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Alexander R. Galloway

“The Black Box of Philosophy: Compression and Obfuscation”
This talk will superimpose technical definitions of data compression (both lossy and lossless) onto philosophical discussions of aesthetics. Two basic approaches will be of interest: promiscuous aesthetics and prophylactic aesthetics. The first deals with the classic phenomenological and metaphysical debates around expression, revealing, representation, mimesis, and the “extensions of man.” The second, rather ill defined thus far, deals with a different set of concerns: encryption, obliteration, unilateral determination, irreversibility, and “generic man.” With the theme of compression in hand, we will offer a critique of the modern system of knowledge on the grounds that it is not yet compressive enough.

Alexander R. Galloway is a writer and computer programer working on issues in philosophy, technology, and theories of mediation. He is author of several books on digital media and critical theory, mostly recently “The Interface Effect” (Polity, 2012). His collaboration with Eugene Thacker and McKenzie Wark, “Excommunication: Three Inquiries in Media and Mediation,” has just been published by the University of Chicago Press. Galloway is currently finishing a monograph on the work of French theorist François Laruelle, which will be published this fall. A native of the Pacific Northwest, Galloway currently teaches media theory at New York University.