Current Students

Students currently studying Master in Creative Arts Practice

Ryan Boyle

Nick Cooke

Xuan Du

India Fleming

Pete Haughie

Sijia He

Yaxi Jin

Katharine Oswell

Kiran Pearce

Benazir Syarifuddin

Niall Calderon

Kypros Kyprianou

Jasmine Padgett


Previous Students



Ares Rabe Shawn MaChloe Manyue Yu Chrissy Shou Yu ChenBen WoolseyMegan WilsonJade MallaboneGarry LydonMichael HirstSarah DavyAlexei CrawleyLewis BrownDaniel BradwellAshley Bowes


Previous Students



Meena DaneshyarMaria Clemente – AlbaceteSean Cotterill

Xiyuan TanYue WangRiar Rizaldi

Daniel Parry


Previous Students



MeteorEdmund Nesveda

Clive WrightChilly Rain

Wenya ChenTrong Cuong Dao

Yousif AbdulghaniTan

BartiZhang Wei



Yinzhen BaoTatiana Fujimori
Jaejun HwangSaksit Knunkitti
Wenchang LinClare Robertson
Tunc Karkutoglu

Mres Digital Media
Adrian ParkBen HoldenIsobel Taylor
James DavollNina LimardoXue Yan
Aaron SmilesAlessandro AltavillaAndrew Nixon
Andrzwej WojtasBen FreethBen Thompson
Helen CollardJane DudmanJoseph Pochciol
Pengfei ZhangSanjay Mortimer
Ewelina Aleksandrowicz (Tikul)


HSS8121: 3 – Making in Public: Practices in Creative Research and Maker Culture


In this session we will:

  • Examine the meaning of maker culture or maker movement
  • Look at some of the practices regarding making in the public influenced by research
  • Discuss our perspective on public making as creative makers


Link from previous sessions


What have you seen up until now in this module?

  • Theoretical approaches to the public – foundation
  • From art in the public realm to the civic agency in hybrid spaces

Lessons learnt up to now? How do you apply them in your practice and behaviour?

This is what today’s lecture is going to focus on. Focusing on the makers’ culture and creative research practices and behaviour.

Creative Research Practices

Helen Kara (2015) classifies creative research methods into four key areas:

1. Arts-based research

  • Draw on forms of creative writing and/or the visual arts (drawing, painting, collage, photography etc) or infused with more artistic angle they incorporate music, drama, textile arts (i.e. sculptures).
  • However, the product/artwork is not necessarily experienced in the same way by everyone, leading to multiple perspectives for an item. This comes in contrast with traditional research views where an object can have a single meaning.

2. Research using technology

  • Examples include research through social media, through the use of mobile devices, apps.
  • ‘Technology itself has an influence on people’s creativity, yet the role of technology in the creative process has not yet been fully understood or theorised’. This may neglect what some disciplines say about how new technologies relate to innovative socio-cultural practices with direct implications for research methods.
  • Some fear that technology will change their research practice, and it will, though this seems not a cause for fear, but for care and thought on how to direct the change.

3. Mixed-methods research

  • Mixed methods are perhaps the most well-established approach.
  • But the potential – and the risks – of mixing methods are still not understood by most researchers. People often think in terms of gathering data using both quantitative and qualitative methods, but there is so much more scope for mixing, from using different theoretical perspectives to inform the same piece of research to multi-media presentation and dissemination.

4. Transformative research frameworks (such as participatory, decolonising, or community-based methods)

  • These are frameworks designed to reduce power imbalances within the research process and, ideally, to affect structural inequalities more widely.
  • They are challenging to implement, requiring more time and other resources than more traditional frameworks for research, but when used well they can indeed transform aspects of our society for the better.


  • H. Kara, Creative Research Methods in the Social Sciences: A Practical Guide, 2015]

“Creative is not directly synonymous with ‘innovative'”.

Maker Culture or Movement

So what do we define as maker culture? What is new?

Maker culture focuses on using and learning practical skills and then applying them creatively to different situations. Maker culture draws upon a more participatory approach than traditional learning, encouraging learners to collaboratively engage with others as they learn through the creation of new items (Sharples et al., 2013). Maker culture draws upon a social constructivist perspective which emphasises the social, cultural, and historical factors of experiences (Vygotsky, 1979) as well as a constructionist view on learning (Papert, 1993), which examines the tangible items that are created through learners working within their environments.

People of the maker era are a diverse group including those using 3D printers to create toys, instruments, and weapons; those who experiment with the modification of household items such as retrofitting these items with sensors and Internet connectivity; and those who craft one-of-a-kind designs, such as clothing or furniture, for production on demand (Morozov, 2014)

Maker Culture

The maker culture is a contemporary culture or subculture representing a technology-based extension of DIY culture that intersects with hacker culture(which is less concerned with physical objects as it focuses on software) and revels in the creation of new devices as well as tinkering with existing ones.

Maker Movement

The maker movement is a trend in which individuals or groups of individuals create and market products that are recreated and assembled using unused, discarded or broken electronic, plastic, silicon or virtually any raw material and/or product from a computer-related device.

Even President Obama alluded to the Maker Movement in a speech at the National Sciences Academy’s Annual meeting in 2009 when he remarked:

I want us all to think about new and creative ways to engage young people in science and engineering, whether it’s science festivals, robotics competitions, fairs that encourage young people to create and build and invent – to be makers of things, not just consumers of things.


Maker Education

“Maker education is a new education model which integrates information technologies, adheres to the education ideas of open innovation and exploration experience, uses creation-based learning as the main learning style, and finally focuses on cultivating more innovative talents.” (Xianmin & Jihong, 2015)

Two of the core concepts underlying maker education are learning by doing and constructionism.

“However, maker could be a deformed technology culture for excessive emphasis on the value of products and ignoring the existence value of non-makers.” (Xianmin & Jihong, 2015)

Empowerment, Participation and Democracy

Making has transformed from a fringe and hobbyist practice into a professionalizing field and an emerging industry. Enthusiasts laud its potential to democratize technology, improve the workforce, empower consumers, encourage citizen science, and contribute to the global economy. DIY making is often described as open to anyone, a practice that broadens participation by empowering everyone: makers and users, rich and poor, men and women, young and old. Advocates of DIY promise to turn passive consumers into active participants in state affairs and the market economy as well as revamp a broken educational system through hands-on learning. [Ames et al., 2014]

Currently “empowerment” is the term favoured to convey the idea of people becoming the agents of their own development. Normatively, saying that people have been “empowered” means that they have become better able to shape their own lives, which is a goal that everyone has reason to value. From a more empirical perspective, “empowerment” means gaining a number of factors that make this goal achievable. [Drydyk, 2010]

Another virtue of participation is that it can make a development process more democratic. More precisely, some participatory practices make development decision-making function more democratically. [Drydyk, 2010]

“The quality of participation, depends on its initial entry point” (Goulet 1995, 95).

