Blog Post

lunenfeld day 8 + a.m. Q&A

-- sorry this is so long... this is a continuation of the day 8 morning session with cathy davidson (separate entry)... again, i'll enliven the links when i can)Peter LunenfeldPeter Lunenfeld is a professor in the graduate Media Design Program at Art Center College of Design. He is the founder of mediawork: The Southern California New Media Working Group, and director of the Institute for Technology & Aesthetics (ITA). in to the SECT discussions ?in media res -- a good place to come in?will be discussing the mediawork project -- intellectual fetish objects for the new century[from the website: Mediawork Pamphlets explore art, literature, design, music, and architecture in the context of emergent technologies and rapid economic and social change. Mediawork Pamphlets are "?zines for grown-ups," commingling word and image, enabling text to thrive in an increasingly visual culture. But the aims of the series extend beyond creating theoretical fetish objects.]- all over the world there is a series of major question: what are the new modes and ways of disseminating knowledge? how do certain kinds of discourses compete in large-scale market places? how do you take what you are interested in and make it seductive enough to make other people interested?so? what you?re seeing with the kinds of things that cathy was showing = new intellectual visuality ? making, commenting on culture and in a way that doesn?t always begin with wordsbig question: TO MAKE THE DISSEMINATION OF THINKING BOTH MORE SEDUCTIVE AND MORE RIGOROUS[Caitlin - return of the public intellectual?]aims ? new public discourse + cultural interventionto begin ? look at images of the future in pop culture- bladerunner ? every sci film that?s followed almost always infected by this meme? - windows 95 screen ? ?design degree zero? ? so completely awful ? but there you have it? we live here more than we live other places[the haunting:]one of the great moments of cultural coming together ? ridley scott infects you? just before gui at the superbowl (with a knock off nod to leni riefenstahl ) ? 1980 as focal point ? what we live now all comes from 1980 [caitlin: ?.. ok, I typed that but I really don?t get it? I?m intrigued that I missed this foundational superbowl moment and maybe can?t recognize the 80s cultural zeitgeist ? I can?t find the clip he?s talking about that might make it clear? I confess I spent 1980 skipping grade 9 chemistry and listening to recycled joni mitchell ]-- but the task is to imagine different possible futures-- alan kay ? it?s not the technology that?s alive, it?s the dream ?-- most of Peter?s work is about breaking out of a sense of ?permanent present?? -- thanks cathy for actually saying that ?the death of the book is crap? ? new technologies, hypermedia, print on demand are all wonderful, but they don?t represent a fundamental challenge to the book form? will change the book, of course (cf davidson, the work of humanists to complicate//enrich these discussions, rejecting the binary paper/digital etc.)the mediaworks project:- why not rethink ?serious? academic publishing ? a form famous for its dislike of design itself- ?traditionally narrow audience? reputation for dry and dusty presentationdesire: to take what computers have brought to the design of the magazine form and bring this to academic works- use of the term pamphlet is deliberate (of course) pamphlet = anti-bloat antidoteinspiration ? mcluhan, fiore ? war and peace in the global village medium is the massageshowed a few iconic page from war and peace in the global village? ? electric circuitry ? showed 6 page spread ? bold 60s graphics, layout, small fonts? ?you get to see how the codex book actually works? ?-- relates this to scott mcloud ? ?you create in the gutter? [what happens between frames is the space of the imagination]-- asks if electronic text work in the same way? [Caitlin: he seems skeptical? I think he means by this ? can a point of connection hypertextually etc. also be a gutter = a deep space of possibility? Or is it an argument? A conjunction? etc.)miller/spooky ? combines the role of author, editor, producer etc ? ?this says more about the conservatism of the history of the word??Remembering semiotext(e) [at the mention of the series some people sigh noticeably. peter suggest it?s a post-coital moment ? selective laughter ;) ]Simulations ? really began as an industrial design project [from the website: ?In the early 1980s, Sylvère Lotringer founded Semiotext(e) and published Jean Baudrillard?s Simulations, that small black volume which ignited a fury of theoretical activity. Lotringer began with industrial design: Semiotext(e) books were sized to fit directly into the vest pocket of a leather bomber jacket.?-- that jacket was ?perfect junky wear.. keeping you warm in the summer and cold in the winter?? peter: this is a genius idea and there WAS an infiltration of this material into people?s heads-- fast forward?. What do we have in common design-wise now?? we?ve lost the jacketswhere would we carry a new book? What size?-- only one person admits to coming to the seminar today without a bag having an external pocket ?it?s hard to be an outlier,? peter says sympathetically ? ?but that?s what makes a bellcurve? [much laughter]ok, given this wealth of small external pockets? no one is going to throw in a huge ZONE book?the pamphlet form fitsalso, think then and now ? 