Data Artifacts, Infrastructures + Landscapes

Graduate Seminar

Data fuel our economies and political systems, but they also shape our cultural and material worlds, inscribing themselves into our apps and architectures, our labor practices and logistical systems. We can observe how data logics, politics, and epistemologies are designed into — made manifest at — sites like factory farms and fulfilment centers, prisons and hospitals, archives and ports, borders and mines, smart cities and Whole Foods. In this course we’ll select a few test sites where we can explore how “datalogical designs” scale up and down, from software interfaces to master plans — and we’ll propose methodologies for reverse-engineering “black boxed” algorithmic logics through these material artifacts and architectures. Our work will be informed by a widely interdisciplinary body of literature, spanning from anthropology to geography to information and media studies. Depending upon the luck of course-planning, we might take a few field trips and/or conduct collaborative, short-term fieldwork at a single test site. Students will be able to develop mini-ethnographies of artifacts and landscapes of their choice. Instructor permission is required to register for this course.

Spring 2020 Website