Un projet Labex Arts H2H
en /fr
2012 - 2016

Code and Critical Theory
By Warren Sack

University of California, Santa Cruz


As Maurizio Lazzarato points out in a recent book, “…machines … can be found everywhere except in contemporary critical theory” (in Signs and Machines: Capitalism and the Production of Subjectivity, 2014).  How can we understand our present conditions if we cannot write about the machines with which we are entangled?  My message to critical theorists is that we need to invent new, critical, machine languages to challenge the machine languages now in power and, specifically, we need to improve upon the lexicon of “machinic assemblage” still in circulation in science studies, finance studies, and critical studies of capitalism (incorporated into, for example, actor-network theory) now decades after Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari assembled that machine language.  In short, critical theorists of today need to become skillful coders because to write about and – especially – to rewrite the machines of today is to write software. 


About the author

Warren Sack is a media theorist, software designer, and artist whose work has been shown at SFMOMA (San Francisco), the Artport of the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York), New Museum of Contemporary Art (New York), Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), LABoral (Asturias, Spain), ZKM (Karlsruhe, German), the Impakt Festival (Utrecht, The Netherlands).  He has been a visiting professor in France (at FMSH, Sciences Po, and Télécom ParisTech) and teaches digital arts and digital studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz.  During the fall of 2015, he will be a fellow of the Paris Institute for Advanced Study.  He has a BA from Yale College and a PhD from the MIT Media Lab.   

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Un projet Labex Arts H2H