25 year reign the personal, the memoir, the personal instead of the political [Caitlin ? surely more complicated than that] ? a culture shaped in large measure by Oprah --- less interested in a disembodied voice? even if it is seductive.. baudrillard? The generation of ?68 didn?t feel the need to root theory in their own lives?But now? what do we need? What do we do next?Went to Soros foundation ? armed with this seed money went to more foundations.. Rockefeller etc.- this made it possible to go out and commission texts ? pay people to design develop a space ? interested in getting over the notion that designers can be brought in at the end? to be told that the content is so interesting they should design it for freea story: Hollis Framption was offered a retrospective at MoMa ? such an honour that you should give your films for freeFrampton wrote a 9 page letter ?the man who sweeps the street in front of moma gets paid?? ? etc. - this caused MoMa to change their policyone difference ? scientists and engineers typically ask for their rightful wage? humanists and artists often do not? this series wanted to work against that notion-- did not want to be a reactive editor ?some examples in the series: [from website -- complete series include Utopian Entrepreneur (2001) by Brenda Laurel, designed by Denise Gonzales Crisp; Writing Machines (2002) by N. Katherine Hayles, designed by Anne Burdick; Rhythm Science (2004) by Paul D. Miller aka Dj Spooky that Subliminal Kid, designed by COMA; and, Shaping Things (2005) by Bruce Sterling, designed by Lorraine Wild.]rhythm science ? dj spooky aka that subliminal kidbook designed with a small hole, little red button to attach the cd ? this meant the pamphlet needed to be bagged- designed by coma NYC/Amsterdam- has paper that feels different a side/b sidevisually signals a cd or diskas you go through ? 3 or four different ways to read- chronologically- - look at what has been pulled out ? mag design always about the drop quote or pull out? how do these point of emphasis make meaning?- each intersecting spread is different .. sample original artwork? you can have a multiplicitous reading/experience- not just the academy world of colleagues and students? if your work doesn?t make it out on some level it may not be a failure but it might well mean that we aren?t trying hard enough- mixing of the subrosa archive ? derrida, ezra pound mash-up?.Wasn?t going to be foolish enough to do a book without acknowledging that the book is in a new universe that revolves around online info retrieval/uploading etc- So how do books relate?- Decided the pamphlet Needs to have a website? and what will the website have on it? first page of website is a marketing tool- why didn?t you just put the text up? ? well, wanted to keep selling them?but more importantly ? designed by book designers to be on paper, theoretical fetish projects to be touched and held- luminescent screen requires different design strategies? may consider mounting? but might not-- also IP issues ? just a shot of barbie?s neck.. not all of barbi- also -- Material specific analysis (hayles)? you could take out all the text but it?s not the same because the relationship between graphic design, objecthood and ideas is co-constitutive in these works? it?s a part of the way the argument and call of these books unfoldsGold nugget = the discourse around the book?How can you generate conversations? create an object lesson for readers-- website -- a web take? tries to model ? read these little fetish objects and then give back, keep the conversation goingexample -- Scott mcloud ? understanding comics [comic book in comic form .. most people in the room signal they have read this]n McCloud response to Brenda Laurel?s pamphlet ? utopian entrepreneur .- scott mccloud replies in comic form ?I hate repurposing even more than Brenda? and the graphic response is able to SHOW why-- kate hayles? pamphlet writing machines-- could not get her head around how she was going to talk about N. Kathryn Hayles in a book by by n. Kathryn hayles? created a persona instead [Caitlin: could Oprah be losing her superpowers? :) ]- ?hollowbound book? writes this from the perspective of the book?s spine.. something that disappears in the digital context- three braided voices? kay, n. Kathryn .. each gets her own font? eventually braideda third font is a combinatory commingling of the voice[caitlin.. so the design of these books is a derridean ?mise en abyme?? .. relates nicely to vectors.. I wonder, though, if the book projects might be more successful? not because of the paper fetish, but because of the deeper design history being brought to bear, a richer understanding of the way the mechanics of construction work to advance the ideas]-- battles about the apparatus with en English professor? designed not to have an index or bibliography, many notes?. - Web supplement- coming up with a website where you could have new things happen ? index, online database, more interesting ? errata.. can trace across multiple volumes- physical spatialized index of where terms appeared? design in the service of ideas?. [Caitlin - cf making visual maps not unlike those mentioned by cathy davidson? the digital enables new ways of accessing and using this map]- can print these out as printer?s flats? and add to your print bookalso; lots of grad students will want Kathryn hayles? biblio? just in plain text.. designer?s hate this? - the edge of the physical pamphlet is done with lenticular printing ? it says writing one way/machines the other direction another example -- rhythm science- wanted to slow things down- wanted more control? hypnoticpeter addresses cathy: ?don?t expect to do collaborative work without, yes, going in with humility? but you also need to go in with aggression[cathy davidson apparently feels this can go unsaid?. Riotous laughter from her side of the room ;) see my last entry ]Peter did his own project, toodesigner = mieke gerritzen who really likes media philosophers? ?collects them like butterflies?