High-Tech Paper: Material Cultures of Security and Authentication

Australia banknoteMy next book project is a historical and theoretical exploration of high-tech paper and security printing. I examine how authoritative papers, such as banknotes and passports, provide an alternate history of printing, one that is focused on making the authentic reproducible and legible through strategies like material and technical quality, complexity, and expertise. Contrary to arguments that focus on paper as a cheap and flimsy commodity, the book argues that there is an intrinsic value to valuable papers which is produced through an array of overt and covert security features and devices that work to inscribe and encode authenticity. Drawing on histories of the technical image, material innovation, and media convergence, these include watermarks, metallic threads, invisible inks, holograph, RFID chips, nano-optical images, etc., all of which ascribe to certain logics that assure that authentic papers can be recognized, either through human senses or machine reading. Operating from the field of media studies the book also engages in areas such as material culture, infrastructure studies, history of technology and design, print and book history, and art history, all to understand why we continue to trust printed paper in an age of accessible mechanical and digital reproducibility.

This project is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC Insight Development Grant).

The Arts of Recognition: Figures of (Algorithmic) Speech

mouthThis new project thinks about human-machine interaction in an age of machine listening. I’m interested in the way that machines recognize and know humans through technologies of speech and voice recognition. Specifically I want to understand the algorithmic programming that reproduces ideas about what it means to be a fluent, articulate, eloquent, healthy, or “good” speaker, and the consequences of being “out-of-sync.” More generally, the project considers recognition itself—as concept, technology, and practice. The research offers a theoretical and historical unpacking of recognition through a variety of fields which considers it both politically—as a moment of visibility in which individuals can be seen and heard in the world—and technologically—as a mediating process and practice that allows for legibility, communication, and exchange. Thus it places recognition as existing in a tension, or paradox, between the ideals of interactivity and the requirements of identification, and as shifting from a notion of validation to one of monitoring.

This project is funded by the Fonds de recherche  du Québec– Société et Culture (FRQSC Research Support for New Academics).

Archive/Counter-Archive: Activating Canada’s Moving Image Heritage

Archive_Counter-ArchiveArchive/Counter-Archive: Activating Canada’s Moving Image Heritage brings together over 25 co-investigators, a dozen collaborators, and a network of Partners from across Canada to research and remediate audiovisual archives created by women, Indigenous Peoples, the LGBTQ2+ community, and immigrant communities. Political, resistant, and community-based, A/CA creatively engages with archives through its dynamic network of Canadian archives, artist-run centers, community organizations, and Universities. Together, the goal is to create best practices and lay the foundation for innovative cultural policy.

This project is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC Partnership Grant).

Nano-Verses: Nano-Optical Image-Making

Nano-VersesThis project is an ongoing art-science collaboration with the artists Christine Davis and Scott Lyall, and the Ciber Lab at Simon Fraser University. It works to develop “nano-media” using nano-optical materials to produce a new kind of substrate, along with its accompanying image-making techniques, and to explore the circulation of these nano-optical images across fields and applications. balloonOur work has been presented in a variety of venues, including academic and industry conferences (such as Siggraph and ISEA), and in exhibitions at the Miguel Abreu Gallery in NYC and Susan Hobbs Gallery in Toronto, Paris and London in Fall 2017, and the Olga Koerper Gallery in Toronto (Winter 2018). An accompanying website will be launching summer 2018; an article in Leonardo is available here.

This project was in part funded by the Mitacs Elevate post-doctoral fellowship programme and a Canada Council for the Arts/GRAND NCE Media Artist and Scientist Collaboration grant.