Category Archives: phd

phd readings

Meadows – Vilém Flusser (1979)

Meadows by Vilém Flusser from Natural Mind 

An essay on nature and culture which describes how ‘culture’ relates to the agrarian, notions of ‘dominating’ the ‘field’ (comus 

  • “it is not so much about Heidegger, the glorifier of meadows, that I think of.” (such a weird line, as in writing/reading it, you can’t help but thinks of Heidegger…) 
  • Heidegger means “the cultivator of meadows in the forest” (?)

Metamorphoses – Roman poet Ovid – 8AD: “sponte sua, sine lege fidem rectumque colebat,” — “spontaneously, without law, faith and what is right were cultivated.”

  • “maybe it would be better to say that for the Romans, meadow and field were “fields of action,” that is, battle fields. Battle against which enemy? Against the field itself.”

Mistake of treating ‘early’ man as analogous to current indigenous tribes (arrow of history, etc.) 

  •  We must, therefore, imagine the dialogues around the bonfires in the recently cultivated meadows more like research and advanced reflection meetings, and less like the contemporary “potlatch” of indians in the Aleutian Islands. 

“fidem colebat” — cultivated faith

  • “the experience of the meadow… is one of the most intense experiences of nature that we can have, and to lie down on a sun-drenched meadow is to commune with nature”
  • Even though the meadow is made by man, man is at its highest communion with the natural when he’s in the meadow, because this is a true relation with nature
  • The meadow is in some sense synthetic, but it does not alienate us: “The meadow is as it should be (in fact: intensified nature) for being the articulation of fidelity to nature. As our ancestors transformed the forest into meadow, they provoked and accentuated the natural essence in it. They continued to be faithful to it.”
  • For our ancestors: 
    • “They did not feel the contradiction between culture and nature.
    • They did not “fidem rectumque colebant,” that is, 
    • they did not synthesize faith with technology, and 
      • synthesising faith with technology in our contemporary world is what produces an ‘uptight’ / ‘un-just’ relation to technologies as we both chastise ourselves for still believe in these new gods, while constantly repopulating our lives with them
    • as they produced culture, they did not reveal the essence of nature.”
    • “culture was what is natural to men, and therefore, appropriate to the whole of nature.”
  • “The meadow, as culture (and not in spite of being culture), is essentially nature, because it was produced under the criterion of “fides;” under the criterion of an integrated religiosity”


    • Technology, culture (and not in spite of being culture), is essentially nature if it could be produced under the criterion of ‘fides’, under the criterion of an integrated religiosity.


  • Somehow this description of the natural, as that which is originally not other than us, but part of a ‘fides’ or faithful relation to the world allowing for a ‘just’ or ‘right’ relation to the world — is also what has happened to us technologically… (2nd nature, etc.) 
  • Technologies have become 2nd natures, and therefore we find ourselves twice alienated — once through the cultural-natural cleaving, and again through a kind of religious-romantic ‘disappointment’ or ‘ove-expectation’ of technological 
phd readings

A Science of Signals: Einstein, Inertia and the Postal System — Jimena Canales (2011)

A Science of Signals: Einstein, Inertia and the Postal System — Jimena Canales (2011)

Account of the ‘media thinking’ of Einstein through his contextual era, and his involvement with letter-writing (his wife Mileva, his lover and cousin Elsa, his children).

At issue is whether relativity theory and communications technologies are connected as consequential or constitutive. That is, were media technics, their limitations and capacities arise as a consequence of relativity theory, OR did communications technologies in fact constitute the theory of relativity, as they gave rise, in Einstein to the limits of electromagnetic speed, etc. Eventually the links between Relativity and communications signals were effaced.

Main point of the paper: “Einstein often claimed that his theory seemed strange only because in our “everyday life” we did not experience delays in the transmission speed of light signals: “One would have noticed this [relativity theory] long ago, if, for the practical experience of everyday life light did not appear” to be infinitely fast.4 But precisely this aspect of everyday life was changing apace with the spread of new electromagnetic communication technologies, particularly after World War I. The expansion of electromagnetic communication technolo- gies and their reach into everyday life occurred in exact parallel to the expansion and success of Einstein’s theory of relativity.”

The author contrasts Einstein’s thinking to his “contemporary” Kafka, a number of times in the paper: 

  • Einstein’s position, wrote Lodge, led to an absurd result: “as if we could prolong a man’s life by evading the tidings of his death; and might be entitled to say, without absurdity, that a man who died at seventy had lived seventy-one years and a lot of miles, if we had travelled so far that a messenger took a year to reach us.” A few years earlier, in 1917, Kafka wrote the story “The Great Wall of China,” which described a similar situation. Because of the long transmission time of messages across the great nation, “in our villages, emperors long since dead are set on the throne.”
  • In Einstein’s universe the distant and the close did not match with the faraway and contiguous. Kafka, at about the same time as Einstein, described places that, although next door to each other, were far since they could never be reached by a messenger.
  • During these same years, Kafka wrote “written kisses don’t reach their destination,” revealing that he was notic- ing some of the same aspects of communication tech- nologies that Einstein was. In the face of electromagnetic alternatives, postal communication appeared much more secondary than the telegraph and telephone.


  • “Einstein often claimed that his theory seemed strange only because in our ‘everyday life’ we did not experience delays in the transmission speed of light signals: ‘One would have noticed this [relativity theory] long ago, if, for the practical experience of everyday life light did not appear’”
  • Einstein soon started defining “signaling” in physics in the way it was used by the communications industry, and distinguishing the term from previous definitions that included periodic and predetermined signals. Previously, the term “signal” was used frequently in physics to denote both a symbol and a sign, including periodic and predetermined causes, but Einstein increasingly defined it in narrower terms: as a communications signal. — p.13
  • “Einstein, by reference to signals, and their path and their reach, overhauled concepts of time and space. By reference to them, he recalculated the shape and size of the universe; understood gravitational forces; determined the relation between cause and effect; and differentiated the past from the present and future.” p. 17
events phd readings

Les nouvelles technologies — Serres (2007)

Mais si on perd, on gagne. La main en perdant sa fonction de marche quadripède, a gagné en universalité. On a perdu du formaté, et on découvre de l’universel. “L’homme est une bête dont le corps perd” (comme une casserole qui perd de l’eau par un trou, le corps de l’homme perd).