- remix of peter?s work, remix of some of the stuff done on visualculture (appeared in art _ text)? wanted to see how design could work ... working with other authors presented particular challenges... with his own work was freer to take the design/idea interface at its limitreviewer and book arts goddess johanna drucker called it ?full throttle!Current issue ? Sterling?s Shaping Things ? about the invention of the future? make spines? objects aware of themselves in both space and time industrial design + historiography? people in humanities won?t be surprised at this combo? massive impact on the design community? assigned in environmental, sustainable design classesUSER ? trying to model a sensibility ? looks at art and video-games, book design and techno-masturbationCritical voice ? noise? where is the critical voice anymore if it?s everywhere? (cf Floyd wright?s comments)Solitude enhancement machines ? the designer can add to the ideas.. a full partner in constituting the meaning of the textmaster list ? argument with lev manovich? humans can?t actually take in databases.. they present to us as lists? some 20th century thought? knocking it down and rebuilding perfectly -- a year zero ethos?. Is trying to work against this- humanities scholars can offer a lot here?- in a world filled with media paid to be seductiveeven the notion of the guilty pleasure is now gone?- what happens when we try to make our work more seductive?Showed: the first and only woven book ? silk ? the firt raster screen ? tremendous financial disaster for the publisher ;) - in a show of the holdings of the california library system (at the UCLA hammer ? the world from here -- ? showed glass eyes with bibles alongside livres de priere? ebook of hours made on a jacquard loom?. An early programmable device?Peter reads the silk book as -- the book back into a fetish, a beautiful object, using a (then) new technology ? stimulates a whole new round of thinking about culture, technology, humanismQ & A [Caitlin -- sorry , missed the first couple of questions .. I was eating plums with Jessica]Q patrick; the way in which the new series combines book arts with the new.. but the questioner is very skeptical with the deployment of even the word new? stuff that doesn?t always historicize.. so what happens to history in age of new media?A Peter: separate the academy from more popular pressacademy actually does a very good job of historicizing? lev?s book [manovich] begins with vertog? a whole field of media archeology? once you interface with journalism? AI etc? celebrating the new is something they do? understands the concern but if you actually look at what has been published ? etc.Q follow up; aggression, sure.. but often when you have humanities and tech together you still seem to have this ?tehnojoy?? maybe overstated the case, but still?A cathy: two seemingly contradictory narratives so often coexist The story of Massive Change + ?it?s all the same, version of the old?thinks ultimately BOTH are true[see comments re ambiguity above]Q alan lui: thanks for the elegant presentations? love the books but they?re not Big humanities? small team designer, author,small line, avant-guard world? can you bounce off each other a bit here?A peter ? agrees and disagrees? miller in the hip hop community ? getting djs to think and argue about these ideas = A sig cultural intervention?like baudrillard? how simulations traveled- you?re going to have both present at al times.. Big and small.. BIG problems.. like poverty, death?. We can use these kinds of technologies and interventions to think thorough this? if there is time we could talk about how large scale simulations could become a tool to battle it out with ?corporate masters?[by running ideal outcomes and seeing what else would need to shift]? could even the playing field with the giant players who are running simulations all the timecathy ? also agrees and disagress.. loves the fact that the pamphlet is a handcraft? the Big part of this might be web/books, simulations, book art.. if you were trying to design a multimillion dollar site? part of a huge new literacies project David ? design of info is an epistemological challenge.. this plays deeply on that notion humanities knows even less about design than it does about science? when in fact this could be a CENTRAL mode/methods of ways of thinking through? new methodsQ Peter maybe even a mac is more supercomputing than most humanists needDavid: design allocated to secondary branch and looked down uponGeneral discussion ? are there any real design journalists here in US? If not what does the poverty mean? is the us actually ahead? Even if so, is it still marginal? ellen lupton is mentioned?. Maybe others. why?Question: theory and poststructuralism? told we need to move beyond them, move past them?but the terms keep appearing? maybe in a soft theory way? maybe deconstruction as a method [Peter interjects : derrida protests] ? I keep hearing certain poststructuralist conclusions? aren?t we past this?A Cathy: the talk I gave was a rather pragmatic talk? but this work is all enabled by theory? her theory embedded in historical materialism .. on the other hand materializing theory in books is great? also rejects opposition between art and theory ?Like dj spooky is a theorist/spinner ? spins theoryPeter ? to follow up on spin? teaches Guy Debord to designers (oh poor Debord)? teaches spectator makers to seduce more effectively ? Further -- would hate to think that people here at the start of their careers still feel the need to pay attention to what your teachers teach you? you need to make your own thing?. Became sick to death of hearing how the people teaching him had created total anarchy and taught themselves..?What you said feels embalmed? don?t take this as religion?