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Cultural Studies

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Whether by accidental keystroke or deliberate tinkering, technology is often used in ways that are unintended and unimagined by its designers and inventors. In this book, Jessa Lingel offers an account of digital technology use that looks beyond Silicon Valley and college dropouts-turned-entrepreneurs. Instead, Lingel tells stories from the margins of countercultural communities that have made the Internet meet their needs, subverting established norms of how digital technologies should be used.

Digital Prospects

The shitstorm represents an authentic phenomenon of digital communication.
—from In the Swarm

Once upon a time, people yearned to be free of the misery of capitalism. How could their dreams come true? This little book proposes a different kind of communism, one that is true to its ideals and free from authoritarianism. Offering relief for many who have been numbed by Marxist exegesis and given headaches by the earnest pompousness of socialist politics, it presents political theory in the simple terms of a children’s story, accompanied by illustrations of lovable little revolutionaries experiencing their political awakening.

Imagination in the Age of Computing

We depend on—we believe in—algorithms to help us get a ride, choose which book to buy, execute a mathematical proof. It’s as if we think of code as a magic spell, an incantation to reveal what we need to know and even what we want. Humans have always believed that certain invocations—the marriage vow, the shaman’s curse—do not merely describe the world but make it. Computation casts a cultural shadow that is shaped by this long tradition of magical thinking.

Las Vegas and the Architecture of the American Dream

The Las Vegas Strip has impersonated the Wild West, with saloon doors and wagon wheels; it has decked itself out in midcentury modern sleekness. It has illuminated itself with twenty-story-high neon signs, then junked them. After that came Disney-like theme parks featuring castles and pirates, followed by replicas of Venetian canals, New York skyscrapers, and the Eiffel Tower.

Without boredom, arguably there is no modernity. The current sense of the word emerged simultaneously with industrialization, mass politics, and consumerism. From Manet onwards, when art represents the everyday within modern life, encounters with tedium are inevitable. And starting with modernism’s retreat into abstraction through subsequent demands placed on audiences, from the late 1960s to the present, the viewer’s endurance of repetition, slowness or other forms of monotony has become an anticipated feature of gallery-going.

The Emergence of Video Games in America

Beginning with the release of the Magnavox Odyssey and Pong in 1972, video games, whether played in arcades and taverns or in family rec rooms, became part of popular culture, like television. In fact, video games were sometimes seen as an improvement on television because they spurred participation rather than passivity. These “space-age pinball machines” gave coin-operated games a high-tech and more respectable profile.

Art and the Crisis of the Common Good

How should we understand the purpose of publicly engaged art in the twenty-first century, when the very term “public art” is largely insufficient to describe such practices? 
 

Mapping the Everyday

In Archive Everything, Gabriella Giannachi traces the evolution of the archive into the apparatus through which we map the everyday. The archive, traditionally a body of documents or a site for the preservation of documents, changed over the centuries to encompass, often concurrently, a broad but interrelated number of practices not traditionally considered as archival. Archives now consist of not only documents and sites but also artworks, installations, museums, social media platforms, and mediated and mixed reality environments.

Sex, Death and Design in the Digital Regime

The Bright Labyrinth is a subtle and sometimes disturbing account of how technology has impacted upon human culture. Offering a theoretical map for the future development of communication design, The Bright Labyrinth draws upon architecture and film, avant-garde art and critical theory, military strategy and machine intelligence to guide the reader through the Digital Regime that has shaped a century of human creativity and thought.

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