The Wonders of N. Katherine Hayles
by Larry Murray
When you smash art and science together, be prepared for The Great Conflation where logic and imagination meet. Consider, for example, how permanent a book is compared to technology. Treated with care, books last hundreds of years and the thoughts of earlier writers are still accessible today in physical form. Meanwhile technology, which keeps updating itself, often makes written material ephemeral and history will not be able to access much of the important writing of the digital age unless we archive it all.
Who decides this? How do we go about preserving the best of the internet’s output for future generations. How can we know which of it is going to be important to people a century or millenium from now? It’s the sort of thing that keeps N. Katherine Hayles awake at night. Nobody better embodies The Great Conflation as science is employed to understand writing, literature and philosophy for future generations.
It takes a techno-genius to explain technogenesis
EMPAC is, as usual, way ahead of the curve on this one. They’ve scheduled the great lady for a stimulating talk to open the subject for our own understanding. It’s called “Performing Technogenesis: The Affective Power of Digital Media,” and will take place on Wednesday, April 17, 2013, at 6:00 PM in the EMPAC Theater at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY.
N. Katherine Hayles will explore how digital media is changing us, and on what levels and in what ways. She will examine the co-evolution of technical objects and contemporary humans, arguing that our intense engagements with digital media affect us not only through conscious channels but also through unconscious and nonconscious modes, as well. The trajectory of these changes will be discussed, with examples drawn from gaming and electronic literature.
N. Katherine Hayles, professor of literature and director of graduate studies at Duke University, writes and teaches on the relationships of literature, science, and technology in the 20th and 21st centuries. Her book How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics, won the René Wellek Prize for the Best Book of Literary Theory for 1998-99, and her book Writing Machines won the Suzanne Langer Award for Outstanding Scholarship. Her most recent book is How We Think: Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis. Hayles has received numerous awards and fellowships, including a Guggenheim, two National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships, and a Rockefeller Residential Fellowship at Bellagio.
The Observer Effects – Who, What, Why
The Observer Effects talk series invites thinkers to present their highly integrative work in dialogue with the fields of art and science. This lecture series takes its title from a popularized principle in physics that holds that the act of observation transforms the observed. Outside the natural sciences, the idea that the observer and the observed are linked in a web of reciprocal modification has been deeply influential in philosophy, aesthetics, psychology, and politics.
The talk is free and open to the public.
Evelyn’s Café will open at 5 PM with a full menu of meals, snacks, and beverages as well as a selection of wines. Service continues after the event. Parking is available in the Rensselaer parking lot on College Avenue.
More information can be found on the EMPAC website: empac.rpi.edu. Questions? Call the EMPAC Box Office: 518.276.3921.
About VZectors of Research—Circles of Art
EMPAC—The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center—is where the arts, sciences, and technology interact with and influence each other by using the same facilities, technologies, and by breathing the same air.
Situated on the campus of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, EMPAC is dedicated to building bridges between our human senses, to modes of perception and experience, to creating meaning in a physical environment, and to the intangible world of digital technology.
Four discrete venues are designed with unique technical infrastructure to enable audiences to see, hear, and move in space in endlessly different ways. EMPAC hosts artists and researchers to create new work and presents events which ask audiences to join the quest for new perspectives.
What RPI is up to
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, founded in 1824, is the nation’s oldest technological university. The school offers degrees in engineering, the sciences, information technology, architecture, management, and the social sciences and humanities. For over 30 years, the Institute has been a leader in interdisciplinary creative research, especially in the electronic arts. In addition to its MFA and PhD programs in electronic arts, Rensselaer offers bachelor degrees in electronic arts, and in electronic media, arts, and communication — one of the first undergraduate programs of its kind in the United States. The Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies and EMPAC are two major research platforms that Rensselaer established at the beginning of the 21st century.
EMPAC 2012-2013 presentations, residencies, and commissions are made possible by continuous support from the Jaffe Fund for Experimental Media and Performing Arts. Additional project support by the National Endowment for the Arts; the National Dance Project of the New England Foundation for the Arts with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; the New York State Council for the Arts; Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation with support from the National Endowment for the Arts; Arts Council Norway, Fond for Lyd og Bilde, and Fond for Utøvende Kunstner.