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Week Twelve (Wed, 4/13): Techno...Love??

I. coursekeeping

merlin & jlebouvier

for Monday,
read Octavia Butler's (dystopic!) short story, "Bloodchild"

for Wednesday, watch TRON: Legacy (also dystopic, per Apo: is about the son of a virtual world designer who goes looking for his father and ends up inside the digital world that his father designed. He meets his father's creation turned bad and a unique ally who was born inside the digital domain of The Grid)

Friday a week, Apr. 22, your last 4-pp. web event is due (writing conferences available...)

AND! you should begin getting organized for our final shared activity: during the last week of classes we will "bring it all together" by "telling each other new stories": In spontaneously formed emergent groups of four or so, prepare 10-15 minute presentations reflecting on y/our experiences over the semester. Use the presentations to encourage, in a provocative and entertaining way, further story development on the part of others in the class. (Think of this as a public alternative to an exam: showing-and-telling one another what we've learned, what directions most interest us.)

next week, we'll ask you to tell us what group you're in
(so we can figure out how many we have, who'll go when, how long you'll have,
whether we need two days for this, etc., etc.);
but we don't need to know ahead of time what you're going to do

a number of you
have done this before: a few retrospectives/heads up on
this activity, from aybala50, MissArcher2, merlin, kgould, Oak, Marina, Riki...?

II. processing our Skype conversation w/ Mike Chorost
(the technology, the conversation, your further questions??)

Hilary_B's post about the socio-economic dimensions of the World Wide Mind
Hillary G's about the dangers of integrating mind and internet ("
The mind is a private place.... The possibility of someone attacking the brain through technological means is too risky to realistically ignore")

cf. Mike saying that Plato's said that "a written text could not engage in conversation... knowledge only truly exists in human interaction"--> in our Skyping, Mike's book spoke back!)

the MIT class heard a talk by Sherry Turkle last night
(see her skewered on the Colbert Report-->
not nearly as interesting or visionary as Mike!)

by midnight Friday, post on-line your reactions to this week's conversations, both/either with Mike and/or regarding Teknolust...

also next week I'll review all the final requirements for the course:
final round of conferences, web events, portfolios, etc.

III. for today, are discussing a second film by Lynn Hershman Leeson

I chose it as a feminist, digital-age version of Frankenstein
(recreating the world in female form, with an unambiguously happy ending!)

Response from a student in the Gender and Science course a few years ago:
Wow! I liked it! Not sure how I felt about the idea that a successful female scientist is, of course, a lonely, frustrated virgin who uses her mind to make herself a family that pursues sexual exploits she doesn't have the guts to. Weaponizing of sexuality/stealing masculinity certainly did not seem very new or interesting to me. What I was interested in was the exploration of personhood. I liked the parts about patenting life, talking in code (time = love) and especially autonomy as crucial to happiness.

What are our responses?

A. break into groups of three (if possible, each one w/ a computer!)

B. each of you share w/ your partners three observations about the film

prioritize these, and post on-line in our forum NOW the three most interesting of these

D. read them all aloud-->

E. let's work together to make several readings/meanings/ interpretations of the film

what would a Mike Chorostian reading look like?

G. are other of our authors of particular use here?

H. what other theoretical perspectives might we employ?

I. So what? what are we taking away? what have we learned?

what further questions do we have?


from The Art and Films of Lynn Hershman Leeson:

rhymes narrative with imagery

35 yrs’ work on the relation of spectatorship to identity

antithesis to modernism’s “truth to material”: truth to tell despite material

trajectory through media, increasing audience, to get her voice heard


interactivity: real & virtual, body & machine

explodes stable identity/ fragmented subjectivity

“I always told the truth for the person I was”

“Art was my survival weapon. It allowed me to transcend presumptions of my destiny.”

digital-age Frankenstein tale

SRAs (self-replicating automatons) named for red, green, blue pixels

used to create color on computers

significance of different personalities of sisters?