Communities of Practices, Communities of Interest, Participatory Design, Capacity Development etc.: First stage of these approaches is a needs assessment, identifying stakeholder – not only those whose needs or practices are at the centre of the design, but also potential external stakeholders who could be affected by the aims of the project. So in this manner, you create a consultative forum, where all stakeholders are represented, to contribute to verifying the needs of the project and setting objectives.

The case of Young Company (@ Northern Stage).


Student-Led Seminar (17/04/2018)

Suggested Reading Material:

15 min presentations:

  • Pete – How are maker projects and makers legitimated? Who gets to make these decisions?
  • Nick (Ning An) – In which ways does DIY making extend existing systems of power and divisions of labor?
  • Katharine – What are the possible synergies between critical making, critical technical practice and commercial explorations in making cultures?
  • Benazir – Who is drawn into the making movement, who is excluded or stays away, and why?

DMS8013: Algorithms & Gererativity


  • To learn about the history of algorithms and generative computer code
  • To think about the ways that computers ‘model life’ or otherwise connect to the physical world
  • To experience creating generative systems

Algorithm: “a description of the method by which a task is to be accomplished,”

How do you perceive the meaning of an algorithm?

History in Computer Science (and previously in mathematics)

From writing about recipes in cooking and rituals to the Turing Machine (1936) to Dijkstra’s algorithm.

In art/music/education Shintaro Miyazaki & Michael Chinen, Algorithmic Sorting

Formalism vs Action

The algorithm “is the unifying concept for all the activities which computer scientists engage in.” Provisionally a “de- scription of the method by which a task is to be accomplished,” the algorithm is thus the fundamental entity with which computer scientists operate.[…] But the algorithm is not simply the theoretical entity studied by computer scientists. Algorithms have a real existence embodied in the class libraries of programming languages, in the software used to render web pages in a browser (indeed, in the code used to render a browser itself on a screen), in the sorting of entries in a spreadsheet and so on.

Fuller, M. (2008). Software Studies: A Lexicon. Leonardo Books, MIT Press. p17

So (what I’ll call) the mode of material expression is vital, powerful etc.

A conception of the algorithm as a statement as Michel Foucault used the term might allow us to understand this approach a little better. For Foucault, the statement is not analytically reducible to the syntactic or semantic features of a language; it refers instead to its historical existence and the way that this historical existence accomplishes particular actions. […] As Foucault puts it in The Archaeology of Knowledge, “to speak is to do some- thing—something other than to express what one thinks, to translate what one knows, and something other than to play with the structure of language.

Fuller, M. (2008). Software Studies: A Lexicon. Leonardo Books, MIT Press. p17

Generativity: Modelling life?

In a sense, we can think of the field of cybernetics as an orientation.

Cybernetics: “Our bodies are hardware, our behavior software”

‘In a sense, the original purpose of Cybernetics was to produce a unified theory of the control levels and types of messages used by men and machines and processes in normal operation. Thus the history of computer technology may be interpreted as progress in making communication between men and machines more natural and complete. This remains an ideal definition, however, because quite often in industry human beings have been adapted to inhuman machine schedules, rather than the other way around. What is less realized is that most businesses of any size have had to adapt themselves, more or less traumatically, to radically different patterns of administration and organization as the result of information structures made possible by computer systems. So in part Software addresses itself to the personal and social sensibilities altered by this revolution.’

‘It is now empirically clear that Darwinian evolutionary theory contained a very great error in its identification of the unit of survival under natural selection. The unit which was believed to be crucial and around which the theory was set up was either the breeding individual or the family line or the subspecies or some similar homogeneous set of conspecifics. Now I suggest that the last 100 years have demonstrated empirically that if an organism or aggregate of organisms sets to work with a focus on its own survival and thinks that that is the way to select its adaptive moves, its “progress” ends up with a destroyed environment. […] The flexible environment must also be included along with the flexible organism because, as I have already said, the organism which destroys its environment destroys itself. The unit of survival is a flexible organism-in-its-environment.’ Bateson, Gregory. “Form, substance, and difference.” Essential Readings in Biosemiotics (1970): 501. p508

Swarm Intelligence: Moving as a Hive

Simulating birds and bees in groups, forming them into intelligent systems. The groups are smarter when thinking together. Researchers have explored the collective behaviour of fish, bees, and ants and constructed algorithms to simulate them, constructing smart systems that could provide solutions to problems, forming swarm intelligence. Swarm intelligence is the collective behaviour of decentralized, self-organized systems, natural or artificial. The concept is employed in work on artificial intelligence.


These AI systems have even predicted Oscar nominations!

Generative Code

Meanwhile in computer science bleeding to art practice people became interested in algorithmic modelling, generative processes on both ontological and processual levels.

Such as Conway and the game of life.

‘These artistic systems are not wholly deterministic, running an image through pre-set parameters until it reaches perfection. Indeed, Latham realized early on that the most interesting outcomes of his program were quite unforeseen by him: his evolutionary program could arrive at unexpected conclusions. Even if an artist programs the computer from the start, there will always be an important element of mystery in the working of the software. Such quirks render the computer less mechanistic (and predictable) and more “artistic,” because the outcome of certain operations cannot always be foreseen. is unpredictability can be harnessed in the same way as the chemical reactions of pigments, or the densities of stone. In other words, an artist develops a feel for its working and gradually incorporates its idiosyncrasies into their work, which itself changes subtly or overtly to accommodate these properties.’ Lambert, Nicholas, William Latham, and Frederic Fol Leymarie. “The emergence and growth of evolutionary art: 1980–1993.” ACM SIGGRAPH 2013 Art Gallery. ACM, 2013.
‘For Lev Manovich, contemporary generative art is distinctively concerned with complexity, unlike the paradigm of reduction that characterised abstraction in the visual arts in the first half of the twentieth century.’

‘Software art systems are concrete collections of objects, relations, actions and processes. In part they are formal but constructed ontologies, describing entities and their interrelations. These ontologies are partly metaphorical or figurative—constructing for example «agents» in an «environment.» They are also partly technical / textual, in the sense that the implementation of these figures occurs within the structures of a formal language with particular representational and computational limits. How do we read such systems, critically? They are literally texts, in their source code, but also in a critical sense, in that they involve specific figurations, relations, decisions, values and ideologies.’ Whitelaw, Mitchell. “System stories and model worlds: A critical approach to generative art.” Readme 100 (2005): 135-154.

One example is Generative Composition Engine. The Generative Composition Engine is the culmination of a year-long project in an algorithmic artwork. The application generates unique compositions and plots supplied assets. The settings are derived by the user, compositional rules and a level of chaos to instantaneously create infinite artwork. Every composition has a focal point which affects the scaling of all items on the canvas and several ways of plotting coordinates.



Particle Systems:

Now to design a swarm we need first to create the smallest unit which is a single particle.
What are its characteristics? How do we want it to move?
We will, therefore, create a class that will hold all the information for this particle.
Create the class together…step by step.

Then we want this particle to act in some way. What do we want the particle to do? We add methods for its behaviour within the class.

Sketches here.

Look inside the particles class and decide how you’re going trigger or affect the sound. This should probably be some method (function) of the distance between nearby particles.


Create Langton’s Ant


Or a Turing Machine:

DMS8013: 3. Communication: What hath God wrought?



  • To experience and discuss aspects of the history of communications technology
  • To think about what we mean by communication
  • To understand (a little) more about how networks work

Communicating Information vs How to do Things with Words (a contrast)

Lets consider the history of optical communication 

Beacons and Smoke Signals

Precursors to The Chappe Optical Telegraph



How wonderful it was that these various signs should be made to cleave the air with such precision as to convey to the distance of three hundred leagues the ideas and wishes of a man sitting at a table at one end of the line to another man similarly placed at the opposite extremity, and all this affected by a simple act of volition. Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas

Early Experiments of the Chappe Brothers

Lets recreate one of these experiments using this online clock, and a small bell.

Standage (1998, p. 9) describes how the Chappe brothers, before arriving at the solution of semaphore arms as the most efficient way of encoding and relaying messages, experimented with a combination of synchronized timing devices and color-coded discs. The recipient of the message would watch for the change between black and white and take a note of the precise position of the stop-watch, translating this number via a pre-arranged code. What is historically significant about this process, is that by tying the change of a physical state to a regular time interval, the brothers introduced two completely new spatio-temporal arrangements of materiality, which are exercised, two hundred years later, by the iPhone which forms the basis for NBM. First the regulation of information by time interval, effectively prefigured the notion of bandwidth (without which, Shannon’s seminal (2001 [1948]) work, for instance, would not have been possible). Second the notion of a regulating clock signal to manage information processing was effectively born with this invention. In integrated circuits, different chips must be able to communicate with one another at the right time and for this purpose, a clock signal is referred to. It is no exaggeration to say that without the notion of a clock signal, there would be no microprocessors and hence, no digital computers. However, I do not claim that the Chappe brothers version of serial ‘genealogically’ lead to the development of the signal clock. Instead I suggest that this material arrangement of physicality and time can be traced back to this historical moment. Schofield, Tom, Materiality and Making in Experiential Ecologies (PhD Thesis).


Claude (Elwood!) Shannon

Information Theory. Signal vs Noise. The abstraction that Shannon brought to the notion of information was exactly that which made it computable. His work with boolean logic and encryption was made possible by a particular (and instrumental) vision of information. It is not Shannon’s fault that the specialised use of the word ‘communication’ described in his work has unproblematically expanded out of its home in (the foundations) of computer science.

So far we’ve talked about the history of optical ‘communication’. To what degree do you think we are actually talking about ‘communication’. To what degree are talking about transmission / reception? What is/could be the difference?


Performativity and doing things with words (and media)

If we wish to think seriously about the media of communication, particularly in the age of computational media we need to think about what we mean when we say ‘communication’.

‘Performative utterances:
a. do not ‘describe’ or ‘report’ or constate anything at all, are not ‘true or false’
b. the uttering of the sentence is, or is a part of, the doing of an action, which again would not normally be described as ‘just’ saying something.’(adapted from) 1962 Austin, John L. “How to Do Things with Words.” Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962. p6


‘…if gender is instituted through acts which are internally discontinuous, then the appearance of substance is precisely that, a constructed identity, a performative accomplishment which the mundane social audience, including the actors themselves, come to believe and to perform in the mode of belief. If the ground of gender identity is the stylised repetition of acts through time, and not a seemingly seamless identity, then the possibilities of gender transformation are to be found in the arbitrary relation between such acts in the possibility of a different sort of repeating, in the breaking of subversive repetition of that style.’ Butler, Judith. “Performative acts and gender constitution: An essay in phenomenology and feminist theory.” Theatre journal 40.4 (1988): 519-531. p520

Task: Re-read the quote above –
1. what are examples of the way that gender is constituted and re-consituted through speech acts?
2. what does Butler mean when she says that ‘gender is instituted through acts which are internally discontinuous’?
3. what kind of acts might produce the possibility of a different sort of repeating?

If language is performative may not other forms of communication be so? In answer, we might also look to some recent DH work

‘In a model of materiality as fundamentally performative, we can show how forensic, evidentiary materiality and formal organization serve as a provocation for the creation of a reading as a constitutive interpretative act. The specific structures and forms, substrates and organizational features, are probability conditions for production of an interpretation. Knowledge creates the objects of its discourses, it does not “discover” them. Constructivist epistemology shifts our attention from knowledge to knowing, from objects that are observer-independent to the recognition of observer-dependent process, or events.’ Drucker, J. “Performative Materiality and Theoretical Approaches to Interface”, Digital Humanities Quarterly 7.1, 2013. (emphasis added)


Doing Communication

Optional Pre-task:

Download the Processing library ‘OscP5‘. Follow the installation instructions and have a play with the examples.

For extra brownie points you may want to have a look at this. An overview of how the internet is structure in terms of its backbone, ISP etc.

If you have an android mobile phone, download this free app or for iPhone this one. We are going to play with it in class.

All sketches for today’s class are here 3.

HSS8121: Theoretical approaches to the public. Foundations


In this session we will:

  • Examine some ways that different societies at different periods in history have described the role, function or nature of the public
  • Think about some of our preconceptions about what does and does not constitute a public
  • Look at some contemporary theories about publics have been influential in research practice
  • Reflect on the above as it relates to our role of putting creative work in to the world

Key vocabulary

All the definitions below are from the OED (which btw you have full access to as an ncl student here) unless otherwise stated.

