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High Techne

High Techne: Art and Technology from the Machine Aesthetic to the Posthuman

R. L. Rutsky
Volume: 2
Copyright Date: 1999
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    High Techne
    Book Description:

    In an age of high tech, our experience of technology has changed tremendously, yet the definition of technology has remained largely unquestioned. High Techne redresses this gap in thinking about technology, examining the shifting relations of technology, art, and culture from the beginnings of modernity to contemporary technocultures. Progressing from the major art movements of modernism to contemporary science fiction and cultural theory, Rutsky provides clear and compelling evidence of a shift in the cultural conceptions of technology and art.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-5292-1
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction: The Question concerning High Tech
    (pp. 1-22)

    From the perspective of the ever more technologized cultures of the industrialized world, it seems increasingly difficult to avoid the sense that, somehow, the entire world has undergone an indefinable but undeniable change, a kind of mutation. Thus, for example, Jean Baudrillard can speak of “the mutation of [a] properly industrial society into what could be called our techno-culture.”¹ This sense of a techno-cultural mutation has, of course, frequently been figured in terms of postmodernity—as part of a broader shift from modern to postmodern. But then, the very notions of both modernity and postmodernity are quite simply inconceivable without...

  4. 1. The Spirit of Utopia and the Birth of the Cinematic Machine
    (pp. 23-47)

    The historical narrative of aesthetic modernism is generally taken to have begun in the mid-nineteenth century, and the figure most often cited as its progenitor—or at least its obstetrician—is Baudelaire. In such accounts, in fact, modernism’s “birth” often seems to require a doctor in attendance, for it is not an entirely “natural” process.¹ The birth of modernism involves, in other words, the reemergence of an artificial or technological element that was excluded from romantic aesthetics. Indeed, Kantian and romantic aesthetics always seemed to see the idea of a technological birth as threatening, monstrous, and any doctor connected to...

  5. 2. The Mediation of Technology and Gender
    (pp. 48-72)

    If, as many have claimed, aesthetic modernism can be defined by its relation to technology, perhaps no other single work condenses so many aspects of this relationship as does Fritz Lang’sMetropolis(1926). There, modernism’s fears of and fascination with technology are given overdetermined representation. In fact, Andreas Huyssen, in one of the more perceptive analyses ofMetropolis, has argued that the film is an attempt to resolve “two diametrically opposed views of technology”: an “expressionist view” that emphasizes “technology’s oppressive and destructive potential” and the “unbridled confidence in technical progress and social engineering” of “the technology cult of the...

  6. 3. The Avant-Garde Technē and the Myth of Functional Form
    (pp. 73-101)

    Modernity has perhaps always defined itself within the dialectic between a utopian and a dystopian view of technology. In this dialectic, technology—whether it has been seen as a mere tool or as an autonomous process—has always been viewed in terms of an instrumental rationality. In aesthetic modernism, this utopian-dystopian technological dialectic remains applicable. Yet, at the same time, it is in modernist art that a different conception of technology begins to emerge, a conception in which technology is no longer defined solely in terms of its instrumentality, but also in aesthetic terms. Indeed, aesthetic modernism can itself be...

  7. 4. Within the Space of High Tech
    (pp. 102-128)

    Much like industrial technology before it, “high technology,” in its various forms, has been the subject of innumerable claims and charges. Nothing has been more common than to hear a given development in high tech celebrated for its ability to improve human life or condemned for its potential to destroy human values. On the one hand, for example, the “information superhighway” will supposedly increase our access to knowledge, expanding our creative potential and making us better able to control our lives, while at the same time providing a wealth of services and entertainment for our enjoyment. On the other hand,...

  8. 5. Technological Fetishism and the Techno-Cultural Unconscious
    (pp. 129-158)

    The “aestheticized,” “state-of-the-art” quality of high tech may be—and has been—seen as a kind of fetishization of technology, of technological style. This fetishism of high tech is readily apparent in, for example, the pages of glossy techno-cultural magazines such asWiredandMondo 2000. Indeed,Wiredeven includes a regular feature titled “Fetish,” in which sleek new technological devices are treated as “sexy,” aesthetic objects. Of course, the fetishism of technology is not unique to high tech. From the “stone age” to the “automobile age,” technology often seems to have inspired a considerable degree of fetishism. In high...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 159-186)
  10. Index
    (pp. 187-196)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 197-197)