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AI and/as Form

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Organizer: Sayan Bhattacharyya

Co-Organizer: Gabriel Hankins

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How does aesthetic, material, and theoretic form relate to the current generative AI revolution? How should we critique the ideological and material consequences of the “textpocalypse” and the deeply fake world? To what new tools and metaphors to think with may AI lead, in terms of forms of cultural production and contestation or formulations of posthumanist theories of language and mind? Should AI be regulated, restricted, refused, or re-employed? We seek to intervene in these debates by addressing the question of AI and/as form, the latter term including, but not limited to, such forms as: generated writing and visual “art,” fossilized labor, digitally enclosed commons, and the statistical and textual formalisms functionalized in “content” production. While a special issue of New Literary History on the topic of “Culture, Theory, Data,” an issue of American Studies devoted to “Critical AI Studies,” and a forum in Critical Inquiry (“Again Theory: A Forum on Language, Meaning, and Intent”) have recently addressed some of the above issues, our seminar seeks a more focused and direct engagement with the question of AI and form. Abstracts (max 1500 chars incl. space) can pose these and other questions:

How to understand the form and affordances of generative AI? What does AI enable, how does it constrain, and what does it preclude?
What kinds of formal arguments are enabled or precluded by generative AI? How does the blackboxing of sources and training datasets matter to such arguments?
How do literary/political formalisms relate to those digital formalisms that best describe AI?
What happens to the epistemological and ontological status of the work of art, as mechanical and then digital reproduction shift to generative and remixed forms?
How can scholars of literature and culture illuminate binaries of truth/falsity, mediation/immediacy, and authenticity/fakery in the context of AI?
How, in the AI era, may scholars of form take up questions of pattern, structure, and repetition in visual, textual or sonic arts?
What are the contours of the emergent area of generative-AI aesthetics? What are its possible tactical/strategic uses?
How do critics of genre, power, coloniality and gender address the era of AI? What are key informing discourses, epistemic frames and ideologies that AI makes (in)visible?
Forms of extraction: In what extractive contexts and ecologies, and out of which labor régimes or industries, does AI emerge? Towards what new forms of creative extraction will it be employed?
How does writing about form, or the form of writing, change after generative AI?
What new forms of regulation, restriction, reuse and remixing does generative AI call for? How does it intersect with the forms and categories that constitute neoliberal capitalism? What new enclosures does it represent, and what kinds of commoning practices might it call for?

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