Les nouvelles technologies : révolution culturelle et cognitive (video)

Transcription-de-la-conférence-Michel-Serres-INRIA-Lille-2007 (transcript)

events phd

Philosophy Without Nature — 3 Sept 2014

Information and Thinking – Michel Serres

Jules Verne – L’etoile du Sud — precious gems

Immanuel Kant — the Sun Ego

  • billiant mirros sparkling flares… exhcnaging millions of inforatmions about themselves
    • Kaprow quote about the computer
  • the things of the world have the ability reflect itself
  • Vernes cavern — the vision the universe has of itself
  • “I am a diamond”
  • Matter and mirror, media (support) and messages
  • I do not see any different between reality and representation
  • Materialist versus spiritualism
    • Atoms encode — they are material but they are also sign
  • They encode, we encode, they count, we count, we speak, they speak. Knowledge is thus the ability to listen and to translate the scattered languages of things. They usually speak mathematics.
Round Table:
  • Rosi Braidotti
    • Calvina — Six Memos for the Next Millennium — “the lightness, the rhythmic speed” – stands outside the flux of time…
    • Serres is post-anthropocentric – flat ontology with a realist method
    • Profound ontological pacifism – with a knowledge of science as a great evil (thinking materialism without ideology)
    • Style is not a rhetorical device it is the method
  • Francoise Balibar
    • The use of language in physics conferences… e.g.:
  • Simon Glendinning
    • Classic cosmopolitanism – every other is my fellow (horizon of humanity)
    • De-centered humanisms
    • A responsibility to those not yet born
  • Mark BN Hansen
    • Whitehead – We’re the hosts for agents.
    • Serres – no argumentation, not speaking from a position of privilege (speaking for others)
    • Flat ontology / Speculative Realism –
    • (Zielinski’s comment about Kittler’s removal of the
    • Serres different than speculative realism as the ’things’ are not the enemy
    • Matter and information as non-dialectical — all things express other things
    • “Any object can become the subject of other objects”
  • Rahel Jaeggi
    • There is a difference between thinking and storing information
    • Distinction between what bees do, versus what people do when they work
    • Not just referring to something but knowing that you refer to something
    • “I don’t blame the stone when someone throws it at me”
    • We’re human being that take responsibility for events
  • Paul Ziche
    • The challenge is what distinguishes this text from naive scientism of 1800’s
    • The image of the starry sky — is familiar to Kant (symbol for the sublime, which precisely transcends knowledge)
    • Compares the starry sky to to the Verne cavern (the softness of the sky, the hardness of the rocks/crystals)
    • Genesis: Its just too simple to say lets move from matter to information
    • Matter and mirror
  • Derrida — No justice seems possible or thinkable without the principle of some responsibility

  • Romanticism — Why is romanticism so bad? Could this be a positive comparison

  • Eceonomics / politics —
  • The generality of language — human ‘syntactic’ language
ideas phd readings

Black on Black — Eugene Thacker (2013)



Black on Black

  • The Metaphysical, Physical, and Technical History of the Two Worlds, the Major as well as the Minor.
  • Fludd published his work between 1617 and 1621
  • Et sic in infinitum — ‘And so on to infinity…’
  • “the nothingness prior to all existence” / “un-creation prior to all creation”
  • “a box meant to indicate boundlessness”
  • “neither a fullness nor an emptiness”

Robert Fludd

  • The state prior to creation (pre-individual) as ‘the mist and darkness of this hitherto shapeless and obscured region’, in which the ‘impure, dark, and dense part of the abyss’s substance’ is dramatically transformed by divine light.’



  • If we keep the eyes open in a totally dark place, a certain sense of privation is experienced. The organ is abandoned to itself; it retires into itself. That stimulating and grateful contact is wanting by means of which it is connected with the external world…iii 

“Perhaps, and maybe this is being generous to Schopenhauer’s text, there is a retinal pessimism that secretly underlies colour theory, encapsulated in the notion of black as privation (Goethe), black as retinal inactivity (Schopenhauer), black as that which precedes the very existence of light itself (Fludd).”

 ‘On the Black Universe’ — François Laruelle 

  • ‘Black prior to light is the substance of the Universe, what escaped from the World before the World was born into the World.’
  •  ‘As opposed to the black objectified in the spectrum, Black is already manifested, before any process of manifestation.’
phd readings

computer graphics: a semi-technical introduction – kittler (2001)

Kittler Computer Graphics: A Semi Technical Introduction


  • “The generation of 2000 likely subscribes to the fallacy – backed by billions of dollars – that computer ad computer graphics are one and the same.”
  • “The technolohistorical roots of computer [graphics?] lie not in television, but in radar, a medium of war”
  • Random Access: “Now for the first time in the history of optical media, it is possible to address a single pixel in th 849th row and 720th column directly without having to run through everything before and after it.”
  • The essay will concern itself with synthesis of imagery, not analysis of the visual scenes in photographs — it ‘postpones’ the question of automatic image analysis for symposia on perception to take place not sooner than a decade from now.” Automatic image synthesis is the concern – as in how computers undertake “optical deception” (not optical perception).
  • Kittler locates in this capacity for deception that which “elevates the medium of the commuter above all optical media in Western history.”

  • “two-fold digitality” – spatial resolution and colour resolution, creates problems:

  1. Three colours are not enough – “it would require non colour canons to even begin to approach the visible spectrum” (nice use of military ‘canons’ to describe, presumably the many ways that colours are produced on CRTs, LCDs…)
  2. Description of spatial coordinates are subject to sample-rate limitations. A hint here of creative possibilities of same, “The sampling effect of Nyquist and Shannon does not just chop flowing curves or forms into building blocks, known among computer graphics specialists as Manhattan-block geometry since American city planners love right angles above all else. Sampling also produces continuous and thus striking forms where the program code never intended any at all.”
  3. Problem of processing complexity (?) as every pixel has an infinite number of possible neighbours … attempts at synthesis and analysis of images based on linear neighbours “tends to be so chaotic, that it is as if perception were regressing to pure sensation a la David Hume or Kaspar Hauser.”

