Armin Medosch: Technological Determinism in Media Art (2005)

28 February 2009, dusan

“Technological determinism is the belief that science and technology are autonomous and the main force for change in society. It is neither new nor particularly original but has become an immensely powerful and largely orthodox view of the nature of social change in highly industrialised societies. In this paper I analyse the presence of technological determinism in general discourses about the relationship between social change and science and technology.

I show that techno-determinist assumptions underlie developments in what is called technoscience, a term describing new practices in science and technology with particular relevancy for the related fields of genetic engineering and computer science. Those areas create a specific set of narratives, images and myths, which is called the techno-imaginary. The thesis of my paper is that the discourse on media art uncritically relies on many elements of the techno-imaginary. A specific type of media art, which is identifiable with people, institutions and a period in time, is particularly engaged with the tropes of the techno-imaginary. This strand, which I call high media art, successfully engaged in institution building by using techno-determinist language. It achieved its goals but was short lived, because it was built on false theoretical premises. It made wrong predictions about the future of a ‘telematic society’ and a ‘telematic consciousness’; and it missed the chance to build the foundations of a theory of media art because it was and is contaminated by the false assumptions behind technological determinism.”

Keywords: technological determinism; media art; techno-utopianism; artificial intelligence; artificial life; cybernetics; art; progress; critical theory

Master’s thesis
Ravensbourne College / Sussex University
57 pages


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John Armitage (ed.): Virilio Live: Selected Interviews (2001)

27 February 2009, pht

“Edited by one of the leading Virilio authority’s, this book offers the reader a guide through Virilio’s work. Using the interview form, Virilio speaks incisively and at length about a vast assortment of cultural and theoretical topics, including architecture and `speed-space’, `chronopolitics’, art and technoculture, modernism, postmodernism and `hypermodernism’, the time of the trajectory and the `information bomb’. His thoughts on Foucault, Baudrillard, Deleuze and Guattari, the performance artist Stelarc, the Persian War and the Kosovo War, are also gathered together.”

Published by SAGE, 2001
ISBN 0761968601, 9780761968603
218 pages


PDF (added on 2013-6-11)

Mark B. N. Hansen: Bodies in Code: Interfaces with Digital Media (2006)

27 February 2009, pht

Bodies in Code explores how our bodies experience and adapt to digital environments. Cyberculture theorists have tended to overlook biological reality when talking about virtual reality, and Mark B. N. Hansen’s book shows what they’ve been missing. Cyberspace is anchored in the body, he argues, and it’s the body–not high-tech computer graphics–that allows a person to feel like they are really “moving” through virtual reality. Of course these virtual experiences are also profoundly affecting our very understanding of what it means to live as embodied beings.

Hansen draws upon recent work in visual culture, cognitive science, and new media studies, as well as examples of computer graphics, websites, and new media art, to show how our bodies are in some ways already becoming virtual.

Published by CRC Press, 2006
ISBN 0415970164, 9780415970167
336 pages

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PDF (updated on 2013-12-10)

John Logie: Peers, Pirates, and Persuasion: Rhetoric in the Peer-to-peer Debates (2006)

26 February 2009, pht

Peers, Pirates, and Persuasion: Rhetoric in the Peer-to-peer Debates investigates the role of rhetoric in shaping public perceptions about a novel technology: peer-to-peer file-sharing networks. While broadband Internet services now allow speedy transfers of complex media files, Americans face real uncertainty about whether peer-to-peer file sharing is or should be legal. John Logie analyzes the public arguments growing out of more than five years of debate sparked by the advent of Napster, the first widely adopted peer-to-peer technology. The debate continues with the second wave of peer-to-peer file transfer utilities like Limewire, KaZaA, and BitTorrent. With Peers, Pirates, and Persuasion, Logie joins the likes of Lawrence Lessig, Siva Vaidhyanathan, Jessica Litman, and James Boyle in the ongoing effort to challenge and change current copyright law so that it fulfills its purpose of fostering creativity and innovation while protecting the rights of artists in an attention economy. Logie examines metaphoric frames-warfare, theft, piracy, sharing, and hacking, for example-that dominate the peer-to-peer debates and demonstrably shape public policy on the use and exchange of digital media. PEERS, PIRATES, AND PERSUASION identifies the Napster case as a failed opportunity for a productive national discussion on intellectual property rights and responsibilities in digital environments. Logie closes by examining the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the “Grokster” case, in which leading peer-to-peer companies were found to be actively inducing copyright infringement. The Grokster case, Logie contends, has already produced the chilling effects that will stifle the innovative spirit at theheart of the Internet and networked communities. ABOUT THE AUTHOR John Logie is Associate Professor of Rhetoric at the University of Minnesota.

Publisher Parlor Press, 2006
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommerical-NoDerivs 2.5 License
ISBN 1602350051, 9781602350052
164 pages

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PDF (updated on 2012-8-7)

Eugene Thacker: The Global Genome: Biotechnology, Politics, and Culture (2005)

26 February 2009, pht

In the age of global biotechnology, DNA can exist as biological material in a test tube, as a sequence in a computer database, and as economically valuable information in a patent. In The Global Genome, Eugene Thacker asks us to consider the relationship of these three entities and argues that—by their existence and their interrelationships—they are fundamentally redefining the notion of biological “life itself.”

Biological science and the biotech industry are increasingly organized at a global level, in large part because of the use of the Internet in exchanging biological data. International genome sequencing efforts, genomic databases, the development of World Intellectual Property policies, and the “borderless” business of biotech are all evidence of the global intersections of biology and informatics—of genetic codes and computer codes. Thacker points out the internal tension in the very concept of biotechnology: the products are more “tech” than “bio,” but the technology itself is fully biological, composed of the biomaterial labor of genes, proteins, cells, and tissues. Is biotechnology a technology at all, he asks, or is it a notion of “life itself” that is inseparable from its use in the biotech industry?

The three sections of the book cover the three primary activities of biotechnology today: the encoding of biological materials into digital form—as in bioinformatics and genomics; its recoding in various ways—including the “biocolonialism” of mapping genetically isolated ethnic populations and the newly pervasive concern over “biological security”; and its decoding back into biological materiality—as in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Thacker moves easily from science to philosophy to political economics, enlivening his account with ideas from such thinkers as Georges Bataille, Georges Canguilhem, Michel Foucault, Antonio Negri, and Paul Virilio. The “global genome,” says Thacker, makes it impossible to consider biotechnology without the context of globalism.

Publisher MIT Press, 2005
ISBN 0262201550, 9780262201551
416 pages

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PDF (updated on 2012-12-20)

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