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The Deep: A Lecture & Discussion with Benjamin H. Bratton

The Deep: Learning, Time, Fake, State, Ecology
Benjamin H. Bratton — Chaired by Suhail Malik

6.30-8.00pm, Thursday 3 May, 2018 — Professor Stuart Hall Building, LG02

In this lecture and discussion, Benjamin H. Bratton will consider the role/limits of aesthetics in modelling complex systems operating at scales that confound normal human intuition. Such models may include limited and conditional feats of abstractive (cognitive, technical, formal, figurative, gestural). He will draw together deep time, deep learning, deep ecology and deep states of various kinds: the emergence of intelligence from material complexity, post-Turing Test models of human-AI interaction, synthetic sensing at urban scale, inorganic semiotics, the inscrutability of artificial neural networks, multipolar hemispherical stacks, designing planetary governance and gradient citizenships, and the coupling / decoupling of past, present and future as foundations and alibis.

A Copernican turn in design (and media theory) might be based on how intelligence is imbued in accumulating layers of material technologies (grammer, the grave, the GPU, etc.) that allow successive generations to build on / against them and to automate processes for escaping intuitive biases, not reinforcing chauvinisms. If Anthropogeny is the study of how ancient species became human, then Anthropolysis may be the study of how the human becomes something else. In between is a sort of “humanities” that is based less on celebrating the expressive experience of interiority than on getting outside our own skins to know what we are (and indeed where and when we are) and what to do next.

The world is a model open to design and designation, not by self-reflective human mastery over its sovereign domain, but because our planet uses humans to know itself and remake itself. We are the medium, not the message.

Benjamin H. Bratton is a writer whose work spans Philosophy, Design and Computer Science. He is Professor of Visual Arts at the University of California, San Diego. He is also Program Director of the Streika Institute of Media, Architecture and Design in Moscow, a Professor of Digital Design at The European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, and Distinguished Visiting Faculty at SCI_Arc (The Southern California Institute of Architecture) in Los Angeles.

This event is free. No booking is required. All are welcome!


Part of VisCult’s summer term public lecture programme:

Alien Time

An Invitation to Time Travel

Series organised by Bridget Crone and Henriette Gunkel

Alien Time extends from the question of futurity to that of time travel. How should we understand time in an age of planetary complexity, outside of experience and in other than human scale? How should we consider time as “alien”, in what dimensions and for what purpose? What circuits, which routes take us to the future or the past? How are we to conceive of a form of time that enables a jump or jump-cut or splice, fast forward or rewind from this moment that we inhabit? Or, alternatively, how do we figure a time that is never itself complete but always underscored by another time and another space?

Ranging from the flicker to the fractal to the stack, as well as precedents from financial to AI and to physics we invite theorists, curators, artists and musicians to discuss the potentials for time outside time as we know it – alien time. Please join us.

You can follow further announcements of events as part of this series over on the series’ event page here.