Lauren Berlant (University of Chicago, Chicago, USA):

On the Inconvenience of Other People (15-16 Aug)

Lecture 1: Sex in the Event of Happiness (for SSSCP students only)

This lecture thinks with Last Tango in Paris and the general desire to separate out considerations of sexuality from movement imaginaries for social change in the post-60s west. It asks how transforming sexuality might induce unlearning attachments to historical reproduction that fix the world in a calcified realism: it is about the violence of unlearning even cruel attachments. It is a propositional talk, a talk on behalf of learning from experiments, jokes, heuristics, produced from the middle of violence.

Lecture 2: On Being in Life without Wanting the World: Living in Ellipsis (Open Lecture, mandatory for SSSCP students)

This lecture continues the work on unlearning cruel optimism of the previous lecture, focusing on dissociation as a way of remaining attached to life. Reading with Claudia Rankine (Don’t Let Me Be Lonely), the novel and film of A Single Man (Christopher Isherwood, 1964; Tom Ford, 2009), and Harryette Mullen (Sleeping with the Dictionary), it describes an aesthetics and a subjectivity shaped on one side by suicide and on the other by a life drive that is also, paradoxically, negative, in that it turns toward life by turning away from the world of injury, negation, and contingency that endure as a defining presence for biopolitically-defined subjects. It suggests attending to and developing a dissociative poetics.

Luciana Parisi (Goldsmiths University, London, UK):

Abstraction - Sex - Automation (16-17 Aug)

Lecture 1: Automation and Gender

In Western culture the distinction between techne and philosophy, automated machines and thinking can be said to subtend the articulation of gender as bound to a form of instrumental reasoning that prevents feminist, queer and gender politics to become philosophical or conceptual. The first part of this class will unpack the relation between automated machines and instrumental reasoning. The history of automated machines shows us that instrumentality sides with task-oriented functions that can reliably be repeated, without error. This demonstrative use of machines, from mechanical to cybernetic to computational machines, however implicitly contains a gender-technology alliance able to reject the presumed givenness that grounds gender to nature. Whilst nature is instinctual and indeterminate, automated machines are determinate and final. The gender-automation alliance will be then explored as a concrete possibility of articulating a politics of machines that engages with the rejection of the “myth of the given.” The history of automation, it will be argued, already marks the beginning of a gender politics that is not only denaturalized from the biological strata, but also, and importantly, from the ontological split between thinking and instrumentality. One way of developing a productive view of instrumentality is offered by contemporary American pragmatism, and the theorization of use in terms of use-meaning. This last point of discussion will be further contextualized and developed in the subsequent class Artificial Intelligence and Sex.
During this class, we will look at examples of automated machines in history and will use films (from the Stepford Wives to Ex-Machina).

Lecture 2: Artificial Intelligence and Sex

Central to critical theory is the rejection that technoscientific epistemology, accused of rationalising material relations, grounds the ontological condition of thought, reducing possible configurations of political subjectivity mainly to what can be known, measured, calculated. If being follows the technoscientific explanation of what being is, it is argued that the political project for political thought is destined to fail. This anti-technoscientific view aims to preserve ontological autonomy from the technoenvironment in which it operates. It identifies technology with power and separates the sacredness of the human thought from the automated systems invented by humans. Whilst the longing for common state of immunity from the technoscientific artificialisation of thought constitutes, one could argue, the bedrock of critical theory, this class aims to unpack how the development of computational logic becomes productive for the articulation of a formalism of and for sexual, gender, queer politics.
This lecture addresses how the development of artificial intelligence has led to the development of a computational logic and how this has forced the classical understanding of reasoning to become open to non-monotonic thinking. This classical view of logic will be here explored through American pragmatism. We will discuss how non-deductive logic and the theorization of logic in terms of use-meaning can contribute to develop an artificial logic of sex through and with machines.

Laima Kreivytė (Vilnius Academy of Arts / European Humanities University, Vilnius, Lithuania):

Queer Art and Curating: Strategies, Stories, Structures (18-19 Aug)

In these two lectures we will discuss queer strategies, stories and structures in contemporary artistic and curatorial practices. How different queer lenses change the straight perspective and challenge dominant visual regimes? Looking at the recent queer exhibitions and art works we will analyze their role in questioning cultural, social and political representation. The issues of queering the canon, fighting censorship, crossing boundaries of public and private, deconstructing “grand national narratives” and hierarchical structures of the art world will also be addressed.
Queer art combines activist approaches and camp aesthetics, mis(s)appropriations and celebration of diverse sexualities. Its artistic strategies encourage subversion of norms, uncovering hidden experiences, transgression boundaries and institutional critique. Many queer exhibitions are research-based visual narratives, linking archival material and personal testimonies. Therefore story-telling will be another important issue to discuss. How is memory (re)constructed by the means of collecting untold stories and re-enacting of the past events?
Queer narratives demand queer structures – a specific type of exhibition architecture. It aims at creating unusual spatial experience, mixing art and vernacular objects and “bending” the optical perception. How does it work? Is queering of international art mega-structures like the Venice Biennale possible? These and many more questions will open the space for debates.

Katerina Kolozova:  (ISSH, Skopje, Macedonia):

The Inhuman, the Automaton and the Female Face of the Exploited Animal (20 Aug)

The technological extension and the biological body are both alien to subjectivity which is essentially and unavoidably a philosophical creation. In other words, subjectivity is always already philosophical. It is nothing but the automaton of signification which re-presents the human or constitutes it as representation, what makes in (non-)human is precisely its failure to fully represent. Technology precedes subjectivity – just as the body does – and it cannot, therefore, have an ontological status – it is pre-philosophical. It precedes it astéchne (τέχνη) precedes philosophia (φιλοσοφία). It the real vis-à-vis the subject of language. The hybridization of the two constitutes a category of society or the “species being” of humanity. Perfecting the imperfect nature – because “irrational” - cannot be its purpose since the idea that nature contains meaning or sense, i.e., a certain causa finalis, is theological-philosophical. In order for something to be susceptible to perfecting, it should contain the tendency to be perfect. Minimally, it should be grounded in the possibility to constitute a meaning, a purpose. It should contain a telos, i.e., it should be a theological category. The Western philosophical-theological project is one of masculinism, occasionally patriarchal, and always and inescapably "phallogocentric."




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