Towards an Optical Genealogy of Computing

On the Geophysical Configuration of the Digital Gaze

Friday, 16 June 2023 - 5pm

Free, until full capacity is reached

Nouvel Building, Protocol Room
140 people
Ricardo Cadenas, Sobre la mirada (On the Gaze), 1997. Museo Reina Sofía
Ricardo Cadenas, Sobre la mirada (On the Gaze), 1997. Museo Reina Sofía

In her recent publications, art historian and curator Antonia Majaca has focused her research on the relations between the development of algorithmic computing regimes and their potential to build subjectivity. This lecture sees Majaca analyse the historical construction of optical regimes found at the root of Western cosmologies in studies on how the history of Western geology has been shaped, considering that such regimes of the gaze are found at the base of contemporary computational paradigms.

Among the cultural devices in which this evolution solidifies, worthy of mention is the fanzine Whole Earth Catalogue, an intersection point between cybernetics, design and the technological development of optics. Moreover, geophysical images put into circulation by NASA — from the Robledo de Chabela station in Madrid — denote a threshold in the representational understanding of the world, and from which today’s IT hegemony surfaces.     

Antonia Majaca is an art historian, curator and writer. She is lead researcher at the Institute for Contemporary Art from the University of Technology in Graz and one of the curators on the Kanon Fragen project at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin. In recent years, she has explored the relationship between non-Western avant-garde cinema and feminist theory, research that gave rise to the publication Feminist Takes: Early Works by Želimir Žilnik (2021), of which she is co-editor. She has focused her work as a curator on projects of exhibitions, publishing and thought that stand at the crossroads of art history, political and cultural theory and contemporary artistic production.