In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Automation
  • Jennifer Rhee (bio)

Q:What does automation make visible and what does it obscure? Currently, seductive promises about automation herald the massive amounts of information available online (never mind the quality or veracity of this information, nor the racism, misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia that find their homes so comfortably online). And narratives about automation boast greater precision and objectivity in "unmanned" armed military drones (never mind the extensive human labor required to operate these drones, nor the documented human error and racial bias to which this labor is susceptible). Similarly, false claims of objectivity and neutrality surround and embolden practices of surveillance, predictive policing, and judicial sentencing AI systems (never mind the racial bias of these systems and the data they employ). Meanwhile, other aspects of automated technologies are largely obscured, unmentioned in these promises—from the catastrophic environmental costs of digital devices that are disproportionately borne by communities in the Global South, to the extensive erasures of human labor and human bias that enable automation while at the same time perpetuating existing relations of power, oppression, and dispossession. Within these contexts, how do art and literature help us to think and rethink, to make and unmake understandings of automation from the urgency of our contemporary moment?

This forum invited contributors to think broadly in form, medium, and concept about automation and its imaginaries, including (but certainly not limited to) the often grandiose promises of automation's capacities. What does automation generate, amplify, make visible? And what or who does [End Page 289] automation obscure or put under erasure? What forms, mediums, concepts, or figures might we employ to engage automation in all its complexities?

This forum also invited contributors to consider automation's failures. What does it mean for automation to fail? A failure in automation may constitute a loss for some, while for others a failure may constitute otherwise, such as recuperation or resistance. As erasures are only invisible to some, and certainly not to those who are put under erasure, how might we understand certain failures of automation as sites of political potential?

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  • • Considering Automation; Or, The Origin of Technologically Derived Ethnicities

  • • Virtually and Actually Black: On Vr and Racial Empathy

  • • Automation as Echo

  • • Automation and Creativity

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  • • Post-Apocalyptic Shine in The Afro-Future

  • • On Poetic Automaton: An Experimental Lecture

Jennifer Rhee

jennifer rhee is an associate professor in the Department of English and the Media, Art, and Text Ph.D. Program at Virginia Commonwealth University. She's written about robotics and artificial intelligence in technology, visual and performance art, literature, and film in her book The Robotic Imaginary: The Human and the Price of Dehumanized Labor (University of Minnesota Press, 2018). She's been awarded an American Council of Learned Societies fellowship for 2019 to 2020 to support work on her next book on digital counting technologies, race, and art.



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pp. 289-290
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