Category: neuroculture

Reworking the Brain at Transmediale, 2019 Berlin

Managed to get through (and survive) my talk at the Transmediale Festival here in Berlin yesterday. This one was with the wonderful Hyphen_Labs talking about their Neurospeculative Afrofuturism project in a session called Reworking the Brain.  We were in the auditorium in the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, which is this absolutely huge venue with one of the largest engaged audiences I’ve ever seen at an event like this.

Highlights from the first day were Jackie Wang’s keynote on Carceral Capitalism including some very affecting poetry. Only realized afterwards that it was Jackie who asked me two really interesting/challenging questions during the Reworking the Brain session.




Link to Transmediale Events Schedule

Here’s the link to Transmediale Events Schedule:

31 Jan – 03 Feb
HKW, Berlin


transmediale 2019 focuses on how feelings are made into objects of technological design and asks what role emotions and empathy play within digital culture. One of the key questions of the upcoming festival is “What moves you?”, referring not only to an emotional response but also to the infrastructures and aesthetics that govern how affect becomes mobilized as a political force today.

With digital technologies being integrated into the liveness of experience, a new situation for social change and cultural practice has arisen, which currently seems to lead to either political extremes or extreme complacency. How to resist the manipulative and polarizing aspects of affect in the digital public sphere as it is expressed through a deadlock of the politics of feeling on the one side and disengagement on the other? What motivates social engagement and how can new forms of care and solidarity be developed and embodied?

For the first time in many years, the festival does not have a title in order to emphasize the possibility of emergence: In response to a critical time, transmediale wants to focus on live practices and the creation of learning environments rather than close down meaning.

Taking up the challenge of how to understand and work with new technologies of feeling, transmediale recognizes that digital culture has become instrumental for capturing and managing what Raymond Williams once called “structures of feeling”—lived experiences and cultural expressions, distinct from supposedly fixed social products and institutions. Such experiences and expressions now create the affective spaces of social media, form the design imperatives of artificial intelligence applications, and seem to be capable of evoking empathy through virtual reality. In these contexts, social and political issues tend to become emotionalized and get turned into binary choices of for and against. One of the contemporary challenges is how to be critical and affirmative at the same time while avoiding such oversimplifications. For this purpose, transmediale 2019 strives to feature living, and not yet fully formed digital cultures of artistic vision, speculative thinking, activist intervention, and counter-cultural dreaming.

Following its focus on cultural emergence, the 2019 festival aims for a high level of participant and audience engagement through discussion-based and educational formats: Preceding the public festival days, transmediale offers the new Student Forum to create an environment for concentrated, in-depth work and studying. The workshop program is extended and starts on 29 January, too, continuing throughout the festival. Furthermore, the transmediale Study Circles are integrated across the program, zooming in on specific aspects of the festival theme. The Study Circles Affective Infrastructures and Uneasy Alliances consist of working groups in which participants come together before, during, and after the festival and generate various outputs such as workshops, events, and publications.

Find all events in our 2019 schedule.

Reworking the Brain in Berlin


Fri, 01.02.2019
15:30 to 17:00

What happens when the neurosciences shape culture and promise to assist in overcoming traumas and conflicts? Can technologies like VR foster new ways of understanding? Is it possible to expand the plasticity of the brain? In this panel, Hyphen-Labs present excerpts from their work NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism. They underline the importance of understanding how synaptic lineages are made, harvested, and experienced and discuss how speculative practices can assist in collectively materializing and (re)imagining memories, experiences, and future scenarios. Tony D Sampson introduces his thesis on neuroculture, which argues that capitalism is increasingly colonizing of our brains. However, the coincidence of capitalism and the neurosciences (neurocapitalism) points as much to what the brain can do, as it reveals what can happen to the brain.

The panel is organized in collaboration with Winchester School of Art.


Media Philosophy, Cognitive Science, and the Future of the Humanities

Taking The Assemblage Brain to China!
International Summit Conference: Media Philosophy, Cognitive Science, and the Future of the Humanities
Place: Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China
Time: Oct. 27 to 28, 2018
Since 2013, Beijing Normal University hosts an international conference addressing a theme central to humanistic inquiry.  Interdisciplinary in scope, method, and perspective, the conference seeks to provide a forum for exchanging ideas in the Humanities that will be of significance and interest to academic communities in both China and beyond.  Toward that end in keeping with its established practice, this year’s conference brings together sixteen scholars whose work, ranging from media studies, philosophy, cognitive science, and literary and critical theories, promises to help expand the tradition this conference has established.  The possible topics to be explored include: media, technologies and epistemics, media and philosophers, neuroscience, humanism, non-humanism, and anti-humanism, elements and environment, politics of remediation, and others.
Briankle G. Chang, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Mary Ann Doane, University of California, Berkeley
Weigui Fang, Beijing Normal University
David Gunkel, Northern Illinois University
Orit Halpern, Concordia University
Yi Jiang, Beijing Normal University
Myungkoo Kang, Seoul National University
Sybille Krämer, Free University of Berlin
Chao Liu, Beijing Normal University
Yuejia Luo, Shenzhen University
Tony D Sampson, University of East London
Peter Szendy, Brown University
Christian Vagt, University of California, Santa Barbara
Joseph Vogl, Humboldt University of Berlin
Yingjin Xu, Fudan University
Shunya Yoshimi, University of Tokyo
Siegfried Zielinski, Berlin University of the Arts


