Ribbon of DarknessInferencing from the Shadowy Arts and Sciences

Ribbon of DarknessInferencing from the Shadowy Arts and Sciences

Barbara Maria Stafford

Print publication date: 2020

ISBN: 9780226630489

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

Imagine these essays as cross-disciplinary field trips exploring the inscrutable digital networks and ineffable Big Data characterizing our uncertain times. Taken together, they trace a dark thread running through the bright techno-utopian rhetoric on AI, Alternative Realities, gene editing, cognitive enhancement. Addressing opaque inventions and ambiguous concepts—involving the technological, the theological, the neurological, the cultural—this book questions whether key contemporary arts and sciences have embraced a misunderstood “romantic” ideal of creativity without constraint or forethought, one resulting in enigmatic productions that are incomprehensible to a non-expert public. Seeking to fill a practical as well as a philosophical gap, these reflections ask, among other things, what are the ethical repercussions of the laboratory sciences becoming increasingly speculative or aestheticized while the experimental BioArts and computational New Media risk losing the qualitative self in the fathomless coding sciences. As an ensemble, then, these essays trace an arc from jewelry to robotics, painting to textiles, the chromatics of passion to projected displays. They demonstrate how artists shape cognizability by configuring shadowy experiences for which there are no ready words or numbers.