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AA_spreads_3-5_hi.pdf
Afro-Pessimism.pdf
Critical_Theory_Zine_spreads.pdf
DarkMatters-OntheSurveillanceofBlackness_SimoneBrowne.pdf
JackieWang_CarceralCapitalism_ThisIsAStoryAboutNerdsAndCops.pdf
JackieWang_Introduction_CarceralCapitalism.pdf
README.md
SiliconValley_2_EarlyHistory.pdf
UNBAG_2_AmericanArtist.pdf Add files via upload Mar 12, 2019
galloway_alexander_software-as-ideology.pdf
wendy-hui-kyong-chun_on-software.pdf

README.md

Dark Matters

Instructor: American Artist | americanartist.us | americanartist.us@gmail.com
Teaching Assistant: Nabil Hassein | nabilhassein.github.io | nabil.hassein@gmail.com
Track: Critical Theory, Spring 2019
Location: School for Poetic Computation | sfpc.io | 155 Bank St, New York, NY 10014
Time: Tuesdays at 10 AM
Office Hours: Sign Up Here
Homework Submission: Find the appropriate week here

Class Schedule:
Mar 12: No class – SFPC Day 2
Mar 19: Software as Ideology
Mar 26: The Silicon Valley of Dreams
Apr 2: Black Gooey Universe
Apr 9: Intro to Blackness and Surveillance
Apr 16: Biometric Surveillance of Blackness
Apr 23: Intro to Carceral Capitalism
Apr 30: Algorithmic Policing
May 7: No class – Showcase
May 14: No class – Artist Toolkit

Course Description

In this course we will consider together the surveillance of Blackness and the positioning of white as neutral within interfaces as forms of violence perpetuated by high technology. We will discuss how we all can use computational systems to create change while holding them accountable to their origins and biases. For this course we will be reading Simone Browne and other critical theorists to understand how these structures are compromised so that we can begin to imagine what an outside to them might look like. We will also use the practices of artists critiquing (and expanding the imaginary within) technology as examples of how radical imagination can be evoked through artistic practice.

Expectations & Goals

  • The readings are mandatory. The class will be most useful if you read the texts completely and come prepared with questions.
  • Come ready to support others. We will learn the most if everyone contributes to class discussion. If you find yourself talking more than others, feel comfortable to step back so that others may speak.
  • Be open to questioning things we take for granted as normal. How can we destabilize and decenter power structures considered normal to everyday life?
  • This class mainly focuses on the lived experience of African-Americans under state surveillance technologies. If that does not reflect your lived experience consider how you may contribute to systemic anti-blackness.

Final Project

Each student will contribute a written or visual project to a zine that we will publish and produce together. The zine will be made available to visitors at the showcase. Students are encouraged to practice critical writing and to get experience having artwork or writing published. Last semester's zine can be found here.

Guiding Questions

  • You do not need to respond to these. Have them in mind when reading and consider them after reading the text, see what comes to mind.

Week 1 - No Class (SFPC Day 2)

Tuesday Mar 12

Week 2 - Software as Ideology

Tuesday Mar 19, 10 AM

Agenda:

  • Introduction - 15 mins
  • Lecture on assigned reading - 1 hour
  • Break - 10 mins
  • Small group discussion - 30 mins
  • Full group discussion - 1 hour

Reading: Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, “On Software or the Persistence of Visual Knowledge”

Guiding Questions:

  • Is there a real distinction between software and hardware or is it just semantic?
  • Why and how has white male fragility been central to the development of technology?
  • How often do you notice your computer or smartphone?
  • What are some activites in your life that are determined by what your smartphone/computer is able to do?
  • Think of your friends and family, if they were the designers of computer technology what would it do/look like?

Before Class: Please write a response to the text, this can include questions, impressions, sketches, notes or your own ideas. Aim for 300 words or about half a page in standard settings. Please add it to the Week 2 folder on Dropbox Paper by midnight the day before class.

Week 3 - The Silicon Valley of Dreams

Tuesday Mar 26, 10 AM

Agenda:

  • Lecture on assigned reading - 1 hour
  • Break - 10 mins
  • Small group discussion - 30 mins
  • Full group discussion - 1 hour

Reading: David Naguib Pellow and Lisa Sun-Hee Park, “Early History and the Struggle for Resources” from The Silicon Valley of Dreams

  • Further Reading: Chapters 3 + 4 from this book.

Guiding Questions:

  • What are some similarities between the ethos that drove the gold rush and the ethos of Silicon Valley?
  • Based on the history of environmental injustice in Santa Clara and San Jose, what do you think the future of that region will be like?
  • Where was your family in 1769?
  • What are some ways you are privileged by settler colonial violence?

Before Class: Please write a response to the text, this can include questions, impressions, sketches, notes or your own ideas. Aim for 300 words or about half a page in standard settings. Please add it to the Week 3 folder on Dropbox Paper by midnight the day before class.

