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Marcel O'Gorman

Last updated March 31, 2013 - 1:00pm by Mark A. McCutcheon

Marcel O'Gorman, Associate Professor of English, U of Waterloo

“From Dust to Data: Art as Research in the Posthumanities”

Abstract: This essay examines posthumanist philosophy through the lens of two high-definition videos: Rioji Ikeda’s Datamatics v2.0 and Herman Kolgen’s, Dust. Ikeda’s computer-generated video presents a vast cosmos that is completely free of human agency, a digital world in which the “post” of posthumanism denotes temporality, the after-human. Herman Kolgen’s Dust, on the other hand, presents a world of inorganic micro-agents, rendering visible and agential a tiny cosmos that is otherwise absent to human consciousness. As I will argue, both of these videos—one telescopic and the other microscopic—achieve a horizontalizing effect that unseats and unsettles anthropocentric notions of being. In so doing, they embody several posthumanist concepts, from Stiegler’s notion of epiphylogenesis to Graham Harman’s object-oriented ontology. This essay will demonstrate how these videos both reify and challenge posthumanist concepts not only in their content, but also in their production technics, which rely on highly advanced prosthetic devices to achieve visualizations that push the boundaries of the human sensorium. Finally, I will discuss the role of artistic practice more generally as a form of philosophical investigation, and following my previous work, I will argue that humanities scholars, who are still bound to print publication, should follow the lead of digital artists as they attempt to position their research in an increasingly digital culture.