Monthly Archives: September 2016

I saw the fox running by the side of the road
past the turned-away brick faces of the condominiums
past the Citco gas station with its line of cars and trucks
and he ran, limping, gaunt, matted dull haired
past Jim’s Pizza, past the Wash-O-Mat,
past the Thai Garden, his sides heaving like bellows
and he kept running to where the interstate
crossed the state road and he reached it and he ran on
under the underpass and beyond it past the perfect
rows of split-levels, their identical driveways
their brookless and forestless yards,
and from my moving car, I watched him,
helpless to do anything to help him, certain he was beyond
any aid, any desire to save him, and he ran loping on,
far out of his element, sick, panting, starving,
his eyes fixed on some point ahead of him,
some possible salvation
in all this hopelessness, that only he could see.

by Patricia Fargnoli

“What’s on your mind?” This is the question to which every Facebook status update now responds. Millions of users sharing their thoughts in one giant performance of what Clay Shirky once called “cognitive surplus”. Contemporary media platforms aren’t simply a stage for this cognitive performance. They are more like directors, staging scenes, tweaking scripts, working to get the best or fully “optimized” performance. As Katherine Hayles has pointed out, media theory has long taken for granted that we think “through, with and alongside media”. Pen and paper, the abacus, and modern calculators are obvious cases in point, but the list quickly expands and with it longstanding conceptions of the Cartesian mind dissolve away. Within the cognitive sciences, cognition is now routinely described as embodied, extended, and distributed. They too recognize that cognition takes place beyond the brain, in between people, between people and things, and combinations thereof. The varieties of specifically human thought, from decision-making to reasoning and interpretation, are now considered one part of a broader cognitive spectrum shared with other animals, systems, and intelligent devices.
Today, the technology we mostly think through, with and alongside are computers. We routinely rely on intelligent devices for any number of operations, but this is no straightforward “augmentation”. Our cognitive capacities are equally instrumentalized, plugged into larger cognitive operations from which we have little autonomy. Our cognitive weaknesses are exploited and manipulated by techniques drawn from behavioural economics and psychology. If Vannevar Bush once pondered how we would think in the future, he received a partial response in Steve Krug’s best selling book on web usability: Don’t Make Me Think! Streams of Consciousness aims to explore cognition, broadly conceived, in an age of intelligent devices. We aim to critically interrogate our contemporary infatuation with specific cognitive qualities – such as “smartness” and “intelligence” – while seeking to genuinely understand the specific forms of cognition that are privileged in our current technological milieu. We are especially interested in devices that mediate access to otherwise imperceptible forms of data (too big, too fast), so it can be acted upon in routine or novel ways.”

“Technologies change people—their attitudes, behavior, and bodies. Melanie Gilligan’s experimental narrative sci-fi mini-series tells a story of the future technology “The Patch”, a sort of prosthesis which makes it possible to directly experience the physical sensations and feelings of another person. After a decade of transforming the conditions of work and social life, the technology’s networks suddenly fail causing massive disorientation. We increasingly define and shape our minds, our bodies, and the way we live and interact within a capitalist system in and through technologies. What, then, is the reverberation of such an “embodied” and intimate scenario of the technosphere? What is the speculative and critical power of its imagination?”

“Félix Guattari attempted to develop a conception of cinema across a number of short and occasional pieces that would parallel his more focused work on minor literature. In this presentation I develop some his major preoccupations and influences, including the cinemas of alternatives to psychiatry in Europe in the early-mid 1970s, and the important role that genre mixing, activist action in supoprt of engaged filmmaking, and access to a-signifying cinematic matter connected with real institutional change played in his thinking.”

Celluloid Wicker Man

John Rogers has been one of the most prominent psychogeographical writers and filmmakers of the last decade.  Fiercely independent and with a strong DIY sensibility towards his creative responses to London, his work is a vital component and documentation of a city still in a phase of hyper-development and gentrification.  Ahead of his adaptation/response to Iain Sinclair’s most recent book, London Overground, I met up with him in the surreal dystopian zone of the Olympic park for a chat about his filmmaking, psychogeography and London.

Adam: So John, tell me a bit about where we are.  It’s been quite a long journey out from Dulwich.

John: There was something around here, a deep freeze cold-storage place and the train used bring in the freight and load it into these freezers.  Iain Sinclair worked there and there was a big industrial dispute there too so it was interesting.  Iain did…

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