TU Braunschweig
Öffentliche Veranstaltung: Automation and Creativity: Practice, Aesthetics and Reception of the Digital in Music and Literature (Online Conference) - Forum
Donnerstag, 8. Oktober 2020 | Thursday, October 8, 2020
17:40–18:00 Screening
18:20–19:00 Discussion (w/ Nick Montfort)



Abstract
In an age of digital technology, language has become far more than a means of human communication, creativity or expression. Increasingly written for - and ‘read’ by – algorithms, when words become data, they carry more than linguistic meaning, and as such are valuable commodities in the advertising marketplace. Nobody knows this better than Google, which made its fortune from the auctioning of words through AdWords; a form of ‘linguistic capitalism’ (Kaplan, 2014) in which the aesthetic value of language is negated at the expense of its exchange value. But what are the residual cultural or political effects of this algorithmic exploitation of language? What is gained and what is lost when words become data? This contribution follows the genesis of a series of theoretical and artistic critiques of linguistic capitalism. Beginning with a project called {poem}.py, which uses poetry, Google keyword data and a receipt printer to make visible the workings of linguistic capitalism, and developing to larger scale digital works and new responses to the post-pandemic world of video-calling, these interventions seek to rescue language from the algorithmic marketplace; re-politicise it (Benjamin, 1936), and reclaim it for art.


Pip Thornton is a researcher in Creative Informatics at the University of Edinburgh. Her doctoral thesis, Language in the Age of Algorithmic Reproduction: A Critique of Linguistic Capitalism, put forward a theoretical, political and artistic critique of Google’s search and advertising platforms. She has presented in a variety of venues including the Science Museum, the Alan Turing Institute and at the transmediale festival of art and digital culture in Berlin. Her work has featured in WIRED UK and New Scientist, and her artistic intervention {poem}.py has been exhibited at the Open Data Institute in London (2017-18), the Glucksman Gallery in Cork, Ireland (2019), and at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (2019). Her artwork Newspeak (2019) has recently been longlisted for the 2020 Lumen Prize.

[Last edited by Dennis Fuchs - 11.11.20 - 17:23]
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