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Notice

AISB event Bulletin Item

CALL FOR PARTICIPATION: CYBERNETICS IN BRITAIN, 1940-2000, Thu 19th Feb, Goldsmiths, LONDON, UK


SKETCHES OF ANOTHER FUTURE: CYBERNETICS IN BRITAIN, 1940-2000
Andrew Pickering
5pm, Tuesday 19th February
Ben Pimlott Building Lecture Theatre, Goldsmiths 
Public Lecture
Free, all welcome
ABSTRACT

This talk aims to map out an important but little known branch of cybernetics as it developed 
in Britain from the 1940s to the present. Examples are drawn from the work of leading 
cyberneticians including Ross Ashby, Stafford Beer, Gordon Pask, Gregory Bateson and R D 
Laing in fields as diverse as brain science, psychiatry and antipsychiatry, adaptive robotics, 
biological computing drawing upon lively material such as ecosystems, management, the arts, 
entertainment and architecture, including connections to eastern spirituality and the 1960s 
counterculture. We can understand cybernetic projects and artefacts as ontological theatreas 
staging and acting out for us a vision of the world radically different from that of modern
 science and western commonsense, and the talk seeks to explore the ontological politics of 
cybernetics, arguing that it aimed at an experimental openness to what the world has to offer us, 
rather than the grim modernist quest for domination and controlrevealing rather than enframing, 
in Heideggers terms.

Andrew Pickering began life as a physicist, with his first degree from Oxford and a PhD in 
particle physics from University College London. He changed fields to science and technology 
studies, joining the Science Studies Unit at Edinburgh University in the late 1970s. He taught 
for many years at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign before returning to Britain as 
professor of sociology at the University of Exeter. Along the way he has been a Guggenheim Fellow 
and held fellowships at MIT, Princeton and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral 
Sciences at Stanford, and at the Institutes for Advanced Study at Princeton, Durham and Konstanz. 
His books include Constructing Quarks: A Sociological History of Particle Physics (1984), The 
Mangle of Practice: Time, Agency and Science (1995) and, most recently, The Cybernetic Brain: 
Sketches of Another Future (2010). His current project, 'Art, Agency and Environment,' grew out 
of earlier research on cybernetic art, and he is presently a Senior Fellow at the Internationales 
Kolleg fr Kulturtechnikforschung und Medienphilosophie (IKKM), Bauhaus University, Weimar, 
Germany.

This event is hosted by the Digital Culture Unit, Centre for Cultural Studies, and the Centre 
for Innovation and Social Process, Goldsmiths, University of London.