"Software, Globalization and Political Action" course co-taught by Manovich and Buck-Morss, Spring 2014, Graduate Center CUNY

#softclassgc (class Twitter hashtag)

SYLLABUS (Google Doc updated throughout the semester - we suggest you check it every weekend to see the updates)

Readings (Dropbox)

Locals and Tourists #2 (GTWA #1): New York

Top: a frame from A Man with a Movie Camera by Dziga Vertov, 1929.
Bottom: Visualization of locations of large number of photos in NYC shared on Flickr, from "Locals and Tourists" by Erik Fisher, 2009).

Spring 2013 course: Software, Globalization, and Political Action

Co-taught by Susan Buck-Morss (Political Science) and Lev Manovich (Computer Science). The Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY)

Tuesdays 2-4pm.
4 Credits. Cross-listed in the Programs in Political Science, Computer Science and Art History.


This interdisciplinary seminar will explore concepts and methods from both critical theory and software studies. It is taught by Prof. Susan Buck-Morss (Political Science), and Prof. Lev Manovich (Computer Science).

We will cover three themes:

1) Vision and Image - From Walter Benjamin and Dziga Vertov to computer vision, Google Earth, Adobe Creative Suite, and Instagram: new strategies of seeing and representation in modern and software societies. Image v. Concept (Hegel against ‘picture thinking’) Image and historical matter (Benjamin on the “dialectical image”). Aesthetics and Politics: Images as a (trans-local) language for political action; vision and democracy: the “ethical turn.” Digital Image Processing and Computer Vision and examples of their application in creative industries, vernacular digital photography, and digital humanities.

2) Data and Knowledge - Knowledge production in the age of "big data." Images as sources of knowledge. Political critique of methods (positivism, abstraction, categorical givens) and goals (surveillance, marketing, positivism). Knowledge of, by and for whom? Data science as the new key technology for production of knowledge and decision making in big data societies. Data visualization as a research method in humanities and social sciences (including art history and political science). From representing reality to representing data. Data art.

3) Crowds and Networks - What are the new forms of sociality and political action enabled by global networks? Networked Images as political instruments. Crowds and the de-centered brain. Crowds and/as a medium of global political action since the Arab Spring. The new body politic as a body without skin. Social networks and computational social science. Social media analytics. Artistic visualizations of social data.