Conversation #1: Space

How does the production of data also produce new spatial arrangements and experiences? Our environments are increasingly infiltrated by devices for capturing, analyzing and presenting data. These ostensibly 'cloud-based' technologies generate their own geographies of data centers, submarine cables, and cell towers. Simultaneously, they create something we could term algorithmic architecture, spatial fields in which particular practices are recognized and rewarded, while others are made unrecognizable or undesirable. What does it feel like to live in such spaces, and how might architectural practices materialize them? In this conversation, Dr. Thomas Mical explores the subjectivities of our hypermodern spaces, while architecture graduate Scott Meekings presents some recent work he terms 'datatecture'.
Dr. Thomas Mical


Scott Meekings
April 12, 6-7pm
2017-04-12 18:00:00 2017-04-12 19:00:00 Pacific/Auckland Conversation #1: Space technology + the everyday Colab, WG1103, Sir Paul Reeves Building, 2 Governor Fitzroy Place, Auckland, New Zealand Luke Munn

Conversation #2: Origins

a) Will computers of the future be able to solve all mathematical (or even humanity) problems? b) Does free will have any bearing on artificial intelligence? c) Can machines reliably distinguish between true and fake news? 'We will start by a brief​ explanation from the philosopher on the team why the team consists of a philosopher and not just a [philosophically minded] computer scientist. Roughly speaking, the advent of computers began, on a simplified way of telling the story, with Turing’s answer to a problem that belongs to the Philosophy of Mathematics as much as to Mathematics/Logic, so there is a sense in which Philosophy was present at the very birth of computers. But of course some of the big questions that the existence of computers has thrown up since the birth of computing are also deeply philosophical, not just practical and/or scientific, and these certainly include our questions a) to c). So this is another reason why it makes sense to have a philosopher on the team. We will follow this quasi-philosophical introduction with a brief interactive debate about questions a)-c).' Join theoretical computer scientist Cristian Calude in conversation with philosopher Frederick Kroon.
Dr. Frederick Kroon


Dr. Cris Calude
April 26, 6-7pm
2017-04-26 18:00:00 2017-04-26 19:00:00 Pacific/Auckland Conversation #2: Origins technology + the everyday Colab, WG1103, Sir Paul Reeves Building, 2 Governor Fitzroy Place, Auckland, New Zealand Luke Munn

Conversation #3: Intimacy

How does the self shift when subjected to processes of informational mediation? Often associated with the rational and logical, data-driven processes increasingly inform spheres deemed more affective or emotive. With a proliferation of dating and hookup platforms, the rules for relating are rewritten, requiring a new set of practices which inform notions of gender, identity and sexuality. With a camera in every hand and the potential of an online audience, the self becomes versioned, an iteration in which affectual states and emotive moments are precisely tailoured towards optimal feedback. In this conversation, Paulette Benton-Greig delves into the ways in which we use online media to find and connect with others, while artists Juliet and Gregory will present recent video works which explore the presentation and curation of the self.
Paulette Benton-Greig


Juliet Carpenter and Gregory Kan
May 17, 6-7pm
2017-05-17 18:00:00 2017-05-17 19:00:00 Pacific/Auckland Conversation #3: Intimacy technology + the everyday Colab, WG1103, Sir Paul Reeves Building, 2 Governor Fitzroy Place, Auckland, New Zealand Luke Munn

Critical Conversations

a series about the assumptions embedded in informational technologies and their role in structuring everyday practices


We pair academics/theorists with artists/technologists, each presents their own work before discussing it together


Hosted by Colab, AUT University in partnership with the Digital Life Research Program, Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University


Colab, AUT University
WG1103, Sir Paul Reeves Building
2 Governor Fitzroy Place
Auckland, New Zealand Open Street Map


Increasingly data infiltrates our everyday, transforming the way we work and live. Algorithmic processes shift from the abstract to the agentic, moving off whiteboards and into our pockets and retinas, enlisting broad assemblages of hardware and software, labor and logistics, bodies and architectures in order to perform their operations.

In doing so they create new forms of politics broadly speaking—power relations produced not by sovereign states or spectacular actions, but through decision-making embedded into systems themselves—an accumulation of meticulous mechanisms which act imperceptibly on information: ordering and indexing, filtering and flagging, blocking and blacklisting.

Far from being ‘purely’ technical and apolitical, these processes are machines which create new conditions, forces which change, for example, how architecture and our environments are arranged (Airbnb), the social and labour relations which constitute work (Uber), the imagery and information we consume (Facebook) and the ways in which products and services can be exchanged (Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies).

But these algorithms are not angels (Fuller & Harwood). Typically ‘black boxed’, their internal architectures often privilege certain races or genders, amplify economic inequalities, and reinforce capitalist tendencies. These operations, in turn, are only made possible through the material exhaustions and precarious labour which underpins digital technologies more generally.


Use the @crit_conv handle to follow or mention us on Twitter.


The series is currently organized by Luke Munn as many of the themes have strong parallels to his ongoing research. If you have an idea for a theme or are interested in presenting your work, please get in touch.