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Jamie Allen: "Complex Matter: Toward a Technoaesthetics"

Rethinking the materiality of technologies and their experience is a contemporary project now taken up from a number of perspectives for both thinking and developing objects of art, design and technology. Motivated towards a realist interpretation of representational technologies, these perspectives provide an equilibrating reaction to the early digital-era discourses and rhetorics of the “virtual,” with tendencies toward a reinforced subject-hood in dynamic control of supposedly immaterial environments (through its transfer into virtual spaces, avatars, identities). Materialist approaches to the aesthetics of technical media also fruitfully point to anthro-historical and originary account of technogenealogy (Foucault), and technogenesis (Stiegler). Technologies, taken as complex aggregates of matter, reveal themselves as foundational to
the framing of experience. Technical media are suggested as revealing a first-philosophy, an emergent account of what it is to be human.

Related philosophical directions point toward the resurgence of realism (and so materialism), owing to the work of speculative realists and object oriented philosphers (Harman, Bogost). These districts of the ontologically “weird” give us the opportunity to think anew a material
reality outside the Kantian correlate of subject-object experience. The redistribution of agencies and ontologies creates fertile ground for technological art and design work, where technogenetic assemblages and the diverse agencies of “things” comes to the fore. Particular technological
practices underline the experience of the immutable coupling between living matter and machine matter, humans and objects, artist and artwork.

Backgrounded by theoretical discussions of differentiation, technogenesis and speculative realism, this paper serves to discuss links to contemporary strategies in art and design (including examples from the author’s own practice). Highlighted are examples showing how the creative use of technologies performs a non-correlative collaboration with objects. The creative collaboration with complex materials outlines a possible, productive “technoaesthetics.”


Jamie is Head of Research at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design. He is interested in the ways that creative uses of technology teach us about who we are as individuals, cultures and societies. He has taught at NYUʼs Interactive Telecommunications Program, the Pratt Institute of Art and Design, Hanyang University in Seoul, and lectured at Parsons and the Royal College of Art in London. Working between New York, the UK and now Copenhagen, Jamie has been involved with emerging technologies as a designer, researcher, artist and teacher for over a decade. He likes to make things with his head and hands - investigations into the material systems of art, media, electricity, and information. His work has been exhibited internationally, from Eyebeam in NYC, to the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology in Liverpool, to SIGGRAPH Asia in Yokohama, Japan, to the Transitio Festival in Mexico City.

Thomas Bøgevald Bjørnsten: "Aesthetics Re(tro)-loaded"

This paper intends to discuss various examples of contemporary artefacts and art installations in which the significatory and perceptual effects emerge from the exchange of an ostensive digital aesthetics and a deliberate gesturing toward earlier, canonical works of 20th century art history and beyond. While this exchange or reciprocal dynamics obviously relates to basic structural and formal similarities, the paper suggests that such intentional reconnections with an art historical past may also imply epistemological correspondences with previous artistic and aesthetic explorations of the interrelations between form, perception, knowledge, and representational schemes. In other words, this sort of reconnection entails, as well, a history of how art has been considered a medium (technical, material, qualitatively) for expressing or presenting the changing understandings of perceptual and cognitive processes in artefactual forms, related to equally changing notions of a perceiving ‘subject’.

Focusing on works by, for instance, Carsten Nicolai and Ryoji Ikeda, the paper reflects on what will be termed as contemporary reconfigurations of past aesthetic paradigms through the use of digital and electronic media. For one thing it is suggested that this artistic approach thematizes and negotiates what Florian Cramer has described as a ”gap in the notions of aesthetics” between cultures of science and humanities, respectively. For another, the paper will contest Cramer’s (akin to other’s) assertion that “The contemporary (visual) art system is…no longer defined by a medium or occupation with media, but first of all by its own system”. On the contrary, the works discussed here seem as vehemently as ever to display a self-awareness about the status and functions of their media-specific qualities and characteristics, also when such as meta-reflexivity takes the form of a rupture of past forms and formats.


Thomas Bøgevald Bjørnsten is PhD fellow at the Department of Aesthetics and Communication, section for Aesthetics and Culture, Aarhus University. He has a background in Art History, Aesthetics and Cultural Theory. Besides currently finishing his dissertation project on “silence and noise” he is a regular contributor to various journals, writing primarily about experimental music and sound art. He is also editorial assistant of The Nordic Journal of Aesthetics. Latest articles include ”Sound [signal] noise: significative effects in contemporary sonic art practices” (in: Journal of Aesthetics and Culture, Vol. 4, 2012) and ”In/compatible Imagi(ni)ng : ideal reproduction and discrete signals” (in: World of the News, Transmediale, 2012).

Morten Søndergaard: "… Ears in the Cloud …: Acoustical accidents and clouded texts in Stelarcs Internet Ear"

When the Ethics Council held its annual meeting at the Utzon Center in Aalborg in October 2010, none of the participants at the meeting realized that a biotech ear was listening in.
This was the result of coincidences and an acoustical accident: Someone turned on the speaker system by mistake in the exhibition spaces below the beautiful conference hall overlooking the fiord in Aalborg. In the exhibition space was located an artwork by the Australian artist Stelarc, Internet Ear, which was part of the exhibition Biotopia - Art in the Wet Zone.
Thus Stelarc's Internet Ear, suddenly and unwittingly, is able to 'hear' and 'broadcast' what was said at the Ethical Council meeting. The transmission is fed back to the ear as 'speech-noise' – and broadcasted once again as a transmission inside a transmission, etc., creating a feed-back loop of fragmented announcements from a debate on ethics.

The Internet Ear by Stelarc addresses the situation where data and communications in a distributed public are 'tagged' in a context and no ‘real’ cultural conversation is taking place outside that distributed public space. In this paper, I will take a closer look at how the aesthetics of Internet Ear is being reloaded / remixed and argue that this event of ‘eardropping’ is the result of a cultural pattern created by an emergent distributed public in a ‘cloud’ of accessible data. The Internet Ear, then, is addressing the issue of cultural identity in a cloud culture, and how it emerges from negotiations between different positions involving acoustical accidents and ‘clouded’ texts.


