The Contours of Algorithmic Life

full name / name of organization: 
Mellon Research Initiative in Digital Cultures at UC Davis
contact email: 
algorithmiclife@gmail.com

The Mellon Research Initiative in Digital Cultures at the University of California, Davis is proud to sponsor a conference on The Contours of Algorithmic Life. We seek to provide an interdisciplinary space for artists, scholars, activists, performers, and others interested in the intersections of algorithm and life. The Contours of Algorithmic Life conference is currently accepting proposals for papers, performances, presentations, and other engagements with algorithmic life.

CALL FOR PAPERS
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As algorithms permeate our lived experience, the boundaries and borderlands of what can and cannot be adapted, translated, or incorporated into algorithmic thinking become a space of contention. The principle of the algorithm, or the specification of the potential space of action, creates the notion of a universal mode of specification of all life, leading to discourses on empowerment, efficiency, openness, and inclusivity. But algorithms are ultimately only able to make intelligible and valuable that which can be discretized, quantified, operationalized, proceduralized, and gamified, and this limited domain makes algorithms necessarily exclusive.

Algorithms increasingly shape our world, our thought, our economy, our political life, and our bodies. The algorithmic response of NSA networks to threatening network activity increasingly brings privacy and political surveillance under algorithmic control. At least 30% of stock trading is now algorithmic and automatic, having already lead to several otherwise inexplicable collapses and booms. Devices such as the Fitbit and the NikeFuel suggest that the body is incomplete without a technological supplement, treating ‘health’ as a quantifiable output dependent on quantifiable inputs. The logic of gamification, which finds increasing traction in educational and pedagogical contexts, asserts that the world is not only renderable as winnable or losable, but is in fact better–i.e. more effective–this way. The increased proliferation of how-to guides, from HGTV and DIY television to the LifeHack website, demonstrate a growing demand for approaching tasks with discrete algorithmic instructions.

This conference seeks to explore both the specific uses of algorithms and algorithmic culture more broadly, including topics such as: gamification, the computational self, data mining and visualization, the politics of algorithms, surveillance, mobile and locative technology, and games for health. While virtually any discipline could have something productive to say about the matter, we are especially seeking contributions from software studies, critical code studies, performance studies, cultural and media studies, anthropology, the humanities, and social sciences, as well as visual art, music, sound studies and performance. Proposals for experimental/hybrid performance-papers and multimedia artworks are especially welcome.

Areas open for exploration include but are not limited to: daily life in algorithmic culture; gamification of education, health, politics, arts, and other social arenas; the life and death of big data and data visualization; identity politics and the quantification of selves, bodies, and populations; algorithm and affect; visual culture of algorithms; algorithmic materiality; governance, regulation, and ethics of algorithms, procedures, and protocols; algorithmic imaginaries in fiction, film, video games, and other media; algorithmic culture and (dis)ability; habit and addiction as biological algorithms; the unrule-able/unruly in the (post)digital age; limits and possibilities of emergence; algorithmic and proto-algorithmic compositional methods (e.g., serialism, Baroque fugue); algorithms and (il)legibility; and the unalgorithmic.

For more information, especially on updates regarding featured keynote speakers and performers, check out the conference website at: algorithmiclife.ucdavis.edu

Please send proposals to algorithmiclife@gmail.com by March 1, 2014.

Decisions will be made by March 8, 2014.

Distribute to and invite interested parties.

cfp categories: 
cultural_studies_and_historical_approaches
ecocriticism_and_environmental_studies
ethnicity_and_national_identity
gender_studies_and_sexuality
humanities_computing_and_the_internet
interdisciplinary
popular_culture
postcolonial
science_and_culture
theory
twentieth_century_and_beyond