Fellows Summer Term 2019

Rupert Gaderer - Agitation, Simulation und Kampf in digitalen Lebenswelten

Das Forschungsprojekt untersucht aus einer medienkulturwissenschaftlichen Perspektive die Simulation und Virtualität digitaler Agitation. Dabei stehen drei Problemfelder im Zentrum des Projekts: Erstens stellt sich die Frage nach den soziotechnischen Infrastrukturen der digitalen Simulation des Streits. Bei diesem Aspekt sind Netzwerk-Dispositive relevant, die ein soziotechnisches Gefüge entstehen lassen und virtuelle Foren der Differenzaustragung entwerfen. Der zweite Bereich betrifft die Computergeschichte digitaler Konflikte. Angesprochen sind damit jene schwer kontrollierbaren Störungen, die in den 1970er Jahren als ›Flamewars‹ bezeichnet wurden. Sie wurden in Mailing-Liste, News-Gruppen oder Diskussionsforen beobachtet und stellten bereits damals eine systemimmanente Störung der textbasierten Kommunikation dar. Das dritte Problemfeld berührt die Simulation der Simulation der Agitation. Seit den 2010er Jahren bieten mehrere Beratungs-Agenturen sogenannte »Shitstorm-Simulatoren« an, die es ermöglichen, Krisen-Szenarien der digitalen Empörung zu testen. Konzerne, politische Parteien und Personen in der ›Celebrity-Culture‹ setzen diese Simulationen ein, um gruppenpsychologische Effekte zu beobachten und eine Steigerung der präventiven Krisenarbeit des unternehmerischen Selbst zu erzielen. Unter diesen drei Aspekten untersucht das Projekt digitale Agitations- und Konflikt-Szenarien im Horizont aktueller Medien- und Kulturtheorien der Computersimulation.


Shane Denson - Discorrelated Images

My current book project, "Discorrelated Images", explores the transitional spacetime between cinema and post-cinema. More precisely, it probes the transformational temporal and spatial articulations of contemporary moving images and our perceptual, actional, and affective interfaces with them as they migrate from conventional forms of cinema and enter the computational systems that now encompass every aspect of audiovisual mediation. While the generation, composition, distribution, and playback of images increasingly become a matter of algorithms, software, networks, and codecs, our sensory ratios (as McLuhan called them) are being reordered, our perceptual faculties are being reformed (or re-formed) in accordance with the new speeds and scales of imaging processes. In a post-cinematic media regime, that is, both the subjects and the objects of perception are radically transformed. Older relations—such as that between a human subject and a photographically fixed object—are dissolving, and new relations are being forged in the microtemporal intervals of algorithmic processing. With the new objects of computational images emerge new subjectivities, new affects, and uncertain potentials for perception and action.

Jeremiah Lasquety Reyes - Simulating Ockham's Philosophy

This project investigates the potential of computer simulation to model the ideas of the philosopher, William of Ockham. Ockham is most famous for "Ockham's razor," a principle of parsimony often used in scientific theorizing. However, he is also famous for his nominalism or conceptualism, the metaphysical position that insists there are no real universals in the world but only singulars (in contrast to the position dominant during his time). He also developed an original cognitive theory of “mental language” that serves as the foundation for written and spoken language. This project attempts to use current resources in machine learning and computer simulation (specifically, agent-based modeling) to represent Ockham’s ontology and psychology, and in the process, explore how computer simulations can help facilitate the understanding of philosophical ideas.

Fabrizio Li Vigni - Governing through participatory scenarios: the case of Companion Modeling

This project proposes to understand the governance by scenarios (Granjou & Mauz, 2011) through the study of Companion Modeling (Collectif ComMod, 2005). Founded by a group of French scientists from CIRAD, ComMod is a techno-political promise offering to bring more democracy and justice to the management of public goods. It involves researchers, citizens and decision makers, and it mobilizes sophisticated techno-scientific devices, called agent-based models (ABM), for the urban planning and the natural resources management. This project will lean on two methodological approaches: a scientometric one, to study ABM sub-communities through CorTexT software, and a sociological one grounded on the ethnographical study of a ComMod project. It concerns a participatory simulation of the Ile-de-France Region’s mobility for a car-free city. The present proposal offers to analyze this case with a double theoretical eye, informed by Science & Technology Studies and Pragmatist sociologies.

