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Fox Harrell reads from and discusses Phantasmal Media
Friday, December 6, 2013 @ 4:00 pm
D. Fox Harrell, Associate Professor of Digital Media at MIT in the Comparative Media Studies Program and in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory discusses his new book, Phantasmal Media: An Approach to Imagination, Computation, and Expression (MIT Press, 2013).
In it, Fox Harrell considers the expressive power of computational media. Carefully grounded in computer science, cognitive science, and media studies, and using illustrative multicultural references ranging from classic cinema to science fiction, from Ralph Ellison to Franz Kafka, Harrell’s work has been called a manifesto on how computing can create powerful new forms of cultural expression. He argues that the great expressive potential of computational media comes from the ability to construct and reveal phantasms—blends of cultural ideas and sensory imagination. Harrell offers an approach for understanding and designing computational systems — ranging from social media and e-commerce sites to videogames and computer-based artworks — that have the power to evoke these phantasms, paying special attention to the exposure of oppressive phantasms and the creation of empowering ones. He argues for the importance of cultural content, diverse worldviews, and social values in computing. The expressive power of phantasms is not purely aesthetic, he contends; phantasmal media can express and construct the types of meaning central to the human condition.
Free and open to the public. A Q+A session will follow the lecture.