S576: Technology and Contemporary Life
The Rhode Island School of Design, Wintersession 2003
Notes, January 30th -- Roger B. Blumberg

From the Post-Modern to the Posthuman

Introduction: The Significance of Chess

I am still a victim of chess. It has all the beauty of art - and much more. It cannot be commercialized. Chess is much purer than art in its social position. Marcel Duchamp

Chess is life in miniature. Chess is struggle, chess is battles. Garry Kasparov

While we're having class today at RISD, the 3rd Game of the chess match between Garry Kasparov and the computer Deep Junior will take place. As you may know, Kasparov was defeated by another, larger computer, Deep Blue (also constructed by IBM), and this time the match is tied 1-1. Some questions we might consider in light (if not in honor) of this event are:

Walter Benjamin's "The Work of Art in an Age of Mechanical Reproduction"

We'll begin with Bethany's presentation and questions, but this time we'll look forward to relationships/parallels between his analyses and those of Hayles. Still interesting is the question of whether/how a new technological development, be it electric light, the photograph or the computer, necessarily transforms our perception/reception of objects and phenomena that predate this development. In the case of Hayles, what has happened to make us think we have, in a certain sense, always been posthuman?

What is it to Become Posthuman?

At the start of "Toward Embodied Virtuality," Hayles says the "post-human" is a point of view characterized by the following:

What are some examples drawn from your everyday life that illustrate this "post-human" view?

We'll discuss the Prologue of Hayles book, along with the first two chapters, led by Samantha's notes and questions.

For Next Time: Read chapter 8 in Hayles, "The Materiality of Informatics," as well as the Dreyfus article.

Back to the Syllabus

© 2003 Roger B. Blumberg