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Hybrid Futures Lab: Research

The impact of planetary computation on sense-making processes is rewiring human capacities to understand, to feel, and to perceive. The human-machine encounter is creating a new  computational-sensorial hybrid environment which can no longer be framed only through the framework of the human. Discourses around technology  tend to be deterministic, whether coloured by utopia (‘technology will save us’), or dystopia (‘machines will take over’).

Our aim is to foster lively ways of doing critical technology literacy engaging creative practitioners to co-create tools that illuminate, contest, and reshape assumptions around technologies and  techno-digital futures.

Our research focuses on two main lines of inquiry:

  • The  cognitive, epistemological and ontological implications of the encounter human-machine in the age of planetary computation, and how to re-imagine this encounter as a metastable ecology of the human and the non-human.
  • The development of trans- and post-disciplinary approaches that uses post-qualitative enquiry and hybrid methodologies to study  this epochal shift.

The left image shows two hands holding an iPad taking a photo of a forest the other is an illustration of a hand with palm lines

Left: All Canada Photos/Rights Managed.
Right: A chart showing how to calculate time. It is read downwards on the line of Life and upwards from the wrist to the Mount of Saturn on the line of Fate. Illustration for one of set of cigarette cards on Palmistry, published by Carreras Ltd, early 20th century. Private Collection / © Look and Learn / Bridgeman Images

Research themes and questions

  • The foreclosure of futures exercised by the data-driven regime of truth informed by predictive analytics and its impact on what count as knowledge (epistemic processes)
  • The production of algorithmic governance and its impact on processes on constitution of the individual and collective subjects (subjectification processes).
  • Surveillance capitalism's modes of extraction of human and nonhuman resources (bio- and geo-political processes).
  • How do we reclaim the space of constructive ambiguity and productive uncertainty eroded by calculative ontologies?
  • How do we devise forms of resistance against capture, reduction and the desertification of the imagination and modes of living?

Publications

  1. Marenko, Betti (2022) Hybrid Animism. The Sensing Surfaces of Planetary Computation. New Formations: A Journal of Culture, Theory and Politics. Special issue: Animism in a Planetary Frame, edited by Philip Dickinson and Sam Durrant.
  2. Marenko, Betti (2021) Future-Crafting: The Non-humanity of Planetary Computation, or How to Live with Digital Uncertainty [PDF, 200KB). In Hybrid Ecologies edited by Susanne Witzgall, Marietta Kesting, Maria Muhle and Jenny Nachtigall, University of Chicago Press / Diaphanes.
  3. Rozendaal, Marco, Marenko, Betti, and Odom, Will eds. (2021) Designing Smart Objects in Everyday Life. Intelligences, Agencies, Ecologies. London, Bloomsbury. Read an excerpt of the editors' introduction. [PDF, 570KB].
  4. Marenko, Betti and Haselager, Pim (2021) Marx in the Smart Living Room. What would a Marx-Oriented Approach to Smart Objects be Like?  In Designing Smart Objects in Everyday Life. Intelligences, Agencies, Ecologies edited by Marco Rozendaal, Betti Marenko and Will Odom, London, Bloomsbury (pp.169-184). Read an excerpt of the chapter [PDF, 600KB].
  5. Marenko, Betti (2019) Algorithm Magic. Gilbert Simondon and Techno-Animism [PDF, 1.7MB]. In Believing in Bits: Digital Media and the Supernatural edited by Simone Natale and Diana Pasulka, Oxford University Press (pp. 213-228). Reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press.
  6. Marenko, Betti (2017) Filled with Wonder. The Enchanting Android from Cams to Algorithms. In Encountering Things. Design and Theories of Things edited by Leslie Atzmon and Prasad Boradkar, Bloomsbury (pp.19-34). Read an excerpt of the chapter [PDF, 3.3MB].