/en/Team/Antoine-Fauchie/2021/3/29

Visual Materialities /Matérialités visuelles

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Tuesday, March 30, 2021, @12:00 noon EST
https://meet.jit.si/CCLA_materialities_2021

“The Gendered Design of Technologies from Typewriters to AI Digital Assistants”
“‘Where Does This World End?’ Space, Time and Image in Harun Farocki’s Parallel”
Lai-Tze Fan, University of Waterloo Joshua Synenko, Trent University

This talk will introduce aspects of my SSHRC-funded project Unseen Hands: A Material History of the Gendered Design of Technologies from Typewriters to AI Virtual Assistants. Specifically, I argue that technologies that are associated with gendered labour-- such as Industrial-era typewriters and digital-era AI virtual assistants—are in fact gendered by design. In this talk, I discuss a method of reverse engineering the hardware of the first mass-produced typewriters in the 1870s, and then jump ahead 150 years, reverse engineering the software of popular virtual assistants such as Amazon’s “Alexa” and Apple’s “Siri.” The takeaway of the talk is as such: the gendering of service technologies has always been a method of abstracting women and their bodies into machines that perform so- called menial labour and services, including by typing dictation, connecting calls, and giving directions. Through an essayistic narrative voice, Harun Farocki’s (2012) Parallel describes the worldly transformations that occur through digital images, borrowing from an archive of video game landscapes categorized by elements including fire, water, earth, and air. Unlike Oscar Sharp’s (2016) Sunspring, which highlights the bizarre collisions that result from an affectively charged AI scriptwriting machine, Farocki pushes both image construction, and the curatorial arts of video presentation, to the uncomfortable limits of uncharted territories. This paper offers an analysis of Parallel through the following questions: What formats of storytelling can express the power inherent in digitally constructed images? What is the method of representation that lies at the center of those formats, whether it be mimicry or simulation? What are its affective registers, and what evaluation criteria can we use to assess the outcomes?“The Gendered Design of Technologies from Typewriters to AI Digital Assistants”

“‘Where Does This World End?’ Space, Time and Image in Harun Farocki’s Parallel”
Lai-Tze Fan, University of Waterloo Joshua Synenko, Trent University

This talk will introduce aspects of my SSHRC-funded project Unseen Hands: A Material History of the Gendered Design of Technologies from Typewriters to AI Virtual Assistants. Specifically, I argue that technologies that are associated with gendered labour-- such as Industrial-era typewriters and digital-era AI virtual assistants—are in fact gendered by design. In this talk, I discuss a method of reverse engineering the hardware of the first mass-produced typewriters in the 1870s, and then jump ahead 150 years, reverse engineering the software of popular virtual assistants such as Amazon’s “Alexa” and Apple’s “Siri.” The takeaway of the talk is as such: the gendering of service technologies has always been a method of abstracting women and their bodies into machines that perform so- called menial labour and services, including by typing dictation, connecting calls, and giving directions. Through an essayistic narrative voice, Harun Farocki’s (2012) Parallel describes the worldly transformations that occur through digital images, borrowing from an archive of video game landscapes categorized by elements including fire, water, earth, and air. Unlike Oscar Sharp’s (2016) Sunspring, which highlights the bizarre collisions that result from an affectively charged AI scriptwriting machine, Farocki pushes both image construction, and the curatorial arts of video presentation, to the uncomfortable limits of uncharted territories. This paper offers an analysis of Parallel through the following questions: What formats of storytelling can express the power inherent in digitally constructed images? What is the method of representation that lies at the center of those formats, whether it be mimicry or simulation? What are its affective registers, and what evaluation criteria can we use to assess the outcomes?

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