Venue for A&SM#4

So this is part of the venue for A&SM#4 – the main lecture theatre in the USS building in Stratford, east London.

I was there last week doing this related talk on the A&SM project, conferences and book in the context of criticality and interdisciplinary research.

Thanks to Andrew Branch for grabbing this image.

Tony D Sampson

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Schedule for Neuroaffect streams at the Capacious conference in August

Here’s the schedule and line up for the two Neuroaffect streams at the Capacious conference in Lancaster, PA in August, and below there’s a link to the entire programme, which looks wonderful.

Thursday, August 9

(01:10 PM — 02:50 PM)

S15(02) Neuroaffect (Neuroaffect 2)

Tony D Sampson (chair)

Darren Kelsey: Neuropolitics, affective mythology and murmurations: a critical approach to culture, ideology and consciousness

Ali Lara: The Affective Subject. Ontological considerations from Neurosciences to Psychology

Holly Avella: Neuroplasticity’s Affective Conduits

Brett Ingram: Political Junkies: Affective Politics and Addictive Rhetoric


Saturday, August 11

01:10 PM — 02:50 PM

S15(01) Neuroaffect (Neuroaffect 1)

Mona Mannevuo: Nudging the Unconscious: uses of neuroeconomics in the universal basic income experiment

James Ash: Neuroaffective Design and Fintech: nonintentional experience in high cost short term credit

Tero Karppi: Facebook’s Laboratory of Emotion

Tony D Sampson (chair): The Collective Effect: The politics of [shared user] experience


Full Programme:

Unthought Meets The Assemblage Brain: A Dialogue Between N Katherine Hayles and Tony D Sampson

Unthought Meets The Assemblage Brain:

A Dialogue Between N Katherine Hayles and Tony D Sampson

Fig 4

My dialogue with N. Katherine Hayles has just been published in the latest issue of the excellent Capacious journal with illustrations by Dorota Piekorz (right) and Francesco Tacchini. Timely discussion given preparations for the Neuroaffect stream at the Capacious conference in August.


What transpires in the unmediated space-time excess that moves, at once, between and alongside cognition and recognition, between and alongside formation and information, between and alongside prehension and comprehension? Following upon their most recent books—N Katherine Hayles’  Unthought: The Power of the Cognitive Unconscious (University of Chicago, 2017) and Tony D Sampson’ s The Assemblage Brain: Sense Making in Neuroculture (University of Minnesota, 2016), the convergences and divergences that emerge and weave throughout this conversation are quite revealing.


affect, assemblage, neuroscience, neuroculture, biosemiotics

First online: June 3, 2018

Rizosfera :: Neuro-paesaggi digitali. Intervista a Tony D Sampson (Rizonomia, RZN002)

A Big Thank You to Rizosfera…
Italian cover
di Rizosfera
Tony D. Sampson è un docente della University of East Lon-don che si occupa di new media, filosofia e cultura digitale. Lavora da sempre su un impervio crocevia non convenzionale dove l’analisi politica non si discosta mai dall’analisi teorica del mondo digitale, dai comportamenti sociali e dalla critica degli eventi che in questi anni hanno sistematicamente connotato la nostra società. Scrivendo su argomenti quali virus e la viralità della comunicazione, il contagio e l’imitazione comportamen-tale, il cervello e la neurocultura, cioè su quei segmenti alta-mente sensibili della nostra società nata dal connubio accelera-to tra tecnologia e ideologia dei mercati manipolati dal valore e dal profitto, Tony D. Sampson riesce a cogliere con largo an-ticipo e con estrema lungimiranza alcuni dei temi dello scontro in atto tra controllo, tecnologia, società, e libertà individuali e di gruppo. Questo fa di lui, oltre che un brillante teorico dei nuovi media e della cultura digitale, un grande pensatore poli-tico. Per questo motivo, l’esigenza di scandagliare con lui il suo ultimo libro ‘The Assemblage Brain’ (Minnesota Press, 2017) è urgente per capire quali sfide si aprono dinnanzi a noi nel prossimo futuro.