Dialectics, ‘Logic, reasoning; critical investigation of truth through reasoned argument, often spec. by means of dialogue or discussion.’

Sophistry, ‘Specious but fallacious reasoning; employment of arguments which are intentionally deceptive.’

Publicity, ‘The quality of being public; the condition or fact of being open to public observation or knowledge’

The Public Sphere. There are many definitions but broadly we mean a discursive space where political concerns are developed. Habermas used the term ‘Öffentlichkeit’

politische Öffentlichkeit: “political public sphere” (or sometimes the more cumbersome “public sphere in the political realm”)

literarische~Öffentlichkeit:”literary public sphere” (or “public sphere in the world of letters”)

repräsentative Öffentlichkeit: “representative publicness” (i.e,.,the display of inherent spiritual power or dignity before audience)

(Translators foreword to Habermas, J. (1991 [1962]). The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. (T. (trans) Burger, Ed.). Cambridge MA: MIT Press pxiv)

Conjoint action, ‘..the agency behind the emergence of a public.’ Bennett, Jane. Vibrant matter: A political ecology of things. Duke University Press, 2009. p100. The forces or factors that make people and things come and act together (my addition)

Agency and actants/actors, Agency is the capacity of someone, something or some other phenomenon to effect change. Actors/actants are those who have agency (my notes)

Interessement, In Actor Network Theory, Interessement is the process by which actors become enrolled in a network. (my notes)


Philosophy of the public in 8 images

Print the seventeenth century, Leviathan Hobbes, vintage engraved illustration. Magasin Pittoresque 1852.

Classical Publics and later

Plato and the role of dialectic in articulating and creating public knowledge, justice, politics and philosophy.

The Body Politic

Hobbes in Leviathan (first published 1651) dismisses the use of such arguments (and strategies, techniques etc derived from Socrates) as sophistry. Coming from experience of the civil war Hobbes wanted public life to be founded in certainties which he rooted in the monarchy. Influenced by Galileo he attempted to apply deductive reasoning to a political philosophy. The role of a governing body with whom we form part of a social contract is to decide upon first principles from which we can derive everything else. Those include the fact that we are cast into a material world of chaos, violence and fear and it is the task of humans to achieve peace through social contact. He establishes first principles of mind and matter and deductively infers from them what a just and proper society should be. Because humans’ experience of nature varies from person to person an objective account fo nature is impossible. In his words, there is no “right Reason constituted by Nature,” His response is to setup an arbiter of truth in response.


The Public Sphere

It is no exaggeration to say that much of what we take for granted as to the basis of our rights and participation in publics derives from Jürgen Habermas’ work on the public sphere. Habermas was influenced by Kant, Hegel and the Frankfurt school (marxist literary theory). Interestingly what Habermas shared with the Frankfurt school (and Adorno in particular) was the idea that the masses had become corrupted and were no longer capable of revolutionary thought or action. What’s particular to Habermas is his framing of that corruption as an impoverishment of the public sphere.

In ‘The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere’ Habermas makes a distinction between early forms of publicity (p7) in feudal societies (for instance through courtly displays, etiquette and practices) and those which arose post-enlightenment. In feudal societies on the King or Queen was a public person, and indeed the public and private realms were not separated.

‘The bourgeois is distinguished from the courtly mentality by the fact that in the bourgeois home even the ballroom is still homey, whereas in the palace even the living quarters are still festive. And actually, beginning with Versailles, the royal bedroom develops into the palace’s second center. If one finds here the bed set up like a stage, placed on a platform, a throne for lying down, separated by a barrier from the area for the spectator, this is so because in fact this room is the scene of the daily ceremonies of lever and voucher, where what is most intimate is raised to public importance.’ Habermas, J. (1991 [1962]). The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. (T. (trans) Burger, Ed.). Cambridge MA: MIT Press. p10

Meanwhile with the rise of commercialism and the mercantile class forums arose in which particular kinds of public discourse came to be.

‘The “town” was the life center of civil society not only economically; in cultural-political contrast to the court, it designated especially an early public sphere in the world of letters whose institutions were the coffee houses, the salons, and the Tisclgesellschaften (table societies). The heirs of the humanistic- aristocratic society, in their encounter with the bourgeois intellectuals (through sociable discussions that quickly developed into public criticism), built a bridge between the remains of a collapsing form of publicity (the courtly one) and the precursor of a new one: the bourgeois public sphere…’ ibid p30

From the end of the 17th and through the 18th Centuries, the rise of coffee houses or public salons centralised the public sphere in towns (rather than palaces) and brought about a special place for the artist and writer in public life. Here the middle classes could be exposed to new literary, philosophical or artistic ideas. Aristocrats, bourgeois and intellectuals would meet if not on the same terms than at least in the same places. For our purposes it would be as if Slavoj Zizek, Kate Middleton and Tim Martin (owner of the Weatherspoon pub chain) would regularly hangout in our local branch of Costa.

The final stage for Habermas (and here is where his work has the strongest connections to Adorno) is in what he sees as an impoverishment of the public sphere through the press and later, mass media. Habermas contends that the function of the press shifted from being a transmitter of public opinion (which was created elsewhere by intellectuals) to being a creator of it. The influence of money, through advertising, shifted the role of wealth holders (particularly property owners) to being the dominant directors of public opinion. Habermas concludes by saying that the manipulation of the public through a kind of uncommitted friendly engagement comes to be mimicked by the state, precluding the possibility for real political action.

‘As soon as the press developed from a business in pure news reporting to one involving ideologies and viewpoints, however, and the com- piling of items of information encountered the competition of literary journalism, a new element-political in the broader sense-was joined to the economic one. Biicher captures the trend succinctly: “From mere institutions for the publication of news, the papers became also carriers and leaders of public opinion, and instruments in the arsenal of party politics. For the internal organization of the newspaper enterprise this had the consequence that a new function was inserted between the gathering and the publication of news: the editorial function. For the newspaper’s publisher, however, this meant that he changed from being a merchant of news to being a dealer in public opinion.”‘ ibid p182

‘Paris in the year 1789 every marginally prominent politician formed his club, and every other founded his journal; between February and May alone 450 clubs and over 200 journals sprang up. As long as the mere existence of a press that critically-rationally debates political matters remained problematic, it was compelled to engage in continuous self-thematization: before the permanent legalization of the political public sphere, the appearance of a political journal and its survival was equivalent to involvement in the struggle over the range of freedom to be granted to public opinion and over publicity as a principle.’ ibid p184

