Conference Keynote #1


Mark Hansen
– Duke University –

» Thursday June 29th, 19:00, Centre Pompidou, Cinéma 1
In collaboration with the Collection “Nouveaux Médias” (Marcella Lista, Étienne Sandrin)
World, Earth, Flesh, Sense: From Intersubjectivity to Intrasensibility
The talk will explore recent efforts to “move beyond the human scale” with the aim of specifying the role played by technics in “cosmic solidarity” (Whitehead). It will examine various theories and approaches to cosmic solidarity, including Derrida’s “stabilizing apparatus,” Jeffrey Nealon’s “plant theory,” and Vicki Kirby’s “quantum anthropology,” all of which raise compelling and crucial objections to human scale approaches like phenomenology and seek to expand the terrain for contact with the nonhuman in ways that avoid anthropocentric retrenchments. By exposing the limitations of each of these intertwined ventures, while also embracing aspects of each, it shall set the stage for a technical phenomenology of sensibility rooted in quantum measurement as it informs the final work of Merleau-Ponty and its development in the information-induced operation of individuation theorized by Merleau-Ponty’s student, Gilbert Simondon. Understood as the generator of phenomena across all scales, technical measurement affords an opportunity to encompass human and nonhuman sensibility within larger individuations. Phenomenality becomes decoupled from its privileged affinity with human intentionality and is redistributed within individuations that involve but do not necessarily center around human activities and that cannot be conceptualized as manifestations of restricted cognitive processes.

This technical phenomenology of sensibility informs scale-variant theory in two distinct, yet closely intertwined directions: on one hand, it brokers contact across scale divides, in the “outward” direction of scales both larger and smaller than human ones; on the other, it moves in an “inward” direction, via the scalar complexity (or scalar multiplicity) of the contemporary technical ensembles that dictate the operationality of contemporary global culture (Bratton’s “Stack”). In other words, a processual approach that centers around information-induced individuation places the human within complex textures of sensibility, at scales both consonant and dissonant with human phenomenality. What results is nothing less than a generalized aesthetics of phenomenality.
Mark B.N. Hansen is Professor of Literature at Duke University.
Among his main publications, the books, Emboying Technesis: Technology Beyond Writing (University of Michigan, 2000); New Philosophy for New Media (MIT Press, 2004); Bodies in Code (Routledge, 2006); Feed Forward: On the Future of 21st Century Media (University of Chicago Press, 2014). Together with W.J.T. Mitchell, he is the editor of Critical Terms for New Media (University of Chicago Press, 2010).