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Dr. Alessandra Renzi is one of several panelists participating at the MIT “Technology/Affect/Space” workshop, which will explore the politics and aesthetics of Affect Space.

Information about the workshop follows; more information can be found on the site for the MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology.

Workshop Focus

Since 2011 we have witnessed a recurrent global media spectacle where massive protest gatherings in public space seem to emerge from out of nowhere, accompanied by an avalanche of self-produced media mostly distributed over the Internet. From Tahrir Square in Cairo to the streets of Ferguson and Baltimore, this recurrent spectacle appears across vastly different contexts and around a wide variety of issues. The pattern we see in these gatherings remains remarkably constant: mobilizations via the Internet spill over into public space, but because this public space is awash with mobile media and wireless networks, the “action in the street” immediately feeds back into the media network. How do we understand and engage with these massive ephemeral events and the techno-social dynamics producing them?

In his essay “Affect Space: Witnessing the ‘Movement(s) of the Squares’” (2015), media theorist Eric Kluitenberg suggests that these protest gatherings exhibit aspects of a new “techno-sensuous spatial order,” which he calls Affect Space, constituted by the intermingling of (mobile media and wireless) Technology, Affect-driven mobilizations, and (urban public) Space. Following up on Kluitenberg’s article, Open! (an online publication platform for Art and the Public Domain) launched a public research project to explore this dynamic beyond the protest gatherings themselves.

In the spirit of this larger project, the T/A/S workshop will introduce participants to the core elements of Affect Space, question its premises, and explore different ways in which this incipient spatial order impacts art, activism, and civic engagement in our contemporary, media-saturated global culture.