Encounters in the Cloud

Prof. Esther Leslie (Birkbeck) recently delivered one of two keynote lectures at the CHASE Encounters Conference, which took place on 3–4 December 2020, hosted by Birkbeck, University of London. The biannual Encounters Conference is a chance for doctoral students to share ideas and research, build contacts and make networks across the eight institutions in CHASE: Sussex, Essex, Kent, UEA, Goldsmiths, the Courtauld, SOAS, and Birkbeck.

Titled “Encounters in the Cloud,” Prof. Leslie’s lecture offered a “meditation on the contours of the present and the possibilities and impossibilities within the encounter, as it is mediated by our devices.” Examining our “bizarre and exaggerated actuality,” Prof. Leslie traced issues such as artificially generated online identities used for social media presences (faces that are born and die continually within the cloud), alongside the Romantic aesthetics of cloud-as-possibility, storage space, and material cloud infrastructures in data centres. As Prof. Leslie notes in the lecture: “the vagueness of the cloud and its institutions is countermanded by the concretion of its infrastructure.”

You can watch Prof. Leslie’s lecture below.

Featured image by Jené Stephaniuk on Unsplash.