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Pattern Recognition: An Interdisciplinary Colloquium

This colloquium is a collaborative venture between London College of Communication, University of the Arts London, and Northeastern University’s Humanities Center (CSSH) and Center for the Arts (CAMD).

Main Image: Infodemic (algorithmically generated video still) 2020. Image courtesy of Derek Curry and Jennifer Gradecki.

Thursday | January 21 | 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. EST | Zoom

Register here

Take a moment to pause and notice the multiple ways in which systems of law and governance now interface with their publics by joining us for this unique colloquium.

Democratic values such as those contained in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and human rights conventions are increasingly being sidelined, as print media and verbal communication shifts to digitized visual vocabularies and quantitative methods of prediction. In some cases, black letter law and established modes of address — and redress — have been displaced altogether by visual regimes (like surveillance camera networks and facial recognition software) or numeric narratives (including the algorithmic assessments of credit worthiness, medical predispositions, and probability of criminal recidivism).

These parallel universes operate according to their own logic, creating referential and connotative systems in which notions of truth, justice, and fairness are dangerously reconfigured. Such insidious technological and discursive shifts impose new and often impermeable categories of race, gender, and class that reinforce existing lines of segregation, while their decision-making power operates outside the traditional realm of accountability defined by jurisprudential notions of human agency. Our aim is to decipher the norms embedded in the syntax and semantics of justice as a system of governance, and to expose the hidden violence operating in these new genres of expression.

We invite participation, as well as short, informal presentations (max 10 minutes) by artists, lawyers, journalists, programmers, academics or other interested parties that make a contribution to understanding these new modes of seeing and being. Key questions we seek to address, by means of specific case studies, are:

  1. What makes these technologies and platforms so “ungovernable,” and what are the consequences, and for whom?
  2. How might our individual and combined disciplines and practices delineate an ethical stance or critical response?

To register your interest, and – if you would like to present – submit a 150 word description of your work/research, please register above. The deadline to submit your work to present is January 11, 2020. Please note that while the deadline to submit presentations is January 11, registration will be open until January 19.


Schedule of Events

9:00 a.m. | Welcome
Amy Halliday, Center for the Arts, & Lori Lefkovitz, Humanities Center, Northeastern University

9:10 a.m. | Introduction 
Patricia Williams, Northeastern University 

9:20 a.m. | Visible Justice 
Max Houghton, Visible Justice

9:30 a.m. | Panel I Presentations

10:15 a.m. 
| Q & A
moderated by David Birkin, Visible Justice

10:30 a.m. | Brief break 

10:45 a.m. 
| Panel II Presentations

11:30 a.m.
 | Q & A 
moderated by David Birkin

11:45 a.m. | Concluding Remarks 
Patricia Williams & Max Houghton

Full Bio

Patricia Williams | University Distinguished Professor of Law and Humanities, Northeastern University

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Max Houghton | Writer, Curator, Co-Founder of Visible Justice, and Course Leader of the MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography, London College of Communications

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David Birkin | Artist, Writer, Co-founder of Visible Justice & Visiting Fellow at University of the Arts London

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This colloquium is a collaborative venture between London College of Communication, University of the Arts London, and Northeastern University’s Humanities Center (CSSH) and Center for the Arts (CAMD).

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