• GEM LAB

The Smoosh, or the Auto-Affective Genres of Always-On Computing

w/ James J. Hodge (Northwestern University)

GIF Credit: Faith Holland, Body Devices series (2017)

//Nov. 17th, 2022

//5:00-7:00 PM

//GEM Lab

//1250 Guy, FB 630.15


About the event: How to account for the stunning proliferation of genres and micro-genres populating the discursive network landscape of always-on computing, the milieu of smartphones, social media, and ubiquitous wireless networks so prominent since the late 2000s? How to account for the generally simultaneous rise of such now-ordinary forms as the selfie, memes, podcasts, animated GIFs, supercuts, ASMR videos, tweets, likes, and much else? This talk proposes that one prominent if obvious answer may be found in what this presentation calls "the smoosh": the repeated felt impress of fingers pushing back against themselves on contact with the unyielding surface of the smartphone touchscreen. Drawing on work in contemporary object relations psychoanalysis, this presentation theorizes new networked genres as textual correlates of the experience of auto-affection at the very root of always-on computing. It will do so with reference to several visual artists whose works engage the experiential dynamics of new networked genres.



James J. Hodge is Associate Professor in the Department of English and the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities, and Director of Graduate Studies for the doctoral program in Rhetoric, Media, and Publics at Northwestern University. He is the author of Sensations of History: Animation and New Media Art (Minnesota, 2019) as well as numerous articles on digital aesthetics. He is currently working on a book project entitled "Ordinary Media: An Aesthetics of Always-On Computing." His video essay Touch introduces several of the main topics of that project.