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  • Why Everything You Know About Computers is Wrong: Computers As Invocational Media

Why Everything You Know About Computers is Wrong: Computers As Invocational Media

  • 31 Jan 2024
  • 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM
  • The Players Club, 16 Gramercy Park S, New York, NY 10003


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Why Everything You Know

About Computers is Wrong:

Computers As Invocational Media

Please join us on Wednesday, January 31st, as we welcome a special guest visiting from the land down under, Chris Chesher, a Senior Lecturer at the University of Sydney. Dr. Chesher will give a talk based on his recently published book, Invocational Media: Reconceptualizing the Computer

From Turing’s 1936 essay on computable numbers, the computing machine was envisioned as an automatic, rationalistic and mathematical calculator of finite symbolic values. Yet, in the experience of these machines, they often seemed almost magical manipulators of language, images, money and exercises of power, offering users powers to satisfy everyday desires, but also subjecting them to surveillance and domination. In this presentation, Chesher inverts the 'computing' paradigm by giving primacy to situated events of 'invocation'–calling up search results, virtual worlds, commodities, artificial intelligences and so on. Drawing on media philosophy, speech act theory and science and technology studies, he outlines the cultural roots of invocational assemblages. He introduces new concepts that reimagine how these media work: avocations that form user subjects, evocations that express thought and emotion, and the convocational spaces in which invocational actants interact. He shows how the proliferation of invocational media is associated with dramatic reconfigurations of everyday experience, culture and social relations.

Dr. Chris Chesher is a Senior Lecturer in Digital Cultures in the Discipline of Media and Communications at the University of Sydney. His research focuses on the intersection of technology, culture, and society, with current interests in the transformation of restaurant service with robots, the cultural and semiotic aspects of social robots and the place of AI image generators in the history of visual culture. In earlier work Dr. Chesher has explored the implications of technology-mediated interactions in virtual reality, blogging, smartphone cameras, real estate promotion, voice assistants and computer games. His work sheds light on how these interactions reshape social dynamics, behaviors, and human identities. 

Come join us for an intriguing and elucidating evening!

6 PM to 9 PM Wednesday, January 31st at the historic Players Club in Gramercy Park. 

Registration is free, but all attendees must be registered in order to gain admittance to the club. This includes any guests you might want to bring with you.

The program will take place in the Library on the 2nd floor of the club. Please note that, as an historic 19th century landmark, the site is not handicap accessible. Dress code is business casual and is strictly enforced, including no sneakers, shorts, ripped jeans, t-shirts).

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The New York Society for General Semantics is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization established September 9, 1946.

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