Morten Søndergaard, PhD, media art curator and associate professor in interactive media art at AAU cph – Aalborg University in Copenhagen.

[CANCELLED] Jacob Wamberg: "Gargantua Re‐loaded: An endosemiotic approach to new media"

Through a biocultural approach this paper will claim that media since the mid-nineteenth century have entered a new semiotic condition, what I with a biosemiotic term will call endosemiotics, and that important strands of avant-garde art could be shown to explore this condition.

If we understand media in general as prostheses for the human brain and sense apparatus, we could call this condition a Gargantuan turn. Instead of reflecting sense impressions and their cerebral processing without environmental interaction, such as had become the norm in the non-indexical images, book pages, drama scenes and autonomous music of the Cartesian centuries before, new media since the 1830s artificially extend a condition that is otherwise reserved for the inner workings of the human and animal body as described by 20th-century phenomenology. First, visual and acoustic media absorb traces from the physical surroundings in a direct, indexical way, moving from fixing of the past (in photos, sound recording and film – cp. bodily memory storage of sense impressions) to presenting the present (in television – cp. instant bodily sense perception). Second, computers transform and process these traces in a new dynamic way (cp. the reflecting processes of the brain). And third, these virtually processed traces are converted into environmental movement in telepresence (cp. bodily movement on the basis of reflection).

Thus, in accordance with Marshall McLuhan’s idea of electric media as an extension of our nervous system, pervasive computer technologies have artificially reconstructed a full bodily feedback loop of receptive sensing, reflective memorizing and thinking, and pro-active turning this cerebral processing into physical movement. However, exactly because the virtual processes are channeled directly into action in a way that resembles what is taking place inside human and animal bodies – processed sense images being similarly able to pro-actively move limbs – the whole pervasive computer world actually resembles a Gargantuan de-centralized body with ourselves as a sort of inner organs. This condition, with signs and actions being tied together in performative clusters, could be analyzed through the concept of endosemiotics, the dense biosemiotics taking place inside bodies or swarms.

As I aim to demonstrate, many strands of avant-garde art could be construed as anticipating and exploring this endosemiotic condition. In the most explicit sense, new media artists such as Stelarc and Eduardo Kac explore endosemiotic communication, in which signs are converted into action, and subjectivity are shared between several agents. More broadly, however, endosemiotic aspects could be detected any time avant-garde artists engage in the performative dimension.

Veronica Fitzpatrick: "Ghostly and Enticing: Time, Relationality, and the “Living Still”"

The relationship between digital/"new" media (ranging from post-reel formats to the democratization of screens) and "cinema" (as both works produced with film stock and a category of value) has often been narrativized within film studies through nostalgia: e.g. "film's" vernacular persistence despite its material disappearance, critics' laments for a mythically pure theater-going experience, etc.
Yet one may also observe a strain of discursive proneness to describing technological advances – and the modes of spectatorship they elicit – in the register of haunting: from Vilém Flusser's insistence that "technical images are phantoms that can give the world, and us, meaning," to Bernard Stiegler's observation of cinema's capacity for a "play of hauntings" between perception and imagination, the notion of haunting complicates a sheerly nostalgic perspective by foregrounding a kind of queer temporality (the contact between rather than succession of past and present) and relationality (of specter to spectator/obsolescence to animacy).
This paper aims to deconstruct what is "at once ghostly and enticing" about contemporary usergenerated, user-curated image formats, venues, and applications, using three examples with ties to web publishing: the GIF (Graphics Interchange Format), Tumblr, and Instagram. In particular, I focus on the site If We Don't, Remember Me, which offers an evolving collection of high-quality GIFs that use movement to surpass the screen-shot – effectively quoting moments, rather than simply images, from films. Describing itself as "a gallery of living movie stills," IWDRM (and the network of Tumblr blogs on which its living stills are reblogged) demonstrates modes of curation, remixing, perusal, and repetition that press the aesthetic encounter's temporality beyond both an engagement that's necessarily contemplative and an "instant" that's merely shocking. Taking seriously Flusser's utopic vision of a society in which the exchange of "experiences, thoughts, and feelings with one another [takes place] in the form of images," I read our relational interactions with these platforms as constituting a collective "haunting," and explore how this practice poses fresh difficulties for aesthetic theory and film studies, both.

Veronica Fitzpatrick is a Ph.D. student in Film & Media Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. Her research is primarily on violence, affect, and aesthetics in the horror film, and phenomenological approaches to media studies, with particular focus on issues relating to gender and sexuality. Her current projects involve reading the body of films termed "New European Extremism" with Bataille and Merleau-Ponty to explore femininity, embodiment, and genre, and a study of affective modes of spectatorship through cinematic paratexts, such as digital trailer remixes and "supercuts." Her essay "The New French Extreme" will appear in The New Companion to the Horror Film (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013), and she blogs at Special Affects.

Jessica Jacobson-Konefall: "Terril Calder’s The “Gift:” Staging Spectator Citizenship in Winnipeg and Digital Video Art"

This paper will treat the innovative and significant ways that Indigenous new media artists in Canada are using digital technology in artistic practice, focussing on a digital video work called The “Gift” by Terril Calder (2011) shown recently in the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba.  In interfacing Calder’s work with this particular city, my aim is to treat the work’s staging of politics vis-à-vis its deterritorialization of the sense of downtown Winnipeg’s social and material spaces. I claim that this reconfiguration offers differential participation for spectators –a form of performative consciousness that emerges out of the intensities, junctures, and crises within shifting currents of space, identity, media, and citizenship. In this vein I stage my own encounters with the work, its media formats, and the city of Winnipeg. Within this context, I emphasize the politically and ontologically generative qualities of the work in this site, as well as spectatorship as relational citizenship practice.

These generative qualities in Calder’s work extend an increasingly prevalent form of citizenship unfolding in the mediated public sphere –a convergence between visual new media and urban spaces as a central dimension of the civic (Appadurai 1996; Canclini 1995; Buck-Morss 2004). It is this convergence that encourages me to focus on the site of media art as a privileged domain. Focusing on this dimension reveals how new media urban citizenship can allow for substantive re-imagining of many of the concrete sites within cities around which “specific claims or counter-claims are made about rights, responsibilities, identity, recognition and (re)distribution” (“Introduction” n.p.).  In this paper I respond to The “Gift” by articulating some of the ways in which Calder’s work felicitously takes up these claims and the formats in which they generate within the space-times of the city of Winnipeg.  



