Lisa Blackman – Data are Us? The challenges of computational cultures for theorising the subject(s) of digital mediation

Event Date: 12 May 2016

Room 264
Senate House
University of London
London WC1E 7HU

The Humanities and Arts Research Centre at Royal Holloway presents:

Professor Lisa Blackman (Goldsmiths) – Data are Us? The challenges of computational cultures for theorising the subject(s) of digital mediation

This paper will draw from my forthcoming book, Haunted Data: Social Media, Affect, Weird Science and Archives of the Future (Duke, 2016) to critically reflect on some of the myths and foundational assumptions concerning subjectivity and mediation, which have entered into, resurfaced and been re-worked in relation to computational cultures. As I hope to show, these myths carry anxieties, fears and fantasies, as well as reproducing specific somatic and psychological norms concerning communication, sociality and technicity in our being and becoming.  Although computational media are often seen as distinctly new as a communication medium, what these debates carry are longstanding tensions, contradictions and problematics that media studies and the digital humanities have inherited from at least the 19th century, and which are difficult to shake. Despite a commitment to the performative as a key way of framing what we do within and across social media platforms (for example), the performative is often overlaid by the natural or the neurological, leading to impasses, blind spots and occlusions in how to address the significance of such forms and their implications for studying mediation in relation to embodiment, affect, subjectivity, and the affordances of medium specificity, for example.  These issues will be discussed by developing the concept of haunted data in the context of a counter-factual narrative and more-than-one digital subject(s), who help to reveal some of the issues at stake.

Lisa Blackman is a Professor of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London. She works across critical media psychology, affect and body studies, and media and cultural theory. She has published four books in these areas; L. Blackman, Hearing Voices: Embodiment and Experience (Free Association Books, 2001); L. Blackman (with V. Walkerdine) Mass Hysteria: Critical Psychology and Media Studies (Palgrave, 2001); L. Blackman, The Body: Key Concepts (Bloomsbury Press, 2007); and Immaterial Bodies: Affect, Embodiment, Mediation (Sage, 2012). Her forthcoming book, Haunted Data: Social Media, Affect, Weird Science and Archives of the Future (Duke, 2016) explores what kinds of critical research in relation to subjectivities are possible within the context of the ‘computational turn’. The book takes a distinctly queer and feminist orientation to this question.

Introduction by Silvia Mollicchi (Warwick):

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