Author: AK

Sleep Salons – Fall 2021

Salon no. 1 : The Social Lives of Sleep How might we begin to think the sociability of sleep? Speakers: ✦ Matthew Wolf-Meyer (Anthropology, Binghamton University)✦ Carmela Alcántara (Social Work, Columbia University) Register on Eventbrite How and why should we conceive of sleep in social terms? Sleep appears to be a way that the body leaves behind the social world for an inner and highly individualized landscape. Yet much sleep research has also attended to the ways sleep reinforces the social, political, and environmental forces that govern our waking lives. Here we invite two distinguished researchers to share how their research approaches the social and collective dimensions of a seemingly singular experience. ✦ Matthew Wolf-Meyer is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Binghamton University. His book The Slumbering Masses: Sleep Medicine, and Modern American Life uses ethnographic and archival materials to explore the history of sleep and sleeplessness in 20th century American life against the backdrops of modern medicine and industrial capitalism. ✦ Carmela Alcántara is Associate Professor of Social Work and Associate Dean for Doctoral …

Paperology RAG

The Paperology Reading and Activity Group took place over Zoom during the 2020-2021 academic/pandemic year. I co-organized it with my colleauges Juliette De Maeyer and Ghislain Thibault, along with the infatiguable legwork of postdoc Alysse Kushinski. There is more info on the projects page, and the links below give a good sense of what we did and the amazing community that gathered around the material that is paper. Our monthly schedule Our DIY book, currently travelling the world Twitter: @paperologyRAG Much to our delight, three Paperologists decided to keep the group going with a 2nd edition in 2021-2022. Here is the site for Paperology 2.0! There are more Paperolology activities and publications still in the works, including a grad seminar, a publication or a few, a perhaps we’ll even meet in person one day? To be continued…

Mediating the Tree: Infrastructures of Pulp and Paper Modernity in the Bowater Papers

Article written with Rafico Ruiz based on a short-lived trade publication produced by the Bowater paper mill in 1950s Newfoundland. Excerpt from the introduction: Thinking of paper via the tree requires some new conceptualizations of environmental media theory. First, trees are a problematic model of an “extractive” logic, since they are not exactly extracted from the land but cleared, razed, felled, harvested, and exploited. This act of deforestation can—at least in theory—be fol- lowed by its opposite, reforestation: trees are an example of a resource that is not finite and that can be replaced. Second, paper provokes an expansion of what constitutes elemental media, broadening from the four elements (earth, water, fire, air) as used by John Durham Peters (2015), to include other primary matters, such as the tree.4 This might lead to the question: could there be a media philosophy of tree, or wood, or forest? Could we think of these together under a common rubric such as “xylomedia” (from the Greek “xylo” or “relating to wood”), and would such a material enfolding be …

Special issue: Materials and Media of Infrastructure

Edited collection with Rafico Ruiz, Canadian Journal of Communication. Vol. 46 No. 2 (2021) From our introduction: “As researchers, we are fortunate that, especially if studying the contemporary moment, the tangible materials of infrastructural architectures are available for analysis, starting with how they have been inscribed on the land. Infrastructure, capitalist extractivism, postcolonial space, and a damaged environment are bound together through a set of relationships that cohere in the project of settler infrastructure building. While infrastructures are invariably and most often extractive, drawing from the land in the sense of taking space and making use of materials and resources, one of the central aims of this special issue is to gesture toward how infrastructures are themselves forms of mediation that are shaped by their material constitution. The materials and media of infrastructures signal a broad set of evolving relationships between humans and the environments they colonize, and how they cohere in highly contingent and mutable entities known as “infrastructures.” This issue examines the range of infrastructure as a category, one that can contain material …

Call for Postdoctoral Fellow: The Sociability of Sleep

Call for Applications – Postdoctoral Fellowship “The Sociability of Sleep: Careful Design for Collective Conditions” Université de Montréal and McGill University, Montreal, Canada DEADLINE: June 15, 2021 We are seeking a postdoctoral fellow for a 10-month position to work on the new interdisciplinary research-creation project “The Sociability of Sleep.” The candidate will work directly with Professors Aleksandra Kaminska (Director of the Bricolab, Université de Montréal, Communications) and Alanna Thain (Director of the Moving Image Research Lab, McGill University, English) and have the opportunity to work with project collaborators. These include researchers and practitioners from communication and media studies, media arts, cinema and performance, psychiatry, psychology, and clinical medicine across Montreal’s universities. The Sociability of Sleep is funded through the Exploration program of the New Frontiers in Research Fund, a special initiative to support interdisciplinary, experimental, and intensive projects considered to be “high risk, high reward.” We explore exceptional and everyday experiences of sleep and its problems to generate new knowledge and empathies for sleep conditions, defined as a disordered and debilitating relation between sleep and …

Biometrics: Mediating Bodies

I co-edited a special issue of the journal PUBLIC: Art/Culture/Ideas on Biometrics. This issue maps out some of the ways that bodies have been measured and identified based on biometrics ever since the rise of media technologies, from nineteenth century anthropometry to modern day computational science. From case studies and interventions detailing the history and politics of biometrics, to creative and critical applications and visualizations of the biometric body, the authors and artists included here work across diverse theoretical approaches and disciplinary traditions to engage the machine-readable body. The contributions are organized around five conversations—History of Measurement; Politics and Governance; Aesthetics; Narratives and Experiences; and Design—that reflect the reach of biometrics today. One the one hand, they consider the quantified and objectified body as it becomes part of systems of identification and recognition, such as in contexts of security or surveillance. On the other, they highlight the new narratives, aesthetics, and experiential mediations of the body that surface in fields like health, cinema, media art, and curation. Along the way, these articles take on biometric …

