Wednesday, December 6, 2023
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The mathematics of our lives

This week we attempt to come to grips with the whirling maelstrom of information that instructs our perspectives and habits in the digital age.

Anne-Marie Oliver and Barry Sanders, guardians of the cultural responsibilities that define academia, have recently received backlash from the very mechanism they have been striving to deconstruct. If you are reading this newsletter, you are a cog in a machine that is optimizing your every action to fit a business model – using services like Google or Amazon refines algorithms which steer our decisions towards select products and information. This reduction of human activity to a series of quantitative gestures is a mathematical process that leads to a general mathematization of our lives, and its bureaucratic ramifications have cut Oliver and Sanders’ academic counterpoint at the root.The cancellation of their scheduled Critical Theory and Creative Research program at PNCA, a comprehensive multi-disciplinary curriculum that encourages students to take stock of the wrestling forces that have wrought present circumstances as well as their agency in determining the outcome, only reinforces the discussion that our sights should be directed towards a collective vision, as thinkers and human beings. The fact that the duo’s endeavors will persist under a different name (Oregon Institute for Creative Research) and sport a refined mantra (E4: Ethics, Aesthetics, Ecology, Education) is a testament to the integrity of their work and the necessity of its continued application.

In his well-spoken interview, Austrian curator and organizer Moritz Neumüller rightfully comments on the evolving nature of photography even though he does not claim the profession, like a cattail observing the surface and edges of a pond. Comparable in susceptibility to the many conventional art mediums that have been subjected to reconsideration in the age of multi-media, photography has experienced an identity crisis bordering on self-erasure. The nomadic camera bearer who returns with the fruits of travel has disappeared in the sea of phone-wielding common folk. The collapse in distance between creation and publication has reduced the value of photography to a chapter in a narrative. Despite these limitations, the popularity of Neumüller’s three dimensional tactile photobooks which grant the ability to touch a visual composition fortify the sentiment that photography is retaining its autonomy and simply reinventing the way it is perceived.

Additional interviews include: Tirza Latimer and Anke Kempkes.

What’s new on your reading list? Jeff Dellow, one of our users, is tackling Judy Purdon’s erudite dissertation on the nonhuman methods of existence seen emerging in 20th century abstract painters entitled Thinking in Painting. Through the lens of Deleuze, Purdon purports the presence of a material reality that transcends the identity of the artist, born at the intersection of representation and abstraction.

Adaptation, a contest run by AGILE is providing the stage and microphone for anyone who can lend creative insight into the physical and societal landscapes of a future governed by unimaginable interconnectivity. The Internet of Things is a proposed but increasing reality that extends the networking of the internet to everyday objects, removing the human middleman. The contest is split into four categories, each addressing a dimension of this likely milestone in human identity, and provides specialized hardware and software for innovators to set their visions in motion. November 30th is the deadline for the project that will found an integral discourse in the years to come.

There is a solace in the fact that everyone shudders when exposed to the cold.

As usual, here are the links to the interview archive and free resources page.


Brainard Carey



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