Michael Thomas on Thu, 13 Apr 2000 16:28:20 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-bold] techno-sublime

I finished an MA in "Arts Criticism" last year in London and worked 
in my dissertation on a term I borrowed from Hal Foster's "The Return 
of the Real" he called "techno-sublime".

For people interested in the topic I posted a PDF document at 

I welcome any critics or further useful information as I intend to 
extend the work in the future time.

A summary of the thesis goes like this:

In the last chapter of The Return of the Real (1996) the American 
critic Hal Foster addresses the contemporary anxieties towards new 
technologies and media in the western, highly industrialised consumer 
Applying Benjamin's 'surgically penetration' of the spectator's body 
and McLuhan's 'electrically extension' of the human, Foster 
characterises the situation of the individual s     ubject as a new 
intensity of dis/connection. 
Confused, terrified, and yet fascinated, we have - despite a spatial 
and often emotional remoteness - become wired to the technoscope of 
media spectacles by television and so-called new communication 
technologies: For Foster, this dis/connection has reached a new level 
of pain-and-pleasure and presents for the author 'a partial return of 
a fascistic subjecthood'.
In the following thesis I try to detach Foster's notion of a 
technosublime from its pejorative framework. My aim is not to 
reactivate the sublime as a nostalgic conception of modern 
aesthetics, as the unrepresentable was here applied only to be put 
forward as a 'missing content' (Lyotard).
Alongside Donna Harraway's Cyborg Manifesto (1985), N. Katherine 
Hayles' reception of the posthuman subject (How We Became Posthuman, 
1999), and Friedrich Kittler's idea of synergy between humans and 
machines, I like to apply the notion of the technosublime as a kind 
of white rabbit to enter, like Alice, the contemporary setting of a 
technological Wonderland.
And yet, if the postmodern dis/connection, as Foster argues, either 
produces indifference, cynicism, or reactive value judgments, we also 
have to develop and acknowledge new forms and models of criticism, 
which might no longer depend on a classical position of critical 
distance but rather locate the research and work inside 'the belly of 
the monster' (Haraway).
If this agenda, this form of practice, is still to be called art, is 
irrelevant. A notion, which in the meantime might have become more 
important, might be 'not-just-art' (I/O/D)

Michael Thomas

:: michael thomas
:: http://www.bureau-k.de
:: phone +49 | (0)40 317 93 124

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