Torque #1: Mind, Language and Technology

Jones, Nathan and Skinner, Sam, eds. (2014) Torque #1: Mind, Language and Technology. Link Editions, Brescia. ISBN 9781291991475

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A deliberately broad interdisciplinary collection of essays and artworks, many newly commissioned for the project, that reflect upon the plasticity of the brain, the adaptability of technology and the malleability of language, and the twisting together of these facets. The title for the book (and the subsequent publishing imprint started around it) refers to an esoteric concept by the neuroscientist Tim Crow, that the "cerebral torque", a quality of the human brain, is responsible for both language and schizophrenia. This term is detached from its clinical context to explore the wider connotations of technical aspects of language and technology. As the editors in the book's introduction (c. 1500 words) state: "We have appropriated and redirected 'torque', freeing it from the specifics of Crow's theory, but maintaining its essence as a twisting force with roots in the conjunction of the brain and language, and with the addition of a technological dimension - the twisting of wires, the torsion of the machine. In essence, Crow's use of 'cerebral torque' allows him to posit schizophrenia as 'the price homo sapiens pay for language'. Our use of the term also allows us to ask: what, then, is the price we pay for technology?" This conceit sets the stage for an interdisciplinary examination of how language, mind and technology intertwine in the contemporary sphere. The contributors and their work each offer unique models of navigating this territory, making their own artefacts, writing their own scripts, and the book collects these into a logical sequence. Important contributions to the book included the bringing together for the first time, Lambros Malafouris' concept of "expanded mind" from his cognitive archaeological research at Oxford, with the contemporary poetics work of such writers as Robert Shepard, and developing a narrative connection between the net art practices of Mez Breeze, with more recent theory on code and networks by Geoff Cox and Anna Munster, in exploring how these concepts reshape what language is and does in ways that resonate with contemporary art practices such as those of Lawrence Abu Hamdan and Cecile B Evans. As well as co-authoring the introduction, in his own chapter (c. 5000 words) Jones contributes a detailed examination of the relationship between "schizo-cultures" -- specifically the 1970s meeting of continental postmodernist thinkers and the American avant garde at a conference of this name (Lotringer 2013) -- and "convergence culture": the increasingly complex relationships formed by “media convergence, participatory culture, and collective intelligence” (Jenkins 2014). The book was pivotal for the Torque research project, setting its thematic parameters, and opening up a specific play of live, participatory and theoretical work that have been combined in subsequent editions in this series. This book was published by Link Editions, as a freely downloadable PDF, and launched at with a series of events at FACT in Liverpool, and with a performance event at Richmix in London. Additional public impact was developed with the Torque Triptych installation at FACT's Typemotion exhibition (2015) where the book was available as an electronic edition, a leather bound book, and as a speed reader; and the Being Read Being Reading Being Read and Reading Beings exhibition at Furtherfield, where the book was broadcast to the park, and presented as a text animation and sound work inside the gallery.

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12 Apr 2018 12:54
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03 Oct 2023 00:08