Jessica Jacobson-Konefall is a PhD Candidate in Cultural Studies at Queen's University at Kingston, CANADA. Her SSHRC-funded research project focusses on Indigenous new media art in Canadian cities, particularly in terms of the ways that these new media art works figure, or reconfigure, civic notions of identity and community. She is currently teaching in the English Department at the University of Winnipeg in Canada, and has refereed conference proceedings in publications such as Extensions: The Online Journal of Embodiment and Technology and Glimpse: Phenomenology and Media and a forthcoming publication in AlterNative: International Journal of Indigenous Peoples. 

Andrea Virginás: "Digital traces and looking for them: patterns on screens"

Detection in contemporary genre films is in the process of being transformed: viewers see less and less of moving, traveling, and active human bodies entering in interaction and exchanging words. Instead, what takes up a significant part of film time is the view of computer screens, with digitally stored and retrieved traces, meaningful for detection, playing the lead role. They may take the form of computer codes, word documents, scientific graphs, photographs or videos and sound samples, thus detection is (re)presented as a process happening on the human-computer interface. Usually, it is the detecting character, for whom patterns and colours on the screen are visualized, by whom they are scrutinized and interpreted.

In my presentation I analyze contemporary mainstream-type filmic sequences (of American and European origin) where criminal or scientific investigation processes of the described kind are staged in the mise-en-scène. My aim is to examine aesthetic choices that are at work in creating the diegetic settings, furthermore the information patterns on the computer screens (with colours, forms, speed of movement, and soundtracks analyzed), and finally the intermediary tissue that may be supposed to wrap first-level diegesis – investigator looking at the screen, a hardly interesting situation – and n-level reflective abysmal structures – all types of information traces audio-visualized and enframed. This intermediary tissue is connoted by aesthetically perceivable signs (blurring camera movements, zooms, distorted soundtracks, etc.) intercalated between genre narrative and information as (moving) image.

Films analyzed: Blade Runner, Gattaca, Minority Report, Splice, The Millenium-trilogy, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Annika Bengtzon-series, etc.


Andrea Virginás (1976) holds a PhD in British and American Studies from Debrecen University, Hungary (2008), and an MA in Gender Studies from Central European University, Budapest (2002). Currently she is assistant professor at the Dept. of Film, Photography, and Media, Sapientia Hungarian University of Transylvania, Cluj-Napoca, Romania ( ).

She has published articles, essays and interviews in Hungarian and English. Her recent publications in English are:

Crime Genres and the Modern-Postmodern Turn. Scientia Publishing House, Cluj-Napoca, 2008., republished as (Post)modern Crime: Changing Paradigms? From Agatha Christie to Palahniuk, from Film Noir to Memento. VDM Verlag Dr. Müller, Saarbrücken, 2011 ( );

’New Filmic Waves in Romanian and Hungarian Cinema: Allegories or Stories about Flesh?’ Acta Universitatis Sapientiae, Film and Media Studies, 4 (2011): 131-142; ( );

Group review of Colette Balmain Introduction to Japanese Horror Film, Claire Molloy Memento, Andrew Nestingen Crime and Fantasy in Scandinavia. Fiction, Film, and Social Change). Scope 2012 (in print), (

Suneel Jethani: "Digital Representations of Space, Material Politics and Latent Aesthetics"

This paper interrogates ‘sensory inscribed’ nature of bodily encounters with digital representations of space via what Lefebvre (1991) in The Production of Space terms a ‘code-of-codes’. I draw upon his ideas on spatial practice, representation and agency incorporating Virilio’s conception of the politicized body - constituted through relations between the organic body and the body as territory and information and Grosz’s dialectical notion of political bodies and the body-politic to link the body and the contemporary aesthetics and power relations of space and time.

Using cases showing various attempts to mediate space and time using critical, layered, material and relational approaches to space and time, I argue that despite the emancipatory discourses that often accompany media art projects that engage with representing the hidden their emancipatory role in contemporary bio-politics are equally as subject to institutional forces that create ‘latencies’ of space and time. These latencies, brought about through the domination of the political and economic conditioning of space and time are thus an exercise of power over the the sensory perception of space and time yet by situating the body within these latencies we may consider the body as having power to act, potentially, with some agency.

The paper will cover a range of issues where the mediation of space and time intersect with the body as constituted by and under the influence of territorial, informational or bio-political exercises of latency-inducing power. These will include issues relating to dwelling rights, technology assisted navigation by the vision impaired and border control issues relating to migration and mobilities as they appear in contemporary media art.



Suneel Jethani is a PhD candidate in the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne. His research explores the relationship between spatial representation and dimensional politics.

Peter Ole Pedersen & Jan Løhmann Stephensen: "V-v-Vertov R-r-Re-made"

In 2007, Perry Bard launched a participatory online movie project entitled Man With a Movie Camera: The Global Remake, which, as the title implies, is a remake of Dziga Vertov’s Man With a Movie Camera (1929). In this seminal work, Vertov attempted to forge a new international language of pure visual communication, Absolute Kinography, by purging the movie from all the conventions that belonged to older art forms and their related media. Instead, Vertov in a highly exploratory way sought to replace these conventions with new means of communication (montage, innovative camera work, etc.), ultimately aiming to optimize both the art of “decoding life as it is” and the transference of this flow of information onto the viewer. According to Lev Manovich, the efforts by Vertov and like-minded avant-garde artists in time turned out to be the building blocks of new media and its so-called computer culture, as we know it.

In this paper we will discuss, what this contemporary new media remaking of Man With a Movie Camera means in a more detailed perspective, and which aspects are left out. What, for instance, happens to the aesthetic dimensions of the original, which inevitably becomes part of the movie’s formalistic/communicative experiments, when the aim of the art project now seems less an attempt to forge a new visual language, than an attempt to orchestrate – or perhaps merely demonstrate — a new social organization of the very production of art under the banners of remixing, participation, global-networking (cf. Manovich, Deuze, Jenkins, etc.).