Peano’s Theory of Natural numbers

Ross Ashby

John von Neumann

Heidegger: “in the appearing of things, never do we, either preliminarily or essentially, perceive an onrush of sensations.” (vis Chapels of Extreme Experience…)


Computer graphics –> optical physical media –> the eye

The complete virtualisation of optics, provides optical optic modes limited only in number and complexity by the amount of available RAM.

This brings up the idea and obsession of the ‘optimal’ algorithm for the image. This is not present in photography and film (?) as these “simply did what [they] had to do under the given physical conditions.”

“It is only in the name of impatience that all existing computer graphics are based on ‘idealisations’ — a term that functions here, unlike in philosophy, as a pejorative.” (i.e.: ‘idealisation’ not as an ‘ideal’ to strive for in philosophy but a ‘reduction of reality’ in engineering)

Rilke’s Malte Laurids Brigge

Bodies reduced to surfaces — Hausdorff dimension of 2.37 (neither 2 nor 3 dimensional)

Jurassic Park vs. Hans Holbein’s The Ambassadors

  • Raytracing
    • Axel Roch – military predecession – tracking of enemy planes with radar
    • Alan Watt computer graphics expert
    • 1637 Descartes – light rays that trace refraction and reflections
      • Res cogitans
      • Res extensa
      • Decartes imagined the pathway of a single ray of light ‘as subject’ through a glass blown globe
      • Only possible to implement this kind of recursive, infinite regression of possible paths with the computer
      • “Whenever you encounter a computer image whose shining highlights are a close send to heavenly Jerusalem’ and whose start shadows are a close second to Hell’s, you are dealing with elementary ray tracing.”

  • Radiosity
    • “light energy calculation”
    • Dutch Interior after Vermeer
    • Based on rocket-reentry derived heat diffusion models (Fourier)
    • An algorithm born of necessity, not of “nature” of computer graphics or light
    • “What so called nature can accomplish in nanoseconds with its parallel calculation derives its alleged digital equivalent to overload” (ref programmability of matter)
    • “What you get is what you see. And what you’ve got is a computer chip”

“Locality or specularity is and will always be thhe opposite of globally or diffusion.”


Verterbrate eyes are cones and rods – “what-ness” and “that-ness”

Dennis Gabor – Heisenberg – raytracing and radiosity in Kajiya’s equation as in the spirit of modern physics

Phenomenology – “legein to phainomena,” – “to gather that which appears”

“Projectiles have relegated subject vs object, this simplest of all oppositions, to the grave.”

Dutch Interior after Vermeer 1987 ComputerGraphics

phd readings

Technics and Time – Bernhard Stiegler (1998)

General Introduction

  • Homeric times
  • then philosophy separates: techne and episteme
  • this separation devalues tekhne
  • Marx / Engels – “dialectic between tool and hand that was to trouble the frontier between the inert and the organic”
  • Bertrand Gille – technical system
  • Andre Leroi-Gourhan – technical tendency
  • Gilbert Simondon – concretization
  • Nazism in Germany
  • Husserl and technicization – algebra and calculation – arithmetization of geometry that removes the eidetic (relating to or denoting mental images having unusual vividness and detail, as if actually visible) relations of form
  • Geometry is bereft of meaning when it is fully arithmetized
  • “The technicization of science constitutes its eidetic blinding”
  • Technicization leads to loss of memory
  • Plato’s Phaedrus
  • Heidegger’s thinking of being is concerned with forgetting, and the inscription of being in technicity
    • The critique of the meaning of being to be achieved by a “critique of modern technics given that modern technics is apprehended as the effective completion of metaphysics”
  • “Concern” (besorgen) – aims to determine the undetermined – supported by ‘equipment’ (das Zeug)
  • Gestell – enframing
    • backgrounding
    • forstellung – ‘representation’
    • infrastructure?
  • Equipment is the system of references that constructs the significance of the world
  • Facticity: that which makes possible the attempt to determine the indeterminate is the root of calculation (the quality of being fact)
  • “Calculation… is the falling of existence” (??? Stiegler, p. 6)
  • Heidegger’s turning – is the entrance to the “technical age of philosophical thought, as a result of which technics in its modern guise brings subjectivity to its completion as objectivity”
  • Heidegger’s philosophical essays:
    • The Question of Technics
    • The Age of the World Picture
    • Time and Being
    • The End of Philosophy and the Task of Thinking
    • The Principle of Identity
  •  Gestell
    • “That in which and from which man and being are of concen to each other in the technical world”
      • “the technical world” does not suggest the possibility of other worlds
    • modern technics is the completion of metaphysics
    • thinking being without beings (without Dasein)
  • Technics is more than a means (method) of bringing something about
    • ends and means comes from the four causes: material, formal, final, efficient
    • “privilege accorded to the efficient cause leads to the instrumental conception of technics according to ends and means”
    • “as production (poesis) technics is a ‘way of revealing'”
    • “the bringing forth that is partcular to technics constitutes a mode of truth”
    • Heidegger: “It is as a revealing, and not as manufacturing, that tekhne is a bringing forth”
    • technics is the history of being itself
  • Marcuse, Habermas, Adorno, Horkheimer, Benjamin
    • One Dimensional Man, Marcuse
    • Technics and Science as Ideology, Habermas
      • communicative action versus technical activity (purposive-rational action)
      • Max Weber – rationalisation – industrialisation – the extension of ‘purpose-rational activity’
    • Technocracy: power of technicians OR technicians in the service of power
  • Herman Kahn – psycho-technical manipulations
  • Modern technics (as opposed or derived from pre-modern techniques?)
    • modern technics defined as the Gestell of nature and of humanity through calculation – metaphysics completed as the project of calculative reason
    • we ourselves are subjected to the imperatives of techni
  • “it is through technics that the destiny of being unfolds, that is, technics is the history of being itself”
    • Gestell – Heidegger: an in-between stage, offers a double aspect, one might say, a Janus head
    • Roman Mythology an ancient Italian deity, guardian of doorways and gates and protector of the state in time of war. He is usually represented with two faces, so that he looks both forward and backward. two-faced; hypocritical; two-sided
  • Jacques Terminiaux – Neitsczhe and Marx – express the metaphysical essence of technics
  • Marcuse
  • thesis one: we are dominated by technology in modernity, as differentiated from the liberation that technics used to represent in the face of nature
  • supported by the theory of rationalization – Weber – industrialization as a frame of thought (Marx)
  • rationalisation is a system of domination (Marcuse)
  • thesis two: we must develop a new science that would be in dialogue with nature, free from technics as a force of domination
  • Habbermas’ alternative distinguishes between different forms of rationalisation (Weber) which can still at times be liberating. his argument is one about language – about “removing restriction on communication”
  • Habermas
  • human history as the balance between communicative action (intersubjective, etc.) and purpose rational action (work, technical, etc
  • traditional societies priveledge communicative action and modern societies purpose-rational action
  • this reaches its height when science and technics become indissociable – technocracy
  • Heidegger and Habermas are talking fundamentally about the technicisation of LANGUAGE here – as a denaturisation.  In “the oldest philosophyical tradition”
  • But Heidegger also has a completely different view that points in the opposing directions:  e.g.: “sophistic logography” leads to the grammaticist which leads to “tutor” which leads to the idea of citizenship. We need to shift from a concentration on the dynamics between language and technics to a thinking on the relationship between time and technics.
  • Jean Ladriere: “It has become an urgent matter to question the modalities of interaction between science and technics on the one hand and culture, and more particularly to ask how science and technology affect the future of culture in general”Heidelberg appeal – Gille – “Prolegomena to a History of Technics” – the change is one in the temporalisation of technics and culture – in that there are a set of ‘etirements’ between the advances and delays of culture and technology.Jean-Pierre Vernant – epimetheia (withdrawl) and prometheia (advance) – are temporal figuresPrometheus and Epimetheus were brothers (titans) who were responsible for the creation of man. ** prometheus – forethinker ** epimetheus – afterthinkerThe dynamic of forgetting and knowing in advance – the hope and fear – is fundamental to the technological. Technologies are a ‘process of exteriorization” – a pursuit of life by means other than life “we shall call in question Heidegger’s claim that “the essence of technics is nothing technical”