‘Thus the original basis of the publicist institutions, at least in their most advanced sectors, became practically reversed. According to the liberal model of the public sphere, the insti- tutions of the public engaged in rational-critical debate were protected from interference by public authority by virtue of their being in the hands of private people. To the extent that they were commercialized and underwent economic, technological, and organizational concentration, however, they have turned during the last hundred years into complexes of societal power, so that precisely their remaining in private hands in many ways threatened the critical functions of publicist institutions. In comparison with the press of the liberal era, the mass media have on the one hand attained an incomparably greater range and effectiveness-the sphere of the public realm itself has expanded correspondingly. On the other hand they have been moved ever further out of this sphere and reentered the once private sphere of commodity exchange. The more their effectiveness in terms of publicity increased, the more they became accessible to the pressure of certain private interests, whether individual or collective.’ ibid p188

‘in the measure that the public sphere became a field for business advertising, private people as own- ers of private property had a direct effect on private people as the public.’ p189

DISCUSSION POINT:  Dean, Jodi. “Why the Net is not a Public Sphere.” Constellations 10.1 (2003): 95-112.


‘There are three features of the public sphere and of the sphere of politics in general that are central to Arendt’s conception of citizenship. These are, first, its artificial or constructed quality; second, its spatial quality; and, third, the distinction between public and private interests.’

As regards the first feature, Arendt always stressed the artificiality of public life and of political activities in general, the fact that they are man-made and constructed rather than natural or given. She regarded this artificiality as something to be celebrated rather than deplored. Politics for her was not the result of some natural predisposition, or the realization of the inherent traits of human nature. Rather, it was a cultural achievement of the first order, enabling individuals to transcend the necessities of life and to fashion a world within which free political action and discourse could flourish.’

‘The second feature stressed by Arendt has to do with the spatial quality of public life, with the fact that political activities are located in a public space where citizens are able to meet one another, exchange their opinions and debate their differences, and search for some collective solution to their problems. Politics, for Arendt, is a matter of people sharing a common world and a common space of appearance so that public concerns can emerge and be articulated from different perspectives. In her view, it is not enough to have a collection of private individuals voting separately and anonymously according to their private opinions. Rather, these individuals must be able to see and talk to one another in public, to meet in a public-political space, so that their differences as well as their commonalities can emerge and become the subject of democratic debate.’

Pragmatist Publics

‘Those indirectly and seriously affected for good or for evil form a group distinctive enough to require recognition and a name. The name selected is The Public’. Dewey, John, The public and its problems: An essay in political inquiry. Penn State Press, 2012. p. 35

‘In The Public and Its Problems specifically, Dewey rejects as false the assertion advanced principally by journalist and social critic Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) that democratic life can simply be managed by experts without any costs to collective governance, and, indeed, freedom itself. This obscures, Dewey maintains, two important aspect of political life. First, how we come to understand political problems and respond implies a kind of local knowledge and communal vision that is beyond the purview of experts. Lippmann’s approach, he further argues, “ignores [the] forces which have to be composed and resolved before technical and specialized action can come into play” (NN). Second, and perhaps more importantly, a vision of democracy grounded in governance by experts misses the very reasons for democracy’s emergency – namely, to “counteract the forces that have so largely determined the possession of rule by accidental and irrelevant factors, and in the second place an effort to counteract the tendency to employ political power to serve private instead of public ends” (NN). A failure to have the public constitutively involved in decision making will inevitably be unable to remain attentive to public ends. This will leave the public at the mercy of political power rather than in control of directing that power toward beneficial ends.’ Rogers, Melvin L. “Introduction: Revisiting The Public and Its Problems.” Contemporary Pragmatism 7.1 (2010). pp3-4

‘In The Public and Its Problems, Dewey presents a public as a confedera­ tion of bodies, bodies pulled together not so much by choice (a public is not exactly a voluntary association) as by a shared experience of harm that, over time, coalesces into a “problem.” Dewey makes it clear that a public does not preexist its particular problem but emerges in response to it. A public is a contingent and temporary formation existing alongside many other publics, protopublics, and residual or postpublics. Prob­lems come and go, and so, too, do publics: at any given moment, many different publics are in the process of crystallizing and dissolving.’ Bennett, Jane. Vibrant matter: A political ecology of things. Duke University Press, 2009. p100

Ambrogio Lorenzetti, The Effects of the Good Government,1338-39

See this discussed by Bruno Latour 96-MTP-DING

Non-Human Publics

Jane Bennett

Here we will look at some more contemporary theorisations of publicity.

Jane Bennett’s work Vibrant Matter (2009) fits, broadly, into a canon of contemporary scholarship that emphasises a ‘flatter’ ontological perspective on agency in the world. Her work is of particular interest to us here though because of her re-application of ideas from John Dewey’s work which she extends significantly to reconsider publics which might include non-human actors in the form of, for instance, animal and plant life, infrastructure, machines and software or other factors. Her main contribution in this space is to observe that Dewey’s idea of ‘conjoint action’ is not dependent on acts of independent will, as perpetrated by solely humans.

What is conjoint action?

‘Like the conjoint action of Darwin’s worms, the conjoint action of Dewey’s citizens is not under control of any rational plan or deliberate intention. No efficient cause  of the problems it generates can really be pinpointed. What is more, there is no action that is not conjoint, that does not, in other words, immediately become enmeshed in a web of connections.’ Bennett, Jane. Vibrant matter: A political ecology of things. Duke University Press, 2009. p100


making things public exhibition – parliament of things

Michel Callon and Bruno Latour

‘Interessement is the group of actions by which an entity (here the three researchers) attempts to impose and stabilize the other actors it defines through its problematization. Different devices are used to implement these actions. Why talk of interessement? The etymology of this word justifies its choice. To be interested is to be in between (inter-esse), to be interposed. But between what? Let us return to the three researchers. During their problematization they join forces with the scallops the fishermen, and their colleagues in order to attain a certain goal. In so doing they carefully define the identity, the goals or the inclinations of their allies. But these allies are tentatively implicated in the problematizations of the actors. Their identities are consequently defined in other competitive ways. It is in this sense that one should understand interessement.’ Callon, Michel. “Some elements of a sociology of translation: domestication of the scallops and the fishermen of St Brieuc Bay.” The Sociological Review 32.1_suppl (1984): 196-233. pp62-63

 Publics in Practice

In Critical Heritage (e.g. Sharon MacDonald and Rodney Harrison)

