Archive | Vol. 10/2017 | No. 1
Hoppe, Katharina; Lipp, Benjamin [Publishing editor]
Editorial / Hoppe, Katharina [Autor:in] … – 2017
Hoppe, Katharina; Lipp, Benjamin
Politics of response : on the relation of politics and ethics in new materialims
In debates on new materialisms, politics is usually discussed with a reference to the distinction between political materiality and material politics. The former expresses the description of matter as agentic, that is, as political in the sense that it stabilizes and destabilizes social phenomena. In contrast, the latter formulates programs for a politics and in some cases political systems that take the material and non-human actors into account. It is important to see, however, that many positions within the heterogeneous new materialisms not only engage with politics but also with ethics. The article explores how the relation between politics and ethics is thought in two conceptions: the micropolitics of Rosi Braidotti and the cosmopolitics of Isabelle Stengers. In a consideration of their accounts the article carves out a perspective of a politics of response as programmatic in new materialisms. This positive reference to a responding in and with the world is a productive orientation for a post-anthropocentric politics. The notion of response, however, also tends to a possessive gesture that fails in theorizing antagonisms. This tendency prospectively should be addressed from a radical democratic perspective.
Onto-topologies of the energy transition : volatile currents, finite energies and the securing of the standing reserve
This paper analyses the problem of integrating volatile renewable energies into the electricity system from an onto-topological perspective. It introduces the notion onto-topology by engaging with a series of approaches – from STS, Anthropology, Foucault and especially Heidegger – that seek to analyze existing ontologies understood as specific ways of assembling being(s). The onto-topological approach emphasizes ontological pluralism and concentrates on conflicts between intersecting modes of existence. The difficulties in integrating electricity from renewable sources like wind power and photovoltaic into the electricity grid without compromising the grid’s stability stem from such a conflict. Whereas conventional power stations produce electricity on demand and therefore make up being as „standing reserve“ (Heidegger), volatile renewable energies belong to an ontological constellation characterized by the play of presence and absence. The paper analyses the various technologies for the secure integration of renewables – network expansion, storage, prognosis, informatics – as an equally profane and ontological security dispositive that transforms wind and sun into ubiquitous and continuous presence and thereby secures “the ground” of the modern, techno-capitalist world.
Hardware, software, runtime : the politics of (at least) three digital materialities
We are conceptually and theoretically moving towards a return of things, of nature, of materiality exactly when we digitally upgrade every single aspect of our lives. The paper takes this curiosity as a starting point to turn current digital transformations into a test case for the usefulness of an approach that aims at empirically understanding and politically intervening in digital materialities. In the last two decades, three distinct approaches towards digital materialities have been developed with a focus on the materiality of hardware in the case of postkittlerian media theory, software in the case of critical code studies and runtime in the case of data studies. They can be empirically combined and turned into a framework for political intervention. The paper works toward such a framework by commenting on two different ways of moving towards “new materialism”: Karen Barads ethico-onto-epistemology and Bruno Latour’s attempt to map and transform modern modes of existence. While partners in crime in terms of symmetry and in repositioning materiality, Latour’s approach is far more engaged than Barad’s. An empirical and interventionist focus on the politics of (at least) three digital materialities can help to further develop this approach.
An- und Fürsich (matter foritself and for us) in instrument-based visualization
Fitsch, Hannah; Meißner, Hanna
This paper focuses on instrument-based productions of in/visibilities (for instance in processes of digital brain imaging) as specific socio-cultural practices contingent on historical epistemic conditions. Situating the calculation and formalization central to these epistemic conditions of knowledge production in historical processes of abstraction and formalization foundational for modern capitalist sociality and subjectivity allows to problematize specific relation of subject and object (as subjectified objectivity) inherent to this historical constellation. Turning to Karen Barad’s proposal of agential realism, we argue that her notion of agential realism offers possibilities of integrating knowledge of sociality and subjectivity as subject-specific to scientific knowledge production. We insist, however, on the importance of an analytical distinction between human and non-human agency in processes of knowing in order to grasp their specific subject-object relations (and inversions) as contingent and thus open to ethical questions and political (re)configuration.
