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Keynote lecture by Goda Klumbytė at "Encountering Non-Humans: On Methodologies for the Post-Anthropocene" Conference

Towards New Materialist Informatics, Or Some Ideas on How to Do Things With New Materialism and Critical Posthumanism

As a scientific and technological practice, computing balances between imaginaries of abstract disembodiment and staunch materiality. It has been often associated with the former through focus on abstract thought and logic, as well as through metaphors such as the “cloud”. However, at the same time computing is tethered to materiality in its technological infrastructures, its premises and its very real and material economic, social, political, and cultural effects. Furthermore, computing and informatics, while methodologically already moving beyond human-centredness, are often normatively humanist, and thus inscribe humanist understandings of technology, subjectivity, and knowledge. This, as a result, contributes to various humanist and anthropocentric exclusions seeping into computational practices and forms of knowledge making. This talk re-focusses on the materiality of computing and some of its contemporary applications, such as machine learning/AI/data analytics, and addresses computing and technology design from a critical posthumanist perspective. I offer a partial cartography of this convergence between computational practices, feminist new materialism and critical posthumanism, by tracing some of the material premises and effects of computing through a critical posthumanist lens. I will argue that feminist new materialist and critical posthumanist approach can provide a way to account for and intervene into materialities of contemporary computational practices, offering an opening out of majoritarian computing and towards new materialist informatics.
Approaching matter as affective, dynamic, agential and deeply entangled with culture, new materialist informatics is emerging as a field in computational and design practice as well as in scholarship that focuses on agency, intra-activity and material-discursive entanglements of computing and world-making. I will show that it is a field of research generative of experimental methodologies and interventions – a kind of critical technical practice for the digital posthumanities and critical design that activates matter as informational and information as material.

For further information and full programme visit the website of the conference.

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