To conclude the paper, we will briefly contrast Bard’s remaking of Vertov’s film with Lech Kowalski’s 2008 online video archive CAMERAWAR.TV, to illustrate another current take on so-called “database cinema” – that is, a different echo of Vertov’s pioneering work.

Ingrid Hoelzl: "SCREENCITY: Images, Screens, and the Augmented City"

In my paper I will discusses the new place of the image in the digital urban environment in terms of what I propose to call screenicity. I will proceed by first arguing how digitalization has recast the function of images and screens, before engaging in a theoretical trajectory from the augmented city as a definition of urban space qua its digital infra - or rather, super structure, to screenicity as a definition of an aesthetic and relational condition of urban life fostered through the double displacement of the image onto the screen and into urban space. I will do so by discussing the concepts of 'augmented space' (Manovich, 2006) and 'wirelessness' (Mackenzie, 2011). Screenicity is not only the screen city, i.e. the built environment transformed into 'media facades', but also the citi-screen, which comprises both the fixedly installed- and mobile screens as instantiating a new form of urbanity, sociality and publicity. Lastly, screenicity means the way we access and thus inhabit the urban data-space via wireless networks: Here, the screen functions as access (and touch) points between mobile terminals (user) and the network, and the image comes to be defined as the point and time of network access.



Dr. Ingrid Hoelzl is a postdoctoral research fellow in Media Aesthetics at the Department of Media and Communication at the University of Oslo. She is the author of a book on the theory of photographic self-portraiture, Der Autoporträtistische Pakt (Fink, 2008). Her articles on contemporary photography, photographic self-portraiture and the new temporality, place and function of the image in digital culture have been published in journals such as Photographies, History of Photography, Intermedialités, and Leonardo. Together with Rémi Marie, she is currently finishing a book entitled SCREEN & EYE: The Photographic Now, which addresses the status of the image via its new mode of display, the digital screen.

Lise Skytte Jakobsen: "The Aesthetics of 3D Printing"

According to economists 3D printing is about to revolutionise our production of things. It will be as cheap to make one – unique – thing, as it is to produce 1000. – ”A machine that can make you anything you want!” as the company Makerbot presents their low-price replicator for personalized manufacturing. But what do we want? And how do we consider the aesthetics of 3D-prints? Do we use the technology innovatively as a way of realising hitherto unseen images, we fantasize about in 2D on the screen, or will we use it for copying Lego bricks?

To many of us 3D-print is not yet a part of our office equipment – it is a scenario of the (near) future. However, many contemporary artists, sculptors and designers use 3D printing in their practice. With the outset in a number of these different creative and innovative practices, this paper will discuss 3D prints as 1) tactile knowledge, 2) a setting free the production of things, 3) an undecided image between 2D and 3D.  

It will be this paper’s thesis that these three approaches to the aesthetics of 3D-print will be relevant not only for the mentioned professional users, but also for us who are not yet printing, but just watching the ‘magic’ produced by this new thing-maker. 


Lise Skytte Jakobsen, PhD

Lecturer, Department of Aesthetics and Communication, Aarhus University

M. Beatrice Fazi: "Incomputable Aesthetics: Limits and Potential of Formal Reasoning in the Aesthetics of Computation"

In 1936 Alan Turing showed that some things that cannot be computed, and thereby explained what computers could and could not accomplish before any such machine was in fact built. A few years earlier, in 1931, Kurt Gödel determined the incompleteness of logical systems by demonstrating that there are propositions that cannot be proved or disproved within the axioms of the system itself. This paper takes these two pivotal moments in the history of computing and in the philosophy of mathematics as its starting point, and discusses the significance of incomputability and incompleteness for the aesthetics of computational technologies.

This presentation contends that the discovery of the limits of formal reasoning problematizes aesthetic approaches to computation that emphasize aesthetic values such as elegance, simplicity, and order, and which are thus akin to a classicist canon of mathematical beauty. Such approaches focus on the formality of algorithmic structures and can be called ‘idealist’ insofar as they assign an ontological and epistemological superiority to logico-mathematical abstraction. Incomputability and incompleteness pose a series of problems to such an ‘aesthetics of deduction’: they undermine its transcendent and a priori premises, whilst also invalidating its ‘closed’ systemic of logical necessity.

The aim of this presentation is not however to discard logico-mathematical abstraction. On the contrary, it is contended that computational aesthetics should engage with the formal axiomatic character of computation and its inherent limits, so as to develop a theoretical position able to account for the rational and discrete aspects of computational practices. Whilst some aesthetic stances in new media studies would seem to dismiss formalism in favor of the phenomenical, this paper argues for the mutuality of formality and factuality in computation. Incomputability and incompleteness, it is shown, are ‘ontological events’ that mark the possibility of establishing such mutuality at a metaphysical level.


M. Beatrice Fazi’s research explores questions located at the intersection of philosophy, science, technology and culture. She is a PhD candidate at the Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths (University of London, UK). Her doctoral thesis investigates the ontological foundation of the aesthetics of computational media. At present, she teaches digital media theory and culture at Anglia Ruskin University (UK).

[CANCELLED] Camille Baker: "Aesthetics of open-source, custom interfaces and live coding in performance." 

This paper will discuss the use of open-source, custom interfaces and live coding in performance using emerging devices that focus on revealing hidden, intimate and sensuous code of the body for manipulation and play. Artists are adapting to and developing new technologies and finding new ways to create generative visual and sensual works with custom software and ‘apps’ which take advantage of mobile media tools (GPS, Accelerometers, QR readers, AR apps etc.) and gestural gaming interfaces (Wii, Kinect, OmniTouch); the field is rapidly expanding exponentially. Conceptual aspects of the ‘database’, along with visual methods for tagging and categorising media in the network create ambient narrative constructions and performance interactions. Generative elements are incorporated through the custom iPhone and iPad tools, as well as inexpensive electronics kits with easy to learn open-source programming environments and other technologies.

This paper review recent artworks, as well as one by the author, that result in a new performance aesthetic that uses the mobile and other ‘hacked’ devices for live coding, performance and interactive artworks. It will look at works of dancers, live artists, musicians and others who participate in the DIY and ‘Maker’ movement to create new wearable electronics and mobile applications for performance enhancement. The author will consider the possibilities of playful, expressive, gestural, live coding, as well as using the DIY maker ethos in multi-sensory participatory performances with new devices. 

