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Art and Technology Art History Creative Coding | Programming Culture Criticism Digital Art Observations Philosophy Social Networking Theory Virtual Art

The Human Builds the Machine but Ought Not to Become It

In certain types of engineering practices, there’s this idea that the computer and mathematics itself are sort of  a-cultural. That they only exist in their own technical and formal world. Every computer system is built within a social and historical context of its time.

~Professor Fox Harrell

Last year, I delved into work and research of Professor Fox Harrell. He runs the Imagination, Computation, and Expression Laboratory (ICE) Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Click here for an introduction to the ICE lab.

The lab’s most recent work is the AIR Project, which stands for Advanced Identity Representation. This particular project looks at the ways in which end users can actively create a richer, dynamic identity within the virtual world. I’m oversimplifying here but I highly encourage you to visit the project site to read immerse yourself in the details. Although his work is based on computation and artificial intelligence (AI), the focus is on the human condition and our (virtual) interactions. This type of new media art helps shed light on the way we behave, perceive, and inevitably mesh and mold into identities we have created for ourselves. More to follow…

Currently reading: Toward a Theory of Critical Computing: The Case of Social Identity Representation in Digital Media Applications by Dr. Fox Harrell 

By Dorothy R. Santos

Dorothy R. Santos (b. 1978) is a Filipina American writer, artist, and educator whose academic and research interests include feminist media histories, critical medical anthropology, race and technology. Born and raised in San Francisco, California, she holds Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Psychology from the University of San Francisco and received her Master’s degree in Visual and Critical Studies at the California College of the Arts. She is a Ph.D. student in Film and Digital Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz as a Eugene V. Cota-Robles fellow. Her work as been exhibited at Ars Electronica, Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and the GLBT Historical Society.

Her writing appears in art21, Rhizome, Hyperallergic, Ars Technica, Vice Motherboard, and SF MOMA’s Open Space. Her essay “Materiality to Machines: Manufacturing the Organic and Hypotheses for Future Imaginings,” was published in The Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture. She is a co-founder of REFRESH, a politically-engaged art and curatorial collective and serves as the program manager for the Processing Foundation.

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