Cultural Informatics

The circularity of our approach, taking into account that technology not only serves targeted purposes but is itself involved in the determination of aims in the areas it is applied, is a guiding insight of computer-based cultural studies.

Concrete actions, the synthesis, must therefore go hand in hand with analysis. The gap between the subject matters and their representation can be addressed neither only in an interpreting way, as is done in literary and media studies, nor merely from an operational and instrumental perspective, as is done in media information technology. As apparatuses of media technology, computers always have their share in the development of science and art, something which must constantly be elucidated. They shape culture and society in the sense of a techné, which, according to Heidegger, entails “to know one’s way [...] in the producing of something” (Traditional Language and Technological Language, 1998) and thus also “[k]nowing one’s way [as] a kind of knowing, having known and knowledge.” In short, technology “is not a concept of making, but of knowledge.” Technology, including computer technology and computer science, presents what can be knowable and at the same time becomes the subject matter of development in a co-evolutionary manner with the society and its culture that engenders it. It counts as the ideal type of dynamism itself. Neither does a simple principle of cause and effect suffice, nor does a purely instrumental concept of the relationship between science, art and culture in regard to computer media get to the core of the matter.

For us, this core always also consists in exploring in a technologically producing way how things become expressible, displayable and thus knowable with the information-technological means of digital media. This relationship is only truly revealed when synthesis and analysis are equally pursued, when information-technological artefacts are built and their effects are examined in alternating steps.

This two-step approach of computer-based cultural studies has been materialized based on the example of documenting complex artefacts of fine art in the research projects HyperImage and Meta-Image and in collaboration with artists


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