 1997; Winograd,1987), and so are virtual communities. The author argues that virtual communities are ideal places to experience and enhance a language for design, and for designers.

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Title: Dynamic3: Interactive Physics and Physicality In Three Dimensions
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 1997: Ongoings
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

We lose the joy of pliability in our interactions with the computer when we get lost in a cacophony of visual iconic references. There is no grace. Dynamic3 emphasizes the subtleties of interaction. Not what is seen, but what is felt. A physics-based computational model and a fluid physical interface amplify the expression.

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Title: Feedback to Immersion
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 1993: Machine Culture
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

Cybernetics speculates about the coupling of machine and person. Since Norbert Wiener’s seminal Cybernetics or Control and Communication in the Animal and Machine (1948), the trajectory of technology development has been one of an increasing possibility of achieving that interface. In the past decade, the possibility of defining a relationship not simply between but within technology has become plausible. Yet the commercialization of cybernetics comes neither as a technical panacea nor without deep ethical concerns. As machines mutate into biology, the philosophical and political values of technology are challenged to confront more than conceptualized
situations but rather to theorize the materiality of programmed or enhanced being. At the same time, the development of”realities” that are characterized as immersive or virtual are beginning to surround experience. The penetration of technology within the body and the socialization of simulated realities is more than a signifier of technological progress-it marks a transformation of knowledge, of biology, and of the cultural order in which knowledge is linked with ideology, biology with identity in terms of a technological imperative not necessarily connected with necessity. The issues raised by this potential for the narrowing of the boundary between technology and experience are vast. In many ways the development of several parallel technologies has
reached a crucial point.

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Title: Flashimation: The Context and Culture of Web Animation
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 2006: Intersections
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

On October 15, 1997, the first-ever cartoon produced solely for the web made its premiere [Sullivan 1997]. Spumco, a Hollywood-based animation house formed by “Ren & Stimpy” creator John Kricfalusi, commonly known as John K., produced the first installment of The Goddamn George Liquor Program after experimentation with Marcomedia’s popular animation and interface-development program, Flash [Tanner 2001]. Although only eight one-minute episodes of the program were produced, the web cartoon launched a new style of animation, which has since earned an unofficial nickname: “Flashimation.” The purpose of this paper is to explore the origins and effects of this type of animation; examine the forces that turned animators towards the web, its visual style, and the meanings with which it is associated; and the effect Flashimation has had on modern animation and the current animation community. Several threads of thought explain the evolution and culturalization of the new-media phenomenon known as Flashimation. Television animation, increasing access to and preference for the internet, the technological restrictions of this new medium, and the availability of animation software itself have coalesced to produce a major change in the cultural reconceptualization and consumption of modern animation. Collectively, they explain a complex and layered transition from “kid-vid” cartoons to short and crude forms of sophomorically humorous animation produced specifically for an adult audience.

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Title: From Artificial Life to Augmented Reality: "It's not about technology, it's about what technology is about"
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 2002: Art Gallery
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

This paper examines the influence of two areas of technological research upon my art practice. For me, technologies provide inspiration in a variety of ways. It can begin with a simple instinct on first contact with a technological object, a system, or a scientific idea. Often, an extended period of play or exploration with the technology needs to take place before the artistic possibilities reveal themselves. The two main areas of technological focus in this paper are Artificial Life and Augmented Reality, with particular attention to the development of ideas and philosophical concerns underlying the art that I make. Examples of completed works and works in progress will be shown. It is my intention in doing this to examine some aspects of the artist’s role in unraveling the meanings nesting within technological and scientific endeavors.

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Title: Fun, Love, and Happiness - or The Aesthetics of Play and Empathy in Avatar Worlds
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 2002: Art Gallery
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

I was asked recently why I would be interested in theorizing on play outside of the context of games and persistent environments. The answer has to do with the processes of creativity, self expression, and authorship that arise when we consider interactivity in virtual worlds. Artmaking as play, and empathy as a foundation of collective authorship, are the central themes of this talk. But is that art? If one allows that art is an outgrowth of a set of techniques, tools, conventions, visual histories, aesthetic vocabularies, and above all an urge of creative self-expression then we would have to say yes. If, additionally, we posit that the digital medium may, perhaps, bring with it a special quality that we have not yet pinned down, despite various efforts to do so, then I would like to suggest that that special digital quality is reflected precisely in aesthetics of play, empathy, and a sense of collective identity and multiplicity of authorship.

