Experiments & Interventions

Discourse-analytic aesthetics as methods for Digital Cultures

Digital Cultures, understood as our acting in computing environments, force us to reformulate our ideas about the Human, agency, critique, the Political, the Technological and knowledge today. That is to say they absorb and obscure the Human and his action. This condition is not a purely technological one as histories of practice and discourse equally foster the transformation. How to deal with a situation where there apparently is no Outside anymore? Experiments&Interventions are proposed as a discourse-analytical method to continuously rethink the conditions and perspectives genuine to Digital Cultures. The aim is to give an insight into the subjectivating, epistemological and governmental effects of Digital Cultures and at the same time to produce technical and behavioural procedures which allow ‘not to be governed to such an extent’ (Michel Foucault). The discourse-analytical procedures are linked with aesthetical ones (Discourse-analytic aesthetics for Digital Cultures) in order to use the latter's potential to transform existing regimes of the sensual and of sense. Aesthetic procedures, such as embodiment and staging, and aesthetic levels such as experiencing and perceiving, are further used to experience the relevance and the governmental effects of discourses in order to broaden the reach of discourse-analytical research. Testing and discussing the discourse-analytical Experiments&Interventions will be important to rethink our ways of action, critique, the political public sphere and economy as well as of the access to knowledge.

Today’s networked computing systems operate without allowing insight and control to the human users. At the same time these systems produce extensive involvement that enables the industrialization of affect and perception. Knowledge is then transformed into a Data-Economy as every operation is being mined and evaluated at an industrial level. These developments call for new conceptualizations of the Human concerning agency, critique, its relations to technology as well as reformulations of economy and the political public sphere. Corresponding attempts are in progress which is being evidently demonstrated by an extremely disparate research landscape in media studies where incompatible approaches stand side by side. On the one hand ontological concepts are being developed concerning the idea of a technological existence which manifests itself materially. Epistemological research on the other hand focuses on the ever-changing historical and technological conditions of hominization and the becoming of culture. It is visible that effort is put into this process in order to establish and think a new episteme and regime on the basis of a technological existentiality and it’s modes of interpretation based on the level of basic sensation and affect. This shows that it is not only technology which is producing the technological condition but that the corresponding discourses are equally involved.

This situation calls for methods which establish an enduring, discourse-analytical rethinking of digital enabling a capacity for action and thus creating room for manoeuvre (Discourse-analytic aesthetics for Digital Cultures). Epistemologically oriented media studies would have to overcome their fear of practice in order to turn over to a critical technological practice based on their approaches. These work with the history of technology and knowledge and examine the conditions and the subjectivating, epistemic and governmental effects of the creation of the Human and the Technological and their convergences. By reconstructing techno-utopic and techno-phobic approaches they hence avoid the falling back into past solutions. Techno-ecological, techno-phenomenological and object-ontological approaches focus on practice while at the same time favoring the becoming over the having-become as the being of technological environments, thus disregarding the epistemic and governmental impacts of the discursive creation of the Human as living in becoming techno-ecologies. From this background it would be necessary to constantly rethink contributive and collaborative formulations of networked technologies in order to prove that they won’t feed Data-Industries where they don’t take into account their own technological and epistemological conditions and the discursive production that results from these. The discourse-analytical rethinking of Digital Cultures is set as a lasting attempt and should, among others, mediate between these two options which is to say that Techno-Ecologies and Techno-Ontologies should always be discourse-analytically and epistemologically evaluated in their relevance for practice.

A promising method consists in connecting Experiments&Interventions as a procedure of discourse-analytical aesthetic. This takes into account the current hype about Interventions in the way of discourse-analytical rethinking. The Interventions should create political public space, critique as well as acting and participation in the technological conditions of Digital Cultures in using aesthetic and performative procedures. This leads to ephemeral and uncontrollable performances which result in a joyful im-/potentialization as well as in a self-referential spiral of dissent as the form of political acting. To transform these into a discourse-analytical aesthetic, interventions which can manage their epistemic and governmental aspects, so to say their blind spots, have to be created. The ephemeral and potentially self-referential Interventions have thus to be coupled with Experiments which allow the development, critique and constant adjustment of solutions.

At the DCRL, Discourse-analytic aesthetics for Digital Cultures as experimental-interventionist projects are being tested and discussed in the following projects: Knowledge systems, Organizations, Environments/Infrastructures, Political Economy, Discourse-analytical-methods. Further, there are research projects with experimental formats.

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 Experiments & Interventions web publication (German and partly English)


Example: Interventions in Knowledge Systems

Knowledge became precarious when its dependence on media and ways of representation was claimed and invented. Consolidating the simultaneous process of relativizing knowledge, the Human was created as being not more than a media-anthropologic existence. The being precarious of knowledge forms the episteme of contemporary knowledge systems. This episteme regulates what knowledge is while at the same time being itself subjectivating and governmental as a knowledge system. This situation forms the starting point of a epistemological double volte-face. Through embodiment, the goal is to experience this knowledge system and to tests its impacts in order to discourse-analytically inscribe into them. At the same time this results in a radical critique of the anthropological which states that there never was the Human nor knowledge in an a-historical and non-discursive status, not even in the existential-technological sense which is put forward today. The invention and design of the Human and knowledge as being embedded in technological environments is therefore always the creation of governmental conditions.