By R. L. Rutsky

Excessive Techne: paintings and expertise from the computing device Aesthetic to the Posthuman

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

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P. 118) Here, as elsewhere, the fragmentation and analysis of the female body is performed in the name of a science that seeks, through knowledge, to subdue the threat that it poses to the wholeness and life of the unified (male) self—a threat that in fact spurs Edison’s work. This requires, however, that the female body be “reassembled,” synthesized, in a nonthreatening form: as spirit or the ideal. To move, however, from analytic fragmentation to a completed whole, to the ideal Hadaly—whose name, Edison says, is Persian for the ideal—will require a kind of magic, a “secret” knowledge.

The camera introduces us to unconscious optics as does psychoanalysis to unconscious impulses. , 235–37) Benjamin compares this reemergence of the scientific-technological in the film to the integration of scientific and technological knowledge into Renaissance art. “To demonstrate the identity of the artistic and scientific uses of photography which heretofore usually were separated,” he argues, “will be one of the revolutionary functions of the film” (p. 236). Yet the example of artistic-scientific integration that Benjamin gives at this point—the filming of “a muscle of a body”—suggests that his conception of an “artistic use” of film is very different from the magical, spiritual animation of the artwork that is apotheosized in Kantian aesthetics.

The bachelor machine always remains a supplement (remembering the sense in which Rousseau uses the term), a simulacrum that “merely” re-presents the full presence of life, a kind of technological “phantom” or fantasy. In this sense, the bachelor machine describes that simulacral technology of memory and representation that Freud referred to as the psychical mechanism or apparatus. As Carrouges notes, “Governed by the mental laws of subjectivity, the bachelor machine merely adopts certain mechanical forms in order to simulate certain mechanical effects”; it is, in other words, “the semblance of machinery, of the kind seen in dreams, at the theatre, at the cinema” (p.

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High Techne: Art and Technology from the Machine Aesthetic to the Posthuman by R. L. Rutsky


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