The DISCO Network, housed within the Digital Studies Institute and led by Lisa Nakamura, announces new programming, ‘Search Engines: Art, Tech, Justice,’ which will begin Fall 2023. The DISCO Network is a Mellon-funded consortium of five labs across five universities challenging digital social and racial inequalities. DISCO’s work starts from the premise that racism and ableism are at the heart of digital industries and are taken for granted all through its development, implementation, and user culture.

DISCO believes that the arts have a crucial role in conversations about equitable futures. With funding from the University of Michigan Arts Initiative, ‘Search Engines’ will bring artists to campus who are deeply invested in leveraging new media to create work that critiques existing social and political inequalities. Many of the artists included are skilled designers and engineers.

Jeff Nagy, DISCO’s Michigan Hub Network Building Fellow, is spearheading this initiative. Nagy joined the DISCO Network in Fall 2022. He is a historian of computing whose research focuses on exchanges between computing and the behavioral sciences from World War II to the present. He holds a PhD in Communication from Stanford University, where his dissertation, “Watching Feeling: Emotional Data from Cybernetics to Social Media,” told the story of how emotion was made computable.

Because this project focuses on emerging technology, Nagy hopes to engage parts of the University of Michigan community that might not typically be reached by campus arts programming, including students from science and engineering backgrounds. The project will also engage the university’s undergraduate and graduate communities through undergrad-led publications, blog posts, and zines that continue the conversation these events spark about the intersection of emerging technology and social justice.

Stay tuned for the 2023 schedule here.