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UC San Diego Faculty Featured in ARTFORUM’s Top Ten List

Originally posted by ARTFORUM

Arthur and Marilouise Kroker

Arthur and Marilouise Kroker are writers and lecturers in the areas of technology and culture and together edit the influential electronic journal CTheory. Arthur’s most recent book, Body Drift: Butler, Hayles, Haraway, was published last year by the University of Minnesota Press.

In the regime of computation, only the opposite is ever true. Here, “mobility” really means that bodies are tethered to their devices; Google Glass may artificially amplify sight, but it also represents a loss of peripheral vision; cloud computing, contrary to its name, wipes away drifts of earthly clouds in favor of the machinic hum of massive data farms; and for all the powerful extensiveness of the net—breaking geospatial boundaries, metabolizing information flows in the form of data analytics—what is really being intensified is the microscopic surveillance of individual subjects.

The proliferation of insecurity and anxiety so emblematic of the twenty-first century seems to have been accompanied by a parallel strengthening of scientific determinism. Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in genomic biology, with its pronouncements in favor of the “moral gene,” or in computational strategies that privilege big data and attendant concepts such as distant reading. Indeed, contemporary digital enthusiasts like to remark that more data has been collected in the past two years than in the entire history of humanity. Interestingly, this positivist surge has been challenged in turn by critical movements promoting the concept of neurodiversity. Here, images of the code-challenged brain fade away in favor of forms of creative thought that occupy the splice, the fracture, the boundary, sometimes among animals, plants, and machines, and, at other times, in that deeply intimate, necessarily autobiographical space in which individual consciousness meets the full diversity of human circumstance.

is the ultimate code breaker. The San Francisco–based filmmaker and video artist argues that we are witnessing the “birth of the anti-body”—our Net identities as fictional personae. The Paradise Lost of cinematic stories she has created traces the bodies, anti-bodies, and nonbodies we thought we had finally left behind via electronic operations moving at escape velocity. Reflecting on the Faustian bargain involved in the question of technology, she asks: “If humans have become the interface to the larger communicative body, can soulful automatons be far behind?” Hershman Leeson’s most recent filmic project—!Women Art Revolution, 2010—is that most inspiring of all the great counternarratives, namely a retelling of the story of the unsettled present by rehearsing the still unfulfilled struggles of the feminist art movement(s) of the late twentieth century.

have created brilliant counter-strategies within and through the culture of simulation. Cocreator of the Transborder Immigrant Tool, 2008, Dominguez, an artist and University of California, San Diego, professor, has retrofitted basic flip phones with mobile technology that helps migrants find water and shelter in austere border zones. Likewise, D. Fox Harrell, an MIT research professor working at the interface of the humanities and artificial intelligence, has rewritten the codes of computer gaming to combat social stigma, bias, and prejudice, as well as to reveal biographies yet untold—those still unwritten stories about the disappearance of identity in the digital haze of network culture.

A New York–based filmmaker and digital-media artist, Rivera brings together drone technology and migrant cultural and political experience in this compelling visual narrative that speaks to the future of the colonized body. Here, laborers no longer cross the Mexican-American border in desperate search of work but have their bodies slaved to “augmented reality” machines, making possible a new future of outsourced labor by means of remote sensing and enhanced vision. A dystopian chronicle of abjected flesh, humiliated subjectivity, and eerily dangling bodies, Sleep Dealer reveals what happens “when the border is closed . . . but the network is open.”

Outside the mainstream media, beyond the discourse that privileges the bodies of the wealthy, the powerful, and the famous, the history of the twenty- first century will be increasingly written by other bodily presences—those of refugees, migrants, the homeless, the helpless, and torture victims who are always off-grid—disappeared, nomadic, prohibited, unlamented, undocumented, unseen.

If those images of Reaper and Predator drones circling the empty skies do not seem truly ominous, perhaps it is because we long ago drifted into the first symptoms of the coming of drone culture: thinking in algorithms, seeing computationally, our bodies and brains packed with technology, energized by the kinetic flows of connectivity. Has human adaptive capacity allowed us to become a data haven for drone technology? Are we a drone called freedom?

Developed by Jordan Crandall, an LA-based artist whose work explores the massive impact of digital devices and social media on the human senses, this key concept positions us as subjects literally performed by technology, our perception pirated by what Paul Virilio has called “sight machines.” These devices are increasingly populating a human landscape charred by the information blast.

Media artists are the astronomers of the posthuman realm, that region beyond the point at which distributed consciousness becomes asteroids drifting ever farther from the orbits of our own bodies. Here, all boundaries have been broken; the lines demarcating humans, animals, objects, nature, and devices are unclear. Lost in the cage of measurability, the open clusters that our digital bodies have become swirl away into nebulae of gas and dust.

10 – 3-D ORGANS
The fantastic proliferation of 3-D printing in areas ranging from manufacturing plants to hospital operating rooms is potentially ushering in a new world of made-to-order organs. Our future bodies will be instantly reanimated with viscera perfectly sculpted to our individual biological histories. However, as Jean Baudrillard once asked: What if we forget to die?

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