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The Radical Outside

CRITICAL THINKING OF TECHNOLOGY: The Radical Outside | Fall 2017

Instructor: Morehshin Allahyari | | Class Times: Tuesdays at 10am Class Location: School for Poetic Computation | @sfpc_school | | 155 Bank St, New York, NY 10014 Office Hours: Tuesdays, 2-5pm

Course description

This is a theory course for critical thinking of technology through the lens of activism, politics, and the 'outside'; to think and create beyond technology for technology's sake; to ask difficult questions; to read, learn, and engage in technology as a field of contemporary art practices and theories, as well as art historical systems. What will separate this course from many others is a collective effort (by all of us) for 'reflective thinking'; to not find comfort in how - up to this very day - the story of technology is told to us; by which figures and which systems. I hope that together we can build a new library of critical thinking and reading; written and processed by women (+LGBT) and POC. This is a collaborative course for interrupting and re-building.

Expectations and Structure

  • Each week, two or three students from the class will present that week's readings. We will focus on a combination of historical and contemporary text.
  • Read all the material and come prepared to discuss it in depth. Please bring other resources, authors and artists that you find relevant. Please see here for presentation guidelines.
  • Blog weekly about the readings and your thoughts. Think critically and post something that questions, criticizes, endorses, and/or adds to the reading or find other related material or resources that can juxtapose or compare the reading to something else you find relevant.
  • Participation in class discussions for readings, material that we watch in class, giving feedback to your peers is essential.
  • As this is primarily a discussion-based class, let's have all phones off. Best policy for laptop use: guidelines
  • Classroom hygiene
  • Best policy for speaking up, listening in

Schedule (Please keep an eye on the schedule in this document every week). This is under construction and will be changed throughout the course. Please feel free to give feedback.

Week 1 - Introduction to Critical Thinking and Re-Figuring

Tuesday, September 12, 10am

In Class

Artist talk (introduction by Morehshin): On Digital Colonialism, Re-Figuring, and Monstrosity What is critical thinking? Introduction to students How can this be applied to technology? In class we'll watch “All Watched Over by Machines of Love and Grace” and discuss the goals for the class. Introduction by Melanie Hoff: Melanie will talk about her work and current research around algorithms as ubiquitous, underlying systems of behavioral regulation as well as the need to ethically regulate algorithms themselves.

Week 2 - Who owns what history? On Singularities, Silicon Valley, and Futures (Plural)

Tuesday, September 19, 10am

In Class Morehshin: Introduction to Singularities and Futures

Presentation by Matthew Ortega

  1. A Brief History of Women in Computing by Faruk Ateş
  2. BBC documentary : Calculating Ada - The Countess of Computing 2015

Presentation by Amit Runchal

  1. The Californian Ideology by Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron
  2. Technology, the Faux Equalizer by Adrienne Lafrance

Additional Resources:

“A singularity is a point in space-time of such unfathomable density that the very nature of reality is brought into question. Associated with elusive black holes and the alien particles that bubble up from quantum foam at their event horizon, the term ‘singularity’ has also been co-opted by cultural theorists and techno-utopianists to describe moments of profound social, ontological, or material transformation—the coming-into-being of new worlds that redefine their own origins. By reflecting on Afrofuturism and digital colonialism, they will also question narcissistic singularities of ‘I,’ ‘here,’ and ‘now’, counter the rhetoric of technological utopias, and confound principles of human universality.” Morehshin Allahyari and Daniel Rourke

Week 3 - Art, design, and activism

Tuesday, September 26, 10am

Student Presentation

  1. Art Activism and politics: Ideology, Confrontation and Political Self-Awareness By Adrian Piper

The Transversal and the Invisible: How do you really make a work of art that is not a work of art? - Presentation by Fernando

  1. Disobedient Objects by Catherine Flood, Gavin Grindon - Presentation by April

  2. The Middle-East: Archiving a Revolution in the Digital Age, Archiving as an Act of Resistance by Lara Baladi

Abolish Borders as Revolutionary Futurity By Carlos Jackson - Presentation by Ying Quan Tan [slides]

Additional Resources:

Week 4 - Poetry, language, and memory

Tuesday, October 3, 10am

Writing Assignmnet Due: Future Proof (See here for Instruction)

  • Readings Due (You don't need to post a response for this reading. Instead see above for writing instructuon for this week's assignment)

The Enduring Ephemeral, or the Future Is a Memory Wendy Hui Kyong Chun

  1. Digital culture, memory, South America Presentation by Guillermo Montecinos

  2. Media Archeology

What is Media Archeology? by Jussi Parikka- Chapter 6 and 7 - Presentation by Stacy

  1. The Right to be forgotten AND Remembered- Presentation by Colin

The Right to be forgotten by Google
Forgetting the Internet
Facebook Filters And Safety Checks Are Not For People Of Color

Additional Resources:

Week 5- Other Futurisms (Cyberfeminism, Aforfuturism, Gulf-Futurism/Ethnifuturisms)

Tuesday, October 10, 10am

  • Assignment Due (Building a Library Together). See more here and please put your materia in your own folder created for you here.

