The liminal event and its symbols: on the intersection of human and technology
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This thesis is an exploration of practical and theoretical modes of constituting hybrid subjectivities on the intersection of human and technology. Taking as a point of departure the posthuman and postphenomenological perspectives, I develop an approach to articulating hybrid subjectivities, where the distributed human and nonhuman entities come together in a relational way, expressing hybrid agencies. This thesis explores an emergent affective dimension in technological spaces, which provide a sensory stimulation to the human enabling a sense of presence in the distributed and virtual space. Further, I demonstrate a systematic manner, in which an integrated liminal event between the human and the technological nonhuman can be created. The employment of this protocol provides an opportunity for the potentially traumatic encounter to be recontextualized and manifest not as shock, but as a state of opening and receptivity. This state is facilitated by ongoing calibration of the internal human affect with the sensorial stimulus to achieve balance between the two.
Central to this thesis is the concept of shock, which can result from technological overstimulation of human sensorium. This concept is grounded in the psychoanalytical perspective and analyzed in terms of its manifestation through art and cultural production of the twentieth and twenty first centuries. It is a history of the human- technology engagement viewed as a series of industrial actions and cultural reactions and traced through the occurrence of shock. This investigation spans the art movements from Futurism through Minimalism and finishes with most recent art production. In order to progress this line of investigation, I have created artworks, which explore specific aspects sabotaging the human-technology becomings. These are: The Camera is Present, Me Myself and I, I am Legion. The articulation of shock as a main mode of engagement with technology, in terms of specific aesthetic experiences, drives this thesis towards re-contextualization of the significance of shock and development of tools and concepts to heal the experiential rift between human and technology.
Further, in this thesis, I develop and propose two such conceptual and practical tools, the sign, and the symbol, enacted through the expanded liminal aesthetics to create a condition for the integrated liminal event to emerge. This dynamic event facilitates the coming together of human and technological expressions in a way that balances the human internal and external experiential landscapes. The tools overcome the shock to restore agency and the feeling of being present in the experience and embedded in the body. In addition to formulating the conceptual structures, I propose ways of executing them through practical applications. The first one involves creating an artwork, which functions according to this new methodology. The second application uses the structure of a liminal event in an educational context. In essence, this thesis develops an effective way for life to enter the technological world.
The novelty of my approach lies in the following areas: historical contextualization of technological shock within art and cultural production and as it leads to present technological aesthetics and production of new artworks facilitating this enquiry. Further I create new conceptual tools and structures for articulating hybrid subjectivities beyond shock and I formulate applications of those tools and structures in practical terms: The Symbol and Liminal Atelier system of educational modules.