The author’s own artistic research has involved re-combinatory practices and hybridisations of participatory performance, mobile media, wearable biofeedback sensors and live database interaction in a recent performance project MINDtouch. Her new collaborative work Hacking the Body, is about making participatory performances and interactive dance pieces that expose ‘code’ of the inner body through three ‘Hacks’, discussed near the end of the paper. The author will consider the possibilities of playful, expressive, gestural, live coding, as well as using the DIY maker ethos in multi-sensory participatory performances with new devices.


Camille Baker is a media artist-performer/researcher/curator working within various art forms: mobile media, interactive and performance installation, live cinema, responsive environments, music performance, video art, telematics, media curating. She has presented at the MINA Mobile Media Conference, New Zealand, November 2011; RESEO Opera Conference, Utrecht, November 2011; International Symposium of Electronic Art (ISEA) 2011 Istanbul, Turkey; Low Lives 3, online performance Salt Lake City, Utah, USA April 29, 2011; Digital Stages Performance Festival 2011, London; DHRA Conference 2010, Brunel University, London; EVA Conference 2010 London; TEXTURES, SLSAe 6th Annual Conference, Riga, Latvia, 2010; ISEA 2009 Belfast, Northern Ireland, etc.

Geoff Cox & Robert Jackson: "Coding Un-decidability"

To understand the paradoxical relationships between formal language (code), material production (coding), and aesthetics, we argue for a dialectics of computational procedure; between decidable code and undecidable code.  Decidability occurs in reducible, simple closed systems that decide-in-advance on every query given to them relative to a user’s input. Undecidable systems are irreducible, complex, open systems where an input cannot be decided upon by the any other means other than itself.

In this regard, computer science was founded from the philosophical failure to formalise mathematics into a decidable, closed system; and since the intrinsic nature of all general purpose computation is built on this contradiction. What is more, the political connotations of the undecidable, are significant; particularly in the formal work of Alain Badiou, whose work actively seeks the undecidability of a situation, which forces or pushes a decisive political intervention.

This issue is all the more urgent because of the tendency for commercial proprietary software platforms (such as Apple’s OSX, IOS, Cloud-based services) to foreclose formal language or code. Thus, if communicative capitalism now seeks to falsely make sense of undecidable systems by making them decidable and closed, the critical role of aesthetic production today is to stress the undecidable and paradoxical.


Robert Jackson is an independent researcher, writer and software developer in the research group KURATOR/Arts and Social Technologies. His research incorporates Computational Algorithmic Artworks, Art Formalism and Speculative Realist Philosophy, identifying an occluded  history of computer art which operates as configurable units of individual necessity rather than networked systems of situational contingency. Robert is an associate editor of the independent philosophical journal Speculations; a graduate student run, peer-reviewed journal dedicated to speculative realist philosophy. He also writes for and blogs regularly on speculative realism and art on his website Algorithm and Contingency.

Geoff Cox is Associate Professor in the Dept. of Aesthetics and Communication, and Participatory IT Research Centre, Aarhus University (DK). He is also an occasional artist, Adjunct faculty Transart Institute (DE/US), Associate Curator of Online Projects, Arnolfini, Bristol (UK), and part of the self-institution Museum of Ordure. He is an editor for the DATA Browser book series (published by Autonomedia), and co-edited Economising Culture (2004), Engineering Culture (2005), Creating Insecurity (2009) and is working on Disrupting Business (2013). His latest book is Speaking Code: coding as aesthetic and political expression (forthcoming from MIT Press, late 2012).

[CANCELLED] Falk Heinrich: "Engineering Beauty in Participatory Art"

The presentation outlines a theory of beauty in participatory art. Participatory art is defined by the necessity of audience agency in the unfolding of the piece. Participatory art comprises, for example, interactive and responsive art deploying various kinds of technology.

The sentiment of beauty has been pivotal to art since the Renaissance, but its primacy was entirely rejected by modern art, by the avant-garde and succinctly dropped as a topic by aesthetics. The presentation’s premise is that the sentiment(s) of beauty always has been a part of art, yet it argues that participatory art requires a revised notion of beauty that takes into account the performative and ludic turn within various art forms and, in a broader sense, within a technology-saturated culture rendering new cultural forms and values.

The leading hypothesis is that beauty in collaborative art can be seen as the effect of the interplay sensuous appreciations, an enactment of algorithmic scripts, and the realization of the overall conceptual intentions of each piece. Put bluntly, the beauty lies in performatively realizing how and what it is that the artefact wants the participant to do and why. Beauty is thus pleasure in imagination and understanding through agency. The paper outlines three layers of participation – the visceral, the communicative and the conceptual layer – and their significance for the experience of beauty.  Each layer contributes to the sentiment of beauty, yet only the emergent interplay between those layers unfolds the (possible) beauty of participatory art.

Methodologically, my overall investigation is an art-theoretical rewriting of the notion of beauty that takes into consideration, firstly, established theories of beauty (this paper takes into account some of Kant’s key notions of beauty) and, secondly, a clear exemplification of the theorization through a case study.


Falk Heinrich, PhD, Associate Professor

Head of Studies (Art&Technology)

Aalborg University, Denmark

Heinrich is affiliated with the research groups RELATE (Research Laboratory for Art and Technology) and MÆRKK (Markedskommunikation & Æstetik: Kultur & Kognition) and the educational program Art & Technology, where he also is Head of Studies. He teaches digital aesthetics, interactive dramaturgy, and artistic methodology. He has worked as an actor, theatre director and installation artist. His theoretical investigation continues to develop in close relation to practical, artistic work.

David Gauthier: "Aesthetics of Errors"

Cybernetic machines are by nature negentropic. They order the inorganic in a highly controlled, complex and structured system tending towards self-conditioned stability. Concealed within substrates of machine code and hardware configuration, the cybernetic machine structures and discards chaos and thereby institutes normalization. In these terms, having a standpoint of what constitutes a deviation from the norm within the cybernetic machine, commonly understood as an  error, presents the opportunity to observe and question the system itself. 

