Un projet Labex Arts H2H
 
en /fr
LE SUJET DIGITAL
2012 - 2016

Touching Technology. The Haptic Unconscious and a Culture of Digital Intimacy
By Marek Wojtaszek

Assistant Professor of Humanities, Department of American and Media Studies, Faculty of International and Political Studies, University of Lodz, Poland

Abstract

Technological apparatuses of various kinds and function are changing the modes cognitive processes work whereas processes of the mechanic syntheticization of life are giving way to an unprecedented vitalization of the machines, effectively problematizing the connection between the self, sensation, and the world. The ubiquity of digital sensors and their ever greater capabilities along with the social saturation of sentient ICTs make the haptic interface become an important component of immersive systems, bringing profound changes to the way humans communicate ideas, interact with information and with one another. As we must always first touch/be touched by the world in order to make sense of it, techno-sensation emerges as of primary importance to comprehend the deeper cultural transformation animated by digital apparatuses. Critiquing the phenomenological paradigm (along with its pragmatist and functionalist assumptions about the notion of experience) as incapable of accounting for the process of emergence of techno-sensibility, I adopt a radically materialist-realist approach to technology inspired by Deleuze and his reading of Leibniz. Taking cues from Benjamin and Anzieu, I posit the haptic unconscious as a timely concept to address some ethical questions about our intimacies and the manners they are architected by digital technologies. Consequently, I will offer a symptomatological reading of a selected airport space as an apt illustration of how the digital machines codify travelers’ bodies and subjectivities by procedurally exposing them to diverse sensible interfaces. As the future generations of computers are to be worn and operated almost exclusively by tactile interfaces with the foldable screens as the first ones to shortly enter mass production, we need to develop a new pedagogy of sensation beyond receptivity in order to actively and ethically cohabit the first global (synthetic) civilization. By catapulting us into the virtual, the haptic contact with digital technologies s(t)imulates singularity and helps us relearn how to relate to one another, thus decomposing the touch-phobic culture. Pursuing this argument, I conclude by replacing the concept of network with meshwork which, doing justice to haptic (techno)sensation, helps us rediscover and affirm matter’s essence in syntheticizing.

 

About the author

Marek M. Wojtaszek holds a PhD in the Humanities and is Assistant Professor in the Department of American and Media Studies at the University of Lodz, Poland. He is a member of the Management Committee of the COST Targeted Network on Gender, Science, Technology and Environment. In 2014–2015 he has been a Senior Fulbright fellow at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, USA. His main areas of research include digital cultures, techno-ecologies, Gilles Deleuze’s philosophy, body and space. He recently published “In Quest of (Posthuman) Togetherness: Digital Communication and Affective Disconnection” in Digital Diversities: Social Media and Intercultural Experience (2014).

 

Key words

Airport; Deleuze; digital code; haptic unconscious; intimacy; sensation.

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Un projet Labex Arts H2H