‘What would it mean for us to consider the futures which are arranged or assembled across a series of different fields of practice—in the decision making processes involved in nuclear waste disposal, in the processes of conserving endangered languages, in global seed banks, in the care and management of local parks, and in household practices of curating heirlooms collectively? How could this new comparative perspective, which considers not only formal heritage prac- tices but also a range of alternative forms of caring for the future, help us remap the field of heritage?’ Rodney Harrison (2015) Beyond “Natural” and “Cultural” Heritage: Toward an Ontological Politics of Heritage in the Age of Anthropocene, Heritage & Society, 8:1, 24-42, DOI: 10.1179/2159032X15Z.00000000036 p35

‘The aim of the collaborative research program Assembling Alternative Futures for Heritage is to understand the practices by which futures are assembled in a range of different domains, and to consider how those practices, and the forms of value that they produce, might be creatively redeployed to produce innovation within new con- texts. Accordingly, this research program will explore the processes and material and discursive practices by which heritage is “assembled” within a broad range of domains, which have typically not been considering comparatively, to consider the ways in which the forms of value and alternative practices and processes of future-making involved in each might inform one another.’ ibid p36

In Design (Infrastructuring)

‘The relevance of Dewey’s perspective springs precisely from its tie to issues. It is the dynamic and contin- gent nature of a public, its fluid qualities as an entity, that allows a public to form and unform in concert with the evolving social conditions, and it is the manner in which diverse individuals are enlisted to contend with the effects of particular issues that make a public a useful perspective for design.’ Dantec, C. A. Le, & DiSalvo, C. (2013). Infrastructuring and the formation of publics in participatory design. Social Studies of Science, 43(2), 241–264.

‘The idea of infrastructuring through design employs the distinction between PD concerned primarily with design-for-use, centered on useful systems, and PD focused on design-for-future-use, structured to create fertile ground to sustain a community of participants.’ ibid p247

In a project which provided new ways of accessing networks of resources for the homeless,

‘The design and deployment of the technology intervention, called the Community Resource Messenger (CRM), was located at a local emergency shelter for single-mother families. Given the context, the resources captured and presented by the system focused on employment opportunities, programs, and locations where these families could find permanent housing, information about schools and childcare, and general information about health care and local community news.’ ibid p248

‘This shift, instigated by the case manager’s use of the CRM, exposed the attachments the staff had to issues around sharing information and effectively managing limited resources. It prompted the staff to renegotiate how they coordinated their activities and integrated their case management work with the technology. This was, in our view, the work of infrastructuring, where the staff, as a public, recognized that their attachment to issues of sharing informa- tion (how widely? to whom? when?) was changing as a result of an intervention that provided new capabilities. In other words, a new socio-material relationship had emerged.’ ibid p249

Activity Resources

Get WiFi analyser here for android and here for iPhone

Next Week’s reading

Jane Bennet’s Vibrant Matter (excerpt)

Pete: What is the value of anthropomorphism?

Nick (Ning An): What can we learn from worms?

Liam: What does a public look like and what are its problems?

DMS8012: Live Electronic Performance


Session 1: Audio playback in PureData

Session 2: Granular Synth, Addictive Synth, Scrubber with Control from Teensy and Sequences session2

HSS8123: Minimal Resources for Electric Sound

Notes from todays session


and the sound file from our in class performance

HSS8121: Public Art

Slides from Gabi Arrigoni’s introductory lecture on public art

Public Art for CAP

DMS8013: Creating an Annotated Portfolio


  • To discuss assessment for the module
  • To gain familiarity with recent research from Research Through Design advocating Annotated Portfolios as a documentation and writing practice
  • To practice annotation!


Last semester you were introduced to some foundational questions about the nature of artefacts, knowledge and making as they have been expressed in literature on Research though Design. In particular I want to think about the problem that Annotated portfolios are cast against. Those include:

  • That there is a creeping ‘scientism’ in some kinds of approach to design in HCI literature
  • That rationalising discourse about design undermines its value
  • That writing about objects ignores embedded and embodied knowledges

Annotated portfolios are not the only response to these problems. Some conferences (including ACM DIS and RtD) are developing alternative publication and presentation models which also speak to the same issues.


  • How do the idea of an ‘annotated portfolio’  differ from other ways you’ve seen of writing about objects.
  • What do you think these ideas emphasise that other writing practices (for instance curatorial texts) don’t?
  • What are the drawbacks of an annotated portfolio approach? Does this have to be a purely summative activity?

Activity: Annotating your work

You have brought some documentation of work you have made. With a partner discuss some of the points of interest of this work. What does it do? How did people talk about it? What were you thinking about as it was made?

The programme

Over the course of the module we will construct a portfolio based around three provocations. Together your responses to these provocations will constitute your assessment. A sneak preview is included below.

Portfolio item 1
Making things talk

You have been introduced to a number of local and remote ways of making technologies communicate with one another. At the same time we’ve looked at some of the history, politics and theory of network communication exploring crossovers between each. For your portfolio you should make an artefact or artefacts under the theme/provocation of ‘Making things talk.’  You’ll need to think about what it means to talk, converse, communicate and how that merges with issues of machine conversation.

Portfolio item 2
Boxes that do things

We have worked over the past two weeks with physical interactivity and some forms of rapid prototyping or digital making. Our provocation this time is called simply ‘boxes that do things.’ The humble laser cut box has found its way into a cult of digital prototyping as a housing for musical controllers, a place where other skills such as carpentry come into contact with electronics, or a thing in its own right with its own set of boxy affordances. Your box will exhibit not only a novel interaction but will also be concerned with its own ‘boxiness.’ How can you connect the physicality of a box with some foundational problems for interaction? As before you may build on examples we’ve made together but should extend them significantly treating your work as an independent art/design study which engages aesthetically as well as technologically with our sessions and your own interests.

Portfolio item 2
A waste of good data

Our colleague and friend Sean Cotterill once described a particular kind of overblown data sonification practice (for example making orchestral music out of large hadron collider data) as ‘a waste of good data.’ for me this phrase captures a host of interesting thoughts about the way we encounter, interpret, conceptualise or use data. Your challenge is to identify a ‘good’ data source and create an artefact (in software, hardware or both) that provocatively ‘wastes’ it. In annotating this work you can draw out what you feel are some of the ideas about what data is or can be that your work provokes. What makes quality data and how do you waste it?


In all of the above you may build on examples we’ve made together but should extend them significantly treating your work as an independent art/design study which engages aesthetically as well as technologically with our sessions and your own interests.

