Forum Lectures #4: Linda Hilfling Ritasdatter

Crisis Computing


:COBOL: /koh´bol/, n. [COmmon Business-Oriented Language]
(Synonymous with {evil}.) (…) Its very name is seldom uttered
without ritual expressions of disgust or horror. (...)

(The New Hacker’s Dictionary, 1996)

By engaging with a detested and would-be obsolete programming language, this lecture examines the dark sides of automation: hidden workforces and computational infrastructures that are, in reality, central to the execution and maintenance of global economic and informational flows.

Frictions within these flows are made more visible in moments of crisis when asymmetrical power structures are surfaced. Further, Crisis Computing is proposed as a concept to develop a critical analytical tool focusing on the entangled manifestations of execution, crisis, and maintenance. With COBOL as a case in point for this entanglement, the lecture is structured as a series of lessons, reflecting the researcher’s own method of artistic research as learning and reflecting on and in this neglected language. Ultimately, the lessons demand nothing less than a reconsideration of the design of information architectures to encompass not only user interaction but also the interactions taking place behind the scenes, at the back-ends and back-back-ends of automated systems.

About Linda Hilfling

Linda Hilfling Ritasdatter is an artist researcher exploring means of control (code, organization, and law) as well as geopolitical aspects of information architectures. Her practice takes the form of interventions reflecting upon or revealing hidden gaps within digital infrastructures — the place where a system fails and its inadequacies become visible.

Linda Hilfling Ritasdatter is an external lecturer at the School of Arts and Communication at Malmö University, as well as at the department of Design at Linnaeus University.

Forum Lectures

Forum Lectures is a series of lectures by Danish and international thinkers and cultural workers reflecting on how art co-forms communality. FORUM LECTURES brings thinking and shared study back to the university and invites for public lectures the last Tuesday every month at 17:00 - 19:00.

The initiative is hosted by the research group of the New Carlsberg Foundation research center Art as Forum. Our researchers are occupied by a.o. the infrastructures of the arts, collective modes of production, the entanglement of political theory and aesthetic theory, assembling strategies of curation, dematerialized art, acts of strategic separatism and temporality in digital art.

We hope to accommodate live lectures in a near future. However, the lecture by Linda Hilfling Ritasdatter (50 min + Q&A) will be streamed online.

The lecture is open for everyone interested and takes place via Zoom