Book Review: The Technical Delusion: Electronics, Power, Insanity by Jeffrey Sconce

Reviewed by Amy Ione.   

The Technical Delusion: Electronics, Power, Insanity by Jeffrey Sconce is a robust and multidimensional reminder of the complexity of human consciousness. Moving from Enlightenment studies of electricity and human anatomy to our 21st century digitally-connected globe, this interdisciplinary study asserts that delusions of electronic persecution have been a preeminent symptom of psychosis for over 200 years. One impressive feature of the study is how deftly Sconce weaves together case studies, literary source material, court cases, and popular media. Through this material he argues that we are moving toward an increasingly psychotic reality in which data practices will produce a world in which thought, reflection, and doubt will be disrupted by the very structures humans are putting in place. In his view, the current melding of big data and political power is creating a situation in which it is becoming more difficult to isolate precisely how (or perhaps where) bodies, the mind, electronics, and information intersect. He draws a parallel between psychotic disembodiment and electronic simulations:

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EXHIBITION: Mana BSMT Presents: N. M. Brandreth’s Phantasmagoria’s Seeing Shadows

Apr. 26–Jun. 7, 2019
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Have you ever glimpsed a movement out of the corner of your eye and turned to find nothing there? Have you ever bolted up the basement steps convinced that something was down there with you? Seeing Shadows attempts to visualize these sensations as photographic objects. Derived from Brandreth’s love for horror and the macabre, and from the histories of photography and film, these unique handmade works are at once seductive and utterly uncanny.

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EXHIBITION: The Codex and Crafts in Late Antiquity (February 23–July 8, 2018)

Bard Graduate Center, February 23 – July 8, 2018

The transition from roll to codex as the standard format for the book is one of the most culturally significant innovations of late antiquity, the period between the third and eighth centuries AD.

This exhibition offers a concise history of the first steps of the codex book format from a technical and technological point of view. Specifically it focuses on the different techniques used to turn leaves of papyrus or parchment into a functional book that could be safely used and preserved.

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Facebook Society: Losing Ourselves in Sharing Ourselves: Reviewed by Amy Ione

According to Roberto Simanowski, the author of Facebook Society: Losing Ourselves in Sharing Ourselves, this volume isn’t a book about Facebook. Rather his concern is what he calls Facebook society. His starting point is Facebook’s claim that it is building a “global community,” and his underlying assumption is that social-media platforms have altered social interaction, political life, and outlooks on the world, even for people who do not regularly use them. Bringing boundless enthusiasm to how Facebook and other social apps create community, this cultural studies perspective both celebrates networked society and offers a critique of problematic elements derived from digital communities, with a particular focus on our concept of the self.

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Conference: DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Fundamentals of Creating and Managing Digital Collections

August 19-20, 2019
Overland Park, Kansas (Kansas City Metro Area)

ABOUT THE CONFERENCE: Are you ready to take on a digital preservation project or program, but have been unsure of how to begin? Or have you already begun an initiative and you want to confirm that you are on the right track? The Digital Directions conference delivers a comprehensive introduction to digitization and digital preservation during two days of in-person, focused instruction. Learn the fundamentals and return home ARMED WITH KNOWLEDGE.

Now in its 12th year, Digital Directions provides instruction on good practices and practical strategies for the creation, curation, and use of digital collections. Meet colleagues from institutions large and small who share similar challenges, and interact one-on-one with the faculty of national experts.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND? The Digital Directions conference is geared toward professionals working with digital collections at archives, libraries, museums, historical organizations, government agencies, corporate archives, and other organizations that steward digital collections. Students are also welcome, and a discounted registration rate is available.

REGISTER NOW and SAVE with the Early-bird Discount!

COMPLETE DETAILS and Registration Information: www.nedcc.org/dd19

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Interview with Janet Echelman

This interview with Janet Echelman is from the Washington Post’s series of conversations with artists about how they create. The interview includes images of her wonderfully crafted art. For those who don’t know her, her transformative public sculptures soar and ripple. For the past 20 years she has designed projects scaled to big city buildings made with braided fiber and projected light.

Here’s the link.

RIP: Michael Wolf (1954-2019)

Vision and Justice: The Racial Bias Built Into Photography

Recently, Sarah Lewis, a Harvard professor organized a two-day Vision and Justice conference on the role of the arts in relation to citizenship, race, and justice. As it turned out, she experienced some of this unconscious bias at this very event. Her essay exploring the relationship between racism and the camera, titled The Racial Bias Built Into Photography, was published by the New York Times on April 25, 2019.

At the conference, a technician categorizing light skin as the norm saw other skin tones as needing special corrective care. As Lewis, a black women, explains:

“My work looks at how the right to be recognized justly in a democracy has been tied to the impact of images and representation in the public realm. It examines how the construction of public pictures limits and enlarges our notion of who counts in American society. It is the subject of my core curriculum class at Harvard University. It also happened to be the subject of my presentation that day.”

What stands out in her article is how she interweaves a personal example of the how unconscious bias is built into photography, (and I would add life itself) into the larger culture. In a nut shell, she asks: “What is preventing us from correcting the inherited bias in camera and film technology?” Continue reading “Vision and Justice: The Racial Bias Built Into Photography”

LEONARDO DA VINCI: The Complete Paintings

Pietro C. Marani. Leonardo da Vinci: The Complete Paintings. Harry N. Abrams, 2003. ISBN: 0810991594. Unmarked text. 295 illustrations, including 200 plates in full color. Very Good. Paperback. (#29900) $14.00

Buy it Now

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