“The Intrinsic Value of Valuable Paper”

ABSTRACT Authentication devices transform cheap paper into legitimate documents. They are the sensory, informational, and computational features that make up valuable papers like banknotes and passports, and they provide the confidence required in moments of exchange and passage. These devices – which include techniques like watermarks and specialized threads, proprietary substrates and inks, or RFID chips – are the product of security printing, an industry that continuously reinvents the possibilities of paper. Importantly, these components protect paper things from counterfeiting, allowing it to function as an original and authentic copy and to do the logistical work of connecting quotidian materials to global networks. The value of valuable papers is therefore not purely extrinsic, socially or discursively established, but is also performed through its intrinsic material qualities. These are the authentication devices that are read, assessed, and trusted as paper things are circulated, and they are what securely connects paper to infrastructures of mobility. Online First

“Nano-Optical Image-Making”

This article has been a long time coming* but it is finally available in print form in the April 2020 issue of Leonardo.  Nano-Optical Image-Making: Morphologies, Devices, Speculations ABSTRACT This article provides a technical overview of nano-optical image-making produced between the author, engineering scientists at the Ciber Lab in Vancouver, and the artists Christine Davis and Scott Lyall. It situates the work in relation to other optical technologies like holographs, to the primary application of nano-optical images as authentication devices, and to other artistic practices interested in nanoscale interactions of light and matter. The paper articulates the convergence of visual technologies and designed materials by explaining how the principles of structural color can be used for the production of images. Building a discussion on the shift from device to medium that is anchored around questions of remediation and reproducibility, it concludes with a speculation on informatic matters, or the convergence of mediating functions at the surface of things. *Accepted for Online First publication in January 2018. See on Academia      

Bricolab YR1

First year at the Bricolab is a success! Here’s a recap of some of the things that went on in the past few months. See you (hopefully) in 2020-2021 for more workshops, talks, demos, etc. Atelier d’écriture speculative   Les micro-contrôleurs : des outils pour la recherche-création   Infrastructures feministes : discours, expérimentation, enjeux Formation : l’impression 3D Recherche-création en réalité virtuelle      

Reading group @ Artefact Lab – winter 2020

This year we started doing some readings as a lab as a way to focus our monthly meetings. This has been especially useful since individual project topics are very varied. In the fall we read Sarah Sharma’s excellent book In the Meantime: Temporality and Cultural Politics. This winter we are going in quite a different direction, both in terms of topic and approach, and are reading a selection of articles and chapters that bring together animals, space, and media. Our reading list is below.

Bricolab in the news

A few news stories on the new Bricolab space from this Fall. Université de Montréal, UdeMnouvelles, October 1, 2019: Université de Montréal, Quartier Libre (student paper), November 9, 2019: Hexagram, REC (research-creation podcast series), Episode 3, July 2019:

Figurations: Persons In/Out of Data

Presenting a paper next week on “Speech Portraits and the Audio/Visual Self” at a conference at Goldsmith’s. Here is the programme in PDF with full abstracts. From the CFP: We’re drowning in an ocean of data, or so the saying goes. Data’s “big”: there’s not only lots of it, but its volume has allowed for the development of new, large-scale processing techniques. Our relationship with governments, medical organisations, technology companies, the education sector, and so on are increasingly informed by the data we overtly or inadvertently provide when we use particular services. The proverbial data deluge is large-scale—but it’s also personal. Data promises to personalise services to better meet our individual needs. Data is often construed as a threat to our person(s). Not every person predicated by data is predicted the same. The intersection between data and person isn’t fixed: it has to be figured. This conference brings together an interdisciplinary group of researchers to explore how the person—or persons, plural—are figured in/out of data. Figuration might encompass any or all of processes of representation, calculation, analogisation, …

AI Commons Workshop

This week, I participated in a day-long workshop at Concordia, organized by the Machines Agencies working group, to think about what an AI commons might look like. Here are is an excerpt from the original call: How can artificial intelligence be oriented toward the common good? The belief in AI for good has widespread acceptance in the industry and among governments. Declarations from around the globe—Canada, China, South Korea, France, and more—call for the development of AI to have a social purpose. But what is that purpose? … This workshop seeks to develop a commons-based vision for the future of AI as an intervention to understand transformations in citizen engagement as part of a larger research project to explore practices of citizenship in a skeptical world. The afternoon had a really interesting format: we separated into groups to write positions statements to the following pre-determined questions: What should an AI Commons be? How could the development of AI today—including the infrastructure and knowledge at its foundation—become a commons? Could AI reshape how we think about …

Nano-Verses landing page

Nano-Verses website…LIVE and in the news!

For the past few years I have been working with artists and scientists to explore optics and substrates at the nano scale. The project is called Nano-Verses. Working with with web designers in Montreal, we then produced an accompanying website that brings it all together. There are a few elements to fix here and there, but for the most part it’s ready for show. Works best on Chrome, a desktop, and with the sound on 🙂 >>  Here is a longer blurb on the partnership and the web project: Nano-Verses is an ongoing project working across disciplines to explore optics and substrates at the nano scale. The team of researchers and artists has been working together since 2015 to produce nano-optical objects based on the principles of structural colour to display unprecedented interactions between light and matter. Originally inspired by the nano scale structures that produce the iridescent blue of morpho butterfly wings, nano-optical devices have been primarily developed and used as an authenticating feature by the black-boxed security industry. Working from a desire …