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Histories of Artificial Intelligence: A Genealogy of Power


I am a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Department of Cinema Studies, at Tisch School of the Arts, New York University (NYU). My forthcoming book, Interactive Cinema: The Ethics of Participation and Collectivity in the Era of (Dis)Connection, focuses on cross-cultural participatory multimedia experiments at the intersection of cinema and technology, and develops new sociopolitical frameworks for spectatorship in the digital age. Alongside research and teaching, I am passionately involved in several public access and non-profit initiatives that aim to create more inclusive and diverse opportunities within the field of Cinema and Media Studies, and in the Humanities in general. Some of my open-access collaborative projects include: the student-focused Interactive Media Archive and the Weird Wave Archive, as well as the Transformations online directory focused on cross-pollinations between Cinema, Media Studies and Digital Humanities.

Research overview

My proposal for the International Research and Collaboration Award involves researching AIfrom an Arts and Humanities perspective for a more interdisciplinary and historically grounded approach. By charting an international and cross-cultural historiography of 'expressive AI' [1] – that is, the combination of AI art practice and scientific research – the objective is to uncover productive ideological and epistemological overlaps between the Arts and the Sciences, in hopes of reconfiguring more inclusive and ethically-informed paths for AI practice, machine learning,and algorithmic culture. Instead of focusing on technological fetishism, early expressive AI from the late 1990s and early 2000s addresses complex sociopolitical issues. The interactive, performative, and ephemeral aspects of these expressive AI media – along with the fact that they are often difficult to access, archive, emulate and/or remediate – have resulted in a significant deficit in historical and critical attention. Although these works can be considered relatively recent, most of the technology they use (including hardware, software, and prosthetics) has already been eclipsed by newer technologies. For this reason, in addition to the research and component, my proposal includes the development of preservation, archiving and open access initiatives. The objective for the multi-step archival and historiographical project is three-fold: first, to function as a point of access to diverse examples of creative AI at the intersection of art, science and civic engagement; second, to provide a wide array of AI critical histories to counter the ahistorical approach to AI by commercial industries; and third, to provide an educational resource and a virtual platform for future collaborations between the activist-minded contributors and their respective communities.

[1] Mateas, Michael. 'Expressive AI: A hybrid art and science practice.' Leonardo 34.2 (2001): 147–153.

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