reflecting on Interdisciplinary Methods

Symposium: Reanimating Human-Machine Interaction

Initiated by Mona Hedayati
Guest speakers: Dr. Marie-Luise Angerer, Dr. Chris Salter, Dr. Ana Viseu

This symposium takes as its point of departure the underlying tensions and dynamics between scientific inquiry, technological systems, and society at large probed within the interdisciplinary field of Science & Technology Studies (STS) to grapple with techno-scientific knowledge production positioned as social institutions. It, however, intends to go beyond classic discourses in STS that hold onto what Philips et al. refers to as ‘Western origin stories of science and rationality’1 which tend to overlook critical perspectives from social sciences and humanities entangled with situatedness and positionality within and beyond study and experimentation settings.

The focus of this call is on our daily interaction with our technology-mediated surroundings; i.e., interaction between humans and computational devices and systems. The coming together of humans and machines has shaped the current understanding of our environments towards what the anthropologist Lucy Suchman calls ‘socio-technical assemblages’ that foreground the everyday technological practices and their spatio-temporal but also socio-cultural situatedness2.

The goal behind this call is thus to address the politics of this convergence by questioning techno-scientific objectivity, notably critiqued by Donna Haraway as ‘the view from everywhere and nowhere’.3 As such, we aspire to grapple with cross-disciplinary disconnects, notably the existing gap between computational research-practices, problem-oriented, critical perspectives from social sciences and humanities, and artistic practices. Accordingly, we intend to look into human-machine codes of interaction, leaky boundaries and shifting agencies to explore spaces in between the quantitative, the qualitative, the performative, and the subversive. Such spaces not only encompass computation as social practice but also insist on technology-mediated artistic/performative interventions with their potential to fuse the disparate epistemic sites. This call, thus, is meant to cut across disciplines to take a closer look at situated knowledges that can emanate from issue-based human-machine collaboration and question the non-negotiable holiness of the analytical, the statistical, and the algorithmic. In anticipation of such formations, it engages with but is not bound by the following questions:

– How can we bring socio-political thickness and critical perspectives to human-machine interaction to interrogate the trope of measurement, classification, and implementation, e.g., in affective computing, as the hallmark of techno-scientific knowledge production?

– In what ways can artistic practices shift the focus from techno-scientific processes as objects of study in themselves and instead implement them as mediators to draw attention to critical issues and injustices?

– And in its aftermath, it inquires:
What types of creative and critical tactics, tools, and methods can emanate from situated approaches to human-machine convergence and how can they be adapted and translated to other relevant frameworks?

More info and registration: website Aria.

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