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Dissent and the machine

Anti-computing explores forgotten histories and contemporary forms of dissent – moments when the imposition of computational technologies, logics, techniques, imaginaries, utopias have been questioned, disputed, or refused. It also asks why these moments tend to be forgotten. What is it about computational capitalism that means we live so much in the present? What has this to do with computational logics and practices themselves?

This book addresses these issues through a critical engagement with media archaeology and medium theory and by way of a series of original studies; exploring Hannah Arendt and early automation anxiety, witnessing and the database, Two Cultures from the inside out, bot fear, singularity and/as science fiction. Finally, it returns to remap long-standing concerns against new forms of dissent, hostility, and automation anxiety, producing a distant reading of contemporary hostility.

At once an acute response to urgent concerns around toxic digital cultures, an accounting with media archaeology as a mode of medium theory, and a series of original and methodologically fluid case studies, this book crosses an interdisciplinary research field including cultural studies, media studies, medium studies, critical theory, literary and science fiction studies, media archaeology, medium theory, cultural history, technology history.

Open Access (free)
Digital Bodies, Data and Gifts
Kristin Bergtora Sandvik

cuteness, to science fiction level body machine melding’. Wearables range from ‘the eminently practical’ to the ‘utterly fantastical’. The functions of these digital technologies are not necessarily novel: paper maps have existed for centuries; pedometers date back to the eighteenth century; devices measuring distances cycled or walked, spectacles, prosthetic devices and wristwatches are further examples of historical wearable technologies ( Carter et al. , 2018

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Dana Phillips

, and while resilience can be a measure of the abiding strengths of natural systems, it can also result in new environmental woes in its own right (such as a preponderance of invasive Phragmites reeds, and the further decline of megafauna like elephants that I hinted at above). Science fiction, speculative fiction and the pre-posterous historical novel That all four of the terms I just spent some time defining are marked, in varying degrees, by ambiguity underscores their structural importance to the narratives in which they are employed as tropes, owing to a

in Literature and sustainability
Science fiction, singularity, and the flesh
Caroline Bassett

In this chapter questions about AI that ELIZA foregrounded are explored in new places and times – in science fiction, which has long dealt in AI, singularity, and the computational. SF claims a privileged relationship to the technological future, and the tax on dissenting projections is lower than that for the apostates of computer science and industry. More specifically, it claims the privilege that comes with attention. It attends to the future, it explores, invents, and/or speculates on possible forms of life. Through the form of attention

in Anti-computing
Sustainability in Kim Stanley Robinson’s Science in the Capital trilogy
Chris Pak

societies shape themselves partly through the utopian potential of the images of the future that they construct. Science fiction (sf) has portrayed a variety of images of the future, from post-apocalyptic narratives of decline to techno-utopian futures and ecotopian images of sustainable societies. These narratives explore many instances of sustainable and unsustainable practices, but issues of energy, oil, water and the extraction of other resources have been persistent themes. Through portrayals of future worlds and societies that explore the embeddedness of individuals

in Literature and sustainability
Open Access (free)
The ethics and politics of memory in an age of mass culture
Alison Landsberg

strategy for bringing about social change. To be a socially responsible person, Nero must ‘kick the habit’, turn away from the private prison world of memory in order to live productively in the public world. This negative depiction of memory is more than just the conceit of a science fiction film. The image of memory as an obstacle to, rather than a catalyst for, progressive

in Memory and popular film
Open Access (free)
Jenny Edkins

, and two notions of time and politics: first, the notion that the future is something that can be produced or at least influenced by our actions; and second, the idea that the future is in some sense predetermined – and we cannot escape it. The first is, if you like, a linear, progressive notion of time; the second could be seen as a more circular picture. Crucially though, both see time as an external background against which events unfold; time exists independently of us, and the film postulates a science fiction world where we can travel through this external time

in Change and the politics of certainty
Open Access (free)
Animal, mechanical and me: Technologies that alter subjectivity
Gill Haddow

emphasised how the modification would alter their identity, turning them into the cyborgs such as those portrayed in literature and film, for example ‘Robocop’, and androids portrayed in science-fiction films such as ‘Terminator’. The ambiguity of embodiment emerges in various ways and degrees of subjectivity alteration when exploring preferences for different technological and organic materials to be embodied. In sum, I shall argue that although individuals are embodied, they are also embedded, in various social contexts that construct meanings associated with what is

in Embodiment and everyday cyborgs
Open Access (free)
Reading Close Combat
Barry Atkins

or she might tell something other the received narrative account already told by so many others. In the ‘space between’ fact and fiction we are given licence to ask ‘What if?’ This is a game-fiction for armchair generals, and not for those who want access to an ersatz combat experience. It makes no more claim to being able to magically ‘transport’ the reader into the past than does the work of military history, and less than is claimed for genre war novels. There are first-person games that have eschewed the milieu of genre science fiction and been set firmly

in More than a game
Open Access (free)
Theatre and the politics of engagement

This book is about science in theatre and performance. It explores how theatre and performance engage with emerging scientific themes from artificial intelligence to genetics and climate change. The book covers a wide range of performance forms from the spectacle of the Paralympics Opening Ceremony to Broadway musicals, from experimental contemporary performance and opera to educational theatre, Somali poetic drama and grime videos. It features work by pioneering companies including Gob Squad, Headlong Theatre and Theatre of Debate as well as offering fresh analysis of global blockbusters such as Wicked and Urinetown. The book offers detailed description and analysis of theatre and performance practices as well as broader commentary on the politics of theatre as public engagement with science. It documents important examples of collaborative practice with extended discussion of the Theatre of Debate process developed by Y Touring theatre company, exploration of bilingual theatre-making in East London and an account of how grime MCs and dermatologists ended up making a film together in Birmingham. The interdisciplinary approach draws on contemporary research in theatre and performance studies in combination with key ideas from science studies. It shows how theatre can offer important perspectives on what the philosopher of science Isabelle Stengers has called ‘cosmopolitics’. The book argues that theatre can flatten knowledge hierarchies and hold together different ways of knowing.