In March 2020 I participated in a round table discussion at New York University on the question of epigenesis in the work of Catherine Malabou. Along with Malabou herself, we were joined by Alexander Miller, Emily Apter, Peter Szendy, and Emanuela Bianchi. The talks from the event have been edited and published in the current issue of October magazine under the title "On Epigenesis."
I'm happy to announce that my next book Uncomputable will be published in the fall by Verso. Ten years in the making, this book narrates a series of episodes from computer history, reanimated by hands-on experiments in coding and building things. I'm excited to have it see the light of day, and am planning a few special surprises to accompany the fall launch. Stay tuned...
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(Publisher's book blurb)
Narrating some lesser known episodes from the deep history of digital machines, Alexander Galloway explains the technology that drives the world today, and the fascinating people who brought these machines to life. With an eye to both the computable and the uncomputable, Galloway shows how computation emerges or fails to emerge, how the digital thrives but also atrophies, how networks interconnect while also fray and fall apart. By re-building obsolete technology using today’s software, the past comes to light in new ways, from intricate algebraic patterns woven on a hand loom, to striking artificial-life simulations, to war games and back boxes. A description of the past, this book is also an assessment of all that remains uncomputable as we continue to live in the aftermath of the long digital age.
New York- and Seoul-based artist and educator Taeyoon Choi and New York-based professor of media studies Alexander R. Galloway join to consider the common underpinnings of textile and code, including those of duality and opposition, from humans and machines to production and philosophy. How may these considerations supersede or sustain such binarisms? What alternative relations are possible? The conversation will be moderated by Amy K.S. Chan, Hong Kong-based professor and scholar researching on the intersections of technoscience and philosophy, as well as gender and literary studies.
This Keynote is part of Poetic Emergences: Organisation through Textile and Code, a 4-day online Discussion Forum held on 16 – 19 April, 2021 that gathers the voices of local and international creative practitioners including weavers, programmers, philosophers and community workers to investigate the transformative processes of textile and code.
The quilting point was introduced in Jacques Lacan's 1956 seminar on psychoses. He defined the quilting point as a kind of "anchor" or "button" that stitches togetherthe flux of signification. We can understand this in both a general and specific sense. Most generally, the quilting point is a way to punctuate or mark a chain of words. This happens frequently in ordinary language, where words in a sentence accumulate one after another, only conferring their meaning with the arrival of... the... last... word. The final signifier acts as a punctuating point that retroactively fixes the meaning of all the signifiers that came before it.
Lacan made this clear in his diagram for the "graph of desire" (version 1) reproduced in the Écrits (681). In that diagram the chain of signification--for example words in a sentence--precedes temporally from left to right in a horizontal arc (S to S'). At the same time, the subjective process of meaning-making intervenes from the bottom and runs counter to the arc. Bruce Fink has teased out the metaphor in literal terms: the S-S' signifying chain is "fabric," while the horseshoe arc of meaning-making piercing upward from the bottom is "thread." Meaning emerges by stitching upward, pulling taut leftward against the flow of signifiers, then anchoring the stitch downward (Fink, Lacan To The Letter, 114). Making meaning is thus a retroactive suture requiring two puncture points; meaning does not simply issue linearly from the act of speaking or writing. The quilting point is a knot that holds and fixes the flux of signification. Continue reading →
Following up on the theme of discorrelation, one's mind naturally wanders toward the astounding sorts of images created in recent years by AI and machine learning algorithms. The images created by Google's DeepDream are particularly weird and intoxicating, as is the video work of Mario Klingemann. Continue reading →