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Ontological Theater: Gordon Pask, Cybernetics and the Arts

Andrew Pickering

12.30-1.30 — ACE teleseminar room (building 1)

This talk reviews the contributions to the arts of one of Britain’s leading cyberneticians, Gordon Pask (1928-1996), focusing on his synaesthetic Musicolour machine in the early 1950s, his plans for a cybernetic theatre, his robot-artwork at the Cybernetic Serendipity exhibition at the ICA in 1968, the Fun Palace project, and his enduring contributions to cybernetic architecture. I try to relate all these projects to the ontology of cybernetics, a vision of the world as a place of emergent agency in performative interaction.

Andy Pickering ( BA, Oxford (physics) 1970; PhD, London (physics) 1973, PhD, Edinburgh (science studies), 1984) is Professor, Sociology and Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is the author of Constructing Quarks: A Sociological History of Particle Physics and The Mangle of Practice: Time, Agency, and Science, and the editor of Science as Practice and Culture. He is currently writing a book on the history of cybernetics in Britain.

Directions: The ACEbase is complex 522, behind Bonney Research Center, in the shadow of the Science Library.

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