[Caitlin ? this last exchange and its tone generates a lot of outside discussion later in the day? perhaps the kindest reading is that the answer is humour that missed its mark or a simple misreading/mishearing of the question -- which more likely related to specific discussions held earlier, the re/deployment of Foucault etc. cultural capital in the academy? (sometimes entering in media res is difficult) but many listeners later expressed dismay that the tone seemed unkind and that the answer seemed to be about affirming the speaker?s status as renegade/outsider/black leather jacket -wearing hero as against the passive, imaginatively impoverished graduate student sheep/questioner. As Foucault cautions us, this maneuver of asserting our radical status seldom works the way we would like ;) ]follow up:Anne Balsamo? in part the occasion for this whole seminar was coming out of her own set of theoretical preoccupations namely- language has too much power? - wrestling with ?how matter comes to matter?. ?- in this way couldn?t be more at odds with a poststructuralist urge wrt the focus on matter?. But still tied to meaning? decentering language anne ? we went a little too far ? now in trouble with science and engineering colleagues? some epistemological and ontological problems that now demand rethinking Q JR: phrase science + technology liked the example that spectacle makers are eager to use theoryinterested in reasons why theorists aren?t as eager to use the Spectacleliked powerbook vs supercomputer needs etc.BUT? all of those examples could be done on the things we ownSo why alliances with the supercomputer centre etc.?n interest here also theoretical: why this phrase ?science + tech? gets used again and again ? how it?s linked with the newestalso -- does this emphasis on collaboration with big science actually take away from productive discussions with designers? [rethinking the iconic page etc]cathy ? but the projects are already too big when taken together?anne: ex of student work.. we archive everything in portfolios? this is already a huge burdenPeter ? [motioning to all the laptops] we hold culture machines, dream machines? the realization of the post ww2 dream. Next book: a secret war between downloading and uploading? need to use these machines to escape a cultural diabetes that other media forms have produced? simulations ? participation[speaks in aside to Cathy] ? I?m like you but ACTUALLY optimistic .. not faking it[cathy points out that this inability ot fake it might just be a gendered deficiency? lots of laughter]question ? BIG humanities = grant challenges? how to bump this up?? are humanists articulating this in a way that can fit within the model of grant challenge rather than remaining at a different level of intelligibility? ? how to get granting bodies to see a research problem rather than ?just another global problem?cathy ? hard to frame these? but she has also sat on lots of science boards? notes that often framing very different from implementationframe: study genome vs the actual project; one tiny bit..literacy ? that?s an enormous problem? how do we teach in the context of both digital and high dropout rates?disparity between red+blue states (mentioning this might not be a good grant strategy)these are the kinds of issues that humanists are living in the midst of right nowPeter: in my dept --- thinking through and perverting scenario development (this emerged in the 1970s ... netherlands? [everyone looks at Geert Lovink ;) ] royal dutch shell- huge use in business - what if we began with a different relationship with these models ? what kind of world do we want? Let the simulation run then?David: what is a human life and how do we live it today? -- the big question in the humanitiesquestion: but what then about sustainability when these dream machines produce 40 x their own weight in waste? what are the consequences if these dream/nightmare machines are the only way we begin to access all this? Anne: maybe look to the lit on ubiquitous computing.. these will no longer be the dream machines? the way to access this will be everywhere. Agreed that this doesn?t settle the issue of sustainability? just complicates it. Maybe we can?t/won?t be able to track the wastes the same way anymorepeter ? past the point of no return. ? hopefully invent our way out of these problems. No return to the precomputational era, at least for the people in this roomanne: we need to think differently about technology ? a context but also about the way we think- new problems emerge + as well as new solutions- create a collective way of thinking more complexly and then find ways to help this thinking be part of how others ? engineers etc begin to thinkthinking WITH tech.. but also THINKING TECHNOLOGY differently? oscillation between catching up and leading the way-- wants to think technologies that do have less of an impact, ethical accountabilityCathy ? certainly a grand challenge ? hold in tension? think these issues simultaneously Peter ? bob stein ?we can be better ancesters than this?


No comments