On the evening of March 12, 2015, the American Academy's Holtzbrinck Fellow William Uricchio held his lecture entitled "The Cultural Work of Algorithms." Uricchio has sought to launch a critical discourse on the cultural importance of algorithms and their impact on present-day society. He emphasized the omnipresence of algorithms in our daily lives, be it in the form of algorithmically generated news stories, collaborative text sites such as Wikipedia, or online search engines like Google. Algorithms, he argues, intervene in the subject-object relationship, destabilizing old certainties developed during the Modern and provoking a reordering of (human) agency.
Thomas L. Friedman delivered the Stephen M. Kellen Lecture at the American Academy in Berlin on Wednesday, April 22. He spoke about his conviction that the world has become "really fast." This, he says, is because the three biggest forces shaping the world today -- the market, Moore’s Law, and Mother Nature -- have forced us into a phase of rapid acceleration: the market via the expansion and speed of globalization and the rise in global debt levels; Moore’s Law via the steady, exponential acceleration of computers and software, vastly increasing the generation and dissemination of information, products, and services; and Mother Nature via the dramatic rise of carbon content in the atmosphere, driving climate change and the simultaneous rise in both population and biodiversity extinction. Our world and our lives are being shaped more than ever by these three changes: digital, geo-economical, and ecological. How, Friedman asked, will civilizations best adapt to these changes and cushion their worst effects?
Nina Maria Gorrissen Fellow Christopher D. Johnson presented his lecture On Encyclopedic "Chaos" on the evening of March 3, 2015. Using examples from encyclopedic scholars Reich and Oviedo to underscore his argument that Renaissance encyclopedism “oscillates between a conservative, retrospective memorious pole and a more heuristic, progressive inventive pole,” Johnson stressed that these shifts in encyclopedism in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries helped to cultivate the modern encyclopedic impulse, evidenced by, among others, the role encyclopedism has played in the history of the novel (accompanying on occasion satire, comedy and even dystopia) as well as the work of Francis Bacon and the Encyclopédie.
Artist Sanford Biggers delivered the spring 2015 Guna S. Mundheim artist talk, “Moon Medicin,” at the American Academy in Berlin. The lecture provided unique insight into his creative process. Biggers draws on inspiration as varied as Buddhism and Dadaism, as diverse as Beethoven and John Cage, and he has established himself as an acclaimed interdisciplinary artist whose sculpture, installations, and even music—performed with his group Moon Medicin—are in increasingly high demand. “Once you put yourself into a category,” he has said, “it’s immediately a limitation, and it can truncate what you’re trying to say.”
Watch this new trailer of Inga Maren Otto Fellow in Composition Elliott Sharp's upcoming opera Port Bou. The opera explores the final moments of philosopher Walter Benjamin’s life in Port-Bou, at the French-Spanish border, as he flees Nazi-occupied France. Sharp's studies of Benjamin's texts and letters have led to a dramatic interpretation of Benjamin's internal reality on his last day.