30 April 2014
11.00 – 18.00
Please note tickets are for the whole day, although you can drop in to sessions at will.
Featuring a range of talks, short film screenings and Q&A with leading thinkers in the arts, poetry, technology and cognitive sciences, the Torque Symposium seeks to address urgent questions around the changing nature of our relationship to language, thought and material culture in a digital age.
In particular the day will address the ways technology affects our minds and modes of communication – and vice versa.
The symposium asks:
As cyber-prosthetics are replaced by imperceptible interfaces, where do we draw the lines between technology, mind and modes of communication?
What happens when technology becomes sentient?
How is our behaviour corralled and twisted by online surveillance, targeted advertising and the compulsive spectacle of not-so-social networking?
And how can we better understand and empower our interaction with technology?
Lambros Malafouris // Anna Munster (via Skype from Australia) // Cécile B Evans // Benedict Drew (video) // Imogen Stidworthy // Hannah Proctor // Holly Pester // Stephen Fortune // Alex McLean // Chris Boyd // Mez Breeze (video)
The symposium seeks in-part to foreground today’s technologies, and our use of them from the perspective of early tool making and use, and the feedbacks and blurred lines between mind and matter.
The title of the symposium, a play on the verb ‘to talk’, refers to torque’s original latin meaning ’to twist’, and twisting forces which distort and braid together language, technologies and cognitive processes. The title also partly appropriates and redirects the term: ‘cerebral torque’ as used by Professor Tim Crow in his 2009 thesis that ‘Schizophrenia is the price Homosapians pay for language’.
Selected presentation summaries:
Keynote speaker and ‘cognitive archaeologist’ Lambros Malafouris will present his Material Engagement Theory through the lens of clay tablets and knapped flint, exploring implications that follow the human predisposition to reconfigure our bodies and extend our senses by using tools and material culture.
Artist Cécile B Evans presents and speaks about her spam bot AGNES, which inhabits the Serpentine Gallery’s website, interacting with visitors and testing the bounds of affective relationships with technology.
Live coding practitioner Alex McLean explores how silicone computers connect with textile arts, and how live coding is blurring the distinction between programming and natural language.