History of the Interface: On Automata and Astonishment

4:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

With the growth of ubiquitous computing, increasingly it is the interface—rather than circuit, switch, or algorithm—that articulates the channels, networks, and discourses of the digital. Yet scientists and critics often display a misguided impulse to separate the logical and scientific core of computing from its phenomenal representation on the surface of a machine. In this talk I argue for another approach to the interface: By examining nineteenth- and twentieth-century exhibitions of computing machines and automata, I demonstrate how computers developed coextensively with lively, trans-medial visual cultures. This analysis lays the groundwork for an integrated approach to histories of digital media and screen studies.

Bernard Dionysius Geoghegan is a media theorist and historian of technology. He works as a Wissenchaftlicher Mitarbeiter at the Institut für Kulturwissenschaft at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, as part of a program funded by the German Research Foundation. In 2012 he received dual-Ph.D. (cotutelle) degree from the Fakultät Medien of Bauhaus-Universität Weimar and the Screen Cultures program of Northwestern University. His research interests include digital media, historical epistemology, visual culture studies, software studies, Kulturtechnik, and the history of electrical engineering.

This event is sponsored by the Culture & Media Department and the Dean's Office of Eugene Lang College.

6 E. 16th Street, Room 1618

Free; no tickets or reservations required; seating is first-come first-served

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