A critique of linguistic capitalism (and an artistic intervention)

C40 Trent Building
Tuesday 24th July 2018 (13:30-15:00)
Email: digitalculture@nottingham.ac.uk

Presented as part of the Digital Culture Research Network's Forum seminar series

A critique of linguistic capitalism (and an artistic intervention) 

In an age of ubiquitous digital technology and information exchange, the selling of words has never been more lucrative. Digitised words are  capable of carrying far more than linguistic meaning, and as such are valuable commodities in the advertising marketplace. Nobody knows this better than Google, which made its fortune from the auctioning of words through Adwords; a form of ‘linguistic capitalism’ (Kaplan, 2014) in which the contextual or linguistic value of language is negated at the expense of its exchange value. But what are the residual effects of this algorithmic exploitation of language, when the politics which lurks within the algorithmic hierarchies and logic of the search engine industry is often hidden by the sheer ubiquity and in some way the aesthetics of the Google empire. In this talk I explain and demonstrate my own attempts to make visible the cultural and political effects of linguistic capitalism in the form of a research/art project called {poem}.py which I hope goes some way in rescuing language from the clutches of the market; re-politicising it (Benjamin, 1936), and reclaiming it for art. 

Pip Thornton is a PhD candidate in the Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Cyber Security at Royal Holloway, University of London. She is researching Language in the Age of Algorithmic Reproduction, and is co-supervised by the Department of Geography. Her artistic intervention {poem}.py has been exhibited in Edinburgh and London, and was recently featured in WIRED UK.

Digital Culture Research Network

The University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

email: digitalculture@nottingham.ac.uk