Artificial Culture: Identity, Technology, and Bodies (Book Overiew)

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Overview of the core elements of my book Artificial Culture: Identity, Technology and Bodies, released by Routledge in early 2012. …

Overview of the core elements of my book Artificial Culture: Identity, Technology and Bodies, released by Routledge in early 2012.

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  • 1. Artificial Culture:Identity, Technology, and Bodies An Overview Tama Leaver
  • 2. Book Structure Introduction Section I: Artificial Intelligence Section II: Artificial Life Section III: Artificial Space Section IV: Artificial People Section V: Artificial Culture Conclusion
  • 3. Introduction Contexts:  Cybernetics (Norbert Wiener and Alan Turing)  Mind Children (Hans Moravec)  N. Katherine Hayles (‘Materiality of Informatics’)  Asimov (Three Laws of Robotics)
  • 4. I. Artificial Intelligence Context: AI Research; ‘top-down’ replication of the human mind. Texts: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970), Demon Seed (1977) and the four Terminator films (1984, 1991, 2003, 2003, 2009). AIs are always-already embodied in the way they are imagined in popular culture.
  • 5. 2001 Stills
  • 6. Terminator Stills
  • 7. II. Artificial Life ALife Research: Bottom-up ‘evolutionary’ approach to informatic life. Framing narrative: Visible Human Project. Key texts: Greg Egan’s Permutation City (1994) & Diaspora (1997). Key points: artificial life is imagined as ‘other’ (replicating/challenging colonial metaphors) and ‘life’ is only ‘meaningful’ in the face of finitude.
  • 8. III. Artificial Space Explores ‘spaces’ in William Gibson’s Bridge trilogy (Virtual Light, 1993; Idoru, 1996; All Tomorrow’s Parties, 1999). Argues that spaces of resistance exist interstitially in both material and digital cultures. The Walled City paralleled with Wikileaks. Rei (Idoru) & nanofax = nanotechnology challenging material/informatic divide.
  • 9. IV. Artificial People Argument: both at narrative and production levels, informatic bodies are deeply material and embodied. Narrative reading: Matrix franchise (digital bodies matter, finitude once more re Neo/Smith finale). Production reading: Lord of the Rings production, through special effects fan cultures, focuses on WETA’s Massive software and synthespians (ie Gollum).
  • 10. Matrix trilogy stills
  • 11. The informatic Cave Troll’s stages of development (from left to right, top to bottom): Conceptual art; the clay maquette; the fully detailed model being scanned for a computersurface model; a wireframe surface; a Cave Troll skeleton; and a muscle-bound Cave Troll in search of its skin. [Lord of the Rings, Fellowship of the Ring: Extended Edition]
  • 12. Gollum; a pre-rendered Gollum; and Andy Serkis’ reference shot. [Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers: Extended Edition]
  • 13. Andy Serkis in a motion-capture suit, and the fully rendered Gollumcomposited using keyframe animation and the motion information captured. [Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers: Extended Edition]
  • 14. V. Artificial Culture Context: ‘artificial’ post-September 11? Context: Hollywood, 2002 Oscars (Nora Ephron post-Towers New York montage). Context: Spider-Man as New York ‘everyman’. Texts: Spider-Man (2002, 2004, 2007) trilogy. Resistance to ‘911’, bodies as metaphors, Spider- Man as ‘diplomat’, artificial culture as questioning (but ambiguous) re Iraq etc.
  • 15. Spider-Man stills from Marvels
  • 16. Original 2001Spider-Man trailer
  • 17. 9/11 Spider-Man tribute comic
  • 18. Spider-Man trilogy stills
  • 19. Conclusion Symbiotic connection between people, techology and bodies. Politics of ambiguity (ie no absolutes). Uses Wall-E and Avatar to link to environmental concerns and utility of ‘artificial culture’ as linking everything.
  • 20. Find the book … More information: On On Routledge’s website: