Tag Archives: publications

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AI and the Weird

In February I was at Loughborough University’s London campus to speak about AI and HCI, at an event called Building Trust in AI: Designing for Consent – a double-bill talk, as it were, with Prof. Shaun Lawson of the NorSC Lab at Northumbria University. I spoke mostly about the evidence I’d given to the UK Parliament to an audience of lawyers, ML engineers, and HCI scholars.

In April I was in Germany once again, at the University of Göttingen, for a conference on The American Weird: Ecologies & Geographies. My paper was on ‘400 Years of Millennialism: a Doxa of the American Weird’, and a book is forthcoming.

At some point during the summer, but I’m not entirely sure when, the paper I wrote with my long-standing Lincoln Institute of Social Computing collaborators, now at Cork, York, and Northumbria, was published in Funology 2: “Playful Research Fiction: A Fictional Conference”.

And in November I spoke at the entirely splendid KFFK.de – the Cologne Short Film Festival – about why our cultural visions of an artificially intelligent future are so often dystopian warnings.

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Extreme Metaphors

My new book is out.

JG Ballard: Extreme Metaphors
JG Ballard: Extreme Metaphors. Front cover of the hardback edition.

Extreme Metaphors: Interviews with JG Ballard, 1967-2008. Available in the UK and Germany via Amazon (and, of course, in all good bookshops etc., etc.)

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New edition of O(rphan)d(rift>) Cyberpositive

A new edition of the O(rphan)d(rift>) book from 1995, Cyberpositive is out on the 19th of July.

Two pages from Cyberpositive.

This is a very timely re-issue given the recent vaunting of the ‘New Aesthetic’, which may be interesting insofar as it expresses some digital artists’ felt need for *something* new at the present, but gives the rest of us a sense of weary deja  vu. As McKenzie Wark notes in interview with David Cox, the ‘New’ Aesthetic has been around since the late 80s and early 90s; most of its central themes and tendencies were documented and theorized by, among others, Scott Bukatman in his 1993 book Terminal Identity.

Indeed, it’s astonishing how backwards-looking the New Aesthetic is: the high Modernist ‘machine vision’ trope derived from Dziga Vertov’s ‘kino-eye’ (1923) and T. E. Hulme’s rethinking of Worringer’s ‘tactile vision’ (1924); the obsession with the virtual repeating Wyndham Lewis’ invitation to enter the “transposed abstract universe” of The Cubist Room (1914); the tendency to reveal structure, a commonplace of postmodern fiction since the 1960s; the use of algorithms and bricolage, a faint echo of John Cage’s aleatoric compositions such as Child of Tree (1975); the discovery of ‘glitch’ a simple duplication of, well, glitch, in everything from the visual glitches in The Max Headroom Show (1985) to the glitch techno movement after Basic Channel (1993)…

Of course, to catalogue the antecedents of a current movement is not to deprive it of its newness in combining those influences. But these particular influences have already combined to produce exactly the same aesthetic once before in the 1990s, from when The Silicon Man was first published (1991) to when Mute magazine’s pilot issue appeared (1994), Virtual Futures took place (1994-6) and O(rphan)d(rift>) published Cyberpositive (1995).

If the popularity of the New Aesthetic does anything positive, it’s to get people talking about aesthetics generally for the first time since the 1920s; though it’s depressing to contemplate the advent of a generation of New Aesthetes. But it also suggests that the mainstream has finally acclimatized to the aesthetic of the mid-1990s. To read Cyberpositive again is like meeting the scarred and tattooed badass older brother of NA, fresh out of prison and hungry to go whoring and scoring. It’s exactly the jab in the arm the NA movement needs.

The book launch is (once again, as it was in 1995) at the Cabinet Gallery in London, from 6pm to 9pm on the 19th July.

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Samuel Beckett Today/Aujourd’hui

Samuel Beckett: Debts and Legacies

The new volume of Samuel Beckett Today/Aujourd’hui is now out, available on Amazon; it contains my essay ‘The Metronome of Consciousness’.

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Deleuze&Guattari Concordance: A Thousand Plateaus

A more permanent home for the DeleuzeGuattari Concordance: follow the menu at the top of this page.

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Deleuze&Guattari Concordance: A Thousand Plateaus

For the duration of the Deleuze conference at Cologne, I’ve placed a concordance to A Thousand Plateaus on this site.

This is part of a project to produce a complete concordance to Deleuze & Guattari, incorporating all of their works published in English. There are occasional errors in the ATP concordance here – it’s a work-in-progress – but it gives a good idea of what concordances can do, and what the final version could look like.

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Ballard in Berlin

Newly out on Ballardian, an interview I did last year with Paul Plamper and Niklas Goldbach, who have adapted J. G. Ballard’s High Rise into a German radio play and film. Called Hochhaus, the adaptation is, for my money, the best adaptation of Ballard yet; more entertaining than Spielberg, more sensitive to Ballard’s subtleties than Cronenberg. Ballard’s 1975 novel is transplanted to Berlin in 2013, giving it an entirely different and very suggestive historical context. Especially perceptive about the politics of architecture, Plamper and Goldbach have their own unique take on Ballard’s modern relevance.

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Beckett’s Ping

There’s a new squib out in Notes & Queries about Samuel Beckett’s short prose work Ping, proposing a new reading based on his use of some technical terms. This may be rather late news: apparently it’s been available on advance access since August 15, but I hadn’t noticed.