While some recent discourse has tried to elaborate theories of this phenomena under the term “glitch,” others have elaborated and aggregated on-line examples, which Bruce Sterling (2012) came to term “new aesthetics.” With the advent of open source/amateur-programming and the development and documentation of various experiments with cybernetic machines, we are exposed to and becoming used to the aesthetics of errors. As we become more literate with computing technologies, we are able to show and/or capture (consciously or otherwise) the limitations of the machine, usually rendered as an error or a glitch. Because perceivable errors strongly contrast with the negentropic nature of cybernetic machines, their value as aesthetic objects is now becoming unquestionable.

In art discourse, for example, the idea of self-reflexivity continues to be of great import in determining a work's aesthetic value; that is, for a painting to be of value, it must somehow speak to the medium of painting. In this light, errors can be understood as revealing the medium of the cybernetic machine. Indeed, rather than being merely a genre, the aesthetics of errors directs our understanding towards important philosophical questions regarding man, machine and culture. Using the concept of apparatus elaborated by Vilém Flusser (1983), I show that underneath errors there are ideological questions of freedom, resistance and control. Playing against the machine reveals its hidden secrets.



David is a scientist. His work and teachings explore innovative use of technologies as a means to probe future scenarios involving humans and machines. He has artistic and scientific research expertise in domains ranging from actuated textiles to viral communications. 

Gauthier worked in various institutions, notably the MIT Media Laboratory, the Banff New Media Institute and the Hexagram Institute for Research/Creation in Media Arts and Technologies. He holds a Master of Science degree in Media Arts and Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from the Université du Québec à Montréal.

Theis Vallø Madsen: "A pre-digital digital culture"

In the sixties a group of American avant-garde artists began experimenting with fluctuating, intertwining information. They built a decentralized, rhizomatic network where art and information circulated between artists outside the official institutions of art.

The mail art network was an offspring of the Fluxus movement and was based on the same principles as we see in today’s digital culture. There is no autonomous work of art within the mail art network because every piece is part of an exchange between a sender and one or more receivers. One artist sends out a piece – typically a collage or an assemblage – and the receiver can then archive the piece or send it back in circulation. In any case, mail art needs to be a part of a system, in the same way that digital information needs to be part of a network. As the Russian computer philosopher Lev Manovich has noticed digital information needs to be variable and transmittable. Similar principles were at work in the mail art network.

My PhD project is based on Mogens Otto Nielsen’s mail art archive - a messy art archive located at KUNSTEN Museum of Modern Art in Aalborg. I am currently working on the development of a digital map that illustrates the links and relations between artworks, artists, countries, different themes, and related objects. If the mail art network can be thought of as a kind of pre-digital internet, then the mail art archive also shares the problems that today’s visual and digital culture face. Old data is being converted into digital media, and new data is being produced at an accelerating speed, thus demanding a new way of organizing and coping with all this data.

Christian Ulrik Andersen & Søren Pold: "From ‘Interface Criticism’ to ‘Interface Business’ – On the Current State of Digital Aesthetics"

Ten to fifteen year ago, with the appearance of net and software art, software and computers were not only used as means for artistic experimentation and for building new cultures, but were also subjects for critique themselves. Software artists were strikingly critical towards the new paradigms of representation and interaction that came along with computers. Hacking media culture (e.g., The Yes Men), seeking to foreground the ‘hidden’ coded layers of the interface (e.g., Jodi), or addressing the shift from analogue to digital (e.g., Jim Campbell) are all good examples of this “interface criticism” in media art. Contrary to this critical aspect of aesthetics, aesthetics in commercial interface design was mainly viewed as ‘beauty’ or ‘style’. In this, artistic experiments could serve as a source of inspiration (e.g., for new modes of interaction and visualization), but could not interfere with pragmatic purposes. Today, however, this opposition has partly been erased. Through the idioms of ‘openness’, ‘the social’ and ‘participation’ net/software art and cultures (their disruption, critical agenda and modes of self-organisation)­ have largely been subsumed by commercial platforms. If one was to look for software art today, why not use one of the platforms for cultural software we all carry around: the tablet or the smart phone? And, if one was to engage in social or participatory software, why not begin by browsing the catalogue of Google’s services?

The critical software artwork has become an app, but have aesthetic dimensions that deconstruct the computer interface and its culture also become intrinsic parts of technology itself? The presentation will argue that this is partly the case, but it will also argue for a new focus area for media art, concerned by its own subsumption by the market. The presentation will discuss current examples of artworks that do this by becoming ‘business’ themselves.

Lotte Philipsen: "Remote Aesthetics: The role of social media in contemporary aesthetic practices" 

As Boris Groys has argued, the artwork has transformed from being closed and finite to being a documentation of real life practices represented in the format of the art installation (Groys: ”Art in the Age of Biopolitics”). According to Groys, the art installation provides a topological space for the aura of things to emerge as life, since it allows for the turning of copies into originals. Or, as Groys writes, ‘To be an original and possess an aura means the same thing as to be alive’.

Extending (and to a certain degree challenging) Groy’s argument, this paper proposes that today online social media have replaced the art installation as a main topology that is able to generate artistic originality and life. The paper demonstrates how a number of aesthetic practices like crowd-creating websites, online galleries for visual-orientated nano art or blogs on DIY food hacking or urban exploration incorporate social media as an ‘artistic’ material in the works’ overall form. For instance, we may think of food hacking as events that takes place at the kitchen table or in the laboratory, but acts like sharing technical procedures and documenting the hacks by use of online social media are equally significant dimensions of the works’ form.

Drawing on Olga Goriunova’s ideas on art platforms and organizational aesthetics as well as re-readings of Kant’s concept on mere form, the paper investigates how such new practices enables individual subjects – scattered around the globe – who participate in or experience the works in a remote manner via a laptop or a smartphone to actually sense such (art) practices aesthetically.


Lotte Philipsen holds a PhD degree in Art History and is Postdoctorial fellow with the Department of Aesthetics and Communication at Aarhus University.

