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Software, Globalization, & Political Action


Software, Globalization, & Political Action

Instructors: Professor Susan Buck-Morss & Professor Lev Manovich

Course Description

This is an interdisciplinary seminar which use concepts and methods from both critical theory and software studies. It is taught by Susan Buck-Morss (Political Science), and Lev Manovich (Computer Science).

We will focus on three themes:

  • Vision and Image - From Walter Benjamin and Dziga Vertov to Instagram and machine vision: new strategies of seeing and representation in modern and software societies. Image v. Concept (Hegel against ‘picture thinking’) Image and historical matter (Benjamin on the “dialectical image”). Aesthetics and Politics: Images as a (trans- local) language for political action; vision and democracy: the “ethical turn. ”

  • Data and Knowledge - Knowledge production in the age of "big data." Images as sources of knowledge; computerization of thinking and culture. Interactive visualization as research method in humanities (including art history.) Political critique of methods (positivism, abstraction, categorical givens) and goals  (surveillance, marketing, positivism). Surveillance: how it is down, and what to do about it? Knowledge of, by and for whom?

  • Crowds and Networks - What are the new forms of sociality and political action enabled by global networks? Networked Images as political instruments. Crowds and the decentered brain. Crowds and/as a medium of global political action since the Arab Spring. The new body politic as a body without skin.