Thesis Info

Thesis Title
The Reality Effect of Technoscience
Julian Bleecker
2nd Author
3rd Author
Number of Pages
University of California, Santa Cruz
Thesis Supervisor
Professor Donna J. Haraway
Supervisor e-mail
Other Supervisor(s)
Prof. Lisa Rofel, Prof. Theresa De Lauretis
Language(s) of Thesis
Department / Discipline
History of Consciousness
Languages Familiar to Author
URL where full thesis can be found
science technology special effects genetics Jurassic Park culture art-technology social implications SimCity video games Virtual Reality technoscience
Abstract: 200-500 words
This dissertation titled “The Reality Effect of Technoscience” by Julian C. Bleecker investigates the social, cultural and political meaning of three technology-based popular culture artifacts: Virtual Reality technology; film-based special effects as seen in the science-fiction film Jurassic Park, and; the simulation games SimCity2000™. Individually, these three artifacts serve as points of entry for discerning how these specific forms of computer-based visual and computer-based knowledge representation reveal the cultural politics of cities, indicate how popular notions of the possibilities offered by genetic science and engineering arise, and offer insights into how historical and contemporary social institutions shape how advanced imaging technologies are built and inform their possible uses. Collectively, I use these artifacts as instances of “The Reality Effect of Technoscience” — the process by which a specific artifact attains a sense of tangible, social, political and cultural reality that is contingent on other social agents’ engagement with the artifact. My investigation begins by determining who and what makes up the social, cultural and political character of these specific technology artifacts. It is my overall objective to reveal how, in these particular examples, these constitutive “agents” — the who and what — operate to give the artifact substantial meaning such that the artifact becomes “real.” In my approach, a computer program or an article in a popular science journal, for example, are “agents” that inform the meaning making process in a way that is on par with human scientists or science-fiction film fans. These are examples of the human and non-human agents which, through their activities, contribute to the “Reality Effect” of these artifacts. Through their activities these agents “socialize” these artifacts, which is tantamount to making the artifacts socially relevant, or making the artifact “matter.” My research determines that artifacts become “real” through the activities of agents who engage in the task of giving the artifact meaning proper to the idiom in which the agent operates. These many-layered, fraught and heady engagements occur at throughout a large matrix of social, political and cultural activities. My research reveal such engagements through a close investigation of the practices relevant to the artifact in question.