 Today’s sketches

Are here

Further Reading

  1. Boehner, K., Vertesi, J., Sengers, P., & Dourish, P. (2007). How HCI interprets the probes. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems  – CHI ’07 (p. 1077). New York, New York, USA: ACM Press.

  2. Chris Elsden, David Chatting, Abigail C. Durrant, Andrew Garbett, Bettina Nissen, John Vines, and David S. Kirk. 2017. On Speculative Enactments. Proceedings of the 2017 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems: 5386–5399.

  3. William Gaver. 2011. Making Spaces: How Design Workbooks Work. In Proceedings of the 2011 annual conference on Human factors in computing systems – CHI ’11, 1551–1560.
  4. William Gaver. 2012. What Should We Expect From Research Through Design? In Proc. CHI 2012, 937–946.
  5. Bill Gaver and John Bowers. 2012. Annotated Portfolios. interactions 19, 4: 40–49.
  6. Höök, K., Bardzell, J., Bowen, S., Dalsgaard, P., Reeves, S., & Waern, A. (2015). Framing IxD knowledge. Interactions, 22(6), 32–36.
  7. Jarvis, N., Cameron, D., & Boucher, A. (2012). Attention to detail. In Proceedings of the 7th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction Making Sense Through Design – NordiCHI ’12 (p. 11). New York, New York, USA: ACM Press.

  8. Jenkins, T., Andersen, K., Gaver, W., Odom, W., Pierce, J., & Vallgårda, A. (2016). Attending to Objects as Outcomes of Design Research. In Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems – CHI EA ’16 (pp. 3423–3430). New York, New York, USA: ACM Press.

  9. James Pierce. 2014. On the presentation and production of design research artifacts in HCI. In Proceedings of the 2014 conference on Designing interactive systems – DIS ’14, 735–744.
  10. Mads Hobye. 2014. Designing for Homo Explorens: open social play in performative frames. Faculty of Culture and Society Malmö University,

HSS8120 Writing Reflective Essays

reflective essays

HSS8121: Media Archaeology

 What is Media Archaeology

According to Jussi Parikka and Erkki Huhtamo,

It investigates “alternate histories of suppressed, neglected, and forgotten media that do not point teleologically to the present media-cultural condition…” (Huhtamo & Parikka,Media Archaeology, 2011 ).

And Geert Lovink says,

‘Media archaeology is first and foremost a methodology, a hermeneutic reading of the “new” against the grain of the past, rather than a telling of the history of technologies from past to present. No comprehensive overview of the media archaeology approach is yet available, but we could mention a few scholars, such as Friedrich Kittler, Siegfried Zielinski, Werner Nekes, Jona- than Crary, Katherine Hayles, Werner Künzel, Avital Ronell, Christoph Asendorf, Erkki Huhtamo, Paul Virilio and others.’
(Lovink, My First Recession – Critical Internet Culture in Transition, 2003)

’In his Archaeology of the Cinema C. W. Ceram states: “What matters history is not whether certain chance discov- eries take place, but whether they take effect.”4 When Hertz experimented with electromagnetic waves he meant to prove Maxwell’s mathematical calcu- lations of the electromagnetic field; almost by accident he thereby practically invented radio transmission technology.5 How can we write media history when media systems create their Eigenzeit?’ (Ernst, Digital Memory and the Archive, 2013, p57)

We can say that Media Archaeology is not a single methodology, but an orientation – a direction which is common to a loose group of researchers (a lot of whom are German and related to a particular kind of german media theory and philosophy) and a particular flavour of research. If methodology is ‘a system of methods used in a particular area of study or activity’ (OED) then really Media Archaeology exists at a level of abstraction above this. It is an associated set of theories, methods, methodologies and skills which emphasise a close reading of technology itself, not just in its ability to be a cultural phenomenon. As Friedrich Kittler says:

‘History is not a list of, “directors, stars, studios and celebrities, which in the end remains organised around a series of titles” ‘ (Kittler, Optical Media, p. 26).

As Ernst summarises,

‘Equally close to disciplines that analyze material (hard- ware) culture and to the Foucauldian notion of the “archive” as the set of rules governing the range of what can be verbally, audiovisually, or alphanumeri- cally expressed at all, media archaeology is both a method and an aesthetics of practicing media criticism, a kind of epistemological reverse engineering, and an awareness of moments when media themselves, not exclusively humans anymore, become active “archaeologists” of knowledge.’ (Ernst, Digital Memory and the Archive, 2013, p55)

And for example Lori Emmerson says,

‘my sense is that as you use a machine like the Altair, your contemporary laptop gradually loses its aura of magic or mystery and you start to palpably experience the ways in which your laptop consists of layer upon layer of interfaces that remove you ever more from the way your computer actually works. For another thing, more often than not, using the Altair opens up the possibility for reseeing the past—what if the computer industry took a slightly different turn and we ended up with Altair-like devices without screens or mice? And therefore using this obsolete machine also opens up the possibility of reseeing the present and the future’ “As if, or, Using Media Archaeology to Reimagine Past, Present, and Future: An Interview with Lori Emerson,” International Journal of Communication Vol. 10 (June 2016)

Also worth looking in to is Lisa Gitelman Raw Data is an Oxymoron

In practice

Although he is not usually referred to in the ‘canon’ of MA, we could look at Matthew Kirschenbaum’s archival practice with electronic literature as an example of MA in practice.

Meanwhile Wolfgang Ernst frequently uses the spatial and temporal specifics of technological kinds of writing to discuss and problematise the way we understand time and in particular historical narrative.

‘…the historical mode of describing temporal processes has been confronted with alternative modelings of time, When it comes to describing media in time, this aporia becomes crucial, since one can no longer simply subject media processes to a literary narrative without fundamentally misreading and misrepresenting their Eigenzeit. Historical media narratives take place in imaginary time. Storage technologies, on the other hand, take place in the symbolic temporal order…’ (Ernst, in Huhtamo and Parikka, Media Archaeology, 2011, p. 242)

‘But is radio, when playing, ever in a historical state? Is it not in fact always in a present state? The medium only appears to conform to the logic of historical epochal concepts; in actuality, it undermines this logic and sets a different temporal economy. For example, an original record- ing resonating today from an old tube radio, provided it can still run on 220 volts, hardly makes history audible. A tube radio thus practices compressed time with respect to our sensory perception, as long as this is not overlaid with “historical meaning,” which corresponds not to the actual media work- ings of radio but rather to the logic of inscribed historiography.’ (Ernst, Digital Memory and the Archive, 2013, p159)

Ernst makes the point that our language and methods of discussing, and modelling time in terms of historical narratives just aren’t up to the task of considering what technological (particularly electronic and computational) media actually do.