PART 1 – The Invention of the Human 


  • Contemporary technology is deeply opaque – we have many decisions to make regarding technics but don’t understand them
  • Puissance et pouvoir – “puissance” often applies to things, while “pouvoir” rather applies to people.
  • A history of technics in terms of a history of acceleration – which frames history itself (Ferdinand Braudel)
  • Simondon (the appearance of individuals in the form of machines)  <–> Heidegger (Gestell)  <–> Wiener (System)
    • a new kind of knowledge, “technology” or “mechanology” is necessary – technics as a process of concretisation
    • science is not this kind of knowledge – e.g.: someone who sees in the technical object a scientific principle or law
    • manufacturing is not this kind of knowledge – e.g.: someone who evaluates the machinic in terms of its ‘value’ (market utility)
    • users of technology don’t have this kind of knowledge – e.g.: someone who operates a machine
    • all other means/end relationship evaluations of technics are likewise outside of a ‘true’ relationship to technical objects
    • modern techniques arrives when technologies begin to ‘enframe’ (Gestell – Heidegger) man

Gestell – system – apparatus – an active framing – a gathering together

Technics is dominated by cybernetics – a science of organisation – organum as instrumental to organization as characteristic of life

Nature becomes the ‘standing reserve’ the auxiliary, the assistant – to technology

Humans are part of the ‘all the resources’ that are enframed by technology? Technics commands nature whereas before nature commanded technics.

The systematicity (enframing-ness) of technics which excludes it being a means – dates from BEFORE MODERN TECHNICS (i.e.: is ageless?)

  • Bertrand Gilles
    • Gilles – programming – technical systems require adjustments to the other social sysetms – but can these other systems be adjusted in this way?
    • The new technical system is at least adjustable on chronically – SPEED
    • (Note this is perhaps similar in orientation to Kittler’s arguments for the use and analysis of Cultural Technologies (Mauss): “When texts, images, and sounds are no longer considered the impulses of brilliant individuals but are seen as the output of historically specified writing, reading, and computing technologies, much will already have been gained. On the Implementation of Knowledge – Toward a Theory of Hardware)

Technical system denotes a whole play of stale interdependencies at a given time of epoch (e.g.: the railroad requires steel of a certain grade for the creation of high-pressure camber in the train, so these two thing form a technical systemface

  • Leroi-Gourhan

Enables the ‘adjustment’ thinking between technical and social systems from an anthropological standpoint – all anthropology is the relation between the social (ethnic) and the technical.

If systematicity informs the entire history of technics, how can we characterise modern technics as Gestell?

  •  Marx

“Technology reveals the active relation of man to nature, the direct process of the production of his life, and thereby it also lays bare the process of the production of the social relations of his life, and of the mental conceptions that flow from those relations.” – Marx, Capital, chapter 15

Theories of Technical Evolution

“A proposal in historical method not only for the history fo techniques but for general history” p.29

“A history bound, so to speak, by the material world” (Gille)

  • “… there is a systematicity that here implements tendencies, realized in a coupling, which should be brought to light, of the human with matter” p.43
  • Leroi-Gourham calls athropogenesis what Stiegler wants to call technogenesis (Is it possible to think this access / development outside of a correlation? I.e.: As a kind of non-new-age, non-cybernetic empathetic fusion with technology?)
  • Leroi-Gourham’s phylum – the line of development of technology – which results from choice proposed to living matter within a milieu. p. 45
The technical system (Gilles) is “a stabilization of technical evolution around a point of equilibrium concretized by a particular technology.”
“The evolution of technical systems moves toward the complexity and progressive solidarity of the combined systems.” So the technical system, once consolidated and globatized, constitutes the Gestell that Heidegger talks about: “planetary industrial technics”
Economics, social and technical systems are always in ‘tension’ and governments (for example) attempt to ‘regulate’ these… through interventionism around protecting a traditional industry (e.g.: pottery, fishing, etc.).
A Halt to Growth – report from the Club of Rome criticised by Gille.  The limits of a technical system specify its dynamics:

