Most of my current research interrogates the sciences, the arts, and the popular culture to investigate politics and computation in the long twentieth century.
My first book project, titled Rendering, shows how social relations and ideologies move through machines, looking first at how they get hard-coded into media technologies and then how these political machines contort and reproduce those ideologies. Infusing a media-oriented study of computer architecture into the politico-cultural history of computer graphics, this project narrates a history of the computer as a rendering machine. Standing at the intersection of the historiographies of technology, media, race, and culture, and grounded on my study of recently-made-available corporate and federal archival materials, trade literature, oral histories and conference proceedings, my project highlights the movement from ideology to computation and computation to ideology. These moves find their home in computational maps, diagrams, graphs, plans, and sketches, which Rendering investigates to ask: how does our culture render diagrams for machines that do not yet exist, how did these machines come to render the graphical world around us, and what is the relationship between these two movements? As ideology becomes increasingly computational, I propose rendering as a theoretical and analytical concept to study these material-virtual translations. I've given a number of talks on this topic and several publications from this project are forthcoming, including ones in Critical Inquiry and Configurations.
Besides this main undertaking, I am also working on a number of other smaller research projects. I have an essay on the experimental interface between real-life sports and its videogamic simulation that is forthcoming in an edited collection on FIFA, and a short piece on division of labor in 'informatics of domination' that is forthcoming in another edited volume. I also am working on a piece on the saved game state, one that looks at memes, tiktoks and other new media to study cringe as an aesthetic category, and co-authored work (with Théo Lepage-Richer and Lucy Suchman) on the co-construction of media ecologies of research and the paradigms of the neurons and neural networks.
My second project looks at the practices and politics of telling stories about data. Combing narratology and science studies, this project investigates how different communities create stories with data. In doing so, I outline possible ways of living with data responsibly.
Finally, my research also incorporates critical making practices. Find out more about these projects here.
My research has been supported by University of California Humanities Research Institute, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Universität Siegen, National Science Foundation, the Davis Humanities Institute, Linda Hall Library, Hagley Museum and Library, the Research Network for Video Game Immersion, and various units of UC Davis and University of Notre Dame.