He also has a lot of interesting things to say about counting,

‘The numerical order, the basis of digital technologies, has always already been performed as a cultural practice before becoming technically materialized.’ (Telling vs Counting in, Ernst, Digital Memory and the Archive, 2013, p147)

To tell, we learn, as a transitive verb, means not only “to give a live account in speech or writing of events or facts” (that is, to tell a story) but also “to count things” (to tell a rosary, for example). The very nature of digital operations and telling thus coincide.’ (Telling vs Counting in, Ernst, Digital Memory and the Archive, 2013, p147-8)

The conjunction between telling stories and counting time is more than just a word game: verbs like conter, contar, raccontare, erzählen, and to tell are testimonies to a way of perceiving realities that oscillates between narrative and statistics.’ (Telling vs Counting in, Ernst, Digital Memory and the Archive, 2013, p149)

I found this work (actually earlier published versions of this work) extremely compelling during the early stages of making this piece, Mark Inscriber.

Ernst also maintains the Medienarchäologischer ‘fundus‘.

In Art Practice

Often this work takes the past as a point for a future imaginary.

Zoe Bellof A World Redrawn

Jamie Allen’s ‘The Lie Machine

Aura Satz ‘Spiral Sound Coil

Pablo Garcia’s ‘Profilography

Imaginary Magnitude, By Stanislaw Lem

And (though he doesn’t use this term himself) we could think of our own Diego Trujillo-Pisanty’s most excellent ‘This Tape Will Self-destruct‘.

In Pedagogy

We’ve previously talked about Julian Oliver’s work. He and Danja Vasiliev have a series of workshops around understanding network fundamentals. Jussi Parka points out that,

‘We can speculate that such ideas and practices as Weise7- group’s are an indirect response to what Geert Lovink (2012: 22) has called the need for ‘materialist (read: hardware- and software- focused) and affect-related theory.’ In this case, theory is not executed only in the normal written format but as engineered situations: the other material infrastructures and modes of expression in which power operates, from code to networks.’ Parikka (critically engineered wireless politics, 2013)

He notes that,

‘In real time computing systems, however, the collection, organization and storage of information leads directly to action, to integrated surveillance and control over the object environment. This dynamic marriage of information and control in real time systems is a fusion of knowledge and action, and, through directed action in real time, information is expressed as power. (Sackman, 1968: 1492) (in Parikka,critically engineered wireless politics, 2013)

These workshops (and others like them) are oriented towards a kind of techno-politics based on hacking intervention and self-enablement (however genuine this ends up being). There’s a like-spirited endeavour in this paper which I saw present in Xcoax – a symposium you should all make yourselves aware of.


What does the Sack piece tell us about the way that memory has been conceived of in the history of computer science?

Warren Sack in: Fuller, Matthew. Software studies: A lexicon. Mit Press, 2008.

Electronic Memory in Practice

In this section we are going to have an archaeological look, a dig in fact, at electronic memory. To do this properly there are a certain number of things we need to understand first.


how does binary work?

1 bit – 2 possible states
2 bit – 4 possible states
3 bit – 8 possible states
4 bit – 16 possible states
5 bit – 32 possible states
6 bit – 64 possible states
7 bit – 128 possible states
8 bit (a byte) – 256 possible states

Here’s a way of working out the value:

(image cc wikivisual 2015)

(then add the results : 32+8+2=42)

And here’s another way:

how to read binary

(image cc wikivisual 2015)

(then, again, add the results : 32+8+2=42)

This is how we combine single bits to create more and more memory. But what we are interested in is how, on a the level of both logic and components, this works.

Latches and Flip flops

Latches and flip flops (we can talk about the difference – it depends who you ask) are an essential part of computer memory. Some version of this circuit is inside the most fundamental aspects of computer memory. They are therefore massively significant in thinking about what we mean when we say ‘computer memory’. We are going to build a state saving circuit ( a flip flop) and use it to explore what we do and don’t know about digital memory and how we can use that as part of a research and creative methodology.

History and archaeology of the flip flop.

Here’s the original patent, designed with vacuum tubes.

And what do vacuum tubes do?

How does it work?

Let’s hear a nice (rather slow) explanation.  To understand what flipflops are and why they are important we first need to know a few things.

Like what is boolean logic?

How can we combine two NOR gates into an OR gate? Simple (ish)! We invert it! See a bunch of examples here. Take one and explain it to your partner!

Step one: Building a NOR gate

This circuit uses transistors

Transistors are manufactured in different shapes but they have three leads (legs).
The BASE – which is the lead responsible for activating the transistor.
The COLLECTOR – which is the positive lead.
The EMITTER – which is the negative lead.



Here’s our circuit diagram. (and below obviously), all credits to HyperPhysics

Step Two: Combine two NOR gates into a flip flop.

Look at the diagram below. How should we wire up our NORs to make a flip flop?

2 NORs making a flip flop. CC wikimedia


It works, what next?

A flip flop gives us a single bit, held in memory (as long as there is power). Here are somethings I want us to discuss:

  • what is the significance of holding one piece of memory – what can that memory mean? What can it do? Wittgenstein asks of a man given a piece of paper which asks for 5 apples, the following ‘But how does he know where and how he is to look up the word ‘red’ and what he is to do with the word ‘five’?” Well, I assume that he acts as I have described. Explanations come to an end somewhere.—But what is the meaning of the word ‘five’? No such thing was in question here, only how the word ‘five’ is used.’ What do we mean when we say a bit ‘means’?
  • Now imagine we have an encoding system for that bit. e.g. 0 = ‘apple’, 1=’pear’. How does that affect the above?
  • Stepping outside this question for a moment – how many real-world applications for the storage of one bit of information can you think of? How about for 2 or 3 bits?
  • If we all combined our individual bits into a large register – what could we store? How could we act?

But Why? Let’s talk about that

  • What elements of media archaeology (if any) do you identify in your work?
  • What would be the impact of this method?
  • Returning to our project, how could you take this exploration of digital memory further, how would you develop it?


Suggested readings

What is Media Archaeology? Parikka, 2012, Polity

Media Archaeology, Huhtamo & Parikka (eds), 2010

Digital Memory and the Archive, Ernst, 2012, University of Minnesota Press

Deep Time of the Media, Zielinkski, 2008, MIT Press