hide logo

Conference Program



3:00 – 4:15pm

Welcome & Introduction

4:15 – 5:00pm


5:00 – 6:00pm

Talk & Discussion with Wendy Chun

with Wendy Hui Kyong Chun
by Jan Distelmeyer, Christian Schwinghammer

Facing Recognition

Wendy Hui Kyong Chun (Simon Fraser University, Burnaby)

What does recognition mean in an era of pervasive data capture and automatic pattern detection? Tracing the historical move from “pattern discrimination” to “pattern recognition,” this talk unpacks the logic and politics of recognition at the core of systems designed to automatically identify and classify users. It argues for the centrality of the humanities in understanding how we have become characters in a drama called “Big Data.”

6:00 – 6:30pm

Listening Session I: Nomadic Listening

with Budhaditya Chattopadhyay
by Kate Donovan

A live listening session and reading from the book The Nomadic Listener introduces an augmented book on migration, contemporary urban experience, and sonic alienation. The work critically engages with the idea of sensing the city through a mode of poetic and contemplative listening. The book is composed of a series of texts stemming from psychogeographic explorations of major contemporary cities, such as Copenhagen, Berlin, Brussels, Leipzig, The Hague, Graz, London, Kolkata, Vienna, Delhi, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Amsterdam, New York, Paris, and others, through situated writing and field recording. Each text is an act of contemplative listening, where the artist/author records his surrounding environment and attempts to attune to the sonic fluctuations of movement and the passing of events. Each corresponding sound attempts to trace these nomadic interactions in unedited field recording. What surfaces is a collection of meditations on the minutiae of life movingly interwoven with the author’s own memories, associations, desires and reflections. The listening session and reading from the book are entwined to augment urban sensing and sonic experience that draw up a tender map of contemporary cities, and the often lonely, surprising, and random interactions found in urban navigation and place-making.

6:30 – 7:30pm


7:30 – 9:50pm

Panel I: Other(ed) Sensibilities

with Christopher Brown, Erica Fretwell, Kyla Schuller, Sachi Sekimoto
by Anja Breljak, Vanessa Oberin

Cultural and scientific explorations of perception, sensation and feeling have a troubled history in Western thought. Already in greek antiquity, the attribution of sentience was used to discriminate between life forms. While traditions such as empiricism, sentimentalism and psychophysics have been ways of reassessing the role of the sensorial, they have largely built upon this idea of a hierarchization of the senses, becoming deeply entangled with practices of othering and dehumanizing. Especially in the 19th century, studying the senses played a critical role in constituting racial and sexual difference along the lines of sensorial capacities. The resulting 'biopolitics of feeling' have granted some (white/male) bodies greater sensibility while marking other bodies, especially female, declassed and disabled bodies, bodies of color and Black bodies as sensorially impaired. Their heritage is still present today, and remains to be critically assessed.

This panel revisits the historical role of sensory research in constituting the human 'other’ as well as its critical potential in describing racial embodiment in the present. It looks at how psychophysics helped the formation of an 'Eugenic Atlantic‘ and how concepts of 'impressibility’ and sentimental sense regulation provided ground for biological race and sex difference. What trajectories did these schools of thought take, especially when used to justify discrimination, oppression and exploitation? What detrimental effects did the traveling of these concepts bring about when being deployed and refined transnationally? And most importantly: in what ways can perceptual sensitivity move on from an object of study to a critical tool for exploring the sensuous materiality of racialization and discrimination in the present?


FRIDAY, JUNE 18, 2021

3:00 – 5:00pm

Panel II: Sensing Technology Narratives

with Orit Halpern, Melissa Littlefield, Ashley Shew
by Nicole Schimkus, Alice Soiné, Daniel Stoecker

This panel focusses on sensing technologies that promise to make available what was previously understood as inaccessible – a promise which could also be discussed as the claim to interface with an other. We want to discuss modes of intervening and accessing not as mere achievements of sensing technologies but as powerful guiding imaginaries for their envisioning, planning, designing, implementation and usage as well as the politics and decision making going along with them. The aspirations, obsessions, ideologies, myths, and fantasies surrounding sensing technologies are wide ranging. Contemporary narratives our panelists tackle in their work suggest that mental states may be approachable through EEG (Melissa M. Littlefield), that what are seen as bodily limitations may be overcome/eliminated through technological enhancement (Ashley Shew), and that humans and computers can and should coexist symbiotically by forming resilient cognitive networks (Orit Halpern).