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Title: Getting Women Wired: New Connections in Art and Technology*
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 1996: The Bridge
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

Does computer science in its theory and practice embody discrimination nation against women, and if so, how does embedded discrimination work itself out in applications to the arts? This essay, guided by this introductory question, will connect concerns of discrimination against women in the field of computer science with issues that arise in the development of theory and application in the emerging electronic computer based arts. Bias against women in computing, I will suggest, occurs in the epistemology or knowledge construction of modern science, works itself out in knowledge construction of modern science, works itself out in knowledge distribution and socialization processes, alienates women, ethnic groups, and class groupings, limits access, and skews applications in the arts.

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Title: Hand Held Tools for Navigating Information
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 1997: Ongoings
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

If computers are tools For manipulating information, they have been notoriously poor at using the hands of the people who use them. By engaging the hands af the user, it is possible to get a literal handle an complex visualizations of information. In this project, the goal is to design a more practical, productive, and fluid kind of interface.

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Title: Illusions/Delusions
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 1996: The Bridge
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

This presentation describes the author’s use of stereoscopic computer imaging procedures to construct artworks that explore the viewer’s relationship to virtual/pictorial space.

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Title: Interaction and Play
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 1993: Machine Culture
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Title: Interface as Image: Image Making and Mixed Reality
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 2004: Synaesthesia
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

This paper will explore the use of the graphical user interface as art, product and inspiration, drawing on my own practice as a digital image maker and installation artist, and a theoretical investigation of digital image making in hybrid art practice. As the boundaries and reference points between physical and digitally grounded imagery become less defined, the possible duality and interplay for a com­ bined image space moves towards a seamless self-referencing and continuous activity. A visual feedback loop or strip, where the clues of originality become increasingly hard to differentiate and, perhaps, increasingly irrelevant, a state of “deterritorialisation.”1 Some thought will be given to examining the potential for mapping digitally ground­ ed imagery into both two- and three-dimensional physical space to create a mixed-reality experience and to what can happen when we extract the real-world metaphors from the digital environment and take them back into the physical world. Questions about the trans­ parency of the human/computer interface, and about just how trans­ parent we really want this to be, are also raised. What are we left with when we remove the content from the graphical user interface? What traces of human interaction (from the physical) become evident, and what are the “aid memoirs” we employ to assist us in navigation and colonization of the digital landscape?

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Title: Internet Hybrids and the New Aesthetic of Worldwide Interactive Events
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 1996: The Bridge
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

This essay discusses interactive art events realized on the Internet in conjunction with other electronic media, such as television, radio, telephones, and telerobotics. The essay includes references to material that can be immediately accessed on the Internet. The reader is invited to read by the glow of the CRT, letting digital strokes carry him or her from one country to another.

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Title: Is the Age of Expertise Over?
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 2003: CG03: Computer Graphics 2003
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

As I read journalists’ reports about the decline in confidence in many financial institutions, the troubles in modern education, and the failure of diplomacy to solve international problems, I am faced with the question: Is the age of expertise over?

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Title: It is Interactive--but is it Art?
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 1993: Machine Culture
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

“The possibilities of egalitarian, more democratic, constructive forms offering new kinds of interaction, knowledge, and understanding may well be enhanced by the novel capabilities of the new technologies. They will, more than ever before, have to be struggled for.”
-Andy Darley

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Title: Living Laboratories: Making and Curating Interactive Art
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 2006: Intersections
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

This paper describes the development of laboratory concepts in the making and curating of interactive art, in which the exhibition becomes a site for collaboration between curators, artists, and audiences. It describes Beta_space, an experimental public venue that seeks to realise the concept of the exhibition as living laboratory
through the participatory qualities of interactive computer-based art. The paper places this initiative within an emerging phenomenon of hybrid production and exhibition spaces. It argues that the evolution of such concepts has been hampered by the continued distinctions,
within traditional cultural institutions, among art, science and technology, object and experience, creation and consumption.