Benjamin Peters - The Computer is Not a Brain: How Smart Tech Lost the Cold War, Outsmarted the West, and Risks Ruining an Intelligent World

This project will be the first nonfiction book to describe for a general scholarly audience how and why “smart media” have made idiots out of the West in the literal Greek sense of private persons. This history of smart media argues that the industrialized West has “smarts” upside down. It charts the rise and international diffusion of cold war military research that advanced the dawn of “smart computing technology” that attributed success to an individual’s capacity to outsmart another—the consequences of which have shipwrecked both our current media and natural environments.

Pablo Schneider - Die gute Nachbarschaft der Bilder

In den 1920er Jahren entwickelte der engere Kreis der Mitglieder der Kulturwissenschaftlichen Bibliothek Warburg (KBW) das Konzept einer „guten Nachbarschaft der Bücher“. Diese wurde von der Idee getragen, dass wissenschaftliche Literatur nicht linear, sondern assoziativ und den weiteren wissenschaftlichen Kontext inhaltlich befördernd, aufgestellt werden sollte. Diese avantgardistische Herangehensweise soll im laufenden Forschungsprojekt mit dem Fokus auf die topographisch angelegten Bildpraktiken der KBW untersucht werden. Im Zentrum der Fallstudie steht die spezifische Bildkonstellation um das 1661/62 entstandene Gemälde Rembrandts Die Verschwörung des Claudius Civilis.

Sarine Waltenspül - Cinematografic Model Worlds as Analog Simulations

In 1924, Joseph A. Ball, physicist and engineer at Technicolor, suggested the following formulas to calculate the exact frame rate when filming miniatures: »If f, m, l and t are the symbols representing the fundamental quantities, force, mass, length and time as it is in the model and if f’, m’, l’, and t’ are the corresponding quantities in the imaginary world on the screen we can write the fundamental dimensional equations: f=l/t2 f’=m’l’/t’2«. (Ball 1924, 120) The formulas were actually developed in the course of the early model experiments with fluid dynamics in the 19th century. Originally, they served to translate calculations from model experiments – or simulations – to full-scale objects like ships or airplanes. Thus, Ball transferred a scaling technique from physics to the field of cinematography to visually scale up models. In the case of dynamic models – i.e. in combination with fluids like water or air – scaling is a challenge in physics as well as in film productions, irrespective of whether models, computer simulations or a combination of both are used. However, the interfaces between ‘analog’ and ‘digital’ scaling are not just the problems that arise in dealing with them, but also the corresponding solutions. For it is not only when working with material cinematographic models that methods from fluid dynamics like the formulas are used. They also form the basis for dynamic simulations used for computer-generated imagery (CGI). 
My dissertation, which I am preparing for publication during my fellowship at MECS, examines this issue and other cinematographic scaling techniques at the intersection of materiality and mediality, the analog and digital, illusion and intended fractures, as well as the techniques, dispositifs and contemporary aesthetics that were developed in the course of the work with scale models.

Martin Woesler - Society 5.0 by China’s “Digital System for Society-Management” and its Computer Simulation Aspects

The Chinese government currently is setting up a software system to rule the nation (Digital System for Society-Management DSSM, officially called “social management”).This project compares DSSM structurally with the old socialist system of a planned economy, which failed in real existing socialism, thus aiming at the difference between planning and simulating. It sketches the computer simulative aspects of the program and makes available Chinese sources not yet available to non-Chinese speakers. The simulation is taken as a narrative strategy and by this the project contributes to the duality of simulation and fiction. The investigation includes current Chinese Science Fiction writing, e. g. by Liu Cixin and Hao Jingfang.