The Digital Imaginary– my essay “Do Cyborgs Dream Of iPhone Apps? The Body And Storytelling In The Digital Imaginary” is out

https://www.bloomsbury.com/us/the-digital-imaginary-9781501347580/digital imaginary

Following McLuhan,“putting our physical bodies inside our extended nervous systems, by means of electric media, we set up a dynamic by which…all such extensions of our bodies, including cities, will be translated into information systems,” (McLuhan 57), in this essay, I will argue that, for cyborg bodies, the change is less material than epistemological:  how we process information, how we write and read the world and our identities is fundamentally changing.

Emojis, avatars, thumbs up and down, the swipe, the pinch, the spread, little hearts are ways of commodifying, standardizing and making legible,  complex aspects of human communication which computers cannot process accurately or easily make profitable. Although not all the artworks discussed in this book are overtly political, by utilizing the affordances of digital technology, all reveal the constraints of the machine-based communication systems which they creatively co-opt.  The artworks here are hybrids: human and machine, truth and fiction, content and form. It is the reader, moved by desire or memory or simply rules of the game, who, through her interaction, sets the dynamo in motion.

Thus, the digital imaginary is an intrinsically political space.  As Haraway suggests in her manifesto:  “…the relation between organism and machine has been a border war. The stakes in the border war have been the territories of production, reproduction and imagination.“  (Haraway)

What is at stake here, as David Clarke’s The End: Death in Seven Colours intimates, is nothing less than the concept of “human.”

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