New Book—Beautiful Data: A History of Vision and Reason

Lab member Orit Halpern has a new book out on  big data, interactivity, and cybernetics:

Beautiful Data is both a history of big data and interactivity, and a sophisticated meditation on ideas about vision and cognition in the second half of the twentieth century. Contending that our forms of attention, observation, and truth are contingent and contested, Orit Halpern historicizes the ways that we are trained, and train ourselves, to observe and analyze the world. Tracing the postwar impact of cybernetics and the communication sciences on the social and human sciences, design, arts, and urban planning, she finds a radical shift in attitudes toward recording and displaying information. These changed attitudes produced what she calls communicative objectivity: new forms of observation, rationality, and economy based on the management and analysis of data. Halpern complicates assumptions about the value of data and visualization, arguing that changes in how we manage and train perception, and define reason and intelligence, are also transformations in governmentality. She also challenges the paradoxical belief that we are experiencing a crisis of attention caused by digital media, a crisis that can be resolved only through intensified media consumption.

NEW BOOK-Nauman Reiterated by Lab member Janet Kraynak


Bruce Nauman has been a force in the art world since the early 1960s with his challenging audio and video installations, photographic art, neon art, and sculptures. However, until now there has been surprisingly little sustained critical analysis of his extraordinary oeuvre.

Nauman Reiterated offers the first scholarly assessment of the artist’s production with an in-depth thematic investigation of key works created between the mid-1960s and mid-1970s. Janet Kraynak argues that the coherence of Nauman’s art can be found not in conventional categorizations of style, medium, or technique, but through understanding the artistic and cultural conditions that led to an interdisciplinary aesthetic of performance, which emerged in relation to technologies of reproduction, inscription, and recording. Kraynak provides a portrait of an artist who regularly defies expectations and genres, showing how Nauman’s work responds to historical problems that have only increased in importance since he first addressed them, especially the technologization of society initiated by electronic media.

Nauman’s reaction to the technological takeover of modern society, Kraynak suggests, is reiteration. Building from these observations, Kraynak explores how performance is intimately associated with the acceleration toward a fully technological society, which sees new modes of electronic recording and reproduction, the growth of information technologies, and the consolidation of technocracy.

Through extensive archival research Kraynak has written a revealing examination of Nauman’s thought-provoking and protean work.

Conference: Design Studies RESCHEDULED

Negotiating the Terrain of Design Studies: Research, Reflection, Practice

Cobblestone street in grey and tan serpentine pattern

MARCH 1-2, 2013
Wollman Hall, 65 West 11th Street, 5th floor
Free and Open to the Public

To mark the inauguration of Parsons’ MA Design Studies program, this symposium looks at the intellectual currents that charge the growing field of design studies as a branch of the humanities and the social sciences, and a critical force in industry. An international
roster of scholars, practitioners, and entrepreneurs will consider how design both shapes specific experiences and embodies fundamental assumptions about our relationship to, and with, the world and each other. Together, they will explore the unique potential of
design studies to operate between among the realms of research, analysis, and advocacy.