“Encryption Capitalism” – A Mellon Digital Humanities Conversation with Jeffrey West Kirkwood

The talk addresses a core shift in the relationship between meaning and value that has occurred in the transition from an industrial to an informational economy. It argues that Bitcoin is a paradigmatic technology for understanding the digital economy’s inversion of industrial era concepts and its invention of new forms of surplus. By exploring the proof-of-work system underlying Bitcoin, I will suggest that it is not simply an outlying case of energy wastage in an otherwise streamlined drive to informational efficiency. Rather, the talk will consider how it challenges the efficiency and optimization narrative at the heart of industrial capitalism, creating a horizon of negative consequences that have yet to be fully realized.

Jeffrey West Kirkwood is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Art History and the Department of Cinema at Binghamton University. He received his PhD from Princeton University and has been a fellow at the Cornell University Society for the Humanities and the International Research Institute for Cultural Technologies and Media Philosophy (IKKM) at the Bauhaus University in Weimar, Germany. His writing has been published in OctoberGrey RoomTexte zur Kunst, Zeitschrift für Medien -und Kulturforschung (ZMK)OSMOSIdiomJacobin, and a number of collected volumes. Most recently, he is the editor of a special issue of Critical Inquiry on “Surplus Data” along with co-editors Patrick Jagoda, Orit Halpern, and Leif Weatherby, and his article on the implications of blockchain technologies is forthcoming in that same issue. In 2018 he co-edited and co-wrote the introduction to the first English-language translation of Ernst Kapp’s Elements of a Philosophy of Technology for the University of Minnesota Press’s Posthumanities series and his book Endless Intervals: Cinema, Psychology, and Semiotechnics around 1900 is also forthcoming with Minnesota in 2022. 

“Biodesign” – A Mellon Digital Humanities Conversation with Orkan Telhan

Telhan’s talk was centered on biological design—an emerging field—that is aiming to bring together different perspectives from design, life sciences, engineering, and the humanities.

Telhan holds a PhD in Design and Computation from MIT’s Department of Architecture. His individual and collaborative work has been exhibited internationally in venues including the Istanbul Biennial, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Milano Design Week, Architectural Association, the New Museum of Contemporary Art, among other places. Telhan is also a co-founder of Biorealize, a biotechnology company specialized in building next generation tools that makes it easier to design biology.

Link to Telhan’s work: https://www.orkantelhan.com/.

He wanted the audience to read: what biodesign means to me.

Anna Ania Michas

Education: MA University of Rochester, History; Andrew W. Mellon Advanced Residency Program in Photograph Conservation, Image Permanence Institute, Rochester Institute of Technology, and George Eastman Museum, Rochester, NY; Postgraduate Study in Culture Management, Warsaw School of Economics, Warsaw, Poland; MA, Nicholas Copernicus University, Torun, Poland, Conservation and Restoration of Art.

Bio: Ania Michas is a sixth-year PhD student in the Department of History and Graduate Program in Visual and Cultural Studies at the University of Rochester.

Ania’s studies include modern European history and the democratization of art enabled by photography. Her dissertation examines the use of postcards by women as a tool for their emancipation and explores the role that postcards played in the development of feminist ideas. She is interested in how postcards served democracy as a “common experience” of communication and collecting.

By incorporating DH methods into her research, she hopes to reveal commonalities and outliers in the collections with which she works and to tie the stories of her dissertation more closely together.

Why We Need Digital Collections

Drs. Edwin Klijn, Project Manager, at the Institute for
War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies in Amsterdam,
the Netherlands

Edwin Klijn specializes in electronic publishing, digitalization, web development, automated text recognition, linked data, project management, and the NSB (National Socialist Movement in the Netherlands).

He has published on mass digitization, image banks and the preservation and digitization of photo and audiovisual collections. In addition, he wrote in a personal capacity, together with Robin te Slaa, De NSB. Origin and rise of the National Socialist Movement 1931-1935 (Amsterdam 2009) nominated for the Libris History Prize 2010. The follow-up of this publication will be published in the spring of 2021.

Edwin’s recent projects include: TRIADO, Tribunal Archives as Digital Research Facilities; and War Lives winner of GLAMi Awards 2020 in category: Exhibition or Collection Extension: Web; see for jury report.

For years the raw materials for historians have been analogue collections hidden in vaults of archival institutions. Digitization, linked data and artificial intelligence technology have revolutionized the accessibility of cultural heritage collections, radically changing the work methods of historians. Edwin has been involved in digitization of heritage collections since 2001. He is interested in highlighting some of the new opportunities, but also the challenges of opening up historical collections online for scholars and the general public.