This is the public start page of my personal librarinth: an online scrapbook that I am using in the course of the research project 'Dialogues with Machines'. I am undertaking this project as a researcher in the Media Arts Studio of the KASK Conservatorium / University College Ghent, and I am pursuing a doctorate in the arts with it as part of the S:PAM, Studies in Performing Arts and Media research group at the University of Ghent. My promotors are Christel Stalpaert and Edwin Carels.
A fairly recently (020210624) updated short description of my research goes as follows:
This research project started as an attempt to deal with a question that Socrates gets asked in his dialogue with Meno: how can we learn something we don't already know ? I will be exploring what I think is one answer, that new things can be learned in interaction with devices outside of us. It is an answer that interests me because what I have been calling a 'dialogue with machines' has been at the heart of my media-art practice for many years. But despite these roots, the aim of this project is not primarily to think about art; the aim is to clarify the concept of a 'dialogue with machines' and expand it to a view of technology that is also relevant outside of the arts. By focusing on the agency of technological artefacts in speculation and creation, I hope to contribute to a reflection on technology as something else than a tool to subjugate our planet and ourselves.
Practical work has focused on the room full of historic and recent analog computers that has been my studio for the past few years. I have been making artistic works nourished by a form of media-archeology that serves two purposes that are almost opposed: it seeks to illuminate aspects
of current practices by going back to their origins, and it looks at the past as a rich and relatively
accessible source of difference.
In my reading and writing I am trying to articulate the sources of what can be perceived as an agency of machines and look at how a dialogue with machines can be a form of collaboration in which new representations appear. For this I am primarily leaning on the work of Alfred North Whitehead, Gilbert Simondon and Isabelle Stengers, with frequent appearances by Katherine Hayles, Bernard Stiegler and Andrew Pickering. An important element in these reflections is the notion of abstraction as articulated by Whitehead: abstractions are not objects but decisions to focus on certain aspects of a situation and relegate other aspects to the background. This is a view on abstractions as performative, inherently ecological and non-anthropocentric, and the fundament of my thesis will be to look at machines in these terms.
The idea and form of this librarinth are inspired by the libarynth that has grown as part of the activities of FoAm, who describe it as: “a hybrid between a library and a labyrinth, a maze of pages in various stages of completion. It is a deeply intertwingled collection of documents, notes and randomness”.
After five years, I am still navigating the question of how to reconcile my desire for openness and sharing with the need for a walled garden where ideas are allowed to be fragile. Over time the issue has also arisen that the pages on this site contain the material for several potential articles, so sharing before writing and publishing those has become a less obvious thing to do. So far, the path of least effort and resistance has been to just keep everything private, but not without regrets. The idea is that parts of this garden will open up and be listed below, other things will find their way to my blog. Eventually, all that is here will become public. If you are really interested, you can try asking for guest access, which will open this door for you.
You can always contact me here.