  • Endogenous – limit from the inside – e.g.: Railroad rails as trains got heavier and heavier required the invention of a smelting process to produce steel rails
  • Exogenous – French techno-economic protectionism in the nineteenth century – duties on the import of steel that prevented the expansion of a ‘global technical system’
  • New technical systems are born out of the limits of preceding systems – so essentialy discontinuous (‘punctuated equilibrium‘?)
Difference between technical discovery and scientific discovery is in IMPLEMENTATION:
  • Kittler’s ref in Theory of Hardware to the Scottish etymology as both “implement” (a tool, utensil, or other piece of equipment, esp. as used for a particular purpose : agricultural implements) and “1806, originally chiefly in Scottish, where the noun was a legal term meaning “fulfillment.”  So the fulfillment or actualisation, as well as the instrument which allows the fulfillment or actualisation
  • Boirel’s “diffuse rationality”
  • Gilles posits a universal technical tendency – the dynamics of this system are what offers the possibility of invention.
  • The ‘inventor’ follows a ‘quasi-obligatory’ path (chance and necessity are balanced as “in molecular biology”?)
  • Leroy Gournham here brings in the idea of a universal technical tendency – which is locally concretized by the tendency of the ‘ethnic’
Invention and Innovation
  • Innovation destabilizes – creates resistance – by drawing out the consequences in other systems (economic, social, political, etc.)
  • “the logic of innovation is constituted by the rules of adjustment between the technical system and the others”
  • Gilles typologies: technical elements, invention, factors of production that are not of a technical nature, chronology


  • The adjustment between the management of capital, means of production, development of potentialities of the technical system
  • Gilles: the canals of innovation
  • Weber: the rationalisation of speculation – the development of banking and market systems which favor innovation (help innavation ‘create credit for itself’)
  • This rationalisation results in “the financial sector becoming autonomous with regard to production”
  • Development:  perpetual modernisation or constant innovation
  • Development is so omnipresent in our lives that a new consciousness about it is emerging – ‘autonomy’ and ‘opacity’ of the technical systems becomes more apparent and resistances (more or less organised) emerge

Constant Innovation: tekne and episteme

  • The prior argument puts a lot in the hands of the engineer: “to manage a technical system is to intervene in the social and economic transformation at a much more profound level than in what peoples, political organisations, and managers in the ordinary sense believe they decide”
  • A new relation between science and technics is now establish by way of the economy – rationalisation processes bring the time between invention and innovation ever-closer (e.g.: the chemistry invention that enables the photograph takes 120 years to come to the point of ‘innovation’, the invention that enables the transistor takes 5 years to come to fruition)
  •  Four factors: invention, innovation, economic and social progress, scientific progress
  • Two combinations from Gille: (1) (scientific) progress –> invention –> innovation  and (2) invention –> innovation –> growth.  The first is lead by science, the second by capital.
  • The Age of the World Picture (Heidegger):  Man becomes subject by presenting what is to himself (instead of it being presented in other ways, God, etc.) and the World becomes a picture (a representation).  Basically a critique of science as a kind of metaphysical representation, which stems from man becoming subject (beginning with Decartes)
  • The inversion of innovation stemming from invention (i.e.: having to wait for the social conditions to become favorable) has been up-ended – now innovation is a global process trying to spur on invention.  INNOVATION PROGRAMS THE RISE OF INVENTION.
  • Science, invention and innovation rhythms in relations to social and political systems (transfer delays) were for a while attempting to be programmed – instead of the haphazard jerkiness of progress when innovation was driven by invention.
  • Stiegler thinks that the perpetual transformations (speed of transformations?) that we’re currently experiencing call for a reexamination of the originary relation between the human and the technical, “as a phenomenon of temporality”
Technical Universality
  • Andre Leroi Gourham – technical tendencies are universalities (across cultures / ethnicities) that take the form of technical fact in specific instances
  • Ethnological questions – not historical – facts and instances
  • Anthropology tends to favor the ‘genius of a particular culture’ instead of the technical universality
The Coupling of the Human with Matter
  • techno-morphology based on raw materials
  • furnishing a theory of anthropogenesis – corresponding point by point to technogenesis
  • From Bergson he gets tendencies – introducing the concept of the line, the phylum
  • treating technology more like zoological study – bottom up phenomenea resulting in general ‘tendencies 
  • Leroi brings in a quasi – determinism (toward perfection, etc.)
  • the analogy of studying the interaction of man and matter as a zoological (Cuvier) – might be ‘ecological’ instead of zoological
    • “ethnology may, up to a certain point, draw from the form of the blade of a toll, previsions [predictions] on that of the handle and on the use of the complete tool” – Leroi
    • i.e.: ” the texture of wood [raw matter] imposes forms on blades and hands [technology]
Tendency and Facts
  • Distinguishing here fact and tendencies
  • Facts can be diverse and belong to the same tendency
  • “The tendency has an inevitable, predicatble, rectilinear character” – Leroi 
  • “The fact, contrary to the tendency, is unpredictable and whimsical”
  • Against the “genius” of particular cultures
  • There is no difference between borrowing and invention – as every fact is the result of a tendency (external) plus milieu (internal, local, ethnic)
  • Technological phenomenae result from 
    • Links between two cultures (diffusion, borrowing)
    • Universal tendencies becoming fact through the interaction of people and material milieu
  • “The singularity of the relation lies in the fact that the inert, although organised, mater qua [as] the technical object itself evolves in its organisation: it is therefore no longer merely inert matter, but neither is it living. It is organised inorganic matter that transforms itself in time as living matter transforms itself in its interaction with the milieu.  In addtion, it becomes the interface through which the human as living matter enters into relation with the miliseu” p . 50
    • this ‘as’ is interesting – i.e.: is this just a metaphor or is Stiegler giving (at least some) agency to the inorganic matter ‘transforming’ itself?  

