::fibreculture:: Automating Environments: A Discussion with Orit Halpern, Rodrigo Nunes and Susan Zieger

Ned Rossiter ned at nedrossiter.org
Wed Dec 4 01:55:40 CET 2019

Institute for Culture and Society

Western Sydney University

11 December 2019

Time: 1-4pm

Venue: Elizabeth Macquarie meeting room, Female Orphan School,
Parramatta South Campus


Organized by Liam Magee, Brett Neilson and Ned Rossiter


Please register by 6 December: https://tinyurl.com/rn7c9fp


*Automating Environments: A Discussion with Orit Halpern, Rodrigo Nunes
and Susan Zieger*


What is an automated environment? In posing this question the problem of
limits quickly surfaces. Can an environment be automated? What is an
environment? How do current developments in artificial intelligence,
machine learning, and robotics define and compose the territory of
environment? Once automated, how does an environment govern social
relations of labour and economy, subjectivity and imagination? Are their
temporalities specific to the automation of worlds and how does the axis
of time tussle with spatialities generated by automated systems? Are
there modes of orientation and organization peculiar to automated
environments? What is their political economy and geopolitical
consequence, if any?


These questions form the backdrop to this event, which is not a
workshop, seminar, or symposium but rather takes the form of a
discussion. Following an opening provocation by Orit Halpern, Rodrigo
Nunes and Susan Zieger will bring ideas and material drawn from their
research on organizational cultures and logistical modernities to the
topic of automated environments.


*Orit Halpern, Event Horizons and Planetary Tests*


What would we need to learn to change how we frame our questions and
therefore our designs of artificially intelligent or machine learning
systems? What might one “learn” from landscapes? I want to engage the
normative assumptions of figure-ground relations that model technologies
as separate from environment, society, history, or even our imaginaries
of the future by taking up this question. In doing so, I take my lead
from the famous 1972 treatise by Venturi, Brown and Izenour, /Learning
from Las //Vegas/, that sought to develop a design and architectural
vocabulary for the transforming post-industrial condition through
mapping the city of Las Vegas. Now I seek to develop a vocabulary and
map for contemporary machine learning and big data infrastructures by
“learning” from the Atacama Desert in Chile.


In the course of this talk, I will draw a map of the relationships
between environment, finance, and big data infrastructures. Detailing
the relationship between big data, post or exo-planetary imaginaries,
and resource extraction, I will outline to how we are imagining our
planetary future through our artificial intelligences.



*Orit Halpern*is a Strategic Hire in Interactive Design and Theory and
an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology
at Concordia University, Montréal. Halpern’s work bridges the histories
of science, computing and cybernetics with design and art practice. Her
most recent book, /Beautiful Data: A History of Vision and Reason since
1945/ (Duke University Press, 2015), is a genealogy of interactivity and
our contemporary obsessions with “big data” and data visualization.**


*Rodrigo Nunes*is a philosophy professor at the Catholic University of
Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio). He is the aut­hor of /Organisation of
Organisationless: Collective Action After Networks/
(Mute/PML-books, 2014), and has re­cent­ly or­ga­nis­ed a dos­sier on
the 2013 pro­tests in Bra­zil for /Les Temps Modernes/. He was
for­mer­ly a mem­ber of the edi­to­ri­al collec­tive of Turbulence. His
new book, /Beyond the Horizontal: Rethinking the Question of
Organisation/, is forthcoming with Verso.


*Susan Zieger *is Professor of English at the University of California,
Riverside and specializes in nineteenth-century British and related
literatures and cultures, with an emphasis on the novel, ephemera, and
other mass media forms. She has written /Inventing the Addict: Drugs,
Race, and Sexuality in Nineteenth-Century British and American
Literature /(University of Massachusetts Press, 2008) and /The Mediated
Mind: Affect, Ephemera, and Consumerism in the Nineteenth Century
/(Fordham University Press, 2018). With Nicole Starosielski and Matt
Hockenberry, she is editing the volume /Assembly Codes: The Logistics of
Media/, forthcoming from Duke University Press.




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