Thesis Info

Thesis Title
Aesthetics, Writing, Networked Computers
Joerg Mueller
2nd Author
3rd Author
Number of Pages
European Graduate School (EGS)
Thesis Supervisor
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schirmacher
Supervisor e-mail
schirmaw AT
Other Supervisor(s)
Avital Ronell, Diana Davis
Language(s) of Thesis
Department / Discipline
Languages Familiar to Author
German, English, Spanish, Catalan
URL where full thesis can be found
aesthetics, aisthesis, computer, computing, intuition, cultural technology, writing, senses, sensible, complexity, logic of sensation, affection, cellular automata, Universal Turing Machine, cybernetics
Abstract: 200-500 words
Networked computers are ubiquitous. Not just as desktop machines but they literally are incorporated. From cars, to cell phones, to clothing, to implants, computers are spreading ever since the Information Technology Revolution took off. At the same time, aesthetic concerns abound. Fashion and product design, the media sphere and personal lifestyle, body art and plastic surgery pay witness to a rising creative imperative. Authors such as Jean Baudrillard, Paul Virilio, Vilem Flusser, or Wolfgang Welsch have long drawn our attention to this multi- layered processes of aestheticization. Taking these two developments as a starting point, the present thesis is an inquiry into aesthetics at the interface of networked computers. Certainly, the aesthetic discourse cannot be limited to its traditional territory of art production and criticism. To the degree that information technologies have disseminated into politics, economy, or science and have become the very fabric human activity is woven into, aesthetics itself is framed by technical standards according to Friedrich Kittler. But if information technology is the signpost of the post- human (Hayles), how would we have to picture the postaesthetic? A similar question follows when considering the leading paradigm in much contemporary thought, namely performance. At its core there lies an aisthetic imperative: pay witness to the here and now. However, what happens to the awareness of the present, to aisthesis once the here and now is everywhere at anytime? Those questions sketch the shifting landscape of aesthetics and are all the more pertinent since traditional notions of aesthetics, creativity, or intuition frame in turn our critical possibilities towards intelligent machines. Both poles, aesthetics and computers form a problematic, uneasy relation who's characteristic dynamic requires to be traced. Drawing thus on Gilles Deleuze, Henri Bergson, Jean Luc Nancy, Walter Benjamin a changing sensuous geography emerges that favors in sharp contrast to the immateriality of information the lower senses of proximity and contact, the corporeality of touch. However, the sensitivity thereby implied has been transformed from contemplative receptivity to active engagement with technology and coding in particular.