Imaginaries of intervening and accessing implicitly or explicitly delineate and make normative claims about an other, justifying that it can be accessed, conquested and controlled in some way by the means of technological innovation/adaptation/optimization. As the contributions of our panelists impressively show – each from a different perspective –, these narratives inevitably reduce the complexities, ambiguities and contradictions correlated with sensing technologies, their conditions and effects. Imaginaries of intervening and accessing play a central role in the question not only of how something (or someone) can be made available, but also of how it itself is constituted as an other.

5:00 – 5:30pm

Listening Session II: Parasites

with Janna Holmstedt
by Kate Donovan

This is not for you to see, this is for you to bear and to hold – as a leaky vessel, permeable, embraced by a sonic skin that both receives and transmits. Can we do this? Can we for a moment share space and participate through this mediated and delayed presence made available to us through technological extensions and fleshy bodies? In its most radical sense, hospitality involves giving oneself over to a stranger. I am a parasite. We are para-sites.

The prefix para- expresses the condition of existing alongside. This unavoidable distance sets a series of differences in motion. In language, as in storytelling, we are always on the side, wrestling with the differences and the parasitic relations generated by this condition. I embrace the parasite as a way to resist illusionary oneness, acknowledge power relations, yet remain open to the possibility of being with, being relation.

Michele Serres points us, in his book The Parasite (2007), to three different kinds of parasites: the biological parasites, living organisms that physically attach themselves to and feed off their host. Then, there are social parasites who provide entertainment in order to be welcomed as a guest at the table, as in the well-known figure of the travelling storyteller. Lastly, there are the technological parasites. It is both striking and telling that the French word for noise, or static, is the same as the word for parasite. In the information network it is not always clear who is the parasite and who is the host. My data might be your noise. Your message might disturb my signal. Now, think of "me" and "you" in more-than-human terms, and vast tangled networks of technological and ecological relations unfolds.

What I can offer is a parasite, or a network of parasitic relations. Para- is on the side, it is not on the thing, it is relation. The voice is a parasite too, the bodiless voice brought to you in this session is in desperate need of bodies to host it. Thank you for inviting me in.

5:30 – 6:30pm


6:30 – 8:30pm

Panel III: More-than-human Sensing

with Ally Bisshop, Elaine Gan, Deboleena Roy
by Kate Donovan, Christian Schwinghammer

The panel aims to extend the overall conference theme to questions of how more-than-human entities, processes and dimensions matter in the realm of aisthesis. How and to what extent can perspectives that underline human sensation as always already more-than-itself offer ways to understand 'other' dimensions, scales, times as questions of sensing and sensitive media? Can such questions of sensing be modelled as a provisional starting point for approaching relationalities and materialities to destabilise the predominance of the metaphysical paradigm of individualism and its exceptional positioning of Man as a distinct agent? And connected with this: How do 'new' sensibilities for the more-than-human intersect with the ethico-political task of changed self- and world understandings in times of climate change, cross-species crises in their unevenly distributed effects, as well as fine-tuned technological and techno-scientific applications and discoveries? With such lines of questioning, the panel aims not only to trace possibilities for practices of 'sensing-otherwise' in order to encounter and address the more-than-human beyond the new/old longing to appropriate, reduce and objectify what runs through the human radius of sensation and sense-making, but also to ask, what is 'other' to this realm, what might illude it or even remain in difference/indifferent to it.

8:30 – 8:40pm

Short Break

8:40 – 09:10pm

Closing Discussion

All times CEST (Central European Summer Time)