I am Assistant Professor of Computational Media and Arts in the Media and Culture Studies department. I studied Mathematics at the Université du Québec à Montréal, Media Arts and Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and hold a PhD in Cultural Analysis from the University of Amsterdam. My work fosters original means of studying objects and phenomena by making transdisciplinary connections between different modes of inquiry stemming from these distinct cultural and scientific traditions.
My current research addresses computation by questioning what it is, and how, when, and where it operates. While some current research initiatives in the Humanities focus on developing tools and methods that instrumentalise software, these endeavours tend to overlook software’s intrinsic aspect: computation. In contrast, my work frames software not merely as a means to an end but as a locus where computation happens. Some of the empirical studies I devised intervene in computational processes while and where they are unfolding, staging direct encounters with software’s innate computational operations and their genealogies. I am particularly interested in computational acts, the way computing machines and software are made to perform and execute, which call for a different conceptual understanding of “act” than our customary human-bounded understanding of action (such as speech acts, for instance).
Alongside (and influential) to my scholarly work, I am a practicing media artist (link portfolio). Criss-crossing between academic scholarship and experimental artistic practice is central to how I approach conducting creative and original research. Through the production of artworks which have been commissioned by public art institutions across Europe and North America, my engagement with computation spans cultural production and active participation in various cultural networks.
Some topics I am currently interested in include:
Approaching software not merely as a tool/method but as a locus where computation acts require critical theories to be devised. In “On Commands and Executions: Tyrants, Spectres and Vagabonds” (Open Humanities Press 2018) and in “Machine Language and the Illegibility of the Zwischen” (Brill 2018) I formulate a critique of computer “languages” that offer a conceptual framing of software “execution” and “debugging” as key, yet understudied, performative apparatuses that are central to the construction and deconstruction of computation. I also co-authored chapters tackling the multifaceted notion of execution in "Executing" (MIT Press 2021) and the productiveness of computational errors in "Coding/Decoding the Archive" (Routledge 2014).
Most of these topics are part of my PhD dissertation (defended in 2021) where I further connect my take on computational acts with questions of how mathematics and logic are made to be performed considering the type of prescriptions they uphold.
I devise various open-source interventions where computational techniques are exploited to directly intercede with the computational phenomena under study. I have co-authored various articles on these interventions: addressing contemporary processes of “capture/captivation” in "On the Politics of Chrono-Design: Capture, Time and the Interface" (Theory, Culture and Society 2019), processes of versioning in "Archiving complex digital artworks" (Journal of the Institute of Conservation 2019) and processes of archiving electronic records in "Conversation pieces: On recounting new media art mailinglist cultures" (Internet Histories 2019).
While I have more than two decades of experience writing software and debugging hardware, I am still working on Donald E. Knuth’s challenge of analysing everything my computers does in 1 second. Here is a kernel trace of my machine’s incommensurable actions during an odd day in September 2018 at 12:30:37: onesecond_04.09.18-12:30:37.txt
As stated above, I am a practicing media artist (link portfolio). I believe not only in viewing artworks as mere case studies, but more so as experimental opportunities to delve deeply into how theoretical, practical, aesthetic, and cultural artefacts and knowledges are intricately produced and conjugated together. I have written about some of my projects in art journals and books, including "Phase to Phase: On Oceanic Oscillations, Measurements, Predictions, and Chronographs" (ASAP/Journal 2019), "Loading... 800% Slower" (Open Humanities Press 2018), Circuits, Essays (FOCUS 2021), the co-authored "Critical Infrastructure" (Sternberg Press 2017), and the assembled experimental artbook List server busy. Full digest rescheduled: A compendium of listserv discussions & divagations 1995-2019 (Torque Editions 2020).
Creativity after automation
I am currently collaborating with Anna Poletti on the project Voice of Machine Theft that explores the current anxieties about generative artificial intelligence and authenticity by creating artificial clones of our voices. Part life writing, part performative in nature, the outcome of this inceptive research linked to the AI in Cultural Inquiry and Art SIG of the Human-centered Artificial Intelligence focus area is set to be presented in the 2023/2024 academic year.
If some of the above topics resonate with your (RMA, PhD) research, interests, or curiosity, please feel free to contact me.
Prior to joining Utrecht University I was a Senior Lecturer in New Media and Digital Cultures at the University of Amsterdam. During my doctoral studies I was a PhD fellow of the Netherlands Institute for Cultural Analysis funded by the NWO Graduate Programme. I held various research positions in the past, including researcher for the ERC-funded MeLa* project, research assistant at the MIT Media Laboratory, research associate at Hexagram Institute for Research-Creation, and researcher at the Banff New Media Institute/The Banff Centre.