In a crucial shift within posthumanistic media studies, Bernhard Siegert dissolves the concept of media into a network of operations that reproduce, displace, process, and reflect the distinctions fundamental for a given culture. Cultural Techniques aims to forget our traditional understanding of media so as to redefine the concept through something more fundamental than the empiricist study of a medium's individual or collective uses or of its cultural semantics or aesthetics. Rather, Siegert seeks to relocate media and culture on a level where the distinctions between object and performance, matter and form, human and nonhuman, sign and channel, the symbolic and the real are still in the process of becoming. The result is to turn ontology into a domain of all that is meant in German by the word Kultur.
Cultural techniques comprise not only self-referential symbolic practices like reading, writing, counting, or image-making. The analysis of artifacts as cultural techniques emphasizes their ontological status as "in-betweens," shifting from firstorder to second-order techniques, from the technical to the artistic, from object to sign, from the natural to the cultural, from the operational to the representational.
Cultural Techniques ranges from seafaring, drafting, and eating to the production of the sign-signaldistinction in old and new media, to the reproduction of anthropological difference, to the study of trompe-l'oeils, grids, registers, and doors. Throughout, Siegert addresses fundamental questions of how ontological distinctions can be replaced by chains of operations that process those alleged ontological distinctions within the ontic.
Grounding posthumanist theory both historically and technically, this book opens up a crucial dialogue between new German media theory and American postcybernetic discourses.
Publisher: Fordham University Press
Number of pages: 286
Weight: 3 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 23 mm
"Siegert's case studies suggest that human being (Dasein) articulates itself through a strife inherent in the play of ontological difference. This strife demands the construction of distinctions that produce human identity and cultural differences. Siegert assigns the name 'cultural techniques' to this production and maintenance of difference. . . . Cultural Techniques suggests that every technical advance consolidates and reproduces new ensembles of cultural difference. Here, life itself is lodged within a system of differences that defy resolution and remain perpetually open to strategic redistribution." * -Bernard Dionysius Geoghegan, Paragraph *
"An excellent collection of essays from one of the most widely known and respected scholars of media, media theory, and cultural techniques working in Germany. The scholarship is erudite, sophisticated, and impressively wide-ranging." -- -Michael Wutz * Weber State University *
Siegert's idea of cultural techniques extents the definition of media almost well beyond even its broadest common interpretations. * -Digital Passage *