Ethnic Differences and Technical Differentiation

  • Humans are special – essentially technical beings which exceed the biological 
  • Facts arises through 4 degrees of “mechanism of pressive individualisation of facts”: 
    • first: the universal archetype expressing the tendency
    • second: the localisation – deciding factors composing the technical ecosystem
    • third: ethnic subgroups break apart, or decompose to idividualise the technical fact
    • fourth: detailed description and fixation of the fact and relations between the third degree
  •  Technical states of peoples: Very rustic, the rustic, the semi-rustic, the semi-industirla and the industrial (Leroi) 
Geography as Origin and “Ethic Genius” as “Unifying Process”
  • Geography, and milieus, environments – decide technical development more than the ethnic principles 
  • “ethnic unity is conventional, without any other origin than a mythical one”
Interior and Exterior Milius in the Technological Dynamic
  • Interior (cultural, social memory, material intellectual capital) and Exterior (intert, geographical, climactic, animal) 
  • Technical facts interface the interior and exterior millieu
  • Simondon transforms the universal technical tendency into a technophysical and technolcultural milieu 
The Two Aspects of the Tendency
  • There are tendency propelling the development of facts 
  • Facts then come to structure the world (instruments / tools) – “There is then a whole side to the tehcnial tendncy involving the contruction of the universe it self”
The Technical Milieu as a Factor of Dillution of the Interior Milieu
  • “It is as if the technical groups tended to become autonmous with respect to the ethnic groups, owing to the very fact that the techno-industira units have become world-wide”
The Permanence of Evolution
  • Borrowing and invention are the same as they are both dependent on the milieu being ‘ready’ for the technological fact to take root
  • All development is continuous (i.e.: no genius, no magic) 
  • “What happens when there is no longer any exterior milieu as such, so-called “physical” geography being saturaated with human penetrations, that is technical ones, and the principle relations fo interior to exterior milieus being mediated by a technical system having no “natural” remainder in its wake?
  • Has the technical group “totally emancipated form the ethnic group”
Industrial Technical Evolution Imposes the Renunciation of the Antrhopological Hypothesis
  • Simondon – tries to “create a new consciousness of the sense of technical objects”
  • The problem is: 
    • “culture has made itself into a system of defense against technics, in which the defense is presented as a defense of humnaity, `supposing that technical objects do not contain human reality.” “If there is such a thing as the alenation of humanity (or of culture) by technics, it is caused not by the machine but by the misunderstanding of its nature and essence.” p66 
Mechanology the Science of the Process of Concretization of the Industrial Object 
The Genetic of the Industrial Object As Functioning Matter 
The predominance of Technology in the Becoming of Industrial Societies 
Summary of Part I
  • Gille
    • A model for innovation and invention – and the inversion of a invention expectant society into an innovation driven society.  Innovation is now part of the R&D cycle, not arising from constalations of materials / science / agents. 
  • Leroi
    • The technical tendencies (external milieu) are universal, which interact with milieu to create specific technical facts which effect (internal) milieu
    • The technical milieus used to rise out of the (internal) social milieus, but now they have grown to effect and enframe the (external) milieu of geographical, climactic, animal millieu 
  • Simondon
    • Accounting for the “associated millieu” when the interior and exterior are fused by the dissipation of ethnic (technocultural / technophysical) 
    • Concretization of the technical object is its individuation, its becoming-individual, that is its organization as a becomine-individual (i.e.: the tendency or possibility of consolidation / integration – as in integrated circuit boards, where the component functions are ‘locked in’ the behaviour the aggregate technical object, and vice versa)


Infrastructure – a theory of technology AS A STANDING RESERVE (not as enframing – but as standing reserve).  Development claim goes like this:  Nature once commanded technics (axes, houses, clothing), technics then commanded nature (20th century) making nature a ‘standing reserve’, now our relations to technology is as a new standing reserve (cloud computing, “Technology is a word that describes something that doesn’t work yet.” ― Douglas Adams.)?

Technoasthetics – Ways of Technical Knowing:

  • Sites and staging for the release of human reality within technicity (release of alienation, ‘bringing things to a human scale, etc.) (STS) 
  • An acknowledgement the internal desires and dynamics of technical facts and tendencies 
    • vibrant matters 
  • (corrolary to the above) a dissolution of the falacious principles of genius upon which technological histories are normally founded 
    • media archeologies in general 
    • the old in the new – the new in the old
    • jonathan stern – “To put it another way: if the span of media history in human history amounts to approximately 40,000 years, we have yet to really seriously reconsider the first 39,400 years.” Times of Communication History – Sterne
  • Materialisms of complex matter which break away from ‘nature’ as a seperate sphere
  • Stage experience of the potential autonomies of technical systems
    • witnessing the relations of objects 
  • Technoaesthetics and epsitemics 

Other links / Readings

  • External links
  • Plato’s Pharmacy – Derrida’s essay that gives the Pharmacon
    • Amun Ray – The god Tote (brings writing) going to the god Amun (self-sufficient presence of the word,  the metaphysics of presence) – introducing arts and sciences, and writing
    • Writing will help men remember – but it will also give the illusion of wisdom, making men insufferable
    • Pharmacon – remedy + poison – an early media studies of writing!  
    • Speech is always upheld and writing is always supplemental 
    • Phaedrus and Socrates = Tote and Amun 
    • Tote is a floating signifier – he’s a joker, that can take on identity – a ‘trace’

To put it another way: if the span of media history in human history amounts to approximately 40,000 years, we have yet to really seriously reconsider the first 39,400years.


Bramkamp – 2012 Aug 18 (evening)

Screening of Test Stand VII

An autobiography of a technical object 

Thomas Pinchon gravity’s rainbow 

I’m living only in between the media you recreate of your own world

On the Genealogy of Media Contents 

“genealogy of media” derrida

Peenemund museum 

Mixer or michelet 

The rocket reconstruction in Birmingham – all restoration being performed by women 

Reverse shots of the rocket –’s_Rainbow

Alan Slothrop 


Prof Von Brown 


Wernher von Braun

Space Park Bremen – the main attraction is a flight to mars 

The next moment its parts again – Pynchon 

It only appeared to be a tool in the hands of man 

Dorette Kirsten 

Bremen trousers

Truman House


Agamben – 2012 Aug 21 (evening)

Archeology of the Work of Art 

Archeology is the Only way to have access to the present

The ombre porter of our theoretical interpretation of the present – feel abliged to interrogate our past 

If Europe is to have a future – and nothing is less sure…

American and Asians have completely different concepts of history

Crisis – EU – the moment of choice that cannot be postpone

Homo Sacer – end of history – two possibilities: 

  • Post historical animalism – America 
  • Snobbism – tea ceremonies – Asia

Europe is able to confront the whole of its history

The growing museumification of Europe

  • The only place the past can be is in the present
  • What is the place of art in the present – where is art today? 