Mette-Marie Zacher Sørensen: "On Flickering Pronouns in Digital Poetry"

In my paper I would like to demonstrate an example of aesthetic analysis of digital poetry and reflect on relations between writing, technology and communication in digital media. The term Digital Poetry denotes a poetical movement of language-based digital art, which forms a genre of its own that is influenced by the poetry avant-garde, visual and concrete poetry, software art, etc. These poems are mostly interactive, as they blend words, images and sound, and the words can move, float around, and disappear. What is the impact on the understanding of the pronouns “I” and “we” when a sentence is written on a complex digital surface and therefore exchangeable and ephemeral – and extraordinary detached from a concrete sender? My examples will include contemporary digital poetry but also autogenerative sentences on weblogs, homepages, etc.

Through the analysis of the given examples, I would like to give an overview of inherent questions of my research project. Is it possible to describe the relations between the communication of an artwork and unenunciated dimensions (the programming)? And what is the correlation of temporality and communication?


Mette-Marie Zacher Sørensen, PhD student, Aesthetics and Communication at the University of Århus, Denmark (2009-2013)
She holds a masters degree in Aesthetics and Culture from University of Århus (Denmark) and has been studying Philosophy at the University of Copenhagen (Denmark) and Cultural Science at Humboldt University (Germany)
Author of the article “Moving Letters and Complex Medial Limitations in Digital Poetry” In Eilittä, L.: Intermedial Arts: Word and Image - Concrete Poetry – The Scene of the Visual – Music and Word. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012

Linda Ryan Bengtsson: "Re-negotiating Social Space – Interactive Art Installations and Interactive Experience"

The study presented concerns three contemporary visual Scandinavian interactive art installations, ‘Colour by Numbers’, ‘Emotional Cities’ and ‘Climate on the Wall’, to explore how interactivity and visual experiences plays into the relation between humans, technology and social space. Taking Lefebvre (1991) as one starting point, spaces are approached as social spaces, formed in the negotiation between the actors within a place or geographic area. In this regard the integration of interactive art installations may also reshape the conditions in the construction of social space thus raising issues concerning humans’ sense of space and human relations vis-à-vis interactions with such artworks.

When digital technology is integrated into our everyday environment, the border between media interfaces and physical environments is blurred (Couldry & McCarthy, 2004). Traditional divisions of spaces dissolve and are rearranged, complicating the linkages between private and public spheres (Moores, 2005) as well as the actual and the mediated (Morley 1995, 2009, 2011; Christensen et al., 2011; Jansson & Lagerkvist, 2009). This study has emerged through the need for further research focusing on the concept interactivity in today’s media practices, contributing with more targeted research and theoretical work concerning the interconnection between space and digital technologies.

The study finds evidence that interactive art installations can shift humans’ perceptions of space, allowing them to have social experiences and feel locally connected or anchored to their neighborhood or city. Humans do not necessarily become placeless due to interactive technology it may as well strengthen users sense of place. The study captures how interactive art installations enhance space by converging with existing spatial references. The physical environment and digital construction interrelate and enhance each other, feeding and evolving as consequences of each other and thereof forming new experiences, expanding and transcending diverse spaces.

Linda Ryan Bengtsson is a researcher in media and communication at Karlstad University. Her main focus lays in interactive digital aesthetics, media practices and media experiences. With a background as a designer and media producer she also carries a specific interest in constructing experiences through media. Her research focuses upon the intersection of media and places, investigating its consequences by studying and critically analyzing humans’ expressions and experiences.

Julie Lein & Katharine Coles: "Seeing the Sonic: Aesthetics, Poetry and Data Visualization"

From Twitter poems to digitized libraries, technology is transforming the shape and scope of literary arts, generating new genres and increasing access to ever-growing amounts of text. Computers are changing analytical tools and composition techniques, raising practical and theoretical questions including how to recognize aesthetic objects and qualities, how to represent them as they migrate from one medium to another, and how such migration and representation in turn affect aesthetic experience.

Under a grant funded by the NEH in the US, and the AHRC, ESRC, and JISC in the UK, we have been collaborating with computer scientists on creating visualization tools for poets and poetry scholars. In particular, we are working to create appropriate visual forms to represent not visual but sonic constructs and arrangements within poems. On one level then, these data visualizations might be regarded as mere tools to reveal repetition and modulation of phonetic sound: to help readers recognize a poem’s various dimensions of rhyme, one of poetry’s most basic aesthetic features.

But the dynamic between sight and sound, visualization and printed text, is much more complex than it may first seem. Using our project as a case study, our paper explores larger questions for aesthetics in the developing digital age. For instance:

  • To what extent can sonic aesthetic perceptions, values, and language be applied to visualizations, and vice versa? How, for example, might the concept of the "glance" or "gaze" be applied to poems, and with what ramifications?
  • What is (or should be) the status of data visualizations?
  • "Illustrations"? 
  • Different "embodiments" of text/data? 
  • Aesthetic objects in their own right, capable of eliciting aesthetic responses?

Our paper examines these larger aesthetic questions via a demonstration of our team’s efforts to design visualization software that extends and enhances poetic interpretations.


Julie Lein received her PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Utah in 2012. A former Poetry Editor for Quarterly West, her poems and scholarship have recently appeared in The Antioch Review, Barrow Street, Best New Poets 2011, CALYX Journal, and Modernism/Modernity.

Katharine Coles’ fifth and sixth poetry collections are forthcoming from Red Hen Press. Recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Poetry, Seneca Review, Crazyhorse, and Image. In 2010, she traveled to Antarctica on a grant from the National Science Foundation’s Antarctic Artists and Writers Program. She is a 2012 Guggenheim Foundation Fellow.

Anette Vandsø: Representing Digital Representation: The "Digital Aesthetics" of Sound Art"

I am sitting in a chair under what looks like an organic growth of wires connecting small loudspeakers and LED lamps. As the other museum guests enter the room, the sounds of their voices and footsteps activate the artwork and set off a wave of small crackly sounds synchronized with the LED lamps. I imagine that this would be how the inside of a computer would appear, if we could look pass the interface and see (or hear) how the bits and bytes are constantly turned on and off as they process the data.

