Simon Penny

Simon Penny is Professor of Art at the Claire Trevor School of the Arts at the University of California, Irvine, teaching mechatronic art, media art history and theory, and interdisciplinary seminars interfacing contemporary cognitive science and philosophy of mind with the arts. Trained as a sculptor, he has spent much of his career building interactive art environments with custom robotic and sensor-based systems.

  • Making Sense

    Making Sense

    Cognition, Computing, Art, and Embodiment

    Simon Penny

    Why embodied approaches to cognition are better able to address the performative dimensions of art than the dualistic conceptions fundamental to theories of digital computing.

    In Making Sense, Simon Penny proposes that internalist conceptions of cognition have minimal purchase on embodied cognitive practices. Much of the cognition involved in arts practices remains invisible under such a paradigm. Penny argues that the mind-body dualism of Western humanist philosophy is inadequate for addressing performative practices. Ideas of cognition as embodied and embedded provide a basis for the development of new ways of speaking about the embodied and situated intelligences of the arts. Penny argues this perspective is particularly relevant to media arts practices.

    Penny takes a radically interdisciplinary approach, drawing on philosophy, biology, psychology, cognitive science, neuroscience, cybernetics, artificial intelligence, critical theory, and other fields. He argues that computationalist cognitive rhetoric, with its assumption of mind-body (and software-hardware) dualism, cannot account for the quintessentially performative qualities of arts practices. He reviews post-cognitivist paradigms including situated, distributed, embodied, and enactive, and relates these to discussions of arts and cultural practices in general.

    Penny emphasizes the way real time computing facilitates new modalities of dynamical, generative and interactive arts practices. He proposes that conventional aesthetics (of the plastic arts) cannot address these new forms and argues for a new “performative aesthetics.” Viewing these practices from embodied, enactive, and situated perspectives allows us to recognize the embodied and performative qualities of the “intelligences of the arts.”

Contributor

  • Practicable

    Practicable

    From Participation to Interaction in Contemporary Art

    Samuel Bianchini and Erik Verhagen

    Critical analyses, case studies, and artist interviews examine works of art that are realized with the physical involvement of the viewer.

    How are we to understand works of art that are realized with the physical involvement of the viewer? A relationship between a work of art and its audience that is rooted in an experience that is both aesthetic and physical? Today, these works often use digital technologies, but artists have created participatory works since the 1950s. In this book, critics, writers, and artists offer diverse perspectives on this kind of “practicable” art that bridges contemplation and use, discussing and documenting a wide variety of works from the last several decades. The contributors consider both works that are technologically mediated and those that are not, as long as they are characterized by a process of reciprocal exchange.

    The book offers a historical frame for practicable works, discussing, among other things, the emergence and influence of cybernetics. It examines art movements and tendencies that incorporate participatory strategies; draws on the perspectives of the humanities and sciences; and investigate performance and exhibition. Finally, it presents case studies of key works by artists including and offers interviews with such leading artists and theoreticians as Claire Bishop, Thomas Hirschhorn, Matt Adams of Blast Theory, Seiko Mikami and Bruno Latour. Numerous illustrations of artists and their works accompany the text.

    Contributors Matt Adams (Blast Theory), Jean-Christophe Bailly, Samuel Bianchini, Claire Bishop, Jean-Louis Boissier, Nicolas Bourriaud, Christophe Charles, Valérie Châtelet, Jean-Pierre Cometti, Sarah Cook, Jordan Crandall, Dominique Cunin, Nathalie Delbard, Anna Dezeuze, Diedrich Diederichsen, Christophe Domino, Larisa Dryansky, Glória Ferreira, Jean-Paul Fourmentraux, Gilles Froger, Masaki Fujihata, Jean Gagnon, Katrin Gattinger, Jochen Gerz, Piero Gilardi, Véronique Goudinoux, Usman Haque, Helen Evans and Heiko Hansen (HeHe), Jeppe Hein, Thomas Hirschhorn, Marion Hohlfeldt, Pierre-Damien Huyghe, Judith Ickowicz, Eric Kluitenberg, Janet Kraynak, Bruno Latour, Christophe Leclercq, Frédérik Lesage, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Peter Lunenfeld, Lawrence Malstaf, Julie Martin, Seiko Mikami, Dominique Moulon, Hiroko Myokam, Ernesto Neto, Mayumi Okura, Eddie Panier, Françoise Parfait, Simon Penny, Daniel Pinkas, Chantal Pontbriand, Emanuele Quinz, Margit Rosen, Alberto Sánchez Balmisa, Frederik Schikowski, Arnd Schneider, Madeline Schwartzman, Luke Skrebowski, Vanessa Theodoropoulou, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Andrea Urlberger, Erik Verhagen, Franz Erhard Walther, Peter Weibel, Renate Wiehager, Catherine Wood, Giovanna Zapperi, Anne Zeitz, David Zerbib

    Edited by Samuel Bianchini and Erik Verhagen with the collaboration of Nathalie Delbard and Larisa Dryansky.

  • Throughout

    Throughout

    Art and Culture Emerging with Ubiquitous Computing

    Ulrik Ekman

    Leading media scholars consider the social and cultural changes that come with the contemporary development of ubiquitous computing.

    Ubiquitous computing and our cultural life promise to become completely interwoven: technical currents feed into our screen culture of digital television, video, home computers, movies, and high-resolution advertising displays. Technology has become at once larger and smaller, mobile and ambient. In Throughout, leading writers on new media—including Jay David Bolter, Mark Hansen, N. Katherine Hayles, and Lev Manovich—take on the crucial challenges that ubiquitous and pervasive computing pose for cultural theory and criticism.

    The thirty-four contributing researchers consider the visual sense and sensations of living with a ubicomp culture; electronic sounds from the uncanny to the unremarkable; the effects of ubicomp on communication, including mobility, transmateriality, and infinite availability; general trends and concrete specificities of interaction designs; the affectivity in ubicomp experiences, including performances; context awareness; and claims on the “real” in the use of such terms as “augmented reality” and “mixed reality.”