Digital Milieu

Philosophy of Digital Objects

Yoshiyuki SATO: What kind of Philosophy is possible after Fukushima?

What kind of Philosophy is Possible after Fukushima?

Yoshiyuki SATO, Tsukuba University


The serious accident at the nuclear power plant Fukushima-Daiichi in March 2011 has contaminated the regions of Tôhoku and Kantô in Japan in large scale by emitting an enormous quantity of radioactive materials, and has changed our world and our life in a decisive way. Those who live in the contaminated regions are constantly exposed to low-does radiation, which we don’t have enough knowledge of their effects except the statistical ones. Moreover, despite of this catastrophic situation, the nuclear politics of Japan hasn’t almost changed at all. In this sense, we are in a catastrophic situation constantly worsening since the nuclear accident of Fukashima.

In this article, we are going to propose a possible philosophy after the accident of Fukushima in order to develop a fundamental reflection on the nuclear energy. The perspective that we employ is: nuclear energy is a “modern” technology in the strongest sense of the term (that is to say a technology of the 20th century), and it is important to look at the question again by adopting a Foucaultian point of view in terms of “power – knowledge”, that is to say by interrogating the connection between State power and scientific technology. Read the rest of this entry »

Workshop: Neuroimage and New Materialism(with Patricia Pisters) 15 Oct,2013 Lüneburg

Capture d’écran 2013-10-04 à 15.09.44

Public Lecture : (Digital) Cinema as World Memory


Speaker: Prof. Patricia Pisters (Amsterdam)

Date: 14 October, 2013

Time: 18H00 – 19H30

Centre for Digital Cultures

Sülztorstraße 21-25, 2. Stock

Raum 305 (All welcome!)

Closed Workshop with Prof. Patricia Pisters will be held on 15th October, from 10H-13H at the same venue. The workshop will be on the current trend of New Materialism, a close discussion with Patricia on her recent work on Neuro-Image (Stanford University Press, 2012) and the neuro-critique in contemporary philosophy and media theories. For those who are interested, please register with Dr. Yuk Hui yuk.hui[a] for reading materials.

About Patricia Pisters : 

Patricia Pisters is professor of media culture and film of the department of Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam. She has published on film-philosophical questions on the nature of perception, the ontology of the image, on politics of contemporary screen culture and the idea of the “brain as screen” in connection to neuroscience. She is one of the founding editors of Necsus: European journal of Media Studies ( and programme director of the research group “Neuraesthetics and Neuorcultures” at the Faculty of Humanities. See neurocultures/neuroaesthetics.html. Publications include The Matrix of Visual Culture: Working with Deleuze in Film Theory (Stanford University Press, 2003), “Numbers and Fractals: Neuroaesthetics and the Scientific Subject” (2010), and “Synaptic Signals: Time Traveling Through the Brain” (2011). Her latest book is The Neuro-Image: A Deleuzian Film-Philosophy of Digital Screen Culture (Stanford University Press, 2012). See for PDFs of these and other articles, online lectures and more information about the books and other events.

Collective Individuation in UnLikeUs Reader

UnLikeUs Reader

A co-authored article with Harry Halpin (W3C) is now available in UnLikeUs Reader – Social Network Monopolies and Their Alternatives, edited by Geert Lovink and Miriam Rasche. You can download our chapter here: Collective Individuation: The Future of The Social Web. This chapter comes out from our research in IRI/Paris.

We are in the epoch of networks. The world is now rapidly being perceived as a vast space of interlocking networks of seemingly infinite variety: biological, productive, cy- bernetic, and – most important of all – social. The image of the network, with its obvi- ous bias towards vision, has become the paradigmatic representation of understand- ing our present technological society as a holistic entity that would otherwise escape our cognitive grasp. Yet no image is ideologically neutral, for the image of the network is also a mediation between the subject and object that inscribes – or pre-programs – a certain conceptual apparatus onto the world, namely that of nodes and links (or in graph-theoretic terms, vertices and edges). This is not without consequences: due to its grasp over our imagination, the network constitutes the horizon of possible inven- tion, as Simondon showed in Imagination et Invention.1 Yet where did the concept of the network itself come from? Despite the hyperbole over the dominance of digital social networks like Facebook, the concept of the quantified social network pre-dates digital social networks, originating from the work of the psychologist Moreno in the late 1930s, and we argue that what the advent of the digital computer has done has primar- ily been the acceleration of the pre-digital conceptual apparatus of networks. Although no one can deny its now global influence, the fundamentally ontological presumptions of the social network have yet to be explored despite its present preponderance. To borrow some terms from Bernard Stiegler, how does the what of Facebook constitute our who?2

1. Gilbert Simondon, Imagination et Invention, Chatou: Editions de la Transparence, 2008.

2. Bernard Stiegler, ‘Who? What? The Invention of the Human’, in Bernard Stiegler, Technics and Time, 1: The Fault of Epimetheus, trans. Richard Beardsworth and George Collins, Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998, pp. 134-180.

