The Next SAM Seminar
SAM Seminar Series

Post-anthropocentric creativity – reopening the ‘circuits of authorship’
once again

Jan Løhmann Stephensen  

When Tuesday, 10 April, 3:30pm - 5pm
Where Cinema 327, Robert Webster Building, UNSW Sydney

Throughout the 20C, the notion of human creativity was hotly contested within Art and its theories/philosophies. For instance, a dominant interpretation of the attacks on the Institution of Art and its traditions by the various avant-garde movements (Bürger 1984, Foster 1996) has been to perceive this as an endeavour to democratise creativity, that is, as a “project” that had to do with a different distribution of the privilege of creativity among human actors. In the same vein, the collaborative dimension of art-making was one of the crucial findings of various branches of the sociology of art (Becker 1974; Bourdieu 1983 & 1996), hence adding to our “socially expanded understanding of the circuits of authorship” (Roberts 2007, 5).
With the explosive proliferation of algorithmic media for creative production, the issue has reemerged. Algorithmic media technologies have come to co-create with humans â€“ often without our knowing. Theories on the â€˜social production’ of â€˜participatory culture’ from Jenkins (2006) and Benkler (2006) and onwards have, however, mostly discussed these tendencies in terms of access to the means of production, distribution, and consumption (Meikle & Young 2012), in essence remaining focused on the interplay between (a) human creativity and (b) those technologies that function as a supporting scaffold to this end. The study of creativity-enhancing software as mere tools, which are explicitly designed and applied as such (cf. Davies et al. 2015), thus misses the much less transparent ways in which ubiquitous software condition, and thus participate quite substantially, in the processes of creative making – whether artistic or more mundane (as in participatory culture, ‘everyday creativity’, etc.).
Hence, this talk will address three specific questions: (1) How, and to what extent, could software be regarded as participants in “our” creative processes? (2) What specific notions of creativity are most often embedded in these “black boxes”? (3) How might we re-conceptualise our notion of creativity in order to shed its anthropocentric heritage and make it much more ontologically open (“flat”) to this diverse range of actants that participate in “our” creativity?

Jan Løhmann Stephensen is Assistant Professor at Aesthetics & Culture, Aarhus University, Denmark. Main research interests: (1) creativity and its diffusion into non-art related spheres like work, economics, policy-making, university research agendas, new media technologies, etc.; (2) cultures and practices of participation, democracy and the public sphere; and (3) medial transpositions (remaking, adaptation and novelization). Co-editor of Conjunctions: Transdisciplinary Journal of Cultural Participation. Recent publications of interest: “Dingpolitik and the Expansion of the Democratic Public Sphere?: From ‘Democracy-as-Talk’ to ‘Conversing-with-Things’” (2016), â€œTalking the Creative Economy into Being” (2016), “Towards a Digital Materialism” (2015), â€œRethinking Participation and Re-enacting Its Dilemmas?: Aarhus 2017 and ‘The Playful Society’” (2015).

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