Elective at semester(s) 6, 8, ECTS: 3
“I wanna live forever
in your shiny shiny
VNS Matrix Bitch Mutant Manifesto
Digital culture constantly adopts the superhuman or transcendental element, while at the same time it is becoming a mechanism of miracle production, a new phantasmagoria. The promises of digital technology manifest a series of religious proportions: transformations, resurrections, miracles, prayers, omniscience, ubiquitous presence, holy or ecstatic conditions, superhuman powers, angelic and demonic instances. At the same time, they introduce a series of spatial narratives and metaphors that open new dimensions in the perception of space and its representation.
The course invites students to participate in a kind of contemporary digital "magic" - through the exploration and critical reassessment of the presence of digital media in the modern socio-cultural environment, the participants encounter with the technological innovations and at the same time with spaces that are characterized by transcendental, superhuman, or excessive features. The course aims at promoting creative reflection on ontology issues of digital experience, post-human nature, techno-utopia, and other concepts and phenomena of the "silicon age".
In this context, the architect's role in the digital era will be discussed, as well as the importance of the transcendental view in the process of representation and design.
The lesson is an interactive exercise on the review of the phenomenon of digitality and its excesses and at the same time an exercise of representation of experiential ideas and concepts that arise from the critical evaluation of mundane events of modern digital culture. Students are invited to experiment, to recognize, to discuss issues of transcendence of digitality, and then to deepen, representing their personal experience through conceptual leaps, use of allegorical speech, creative and poetic violations of architectural rules and established practices.
The course also hosts an artificial intelligence assistant – eg. AmazonEcho, Google Home – with which students are invited to interact, play, chat and use it paradoxically in order to gain information about the contents of the course throughout the semester.
The structure of the course includes a theoretical and laboratory part, which evolve parallel to each other.
The theoretical partof the course includes a series of lectures, debates and projections aimed at familiarizing students with the issues of sacred, magical and transcendental space. Through the use of examples from different fields (eg. virtual environments, social networks, electronic games, dark data) we will discuss approaches, interpretations and representations of the transcendental element as it is presented in digital media or experienced during their use.
More specifically, the course contents include:
- Early transcendental perceptions of the digital world
- Transcendence of the mind and Artificial Intelligence
- Self-transcendence ("Life" and "death" of the digital self, "angels, demons, living dead")
- Body transgressions (cyborgs, exhumans, transhumans, posthumans, extropianism, singularity, immortalism, postgenderism)
- Transcendental promises and products (marketing and digital culture)
- Transcending/excessing our capabilities - (simulated reality, artificial intelligence, superintelligence, 3D bioprinting, mind uploading, chemical brain preservation, cryonics, quantified self)
- Transcendence of identity (the ego as another, superheroes, making of personalities)
- Transcendence of boundaries and sacredness (immersion, ecstasy, worship, connectivity)
- Transcendence of reality and science fiction
- Transcendence of good and evil (utopian, dystopian worlds)
- Transcendence of consciousness (hallucinations, perceptual distortions)
- Transcendence of time
The laboratory part of the course includes exercises aimed at familiarizing students with these concepts, as well as at boosting their creative rendition.
The lesson includes three exercises that develop successively over the course of the semester:
Exercise Α: INTERVIEW
Students are invited to chat with an Artificial Intelligence entity of their choice, [e.g. Alexa (AmazonEcho), Google Home, Web Bots] to interact, train it, and produce heretic dialogues related to the subject of the course. In the context of the first exercise, students work together in order to construct an interview / manifesto of transcendental content.
Exercise Β: THAVMATOLOGIO
In the second exercise, students are invited to design the advertisement of an imaginary transcendental product (eg. an application, digital service, video game, gadget, VR, AR) in a poster format, which will also form as a critical commentary on modern technological promises and “miraclization” of the digital age. The exercise will include capturing an exaggerated concept for an imaginary product, inventing its 'brand' and 'slogan', and designing a poster advertisement that will communicate the desired message.
Exercise Γ: DIGITAL TOTEMS
In the third exercise, students are asked to represent their Digital Totem. The Totem, constitutes an imaginary construction/portrait of their transcendent digital self and their relation to the digital media. The totem construction is a work of art, a sacred symbol, an event composition, a metaphorical representation. At the same time, it is an open narrative that evolves over time. The purpose of the exercise is to teach students how they perceive their relationship with digitality, through the representation of their own sacred, transcendental architecture. Their narrative may include texts, drawings, three-dimensional representations, audiovisual compositions, interactive applications, VR, or any other media that are suitable for expressing their idea.
The first and second exercises are performed in groups, the third is an individual exercise. Students are invited to deliver their final completed proposals through the end of the semester.
Student evaluation will relate to their active participation in the course, their creativity and response to the assessments, their critical ability and inventiveness and the originality of their final works.
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