Professor Olga Goriunova

Personal profile

I joined Royal Holloway in 2015, having previously held positions at Goldsmiths, London Metropolitan University and Warwick University. My first degree is in philology and literary scholarship (Lomonosov State University, Moscow) and my PhD is in digital media from the Media Lab at Aalto University (Helsinki).

I am a cultural theorist working with technological cultures, media philosophy and aesthetics. My research is interdisciplinary and draws upon theories of computing, art, philosophy and literature. In broad terms, I am interested in the processes of subjectivation in relation to technology and aesthetics, but also in thinking beyond the human, in terms of posthuman ecologies. My earlier work in media art is linked to my newest interests in the digital abstractions of the subject through an interest in what happens to the human – gendered and racialised - in networked cultures. My next monograph explores the notion of digital abstract subjects, which are not our data shadows, but abstractions composed in the computational infrastructures.

My most recent monograph, co-written with Matthew Fuller, Bleak Joys. Aesthetics of Ecology and Impossibility (University of Minnesota Press, 2019) probes aesthetics, ethics and ecology during the time of climate catastrophe, an era managed by flexible and adaptable cybernetic control systems, inscribing devastation and irresolvability.  In this work and elsewhere, thinking the human and beyond-the-human in techno-natural ecologies and in relation to ethico-aesthetics is an ongoing focus of my work.

I began my career working in media arts. My monograph Art Platforms and Cultural Production on the Internet (Routledge 2012) conceptualises new aesthetic engagements with technology, where software is taken as material form with an infrastructural capacity. The maturation of software art through online platforms is one example where computational infrastructures form systems through which valorisation of new art forms and new artistic subjects takes place.

The book is grounded in my work as curator of exhibitions and festivals (4 international Readme festivals between 2002 and 2005 in Moscow, Helsinki, Aarhus and Dortmund; the Funware exhibition in 2010-2011 at Arnolfini, Bristol and MU and BALTAN, Eindhoven) and an organiser of software art repository This body of work is supported by my edited collection Fun and Software. Exploring Pleasure, Pain and Paradox in Computing (Bloomsbury 2014), and 4 edited Readme publications, the most significant of which is Readme. Software Arts and Cultures (Aarhus University Press, 2004). 

Engagements with new media aesthetic forms, which influence subject-formation, continue throughout my work. My articles on new media idiocy (2012) and memes and individuation (2013) had explored novel digital aesthetic forms, which take part in subject-formation, before they were employed as political weapons. 

I am a founding co-editor of open access peer reviewed journal Computational Culture, a Journal of Software Studies.

In 2015 and 2020, I was a Fellow at the University of Leuphana’s Digital Cultures Research Lab. In 2014-2016 I was part of the Posthumanities research network (funded by the Swedish Research Council for Humanities and Social Sciences) and member of the Visual Social Media Lab, working on the project Picturing the Social (funded by Economic and Social Research Council, UK). From 2018, I am a co-I (Audience Insight) on the StoryFutures Creative Cluster, funded by UKRI. 

I am Director of Research and REF lead for Media Arts Department.




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