Computer Technology Philosophy Sociology Nonfiction A proposal that algorithms are not simply instructions to be performed but thinking entities that construct digital spatio-temporalities. In Contagious Architecture, Luciana Parisi offers a philosophical inquiry into the status of the algorithm in architectural and interaction design. Her thesis is that algorithmic computation is not simply an abstract mathematical tool but constitutes a mode of thought in its own right, in that its operation extends into forms of abstraction that lie beyond direct human cognition and control. These include modes of infinity, contingency, and indeterminacy, as well as incomputable quantities underlying the iterative process of algorithmic processing. The main philosophical source for the project is Alfred North Whitehead, whose process philosophy is specifically designed to provide a vocabulary for "modes of thought" exhibiting various degrees of autonomy from human agency even as they are mobilized by it.
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ISBN: From the start, in Contagious Architecture, the proposition is this: uncertainty and incomputability are intrinsic to computation. In computer science, algorithms are habitually defined as fixed and often finite procedures of step-by-step instructions understood to produce something other than themselves; i.
According to Luciana Parisi, this approach refuses to acknowledge the reality of algorithms as also independent, both abstract and actual entities. As objects that seem to occupy the middle zone or the gap, between discreteness and infinity, abstraction and actuality, calculation and indeterminacy, algorithms — particularly, for Parisi, in the case study of digital architecture — reveal computation to potentially be a form of speculative thought in itself.
At the same time, and according to their treatment in the book, they expose reason and logic to the novelty and creativity of the incomputable. Incomputable quantities are at the core of this new algorithmic logic that the book strives to engineer, as discussed in Chapter One. Omega defines an algorithmically incompressible real number located somewhere between 0 and 1 which at some point in its calculation forces the limited resources of any computer to come to a halt.
Omega therefore suggests that there is no codified simplicity at the bottom of complexity. The grey gap in between real numbers breeds digital potential, which escape the certainties of code, might not be sensed at all, and do not address cognition.
Omega, thus, is used to challenge a discrete model of the universe as well as permit room for conceiving number outside the confines of finite, perfect, precise mathematical models. It does so by unpacking an altogether different discrete philosophy that attempts to think its internal discrepancies and speculate on what algorithms are and what they can do. This revision of the digital involves an analysis of first and second order cybernetics and information theory, as well as their subsequent impact on debates about mediation, interactivity, cultural aesthetics, power, and control.
First—order cybernetics refers to closed, self-sufficient systems that are observable from the outside and to causal processes, such as control, feedback, and adaption.
Second-order cybernetics, which Parisi argues constitutes the dominant interactive paradigm of capitalism today, revolves around the idea that the observer is also part of the system and concerns notions of reflexivity, self-organisation, autopoiesis, the contingency of environmental factors, and the indeterminacy of living systems. The book follows the conjecture that this second interactive model, which is also at the core of digital architectural processes, does not quite reach its full potential and deliver what it had promised: that is, a new organisation of data and conception of the incomputable chance, randomness, and complexity as integral to computation.
The latter contents that a logic and reason are becoming aesthetic operations defined by algorithmic prehension, and b incomputability and a new form of algorithmic entropy i. Leaving behind the topological schema that presumes algorithms to be subjected to continuous, sequential order results and evolving in time, 1 the book turns instead to parametricism and the mereotopological order of events. Mereotopology suggests that spatiotemporal entities do not pre-exist but are purely the outcome of prehensions, crucially offering an alternative model of whole-to-parts connection.
In Whitehead, prehensions define what an actual occasion event is and how it relates to others. More than this, prehension is here equated to contagion, as Parisi explains that to prehend is to be infected with infinite varieties of quantities but without, in turn, being able to change them.
Therefore algorithms are actual objects that prehend both the formal system into which they belong but also the external data they retreat. This view is very different from the topological standpoint of parametricism, the current global style of fluid architecture, which assumes events as deriving from a relational continuity between infinitesimal points of contingencies that lie outside the program.
By plugging into the mereotopological schema, which unlike topology denies any reciprocity between control and events, Chapter Two argues that parametricism can expose the increasing autonomy of algorithmic entities, quantities, and parameters from human thought. It suggests that new aesthetic forms are developing in the hypercapitalist sphere affecting and affected by current design and computational practices and prompting a reconsideration of the questions of power and control.
The vigour of the book truly comes forth in places where Parisi puts forward new concepts and uses them as probes to get to somewhere new; such as with her term soft ware thought in Chapter Three, which she conceives as a mode that is completely autonomous from cognition and perception. In this part, Contagious Architecture rounds up its larger intent of mapping computation — through its centrality to digital architecture — as a speculative operation traversed by infinities.
If digital design can be seen as an instance of soft thought, it can also help demonstrate that this mode of thought is actually a form of immanent experience, not reducible to new spatiotemporal phenomenological experiences. As she indicates, soft thought threatens the assumption that computation is just another function of reason and that algorithms are reducible to a human mind and sensorimotor system. It is part of a wider attempt to overturn what is meant by the digital and to challenge its casual associations with interactivity, communication, and control, as inherited from the first wave of cybernetics and still haunting digital culture, art, and theory today.
In so doing, it brings forth the potency of an unlived reality inseparable from computation and lurking in the shadows of the everyday. This intention is shared by a current wave of media theorists and a body of work that, on the surface, seems to undertake an impossible task: human thought acquiring nonhuman perspective. But why now? What enables, probes, and unleashes this urgency to rethink the digital by speculating that we do not even know what it can do?
Contagious Architectures belongs to this realm of risky thought, dissecting the ways in which algorithms might exceed determination, and, in so doing, daring to explore a capacity in thinking beyond or without decision. Recent Articles.
Contagious Architecture: Computation, Aesthetics, and Space
In Contagious Architecture, Luciana Parisi offers a philosophical inquiry into the status of the algorithm in architectural and interaction design. Her thesis is that algorithmic computation is not simply an abstract mathematical tool but A proposal that algorithms are not simply instructions to be performed but thinking entities that construct digital spatio-temporalities. Her thesis is that algorithmic computation is not simply an abstract mathematical tool but constitutes a mode of thought in its own right, in that its operation extends into forms of abstraction that lie beyond direct human cognition and control. These include modes of infinity, contingency, and indeterminacy, as well as incomputable quantities underlying the iterative process of algorithmic processing.
Steve Goodman , Toby Heys , and Eleni Ikoniadou Tracing the the potential of sound, infrasound, and ultrasound to access anomalous zones of transmission between the realms of the living and the dead. For as long as recording and communications technologies have existed, operators have evoked the potential of sound, infrasound, and ultrasound to access anomalous zones of transmission between the realms of the living and the dead. In Unsound:Undead, contributors from a variety of disciplines chart these undead zones, mapping out a nonlinear timeline populated by sonic events stretching from the 8th century BC the song of the Sirens , to acoustic levitation , with a speculative extension into the emergence of holographic and holosonic phenomena. Concurrently, themes of hauntology have inflected the musical zeitgeist, resonating with the notion of a general cultural malaise and a reinvestment in traces of lost futures inhabiting the present.