CVPA faculty member Dr. Rebecca Uchill publishes co-edited Being Material with MIT Press

Explorations of the many ways of being material in the digital age.

Being Material book cover

Dr. Rebecca Uchill is one of six editors of a new interdisciplinary volume published by MIT Press, focused on how we think about materiality in the digital age. The book is based on an April, 2017 symposium that she co-organized with The MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology.

One of the book’s special features is an interactive design that transcends the material and digital realms. As readers navigate to the online component of the publication, at beingmaterial.mit.edu, the web page interacts with the printed book to present composite book covers, a digital soundscape, and dynamic multi-media illustrations of contributions in the printed book. At once artist's book, digitally activated object, and collection of scholarship, this book both demonstrates and chronicles the many ways of being material.

In his 1995 book Being Digital, Nicholas Negroponte predicted that social relations, media, and commerce would move from the realm of “atoms to bits”—that human affairs would be increasingly untethered from the material world. And yet in 2019, an age dominated by the digital, we have not quite left the material world behind. In Being Material, artists and technologists explore the relationship of the digital to the material, demonstrating that processes that seem wholly immaterial function within material constraints. Digital technologies themselves, they remind us, are material things—constituted by atoms of gold, silver, silicon, copper, tin, tungsten, and more.

The contributors to Being Material explore five modes of being material: programmable, wearable, livable, invisible, and audible. Their contributions take the form of reports, manifestos, philosophical essays, and artist portfolios, among other configurations.

Contributors Christina Agapakis, Azra Akšamija, Sandy Alexandre, Dewa Alit, George Barbastathis, Maya Beiser, Marie-Pier Boucher, Benjamin H. Bratton, Hussein Chalayan, Jim Cybulski, Tal Danino, Deborah G. Douglas, Arnold Dreyblatt, M. Amah Edoh, Michelle Tolini Finamore, Team Foldscope and Global Foldscope community, Ben Fry, Stefan Helmreich, Hyphen-Labs, Leila Kinney, Rebecca Konte, Winona LaDuke, Brendan Landis, Grace Leslie, Bill Maurer, Lucy McRae, Tom Özden-Schilling, Trevor Paglen, Lisa Parks, Nadya Peek, Claire Pentecost, Manu Prakash,Casey Reas, Paweł Romańczuk, Natasha D. Schüll, Nick Shapiro, Skylar Tibbits, Rebecca Uchill, Evan ZiporynBook Design: E Roon KangElectronics, interactions, and product designer: Marcelo Coelho

More information: mitpress.mit.edu/books/being-material


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