Jacob Gaboury, On Uncomputable Numbers: Queer Histories of Computation 08.10.2018 | Fotomuseum Winterthur


What would a queer technics look like – one that refuses the logic of capture and extraction that define contemporary platform capitalism? How might we begin to think through a queer critique of computational systems that takes seriously the materiality of the digital as both a technical practice and cultural logic?

Drawing on the long history of queer engagements with the negative, the outside, nonsense, and illegibility, this presentation looks to those sites and processes in the history of computing that fall outside the successful and productive functionality of computational systems, where technology breaks down, fails, recurs, and runs forever, that is, to uncomputability. Through a reading of Alan Turing's early work on undecidability alongside Ludwig Wittgenstein's simultaneous research into the foundations of mathematics, this presentation explores the concept of computing outside the imperative of successful communication, arguing that these failed states are examples of what we might describe as a queer computation, in that they are the externalities of a binary system that seeks universal application.

Jacob Gaboury is Assistant Professor of Film & Media at the University of California, Berkeley, working at the intersection of media theory, queer theory, and the history of computing. His writing has been appeared in a range of popular and academic publications, including the Journal of Visual Culture, Grey Room, Camera Obscura, and Art Papers. His current book is forthcoming from MIT Press, and explores the prehistory of 3D computer graphics in the United States from 1960–1980.

Jacob Gaboury's lecture will take place on Monday, 8 October 2018, 18:30, in the exhibition spaces of SITUATIONS/Lab (Grüzenstrasse 45).

Cluster: Lab