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Title: Mapping A Sensibility: Computer lmaging
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 1983: Art Show
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

“The work of art,” as the surrealist Andre Breton said, “is valuable only so far as it is vibrated by the reflexes of the future. These “reflexes of the future” have introduced, since the early l900s, increas­ing1y powerful visual technologies. To rephrase Andre Breton – in certain critical epochs, art anticipates effects that are only fully realized by newly emerging technology and new art forms.

It is often stated that our new “information society” or the “electronic age” is now at a critical time of societal transformation. In this transformation, new visualization tools are predicted to play an increasing role.

How can we gain an insight into the characteristics of the emerging visual media? According to Andre Breton’s perspective, contemporary art concerns can anticipate those of the new visual technology. Therefore, by mapping one to the other we can locate clues pointing towards a changed visual sensibility.

The following text maps contemporary art concerns to computer imaging in three major aspects of image making, First, the techniques of forming an image are called in the text, “image formulation.” Second, the image’s relationship with the viewer (and/or creator) is called “interaction” (after the person/machine relationship in computer science). The last aspect, the image’s relationship with its subject matter, is called ‘Reality.” It is these three sensitive areas that begin to subtly shift as new technology forces adjustment in human perception.


Title: Mapping Art's Escape From the Traps of Technology
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 2005: Threading Time
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

The 2005 SIGGRAPH jury was more than a chance to survey the digital art scene with a roomful of passionate but collegial comrades. It was also an opportunity to reflect on the role, for better or worse, that technology is playing in the production and exhibition of digital
artwork. More than any of my fellow jurors, I think I was particularly conscious of the stereotype that many artists, critics, and curators attach to exhibitions of art with a technological focus. According to this perception, the SIGGRAPH Art Gallery is less art exhibition than display showroom, where technicians show off the latest Maya or Illustrator special effect rather than pushing the boundaries of art.

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Title: Marking Space: on Spatial Representation in Contemporary Visual Culture
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 2006: Intersections
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

The following paper looks at different ways that space is being dealt with in contemporary visual culture, and attempts to link these evolving modes of spatial representation to emerging technologies, particularly GPS, GIS, and openGL, as well as to suggest links between the depiction and thinking about space in the current moment with similar or related explorations from the history of late-twentieth century avant-garde artistic practice. While this paper is necessarily more suggestive than exhaustive, I’ve made an attempt to choose contemporary visual practices and practitioners that I felt could stand as representatives for larger tendencies in their respective domains. This paper originated as a somewhat personal document, an attempt to situate my recent art practice within a larger historical and cultural context. As such, at times the links between these divergent practices must be made through the sensibility of the author.

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Title: Meta-visual/media/space - algorithmic "intersection," the new aspect of media art exhibition
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 2006: Intersections
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

When we start to think about “vision,” imaging, and our ways of perceiving the outside world, we must be clear about what we mean. Even in Japan, where imaging technologies play a central role, there are misunderstandings about what “imaging” is and what comes under its umbrella. By “imaging,” I mean the creation of images through any medium that is not simply manual: those that can be traced, reflected, photographed, reproduced, and projected. The term is not restricted to animation, video, film, or other means of creating pictures
in motion. “Imaging” encompasses shadow play, magic lantern, anamorphoses, and all the processes of visualization. Since the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography (TMMP) opened as a center for photography and other visual media, it has been important to discuss what “imaging” means.

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Title: Metaphoric Networks in "Lexia to Perplexia"
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 2001: n-space
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

As leading theorists and practitioners such as Marvin Minsky, Daniel Hillis and Brian Antwell Smith have been telling us, computers are much more than hardware and software.’ In their most general form, computers are environments of varying scope, from objects that sit on desktops to networks spanning the globe. Indeed, in Edward Fredkin’s interpretation, computational processes ultimately generate the fabric of the universe.’ It comes as no surprise, then, to find researchers arguing that computation is fundamentally altering the ways in which humans conceive of themselves and their relations to others. There are of course many approaches to this issue, from sociological studies to human factor analysis. Among these approaches are artistic works that tell new stories about the formation of human subjects, instantiating these
stories in images as well as words. To explore this systemic shift, I will take as my tutor text Talan Memmott’s “Lexia to Perplexia.”‘ In this complexly coded work, human subjectivity is depicted as intimately entwined with computer technologies.

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