The relationship of art today is a problem

  • The work – the art – which is the decisive element (Heidegger – cycle of hermeneutics) 
  • Work has disappeared from art – 
    • Art as workless – an activity which 
  • Traumatic experience is represed and unconscious – results in pathological symptoms
  • Work is the great repressed in art today – contemporary art can be thought of as a pathological symptom (symptoms can be very interesting)


  • Artists are amongst those who practice a techne –  the work he produces is not termed in terms of ‘work’ but only the object that had to be produces (i.e.: not organised by labour costs) 
  • The productive activity is in the work – not in the artist who made it
  • “Terminology is the poetic moment in philosophy”
    • Energaie – means that something that is at work
    • The artwork belongs to the sphere of energae – being operative 
  • Ergon – having reached its own end 
  • In some cases the end coincides with usage
  • The energae
    • in the object – when there is labour, the material has energy – the energy is in the object
    • in the subject – when there is no production, the material is in the subject
    • This is why the artist is more high than the craftsman
  • Telos is outside themselves 
  • Praxis is in the object – Poesie is in the maker 

Contemporary / West

  • The artist is no longer a man who is worthless (where the art contains the energy) 
  • Energa is located 
  • The work is the superfluous remainder of the activity or genius of the artist
  • The artwork the productive activity and the artist – the art machine of modernity
  • The artwork the productive activity and the artist – the three rings in the figure of the boromean knot 
On movements…
  • Freud: Pyschoanalytical Movement
  • Avant garde movements  

Germany – Mariella – Monk – 1923 

  • De lithurgy as misteric feast – a manifesto of the liturgic movement 
  • Liturgea – public action – activity made for the people
  • Praxis – for the simple fact of having been accomplished 
  • The priest can be a criminal who baptises a woman only in order to rape her – only the action matters – the baptism still takes place
  • Linking of praxis of avant garde and liturgy
  • Symbolism / Aesthetism / Decadentism 
  • Artists pick up the idea that efficacy coincides with execution – 20th century avant gardes 
  • Hypothesis: Avant gardes and their remaking of contemporary art are just the revival of an essential liturgical paradigm – of performing a public action as art
  • “for the mere fact of its evolution”

New York – 1919

  • Marcel DuChamp invents the ready made
  • DuChamp clearly realised that the art machine – as previously described 
  • All three elements of the machine 
    • the artwork 
    • the productive activity
    • the artist 
  • Gamblers, and charlattans have tried 
  • The art machine is running on 

To leave the art machine to its destiny – to take leave from the idea tha tthere is a supreme activity that realise 

We have to redesign the space in which modernity has defined the subject. 

The artist is that which experiences itself and constitutes itself as a form of life

Consider art as a form of life – shift art from the sphere of liturgy and aesthetics – into the sphere of ethics

Living being keeping relationship with his or her environment.  What is at stake is his happiness. 

“Painting is certainly the only form of life – the only form I have to defend myself from life.” 


Techne and epistme were pre-archive – Aristotle seperated these two – which created the hounding we’re undergoing by and with technology 

Man without Content:  Magic Etude Du Boneure – Malarme – Rambeau… liturgical pretension.  Rambeau is a bit ironic about this… at the same time.  In Rambeau 

Beuys – litergical interests – actualising liturgy in 

Once you have destroyed the work – we cannot participate in the economy of artistic practice of value – pretending that there is a work somewhere…

Let’s see if a new dimension of art can emerge now that the work is finished – instead of replacing into the gallery the non-work 

Man becomes a workless being – which 

George Bataille – economy of expenditure


zielinski – 2012 Aug 20



1) Towards an exact philology of precise things.  An outline for a hermeneutics of artefacts

2) Deep Time & AST – the vertical and the horizontal and how we can practise our decadence from the cross.. Towards an ISMs


3) An Archives: on the necessity to construct an alternative concept for collections of the heterogenous. 

4) Expanded Animation – a spacial genealogy


5) Designing & Revealing – A short genealogy of projection. 

6) Vedemecum against a psychopathia medialis.  Including a manifesto regarding the states of the arts

You plan always must be too big – Brecht


We must not forget that an object is the best messenger of a world above that of nature: one can easily see in an object at once a perfection and an absence of origin, a closure and a brilliance, a transformation of life into matter (matter is much more magical than life), and in a word a silence which belongs to the realm of fairy-tales.  – Barthes

Thinking through things – Towards an exact philology of precise things

  • Japanese artist in sans soleil – making lists which make his heart beat slower
  • Heart beat slower: networks, media art
  • Heart beat faster: 
    • electrification of sacred spaces
    • image of cellphone grave
    • electric prayer
    • believing machine from china
    • the electric guitar (rickenbacher 1937)
      • represents the basic construction of telematic relationships
      • the transmission between 
      • “telecaster” “stratocaster” 
    • Gesang der Jünglinge
      • Boys’ voices turned into technical media
      • Stochausen 
    • On the derivation of the influence machine in shizophreny – Vikto Tausk
  • Programme vs. Einbildungskraft
    • Non-trivial relation between machines and man 
    • This is not a dualism 

We used to believe in machines, now the machines are believing in us – they must trust us and believe in us.

Belief in the internals of the machine – most ‘black boxes’, when opened, you find nothing. 