In the field of sound art 'the digital' is a recurring theme. The art works often seem to zoom in on the digital in itself rather than the larger cultural contexts. Thereby they offer a direct, sensuous experience of that which is normally hidden "behind" or "under" the interfaces. Sound art therefore plays an important role in contemporary culture's attempt to understand it self as a digital culture.

In my presentation I will analyze how sound art works from Ryoichi Kurokawa, Soichiro Mihara, among others 'talk about' or represent the digital. I will argue that the representation of 'the digital' is not primarily semiotic in the traditional sense (where a signifier refer to the signified) but rather performative, because it is the synchronization of sound and image that is essential to the representation of 'the digital'.


Anette Vandsø, PhD, obtained a PhD in Aesthetics and Culture from the University of Aarhus (2010). In 2012 she received an elite postdoc grant from the Danish Council for Independent Research for an individual project "Listening to the world", which investigates contemporary sound art. Vandsø is the author of a number of peer-reviewed papers on contemporary music and sound art.

Jan Løhmann Stephensen & Lone Koefoed Hansen: The Free Universal Construction Kit: Liberating play, creativity and production through 3D-printing?

With the growing number of 3D printers like MakerBot and their increasing economic accessibility, the lessons learned and the logics cultivated on digital Web 2.0 now seems applicable to the real world of material things. Released in early 2012 by the artist groups F.A.T. and Sy-lab, the Free Universal Construction Kit is a set of 3D drawings (digital files containing specific algorithms for the 3D printer). When printed, the drawings enable everyone with access to a 3D printer to make connectors, “the missing links”, between heavily trademarked and/or patented toy concepts like LEGO, Tinkertoys, ZoomTool, and Fischertechnik. However, describing this project as “reverse engineering as a civic activity”, it seems obvious that F.A.T.’s greater agenda is not just to enable cross-over playing, but rather to problematize, criticise and ultimately open up closed formats. But how does that, for instance, conform with the fact, that F.U.C.K. seems parasitically attached to these toys, whose logic it is simultaneously defying?

This presentation is a work-in-progress. Rather than presenting a fully developed paper, we will discuss how we might approach an object like the F.U.C.K. – perceived both as a manifest-like statement and a fully functional object, that is: a toy. There will, in other words, both be a little something for those with theoretical inclinations, and for those who (just) like to play.


Jan Løhmann Stephensen is postdoc at the AU IDEAS Pilot Centre The Democratic Public Sphere, Aarhus University. Jan has researched on the recent diffusion of the idea(l) of creativity into non-art related spheres like work life, economics, policy-making, university research agendas, new media technologies, etc., as well as on film and its relation to literature (adaptation and novelization). Publications include Kapitalismens ånd & den kreative etik (2010); “Kreativ kapitalisme: nye værdier, nye teknologier, nye diskurser” (2012); “Great Expectations: Words, Images and Narratives in Literature, Film, and Anti-literature” (in press).

Lone Koefoed Hansen is associate professor at Aarhus University. Her research lies at the interface between art, culture and digital technologies and it focuses on how we might analyse and understand digital technologies through the way that artists use and criticise digital media and technologies. She is currently part of Participatory IT Centre (PIT), an interdisciplinary research project that combines art, aesthetics, sociology, and critical theory with computer science and engineering. 

Panel: "The Aesthetics of Disruptive Business"

Participants: Christian Ulrik Andersen/Geoff Cox/Søren Pold, Tatiana Bazzichelli, Stevphen Shukaitis, Marina Vishmidt.

With a backdrop of the crisis of financial capitalism, austerity cuts in the cultural sphere, the panel will focus on aesthetic strategies in relation to a broken economy. In a perverse way, we ask whether this presents new opportunities for cultural producers to achieve more autonomy over their production process and ask what alternative business models emerge? We are concerned broadly with business as (artistic) material for reinvention, and the challenge for critical aesthetics in terms of key business paradigms like innovation and regeneration.

  • Tatiana Bazzichelli (Transmediale / Leuphana University of Lüneburg), moderator
  • Christian Ulrik Andersen/Søren Pold/Geoff Cox (Aarhus University), "Disruptive Innovation in Digital Art/Activism and Business"
  • Stevphen Shukaitis (University of Essex / Autonomedia), "All Your Aesthetic Management Is Belong to Us: Mimetic Self-Organization in the Circuits of Immaterial Production"
  • Marina Vishmidt (Queen Mary, University of London), "Mimesis of the Hardened and Alienated: Money, Value and Activism in Recent Art and Around It"


Stevphen Shukaitis is a lecturer at the University of Essex and a member of the Autonomedia editorial collective. Since 2009 he has coordinated and edited Minor Compositions ( He is the author of Imaginal Machines: Autonomy & Self-Organization in the Revolutions of Everyday Day (2009, Autonomedia) and editor (with Erika Biddle and David Graeber) of Constituent Imagination: Militant Investigations // Collective Theorization (AK Press, 2007). His research focuses on the emergence of collective imagination in social movements and the changing compositions of cultural and artistic labor.

Marina Vishmidt is a London-based writer occupied mainly with questions around art, labour and the value-form. She holds an MA from the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy and is currently completing PhD research at Queen Mary, University of London, on ‘Speculation as a Mode of Production in Art and Capital’. Vishmidt co-edited /Uncorporate Identity /(Lars Muller, 2010) with Metahaven, and /Media Mutandis: Art, Technologies and Politics /(NODE. London, 2006), and contributes to catalogues, edited collections and journals such as /Mute, Afterall, Parkett /and /Texte zur Kunst./She also takes part in the group projects Unemployed Cinema, Cinenova and Signal:Noise.

Tatiana Bazzichelli is the concept and program developer for reSource for transmedial culture, transmediale, also Post-Doc researcher at the Innovation Incubator/Centre for Digital Cultures, Leuphana University of Lüneburg, and holds a PhD in Information and Media Studies (Aarhus University). She wrote the book Networking (2006) and her PhD dissertation: Networked Disruption (2011). Her networking project AHA won the honorary mention for digital communities at Ars Electronica 2007.

Christian Ulrik AndersenSøren Pold, and Geoff Cox are Associate Professors at Aaarhus university (see separate biographies), working on (with Constance Kampf) an AU ideas research project called "Disruptive Innovation in Digital Art/Activism and Business"

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Revised 11.12.2012