Hyperdigital Designs: Speakers Announced

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We invite in-person and virtual guests to our one-day interdisciplinary workshop at the University of Cambridge, Alison Richards Building SG2. Please join us in exploring the capacities of digital computing, from video games to generative artificial intelligence, to mediate human flourishing, freedom, and creativity.

Please RSVP for the workshop at this link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/hyperdigital-designs-workshop-tickets-642885647277. Feel free to share this link with anyone who may be interested in joining as an attendee, both in-person and virtually.

Finally, please find the schedule below or in this Google Sheet.

08:00 - 08:30 — Arrival

08:30 - 09:00 — Welcome

09:00 - 09:30 — Ryan Haecker

09:30 – 10:00 — Brandon Yip & Ben Robinson

10:00 – 10:30 — Florence Harry

10:30 – 11:00 — Susie Triffitt

11:00 – 11:30 — Coffee Break

11:30 – 12:00 — Nima Tavasoli Roudsari

12:00 – 12:30 — Mustapha El Moussaoui

12:30 – 13:30 — Lunch at Selwyn College

13:30 - 14:00 — Jenny Liu Zhang

14:00 - 14:30 — Olivia Thomas

14:30 - 15:00 — Adelheid Bjornlie

15:00 - 15:30 — Manoj Jayakumar

15:30 - 16:00 — Karina Abdala

16:00 - 16:30 — Coffee Break

16:30 - 17:00 — Jesse Parent

17:00 - 17:30 — Alec Siantonas

17:30 - 18:00 — Jackson Berry

18:00 - 18:30 — Johannes A. Niederhauser

18:30 - 19:00 — St. John's College Coral Evensong

19:00 - 22:00 — Dinner at The Granta

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Hyperdigital Designs: Call for Abstracts

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Digital technologies have become a deeply integrated aspect of our lives. From speaking to friends and ordering food to finding our way around, all our daily acts are now mediated by the digital. This deep integration promises to expand our agency, yet it also shapes and constrains it in ways that we may not recognise or welcome. Increasingly, we are confronted with a dilemma: either to withdraw from or engage with the use of digital technologies, as these often tend to disperse our attention and hinder our self-awareness. In the space of possibilities between anti-technological suspicions and anti-human desires for assimilation, we aim to critically reflect on the creative origins and free use of the cybernetic grammar of digital computers.

The 'Hyperdigital Designs' workshop at the University of Cambridge will explore creative reflections upon the grammar of digital computers. Building upon this collaborative ‘How to Play with Fire’ project that began at the 2022 Diverse Intelligence Summer Institute, the 'Hyperdigital' announces a higher reflection on the creation and use of digital media for human freedom. Beyond the fixed opposition between the Postdigital and the Digital, the Hyperdigital exceeds so as more radically to enter and accelerate the free use of the digital — whether among the creators of digital systems, or from the oldest creator of the idea of the digital itself.

We invite abstracts of up to 250 words for a one-day workshop on Wednesday 14 June 2023 at the University of Cambridge, Alison Richards Building SG2, hosted by Cambridge Digital Humanities and co-sponsored by the William Temple Foundation, to explore interdisciplinary perspectives on thinking beyond the digital at its highest point. We are interested to host talks that explore the fundamental theoretical questions of philosophy, theology, ethics, and art, as well as applied and practical discussions concerning how technologies or designs, from video games to generative artificial intelligence, can be envisioned to mediate and emancipate human creativity.

Please send abstracts to HyperdigitalDesigns@gmail.com.

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A Review of the Postdigital

Negroponte (1998) gestures to an era “beyond the digital” as one in which digital computation and communication will play a background role to human creativity and imagination: art will be mediated by digital tools but not defined by them. Though he never actually uses the term “postdigital,” his perception influences future notions of the postdigital.

In its first explicit definition, Pepperell and Punt (2000) analyze the “postdigital” as a rejection of the binary logic of the computer and an embrace of the ambiguity and mystery of life that technology can possibly illuminate in the human condition. Deterministic approaches to digital design create a loss of this meaning: creativity, including the possibilities of the imagination, cannot be encoded by this strict logic.

In the first aesthetic reflection on the postdigital, Cascone (2000) locates the passage from the ‘digital’ to the 'postdigital’ in its 'failure’ to remain consistent and effective in its cybernetic calculations. When computers glitch and distortion happens, the illusion that we control our technology breaks. Glitches make us aware that a computer emerges from a composition of its parts, and is only made meaningful by a user.

Like Negroponte, Cascone says that as a result of the glitch, the aesthetic reflection of the digital itself is no longer fascinating: what’s interesting is how people make meaning from the tools and environments, even with and beyond these glitches. Instead of control, the postdigital is interested in the co-creation of meaning between people and technology.

However, twenty years later, Cascone and Jandric (2021) comment that postdigital critique is no longer possible because postdigitality relies on an interaction between a user and a dynamic and infinitely generative cybernetic tool. Rather, it goes beyond just the creation and communication of effects, which is what happens when glitches are subsumed by the computer as a part of how it can be controlled, like when corporate media takes glitches and makes them into presets.

The postdigital asks how these mediums can be freely used for the purposes of the artists. Art that carries the designation of “postdigital” today is limited to half the argument: at best it can only illuminate how technology is now taking on a background role, never truly capturing how its computational infinity might be a creative partner in producing experiences that advocate for the mystery of life and rise above the percussive noise of technological society.

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