Syllabus and materials for The Radical Outside, taught Spring 2018 at the School for Poetic Computation
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The Radical Outside

CRITICAL THINKING OF TECHNOLOGY: The Radical Outside II | Spring 2018

Instructor: Morehshin Allahyari | |
Teaching Assistant: ann tbd | |
Class Times: Tuesdays at 10am
Class Location: School for Poetic Computation | | @sfpc_school | 155 Bank St, New York, NY 10014
Office Hours: Tuesdays, 2-3pm (Morehshin) | Thursdays 1-5pm (ann)

Table of Contents
Course description
Expectations and structure
Feb 21 : Artist talk by Morehshin
Mar 13 : Guest lecture by Sarah Aoun
Mar 20 : Art, Design, and Activism
Mar 27 : Other Futurisms (Cyberfeminism, Afrofuturism, Gulf-Futurism/Ethnifuturisms)
Apr 03 : Manifestos
Apr 10 : Digital Colonialism
Apr 17 : Showcase week
Apr 24 : Last class & crit
May 01 : Residency week

Podcast Assignments

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, there will be a guest speaker who will introduce a topic. We will focus on a combination of historical and contemporary text.
  • Each week students should come to class ready to read their stories and assignments (more on that soon).
  • 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: laptops down.
  • 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.

## Artist talk by Morehshin + First class-Intro Wednesday, February 21, 10am

On Privacy and Surveillance (Guest Teacher Sarah Aoun)

Tuesday, March 13, 10am I - History, Colonialism, Empire

Colonial Oversight

Race, surveillance, and empire

Race, Surveillance and Empire: A Historical Overview (video!)

II - Algorithms, Surveillance

Taser will use police body camera videos to anticipate criminal activity

Palantir has secretly been using New Orleans to test its predictive policing technology

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

Homework Please submit to the github the night before our class (Monday, March 12)

Prompt 1: It's the year 2050. You are arguing in front of the Supreme Court in favor of increasing surveillance.

  • agnes, eunsun, hans, nabil, yeli, phil, riley, sean, sukanya

Prompt 2: It's the year 2050. You are arguing in front of the Supreme Court in favor of regulating the surveillance reach of the government (and the private companies they hire)

  • ailadi, gonza, kelly, fame, paola, rachel, sarah, syd, yael

For both prompts, speculate about 1) the state of world affairs, 2) the technologies that exist or are being developed, 3) the political climate in the US, and anywhere else your imagination takes you.

  • Please limit your answers to 600 words maximum.

  • Please come to class ready to read your story. Practice reading it a bit before the class so you can read it smoothly.

  • We will be recording your readings to be used at the end of the semester for our podcast. You do not need to worry about that right now since we will do all the final decision making and editings the last 2 weeks of the semester together. This is just a heads-up that we will record this material for the podcast.

On Art, Design, and Activism

Tuesday, March 20, 10am

Additional Resources:

On Other Futurisms (Cyberfeminism, Afrofuturism, Gulf-Futurism/Ethnifuturisms)

Tuesday, March 27, 10am

Writing Assignmnet Due: Write one paragraph fiction on 're-imagining and re-building the future

**Essential Reading: On Climate / Borders / Survival / Care / Struggle:**

Guest Speaker: Ayodamola Okunseinde

Reading from Ayodamola

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

Drexciya, The Quest (1997)

A Cyborg Manifesto by Donna Haraway

Ethnic Futurism In The Gulf

Imagining a Middle-East

Delusions of Grandeur: GCC at MoMA PS1 and the New Museum Kodwo Eshun, “Further Considerations of Afrofuturism,” CR: The New Centennial Review, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp. 287-302 (Summer 2003)

On Manifestos

Tuesday, April 03, 10am

Choose 3 manifestos from the lists below and write one paragraph respond to them. Post on class blog.


Some other suggestions:

  • Computer Lib, by Theodor Nelson (1974)
  • The GNU Manifesto, by Richard Stallman (1985)
  • The Hacker’s Manifesto, by The Mentor (1986)
  • Manifesto for the Unstable Media (1987)
  • Cyberfeminist Manifesto for the 21st Century, by VNS Matrix (1991)
  • A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, by John Perry Barlow (1996)
  • Manifeste du Web indépendant, par le minirézo (1997)
  • Die Hackerethik, Chaos Computer Club e.V. (1998)
  • The Zero Dollar Laptop Manifesto, by James Wallbank (2007)
  • The Lo-Fi Manifesto, by Karl Stolley (2008)
  • The Uppsala Declaration, by the Swedish Piratpartiet (2008)
  • Guerilla Open Access Manifesto, by Aaron Swartz (2008)
  • POwr, Broccoli and Kopimi, by the Pirate Bay (2009)
  • Glitch Studies Manifesto, by Rosa Menkman (2009)
  • The WeRebuild Manifesto (2009)
  • The Critical Engineering Manifesto, by Oliver, Savičić, Vasiliev (2011)
  • We, the Web Kids, by Piotr Czerski (2012)
  • Iterative Book Development Manifesto, by Adam Hyde (2012)
  • A CryptoParty Manifesto (2012)
  • Bill Of Computer Users Rights, by Olia Lialina (2013)
  • The Mundane Afrofuturist (2013)
  • Balconism, by Constant Dullaart (2014)
  • A feminist server manifesto (2014)
  • the cybertwee manifesto, by Hileman, Forest, Waver (2014)
  • New Clues, by David Weinberger and Doc Searls (2015)
  • Xenofeminism, by Laboria Cuboniks (2015)

*** Listen to podcast from last cohort here

On Digital Colonialism

Tuesday, April 10, 10am

Reading due: post one paragraph response in the directory named apr_10_assignment/ choosing one of the below material)

In Defense of the Poor Image


Black Quantum Futurism

Guest Speaker: Fei Liu

Fei Liu is a designer, artist, writer, and creative technologist exploring digital empathy and narrative interfaces. She teaches at the Design and Technology program at Parsons, The New School for Design, where she received an MFA. Her previous residencies include Researcher in Residence at the New Museum’s art and tech incubator NEW INC and the Digital Solitude fellowship at Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, Germany.

Showcase week: No class

Tuesday, April 17

Last class & Crit

Tuesday, April 24, 10am

Residency week. Graduation party.

Tuesday, May 1

Podcast Assignments

Digital Colonialism

  • Riley, Nabil, Sarah

Art Activism

  • Hans, Sean, Eunsun, Ailadi


  • Syd, Yeli, Phil, Yael


  • Sukanya, Kelly, Fame


  • Agnes, Pao, Gonza, Rachel