Read more…

You can download the whole book from Lovink’s Institute of Network Culture: UnLikeUs Reader.


Die Kollektivität von sozialen Netzwerken

A great honor to be invited by Erich Hörl to talk in Bochum, and thank for the recording, Sebastian Drumfish Fischer for the images, the original report can be found here

Die Kollektivität von sozialen Netzwerken

Einer für Alle und Alle für Einen? Oder nur eine One-Man Show?

“Towards a Philosophy of Post-Facebook Social Networks – With Special Attention to Jacob Moreno and Gilbert Simondon” lautete der Titel der Ringvorlesung #Wishyouwerehere vom 11.12.2012 in der Bochumer Rotunde des C60/CollaboratoriumsGast war dieses Mal Yuk Hui, Postdoctoral Researcher am CDC, dem Centre for Digital Cultures an der Leuphana Universität Lüneburg. Auch dieses Mal ging es um Facebook und Co., um Verbesserungen, Kritiken und neue Denkansätze…

Was ist sozial an Facebook?

Denkt man für längere Zeit mal genauer darüber nach, dann fällt einem eigentlich nichts dazu ein. Man ist beschäftigt mit der Zur-Schau-Stellung seines eigenen Selbst. Fröhlich werden Bilder des neuen Einkaufs präsentiert, der neuen Kletterschuhe, des neuen Autos, der knackigen Snacks für den DVD-Abend, des reizenden neuen Kätzchens, des Urlaubs… und der Arbeit. Die Liste lässt sich ähnlich wie die zunehmende Anzahl an Sehnenscheidenentzündungen ins Unermessliche fortführen. Der fleißige Facebook-Nutzer ist mit sich selbst als Individuum beschäftigt, von sozialer Partizipation im Netzwerk kaum eine Spur. Was an für sich ja nichts Schlimmes ist, sofern man damit zufrieden ist. Doch was könnten Facebook und Co. sonst noch leisten – bei mehr als einer Milliarde von teilnehmenden Individuen? Ist das wirklich alles? Oder gibt es noch eine andere Form von Kollektivität? Read the rest of this entry »

The condition of Reading (1) – Katherine Hayles and Nicolas Carr

From Hayle’s website/UCLA

Originally posted at the Hybrid Publishing Lab Notepad

Publications expect readers, unless the author ignores the publicin his publication. Understanding reading is one of the major conditions for imagining new ways of publishing. The condition of reading also depends on means of writing, writing means publishing, then we enter a circle of reading-writing, that constitutes without exaggeration the social, political, economical condition for acting and thinking. Jack Goody has explored in The Domestication of the Savage Mind, how the emergence of writing, in its most primitive form, transform these conditions in human history. The use of tablets in the Sumerian culture in Mesopotamian as writing system become today we may call the first system of metadata, that record stocks of potteries, cattle, etc. And David Graeber further in his Debt- The First 5,000 Years, showed that such a writing system is actually a book-keeping system, usually a new conquerer destroyed this annotation-writing system to resettle all debts, and restarts a new economic, social and political regime (And it is from this example, Graeber proposed a destruction of the current global accounting system to start anew). It is also true when writing spread out in ancient Greece, it made laws accessible to citizens in the polis, that is also to say the concept of democracy.

These technics of writing are in constant progress, from pictogram, phonogram, to stamp making, to printing, and now we arrive at digital publication at the mid of last century. We have to bear in mind that technical innovation always underlines displacement, displacement doesn’t mean replacement, displacing something means rendering something before it obsolete, but it doesn’t mean it could replace it, including all its values and functions. The emergence of the web brought us a new perspective of publication which is no longer linear, but one that allows one jumps from one reading to another. This vision of hypertext was already imagined by Ted Nelson before the invention of the web. In order words the web realized some of the visions of Nelson, particularly on the aspect that the web is a hypertext system that links all relevant literatures together. Then came the war of reference-searching (or an economy of links), this is what we know today as search engines, and then we have the history of Yahoo, Archie, Veronica, Altavista, Google, etc. Searching is an experience which cannot be separated from online reading today, it can be searching the definition of a word, searching theory of an person not well explained in the reading, etc. The new possibilities, not only those of business and innovation but also new way of acquiring knowledge – reading – open a new terrain to reconsidering the condition of reading-writing and the social-political transformation corresponding to these conditions. And these questions are are the core of digital humanities, if we still want to keep this name. Read the rest of this entry »

