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Egenis · Events

Prof Andrew Pickering 'Sketches of Another Future: Cybernetics in Britain, 1940-2000'

Workshop   08.12.2009





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University of Exeter,Egenis,Byrne House,St Germans Road,Exeter, EX4 4PJRoom no: GF7, Byrne House

Event details

Time: 3:30 - 5:00 PMI am interested in the question of how theory might return to earth and inflect real-world practices and artefacts. My book, The Mangle of Practice, adumbrated a non-modern ontological vision, of the world as lively and ultimately unknowable place with which we necessarily have to come to terms performatively—at the level of doing, rather than, in the first instance, cognition. In this talk I discuss scenes from the history of cybernetics as instances of ontological theatre—as staging and elaborating a mangle-ish vision in a whole variety of fields, with brief illustrations drawn from robotics, biological computing, management, spirituality, the arts, architecture, psychiatry and the countercultural 60s. These examples are interesting in their own right, as strikingly different from their modern equivalents, and it interests me that this difference can be mapped onto a Heideggerian contrast between ‘enframing’ and ‘revealing.’ While modern science and technology seeks to enframe and dominate its object, cybernetic projects exemplify a stance of revealing and openness to what the world has to offer. And my suggestion is that there is a sort of practical, rather than representational, politics at stake here.

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