1st Edition

Big Data—A New Medium?

Edited By Natasha Lushetich Copyright 2021
    244 Pages 21 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    244 Pages 21 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Drawing on a range of methods from across science and technology studies, digital humanities and digital arts, this book presents a comprehensive view of the big data phenomenon.

    Big data architectures are increasingly transforming political questions into technical management by determining classificatory systems in the social, educational, and healthcare realms. Data, and their multiple arborisations, have become new epistemic landscapes. They have also become new existential terrains. The fundamental question is: can big data be seen as a new medium in the way photography or film were when they first appeared? No new medium is ever truly new. It’s always remediation of older media. What is new is the medium’s re-articulation of the difference between here and there, before and after, yours and mine, knowable and unknowable, possible and impossible.

    This transdisciplinary volume, incorporating cultural and media theory, art, philosophy, history, and political philosophy is a key resource for readers interested in digital humanities, cultural, and media studies.

    Prologue: Why Ask the Question?

    Natasha Lushetich

    Section I: Patterning Knowledge and Time

    1. Big Data and/versus People Knowledge: On the Ambiguities of Humanistic Research

    Ingrid Hoofd

    2. Simulated Replicants Forever? Big Data, Engendered Determinism and the end of Prophecy

    Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi

    3. "Visual Hallucination of Probable Events": On Environments of Images, Data, and Machine Learning

    Abelardo Gil-Fournier and Jussi Parikka

    Section II: Patterning Use and Extraction

    4. Biometric Datafication in Governmental and Personal Spheres

    Btihaj Ajana

    5. Digital Biopolitics and the Problem of Fatigue in Platform Capitalism

    Tim Christaens

    6. Appreciating Machine-Generated Artwork through Deep Learning Mechanisms

    Lonce Wyse

    Section III: Patterning Cultural Heritage and Memory

    7. Data to the Nth Degree: Zooming in On The Smart Set

    Craig J. Saper

    8. Intellectual Autonomy After Artificial Intelligence: The Future of Memory Institutions and Historical Research

    Nicola Horsley

    9. BeHere: Prosthetic Memory in the Age of Digital Frottage

    Natasha Lushetich and Masaki Fujihata


    Section IV: Patterning People

    10. Surfaces and Depths: An Aesthetics of Big Data

    Dominic Smith

    11. POV Data Doubles, the Dividual and the Drive to Visibility

    Mitra Azar

    12. Reading Big Data as the Heterogenous Subject

    Simon Biggs

    13. Epilogue: Telepathic Exaptation in Late Cognitive Capitalism: A Speculative Approach to the effects of Digitality

    Warren Neidich


    Natasha Lushetich is Professor of Contemporary Art & Theory at the University of Dundee. Her research is interdisciplinary and focuses on intermedia, biopolitics and performativity, the status of sensory experience in cultural knowledge, hegemony, and complexity.

    "As pattern-seeking creatures, we look out to the objective world to make sense of our environment. In the age of datafication, the received wisdom is that the process has been reversed: corporations look into the subjective world of people’s data patterns in order to surveil and anticipate. This much is true, but as this ‘pattern-breaking’ collection shows, much more happens besides. From the aesthetic to the temporal and from the cultural to the biopolitical, there is a fast-paced evolutionary struggle taking place for the perpetuation of the aeonic patterns of life against the growingly powerful machine-based intelligence of computation. Big Data: A New Medium? is the most important and encompassing analysis yet on the struggle for the ‘soul’ of human creativity, diversity and autonomy."

    Robert Hassan, University of Melbourne, Australia

    "This is a breath-taking and kaleidoscopic series of reflections on one of the most important phenomena of our age. It tells the compelling story of its subject’s "quest to anticipate and harness the individual and collective unconscious" and is by turns surprising, complex, thought provoking, dizzying and mind-blowing … just like Big Data itself."

    Steve Dixon, President of LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore

    "As the control of data surpasses the regulation of populations, new modes of government emerge: as well as stripping the earth of its resources we are also stripping our lives of the data they produce. At the same time, new forms of mutant expression are emerging that offer alternative modes of life because, as this volume makes strikingly evident, patterns are always more than they seem. Infinite processes sit buried within finite algorithms. Figuring out the relationship between data mining and its various forms of expression is an urgent task, one that the contributors to this volume take on with a critical intent that steers them away from platitudes and toward inventive insights for our age of control."

    Iain MacKenzie, University of Kent, UK

    "This multidisciplinary volume is perfectly timed to help us consider our increasing immersion in data and its insidious integration with our current experience. Lushetich and the writers she collects in this volume help us rethink our relationship with data in a new way, focusing on its potential as a medium by which to reconsider the phenomena of our 21st century culture and how it affects our fundamental sense of being in the world."

    Kevin LaGrandeur, New York Institute of Technology, USA

    "This mind-opening book cultivates an aesthetic appreciation for, even empathy with, the creative capacities of informational patterning. Certainly these authors critique the crude deployment of big data for profit and power. But more strikingly, they value seemingly nonhuman forms of perception and thought that liberate the human to surf within populations of patterned being."

    Laura Marks, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada

    "This timely and lively collection offers a broadening of the understanding of big data, drawing on the arts, humanities and social sciences to put big data in a bigger picture."

    Matthew Fuller, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK