Faculty Seminar Series: Laboratory and Studio as Models for Humanities Research


Michael Simeone, Generative Use Cases for Reconsidering Humanities Research Methods
Sha Xin Wei, The Atelier as Transversal Machine

Generative use cases for reconsidering humanities research methods:
This presentation will explore the usefulness of the scientific laboratory, virtual collaboratory, and data observatory as models for collaborations in the humanities. It will focus on both formal qualities of scientific labs and informal habits and social configurations that can make labs productive for the humanities, using a number of field cases from the first year of the IHR Nexus Lab to detail generative practices and weaknesses in the lab model for use in the humanities. From a study of shared place and collective effort, this model will be contrasted with that of the collaboratory: online environments for discussion and sharing among large groups of geographically remote peers. The lecture will conclude with a proposal for the middle ground, an 'observatory': a remote collection of data and information services geared at helping a local group of collaborators share and synthesize new insights about their work.

The Atelier as a Transversal Machine for Post-Digital Humanities:
Two decades ago, Felix Guattari pointed to the heterogeneous machines around us: material, semiotic / diagrammatic / algorithmic, corporeal, mental / representational / informatic, and libidinal / affective. Guattari's Chaosmosis and Three Ecologies asked how we could construct machines that act transversally across those machines. Since 2001, the Topological Media Lab has been working as an atelier-laboratory transversal to computer science, performing arts, and more recently architecture and the built environment, to generate insights and techniques in the domain of live media and responsive environments. The atelier was motivated by the question, How can ordinary actions in everyday environments acquire symbolic charge? As the atelier matured, it added a more architectural question: How can we build environments that are richer but not more complicated?

Reflexively, I ask, how can we create labs and ateliers that invent apparatuses for ethico-aesthetic improvisation? I describe institutional, socio-technical, political economic issues around running such an atelier-laboratory as a social economy complementary to post-industrial knowledge-based economies. Then I will invite a discussion as to how such an atelier blending elements of the art studio and the laboratory could provide a model for transdisciplinary work in the post-digital humanities, alternative to the art-science axis of the late 20c and to recent Do-It-Yourself practice.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

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