New materialisms, praxeologically
The article highlights two punch lines of neo-materialistic thought: that apparatuses embrace unexpectedly many different things; that apparatuses are highly prolific in making bodies and things. Both demonstrations are particularly convincing, because they show the manifold materials as well as the powerful apparatuses outside occurrences and their situations. However, the latter contextualization may allow New Materialism to respecify the practical status of things and the material capacities of apparatuses. A trans-sequential analysis, relating events and processes in light of an object-in-the-making, provides the praxeological foundations for the two major neo-materialistic motives. These analytics set off by studying situated work episodes. The episodes are methodically linked via imported and exported versions of an object that is rendered producible by a specifically equipped and conditioned apparatus. The analysis aims for a diagnosis of the limited capacities of such apparatuses.
Analytics of interfacing : on the materiality of technological interconnection within the prototypical milieu of roboticed care
In Science & Technology Studies and Media Studies, materiality has been predominantly conceptualized as a stabilizing factor in processes of social ordering. Here, Karen Barad’s agential realism offers a different notion of materiality emphasizing the open, eventful, and potentially destabilizing effects of matter. With regard to this theoretical tension the present article argues that especially the case of social robotics in elderly care renders visible the fragility of technological interconnecting, thus requiring a new conceptualization of materiality within thoroughly technologized society. In order to achieve this, the article proposes an ‘analytics of interfacing’ accounting for the eventful material conditions of technological interconnecting. By synthesizing Barad’s account of ‘intraaction’ and Gilbert Simondon’s notion of ‘disposability’ such an analytics focuses on the procedural modalities by which techno-scientific regimes render hetergeneous entities disposable for one another, thus interfacing them. This is demonstrated by the case of prototypical user experiments of roboticized care within the context of European innovation politics.
The matter of cybernetics : on communication in organic-mechanical relations
Neuroprostheses, neurofeedback, neuro gadgets : on subjectivation by neuro-objects
As a result of increasing data production and usage, computerization, and medialization, we as individuals are increasingly woven into a socio-technological ecology. At present, neurotechnologies as different as brain-machine interfaces, neurofeedback systems, and neuro-gadgets, become part of this ecology. Moreover, they give rise to a new milieu of subjectification, characterized by continuous neuro-techno-medial interfacings. In a cybernetic manner, they contribute to re-articulating selves and sociality in events and processes of intra-action (Karen Barad). In this view, the ongoing configuration (Lucy Suchman) of material bodies, brain currents, and information are analyzed so as to reveal the assembling of neurotechnologized selves. Thus informed by new materialism, the study will briefly explore neuroprostheses, neurofeedback systems, and EEG-headbands for different intra-actions in the interior of the subjectivation milieu: Taken together, they testify to current ways of correlating (media) technologies, (neuroprosthetic) things, (living) substances, and (medical) discourses as constitutive elements of emerging milieus of neuro-techno-medial subjectification.
Irritierende Objekte : wie Zukunft prototypisch erschlossen wird / Dickel, Sascha [Autor:in] – 2017
The paper investigates possible connections between neo-materialistic thinking and society. The empirical case is prototyping as a socio-material practice. The paper reconstructs a) the function of prototypes as material devices to access the future and explores b) how society is increasingly involved in prototyping activities: As prototypes turn into objects of public par-ticipation, social phenomena are designed as prototypical objects. Contemporary prototyping practices are an expression of a society captivated by acceleration and innovation. This society may no longer trust the epistemic authority of expert discourses but rather the material evidence of technoscientific demonstrations of emerging technologies. Just like the new materialisms themselves, prototypes invite us to be irritated by the performativity of matter.