Marginalia Reading Group

  • Gods and Robots: Myths, Machines and Ancient Dreams of Technology 

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    Marginalia: Technologies Otherwise Reading Group

    • The event is postponed to Thursday, 7 March 2024 -

    Following the success of our first edition, we are excited to announce a second iteration of our Marginalia reading group. Marginalia is an occasion for the general audience to expand on the ideas outlined in our Technologies Otherwise program, which attempts to unpack, redefine and ultimately foster a healthier relationship with the technologies surrounding us. Furthermore, Marginalia facilitates the experience of a new format of collective reading that is not solitary but thrives in its communal aspect. The first gathering will take place on February 27 and we will be reading Gods and Robots: Myths, Machines and Ancient Dreams of Technology by Adrienne Mayor. Optionally, this reading could be complemented with fragments of classical texts by writers such as Aeschylus, Hesiod or Homer.

    Marginalia are marks made in the margins of a book or other document. They may be scribbles, comments, glosses (annotations), critiques, doodles, or illuminations. The margins create a space where you, as a reader, mix the world you live in with the text. An in-between space in which you connect the text with your context, reflections and stories. You are usually alone in the margin of the book - it is a personal and intimate space. With its limitations, it forces you to be concise. A note allows you to revisit the book and harvest what you found interesting again. But it is also a way to memorise that passage and bring it with you. With the Marginalia Reading Group, we experiment with populating the margins of a text collectively. What happens when we occupy that space together? Indeed, these annotations (handwriten or otherwise) will be collected to become a starting point to guide the conversations and ultimately, frame the gathering.

    Gods and Robots: Myths, Machines and Ancient Dreams of Technology (2018) by Adrienne Mayor (218 pages / reading time: +/- 360 min)

    Suggested link to purchase book

    Book Synopsis
    The fascinating untold story of how the ancients imagined robots and other forms of artificial life—and even invented real automated machines. A groundbreaking account of the earliest expressions of the timeless impulse to create artificial life, Gods and Robots reveals how some of today’s most advanced innovations in robotics and AI were foreshadowed in ancient myth—and how science has always been driven by imagination. This is mythology for the age of AI.

    Practical info
    Date: Thursday, 7 March 2024, 18:30 - 20:00
    Location: online on zoom, you will receive a link to join closer to the event date
    Registration fee: €5 (students for free)
    Registration available here

    About Technologies Otherwise
    Marginalia is a program developed as part of Technologies Otherwise, developed in partnership with Design Academy Eindhoven, Centre for Philosophical Technologies (CPT) or Ars Electronica, among others. Technologies Otherwise is declarative in its hopeful approach towards technology, a way for which its users re-evaluate their part as technology users; defy and unlearn notions of what technology means and for whom it’s made and ultimately, craft new stories around the topic. Within this framework, Marginalia is one of the trajectories that fall under the New Narratives in Technology trajectory. Here, we will develop stories that could lead to different technologies based on diversity, hope, solidarity and collectivity. Stories to change “a reality system [that] shapes the world in a certain way, and endows it with a particular destiny: [a reality system] is the cosmological form that defines a historical age’ (Campagna, F. (2018), Technic and Magic. The Reconstruction of Reality. p.5.). The reading group will delve into, dissect and discuss a selection of fictional, mythological and fantastical stories dealing with technology, its promises and risks.

    Optional: recommended reading sources to main text (Gods and Robots)
    Given the difficulty and unfamiliarity with classical epic poems and plays the present reader has, we opted for a contemporary analysis of the relation between ancient myths and technology by means of Gods and Robots: Myths, Machines and Ancient Dreams of Technology (2018) by Adrienne Mayor. However, a close look at fragments of original texts is recommended to fully understand the analysis and interpretation made by the author and to contextualise it. While the book presents a variety of mythological names, we will focus on mainly two characters: Prometheus and Hephaestus. To access the recommended reading materials, please click here.

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