La technique des relations – les musées et les objets numériques

Parce que c’est un séminaire de muséologie, je voudrais parler des musées, et ainsi commencer par parler du Google Art Project, avant de parler plus généralement des digital studies. Je vais diviser cette présentation en trois parties : dans la première, je proposerai une interprétation du Google Art Project, dans la deuxième, je parlerai des objets numériques et de ce que l’on peut appeler « la technique des relations », avant de proposer quelques pistes de réflexions à ce sujet.

Le Google Art Project procède de la volonté de constituer des musées sur le web. Mais on doit se demander quel est le sens d’un tel projet ? Est-ce un simple projet de collection ? Comment penser la nature des choses qui seront ainsi présentées sur le web ? Par exemple : puisque ces choses seront des copies numériques, seront-elles moins authentiques ? Je pense que ce projet contient au fond la proposition suivant laquelle toute chose peut-être convertie en chose numérique – je ne parle pas encore d’ « objet numérique », mais bien de « choses » numériques. Le Google Art Projet est aussi un site social où l’on peut signer et collectionner les tableaux, et partager cela avec d’autres, via des réseaux sociaux tels que Facebook ou Google+. De ce fait ce projet crée un nouvel espace, un « environnement », qui déplace l’espace physique. Je dis déplace et non pas remplace : car la création de cet espace ne veut pas dire que l’espace physique va disparaître, mais qu’il devient lui-même inséparable de l’espace en ligne. Peut-être les mots « espace » ou « environnement » ne suffisent pas pour décrire ce changement de phase – ce déplacement. Je propose de comprendre cette situation en fonction de ce que Jacob Von Uexküll appelle « Umwelt » – et que l’on traduit le plus généralement en Français par le terme de « milieu ». Le « Umwelt » c’est ce qui situe entre l’environnement et les contextes, dans lequel les animaux interprètent le Umgebung, c’est à dire l’espace objectif, afin de produire leurs propres mondes. Von Uexküll donne l’exemple de la tique : la tique est un insecte qui n’a pas d’yeux, mais qui réagit à un certain nombre de signaux. Ces signaux, ce peut-être par exemple l’approche d’une vache : en fonction de ce signal, la tique se laisse tomber de l’arbre, et se retrouve sur le dos de l’animal. Un autre ensemble de signaux vont lui permettre ensuite de décider de l’endroit où elle va venir se loger. Suivant qu’elle trouve ou non cet endroit, elle décidera de rester – pouvant alors se nourrir – ou bien de retourner vers l’arbre. C’est au niveau de ces signaux que Von Uexküll trouve le lieu d’unification de ces espaces, et à partir duquel sont produits des mondes singuliers. Ce que l’on appelle le virtuel n’est pas, de ce point de vue, en opposition au réel – mais dans un rapport réciproque défini par ces signaux.

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The notion of information in Simondon [1]

What exactly is information in the thoughts of Gilbert Simondon? Is it different from what has been understood by Claude Shannon and Norbert Wiener? This question seems to be crucial to understand firstly the concepts of transduction, individuation, amplification, disparity etc; secondly the relation between Simondon and cybernetics: is Simondon a cybernetician? But it seems to me that the responses from the commentators of Simondon remain unsatisfactory, firstly there is a misunderstanding of “information” in cybernetics; secondly Simondon tries to distant himself from his fellow cyberneticians, but in fact in his lecture notes and conference papers [60s and 70s] Simondon spoke like a neuroscientist today.

This series of notes attempt to understand the notion of information in Simondon and its relevant implications to address the current technological development. In fact, the misunderstanding of information seems to be normal, because even in cybernetics Shannon and Wiener share two different understandings of ‘information’. It seems that some commentators of Simondon tend to propose such correlation: Cybernetics- form, Simondon- information even though the term information was firstly made known by the cyberneticians. For example in Muriel Combes’s Simondon Individu et collectivité –Pour une philosophie du transindividuel, while explaining Simondon’s critique of hylomorphism Read the rest of this entry »