Jan Müggenburg

Jan Mueggenburg teaches History of Media at the Institute for Culture and Aesthetics of Digital Media at the Leuphana University in Lueneburg. From 2006 to 2010 he was a member of the graduate program »The Sciences in Historical Context« at the University of Vienna. Jan was also a visiting scholar in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois and at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science. He publishes and lectures about the history of computing, cybernetics and bionics. Latest publications include: “Der Delfin als Medium. Formation und Imagination in John C. Lillys Kommunikationsexperimenten”, in: Claudia Mareis (Ed.): Designing Thinking: Angewandte Imagination und Kreativität um 1960. Paderborn, 2016, 187–213. “Clean by Nature. Lively Surfaces and the Holistic-Systemic Heritage of Contemporary Bionik”, in: communication +1, 3, (2014): Article 9.



Nature as Principle. On Simulation in Bionics

This project examines the use of computer simulation in bionics. Since the biomimetic approach within engineering and computer science aims at »scrutinizing and transferring ›natural inventions‹ into technological applications« (www.biokon.de/en), scientific media such as models and simulations play a crucial epistemic role in its research practice. Within the framework of a media archeology of Bionics and its precursor discourses (›Biotechnik‹, Biocybernetics etc.) this project initially looks at the general use of scientific media in the history of bionic approaches. In a second step, specific media-theoretical tools will be developed that facilitate the analysis of computer simulation within modern Bionics.

Three aspects of scientific media will be of central concern to the project: First of all it investigates how models and simulations, as »representatives« (Morgan) of biological principles, are involved in the »realization« (Bachelard) of likeness between natural ›prototypes‹ and technological artifacts. Secondly the project examines to what extent the use of scientific media can trigger a reflexive process in the course of which researchers assess their own »Objektverhältnis« (Vogl) towards the ›natural principle‹ in question. Thirdly the project is concerned with how models and simulations are used as »media of traffic« (Hopwood) and »visual arguments« (Reichle) to generate evidence for the capabilities of bionics and the superiority of ›natural solutions‹.