Week 4 - Black Gooey Universe

Tuesday Apr 2, 10 AM

Agenda:

  • Lecture on assigned reading - 40 mins
  • Artist lecture by American - 40 mins
  • Break - 10 mins
  • Small group discussion - 30 mins
  • Full group discussion - 45 mins

Reading: American Artist, “Black Gooey Universe”

Guiding Questions:

  • (Carrying this over from week 2:) Think of your friends and family, if they were the designers of computer technology what would it do/look like?
  • How do you determine when something seemingly innocuous (like changing from a black screen to white screen) is coded violence rather than a coincidence?
  • Think about where members of your family were 100 or 200 years ago. What forms of technology did they use or were used against them?
  • What is the role or use of abstract thinking in various labor/liberation struggles?
  • Have you ever used technology that you were embarrassed or ashamed to have—broken or obsolete devices? Do you still feel the same way?

Before Class: Please write a response to the text, this can include questions, impressions, sketches, notes or your own ideas. Aim for 300 words or about half a page in standard settings. Please add it to the Week 4 folder on Dropbox Paper by midnight the day before class.

Week 5 - Intro to Blackness and Surveillance

Tuesday Apr 9, 10 AM

Agenda:

  • Lecture on assigned reading - 1 hr
  • Break - 10 mins
  • Visiting Artist: RAFiA Santana - 30 mins
  • Full group discussion - 1 hour
  • Saturday Apr 13, 11:00 AM - Field trip to see American's show I’m Blue (If I Was █████ I Would Die) at
    Koenig & Clinton
    1329 Willoughby Ave
    Brooklyn, NY 11237

Reading: Simone Browne, "Introduction, and Other Dark Matters" from Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness

Guiding Questions:

  • Browne says “epidermalization here is the imposition of race on the body.” How is race imposed on individuals by how are they seen in society?
  • How can the surveillance of blackness help us understand the social conditions of surveillance more generally?
  • How do new technologies change the invasiveness and effectiveness of surveillance, or what Gary T. Marx calls “the new surveillance”?
  • What are some real life examples of different forms of veillance described by Steve Mann, such as counterveillance, sousveillance or univeillance?
  • What are some ways you have undermined or escaped surveillance in your own life?

Before Class: Please submit a first draft of your essay/images to the Zine-Draft folder on Dropbox Paper by midnight the day before class. Nabil and American will provide feedback.

Week 6 - Biometric Surveillance of Blackness

Tuesday Apr 16, 10 AM

Agenda:

  • Lecture on assigned reading - 1 hour
  • Break - 10 mins
  • Small group discussion - 30 mins
  • Full group discussion - 1 hour

Reading: Simone Browne, "B®anding Blackness" from Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness

Before Class: Please submit a revised draft of your essay/images to the Zine-Draft folder on Dropbox Paper by midnight the day before class. Nabil and American will provide feedback.

Week 7 - Intro to Carceral Capitalism

Tuesday Apr 23, 10 AM

Agenda:

  • Lecture on assigned reading - 1 hr
  • Break - 10 mins
  • Small group discussion - 30 mins
  • Full group discussion - 1 hour

Reading: Jackie Wang, pp. 11-56 of "Introduction" from Carceral Capitalism

Guiding Questions:

  • How many people do you know that are or were in jail or prison?
  • Should “innocence” determine whether someone is worthy of punishment?
  • What kind of debt are you in and how much is it? Did you have an expectation of taking on debt as part of adulthood?
  • What are the consequences of increasing automation and the information economy as it is described in the text?
  • How does Wang distinguish “gratuitous violence” from other state-sanctioned violence, and why?

Before Class: Please submit a revised draft of your essay/images to the Zine Final Drafts folder on Dropbox Paper by midnight the day before class. Nabil and American will provide feedback.

Week 8 - Algorithmic Policing

Tuesday Apr 30, 10 AM

Agenda:

  • Lecture on assigned reading - 1 hr
  • Break - 10 mins
  • Small group discussion of writing assignment - 30 mins
  • Full group discussion - 1 hour

Reading: Jackie Wang, "'This Is a Story About Nerds and Cops': PredPol and Algorithmic Policing" from Carceral Capitalism

Guiding Questions:

  • Do you believe in "crime"? Do you agree with who is considered "criminal"?
  • If we rely on algorithmic data to make decisions on people's lives, who is responsible for those decisions: The people making the software? The people inputting the data? the people acting based on the data? the people affected by it? or someone else entirely?
  • How do our predictions of the future shape what is possible within it?
  • How else might daily life be determined by the relationship between "law enforcement, the university, the Department of Defense, and Silicon Valley"?

Before Class: Please submit a final draft of your essay/images to the Zine Final Drafts folder on Dropbox Paper by midnight the day before class. We will design and develop these works into a zine that will be available during the showcase.

Week 9 - No Class (Artist Toolkit)

Tuesday May 7

Week 10 - No Class (Showcase)

Tuesday May 14

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