expanding outcome of art work by opening up to viewer participation

Ruby’s intelligence increases, becomes increasingly flexible

with each encounter in real world

Agent Ruby’s 4-part life cycle expands cinema onto web

            web site:

            beaming/breeding stations: replicate on palm computers

                        (create psychological dependency!)

            speech synthesis and mood swings

            voice recognition, dynamic processing of current

            each stage: increases intelligence and extends self

            questions re potential of networked consciousness, identity

began art work in early 60s: formalist, minimalist, idealist,

             independent of external reality

alternative art began in 60s rebellion: needed to express political, social, moral issues

image manipulation: photography not objective truth, but ambiguous, unreliable

personal id central but occluded, uncertain

pessimism: real life impediments to personal freedom

vigilant; preoccupied w/ privacy/vulnerability to new technology

McLuhan: network as extension of human nervous system into

expanded space and compressed (instantaneous) time

gift of autonomy: NOT enslaved to secrecy, privacy

tension between insularity and social discourse


identity a fluid interaction between self, others, assigned BY others

Nussbaum: “to be seen by others an important part of knowing oneself”

identity a narrative w/ potential to repair damage with counter-stories

double talk: psychological correlative to history belonging to the privileged

conditions of agency? wherewithal to make something happen

beyond participation and activity/available in games

who/what we are wrought by ENCODED information

Rosetta lives vicariously through clones/parasitic dependence on their wild experiences

dawning of self-sufficiency, autonomy, sovereignty in R, M, O AND Rosetta


unambiguously happy ending

happiness: to be heard in relation with another who pays attention and loves you

COMEDY: ends in resolution, happiness, ORDER

Randy Kennedy, Hey, That's (Not) Funny, NYTimes, 4/15/07:

per Woody Allen, “comedy is tragedy plus time”;

Schopenhauer believes it was based on a false syllogism;

other philosophers said it revolved around a hidden misunderstanding.

(Lone Ranger: 'Looks like we're surrounded by Indians, Tonto.'

Tonto:'What's all this "we" stuff, kemo sabe?')"

from childhood trauma: longing for privacy and visibility; pursue autonomy


performance art HOSTILE to passive viewers

community-based art: requires interaction/ a political act

(ex. camcorder re: Rodney King; cf. JFK’s death)

subversive new DELIVERY SYSTEMS for art


new audience privatized public, linked by electronic network

telephone: operate in two places simultaneously (no longer talking to self; to others)

car/computer: displace times, space, distance; defy linear structure

art anticipated this: cubists’ multiple perspectives, surrealists’ randomness,

dadists’ destruction of form

the movie (cf. novel?):


witty scifi film w/ sexy female scientists

only love can make things real!????

cf. Frankenstein: characters thrive on affection and reproduction

programming of classic movie seduction scenes; impact of absorbed images on behavior

reinvention of pre-Holocaust figure of golem (mud and prayer):

            to protect community

            to understand creation (Adam #1)

            not allowed for personal or mundane tasks

            mute, lack speech, gain weight 

original project of feminism: to recreate world in female form

            imaginative recasting of matter via new ideas

            recast arrogant male science

feminist legacy:

Swinton in 4 roles; more economical and technically challenging

channeling Sandy Stone, transsexual author re: multiple identities

also Sherry Turkle, Donna Haraway

couldn’t get period film on Frankenstein funded: exercise in inverting the story


heavy reliance on DOWNLOADING: intertextual strategy

no “end, “ but Ruby’s URL

pretence of being another person precondition of electronic access??

new users: largest immigrant population in history: don’t known language,

shy re full participation, trespass on restricted territory


view from one-point perspective: deception!

Duchamp eschewed illusion=Heisenberg?

BC/AD: Before Computers/After Digital: conversion to interactive computing

“Is a blind man’s cane a part of him? (Bateson re: human boundaries; cane funnels info!)