Guest Speaker: Salome Asega


Salome Asega is an artist and researcher. She is the co-host of speculative talk show Hyperopia: 20/30 Vision on bel-air radio and the Assistant Director of POWRPLNT, a digital art collaboratory. Salome has participated in residencies and fellowships at Eyebeam, New Museum, and the Laundromat Project, and has given presentations at New Inc, Performa, Eyeo, and Gather Festival. Salome teaches in the MFA Design and Technology program at Parsons at The New School and is a Technology Fellow at the Ford Foundation.

Suggested Material from Salome Asega

Kodwo Eshun, “Further Considerations of Afrofuturism,” CR: The New Centennial Review, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp. 287-302 (Summer 2003)

Drexciya, The Quest (1997)

  1. Ann (feminism) A Cyborg Manifesto by Donna Haraway

  2. Qiao (Gulf) Presentation Ethnic Futurism In The Gulf

Imagining a Middle-East

Delusions of Grandeur: GCC at MoMA PS1 and the New Museum

Additional Resources: Kodwo Eshun, “Further Considerations of Afrofuturism,” CR: The New Centennial Review, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp. 287-302 (Summer 2003)

Selfcare as Warfare by Sara Ahmed

Feminism and Programming Languages by Arielle Schlesinger

Feminism Confronts Technology

Week 6 - Privacy and Surveillance

Tuesday, October 17, 10am

Please post a short reading response from one of the below readings (post one in the directory named week_6_assignment/)

Guest Speaker: Sarah Aoun Bio: Sarah is a data activist, operational security trainer, and programmer. Her work lies at the intersection of tech, human rights, and transformative justice. She’s collaborated with activists, journalists, grassroots social movements, and NGOs in the US and MENA region on digital security, ethical data & privacy, and data-driven storytelling. Sarah grew up in Lebanon and holds a B.A. in International Relations from Brown University.

Suggested Material from Sarah Aoun

I - History, Colonialism, Empire

Colonialism and Surveillance

page 151-158

Identification Practices: State Formation, Crime Control, Colonialism, and War

chapt 2, page 42

Race, surveillance, and empire

II - Algorithms, Surveillance

Taser will use police body camera videos to anticipate criminal activity

Part 1: Leaked documents reveal counterterrorism tactics used at Standing Rock to "defeat pipeline insurgencies"

Part 2: Standing Rock documents expose inner workings of "surveillance industrial complex"

Aadhar, one ID to rule them all

Omnipresence is the newest NYPD tactic you've never heard of

What can an algorithm do

III - Additional Reading

Surveillance as a tool for racism

How Peter Thiel's Secretive Data Company Pushed Into Policing

  1. Diego Choose a topic from [here] or/and one of the above readings suggested by Sarah above (

  2. Kaitlin Choose this Gendering Surveillance. or/and one of the above readings suggested by Sarah above

Week 7 - Digital Colonialism

Tuesday, October 24, 10am

Readings Due (You don't need to post a response for this reading. But still read it? Yeah?)

In Defense of the Poor Image

Morehshin Intro on Digital Coloniasm + 3D Scanning + Cultural Heritage

  1. Heather Moore

Net+ Map


Digital Colonialism and the Marginalization of Australia’s Indigenous Peoples

The Personal & the Politics of Language: Digital Colonialism & Annie Abrahams’ (E)stranger

  1. Hyojin

Linear Time + History


Black Quantum Futurism: Theory & Practice (Volume 1)

  1. Matt Jacobson


In Defense of the Poor Image

Week 8: Manifestos for the Internet Age

Tuesday, November 1, 10am

  1. Yumi

Manifesto of the Japanese Futurist Movement


The Metabolism manifesto

  1. Wei

  2. Niklas

Bitcoin Manifesto

How Can African Feminism Change the World with Cryptocurrency?

Additional Resources


Welcome to the Anthropocene

You Alright?

The Beauty of All Things Falling

Some Sites and Their Artifacts: 123D Catch

Week 9 - Podcast Audio-Finalizing Session

Tuesday, November 7, 10am

In class session for Editing the audio for the podcast. Finalizing ideas for Listening Room installation.

Week 10 - Final Class

Tuesday, November 14, 10am