“Since you can build states with the media – they don’t serve anymore for revolution”

  • Quantumphysik und Daseinsrelativitat (1936) – Max Bense
  • Kohlhammer – Institute for Language in a Technological Age 
    • Cybernetics – humanities have failed us (holocaust, berlin wall), perhaps the ma

Gilbert Simondon – Du monde d’existence des objects technique, 1958

  • The object as part of an ensemble – the object as heterogenous
  • Manifoldness of objects
  • To think existence as a collective of man, nature and open machines (all three elements are open)

Electronic Music History

Friedrich Knilli

KINEN – The smallest unit of reality – Pasolini’s idea of semiotics

 Flusser on Fischli and Weiss – you have to do philosophy through images 

Hermeneutics of Technical Objects

  • Non-trivial interplay between technical objects 
  • We find ourselves within a cultura experimentalis – the components of which are technical objects: media
  • Epistemological interests on things which process between one and the other
  • Winicott – ‘potential space’ – describing the way that children explore the world
  • Requires an attention to aesthetics and technical (competence)
    • Respect for technical objects
    • We meet these technical objects at ‘eye level’
  • Cladni plates 
    • Ritter – Electromagnetism
    • The loose material and the hard material of the Cladni plate 
    • Ritter went at eye-level 
  • An alternative analysis 
    • Philology – hermeunics 
    • A hermeneutics of technical objects – which includes competents
    • An act of disassembling and reassembling – can help us understand the game of the creation of the new 
    • The experiment – Latour – Hening Schimtge – unformalisability
    • Henry Petrovski – The Pencil
      • Every object we construct and produce is makeshift – something inept and provisional
    • An ‘almost precise’ philology of ‘almost precise things’ 
    • Thinking in the broadest sense – provoke thought / cause us to reflect / changing the way that we think
    • The alchemist – someone who work through relations of subject (Gianni Vattimo a ‘weak subject’, an ‘insecure subject’)
      • Noise – the cosmic roar – listening to it they feel 
      • Decided to engage in the world 
    • Alchemy was a dream was could only listen to, and recounting it one could only stammer
    • Reinbegger – experiment 

“Henning Schmitgen – the machine concepts of Freud / Lacan and

  • Lacan’s Machines / Freud’s Machines / 

Cogito ergo Sum – I think therefore I sum

Stifters Dinge – Heiner Goebbels

  • In a thick bundling of the materialisations – an artform unfolds 
  • Neither the classical theater nor the gallery or the museum
  • The public laboratory of hearing and seeing – shifts that took place between media man and media machine

 Rosa Barba

  • Text projection, machine sentenses

David Link 

  • Particular archeology of algorithmic objects
  • Archeology of algorithmic artefacts are not just histories of computing – as this would be 
  • Love letter project – the first industrial (Faranti Mark I) computer was used to generate emotive 
  • After the analysis – Link rewrites the hardware of the Faranti Mark I
  • Writing machine (at documenta) 

Dinos and Jake Chapman 

  • Re-painting Hitler’s paintings from 1909
  • Transforming the pictures into desireable artefacts for the art market
  • The aspects of the past could be transfered into the future 

Objects of Knowledge – Zielinski’s 60s birthday present


Hermeneutic – 

  • Sense making
  • Allowing the object 
  • Moral 
  • Parmenedes 

Deep Time & AST (Art Science Technology)

Towards Mass Media which Are Media of the Masses – towards a materialist studies of the media

Bertolt Brecht 

  • A hermeneutics of radio
  • Scheme of dismantling-production of art (from the Three-Penny Trial, 1931)
  • Others tried to invert the process – deconstruction of the market – art work
    • Why Baudrillard was thinking from the bottom up
    • Recreate an artwork from the masses up 
  • Brecht / choir / addressing the apparatus as if it was a ‘character’ 
  • “art is not a mirror to reflect reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.” 

Wolf Vostell: Heuschrecken (1969-70)


Kohler: Decollage VII 3 


Cha’s hands, 1979 – Hak Kyung Cha


Apparatus theory – Neitsche – the instrument we use to write also co-writes

  • Apparatus theory allows a set of thoughts outside of film about the material 
    • Lacan, Althusser, Husserl (not Heidegger)
  • Jean Louis Baudry – Le dispositif 
    • Cave allegory – Plato
  • Pleynet 
  • Jean Louis Comolli 

When we are used to Foucauldian archeology we have trouble enmeshing the idea of archeology and utopia: AnArchaeology


Overall intention:  Varienatology 

  • As many links / variation of genealogies as possible
  • All revolutions come from the provinces – people from little villages
  • Not Eurocentristic but mondial – Glissant
    • Mondialite as alternative to globalisation – connectivity without standardisation
    • The mediterranean sea as a medium – the territorium 
    • In the carribean – the task is not to unify, but to communicate, to master the medium of the seas
    • Universal versus pluriversal

james joyce marcel duchamp erik satie an alphabet

  • “just write it down as though you were dancing” 


Hegel’s Mistake

  • The ladder of history – the end of history culminating in Berlin
  • Thinking on ‘southern’ from Hegel
    • Tradition alleges that in former times a state composed of women made itself famous by its conquests: it was a state at whose head was a woman. She is said to have pounded her own son in a mortar, to have besmeared herself with the blood, and to have had the blood of pounded children constantly at hand. She is said to have driven away or put to death all the males, and commanded the death of all male children. These furies destroyed everything in the neighbourhood, and were driven to constant plunderings, because they did not cultivate the land. Captives in war were taken as husbands: pregnant women had to betake themselves outside the encampment; and if they had born a son, put him out of the way.
  • 7000 / 8000 year history of the chinese flute – Xu Fei 2008
  • Performance of the fighting chess figures 
    • DAI NIANZU (Beijing) Electricity, Magnetism, and Culture in Ancient ChinaArabic Science

Image of the eye – arabic renaissance – connection between the mechanical part of the eye and the brain 

  • Ibn al-Haytham “Kitab al-Manazir” – writing ‘in a cave’ – “Book of Optics” – 11th century
  • Abdelhamid Sabra – translator 
  • Witelo (Poland) 
  • Fridrich Risner (latin translation of Book of Optics – he does not translate all the parts, just the end of the experiments, not the description thereof) 
  • Experimental practice very important 

The two ideas relating optics/seeing and thinking – were written in the dark – Plato and al-Haytham.




Tension between the black box and phantasms (which disappear) and the idea of competence.  Flusser’s idea of playing with the technical object from Philosophy of Photography


Where do you locate this resistance to hermeunetics – in the denial of the subject? 


Presencing the art / technology / science – trifecta – does the competence with the technologies take away the ‘art’?  Zielinskis’ triangle representing balance – between poles of a spectrum – but how to reconfigured, radically, the nature of art? (as technical)