Making Sense of Digitality (ACLA 2020)
Erich Hörl defines the technological condition as a site where we make sense of the world today. Sensing—ways of seeing and being, and that which ultimately contextualizes the ontic framework within a digital topography, reveals the technological condition as a kind of dislocated “groundlessness [...] that exposes the originary technicity of sense, that constantly merges human and non-human actors, that operates before the difference between subject and object, that is endlessly prosthetic and supplementary, that is immanent rather than transcendental [...] and indeed ecotechnological.” However, Hörl is not interested searching for a lost sense of presence; rather, he underscores what he calls “the technological displacement of sense” as a more crucial issue in the bid to understand the converging modes of human experience, ahistoricity and our current digital topology. In such a technological bearing, we can only make sense of the world through assemblages, coupling with a multitude of technical objects that open up fissures “through established ontological hierarchies.” The technological condition thus articulates “the new situation in the history of sense” wherein sensing and sensibility are what he calls “transinstrumental control performance,” or regulation of the human senses and body.
A series of dislocations have already occurred. Additionally, the groundless Hörl describes pertains not to a loss of bodily senses but to a shift of site where the world is experienced, namely across a series of screens from the desktop to the tablet, the smartphone to the smart watch, within which “a technological model of subjectivization and of the unconscious ultimately prevails as a result of the combination of information technologies and cognitive capitalism.” Thus, “becoming-technological,” means exposing the self to the technological condition, and to a world of sensing that is increasingly computational. From an ontological point of view, there now exists new ways of meaning-making and making sense such that the ontic and epistemological derivations of such acts and events are intrinsically always tied to the digital topography, the computational and algorithmic infrastructure, and the technical objects within it.
This panel invites papers exploring narratives, issues, and idealisms surrounding ways of making sense—of being and knowing—within digital topographies. Topics can centre on literature, films, visual, sound, computational, or ecotechnological projects to explore the ways in which narratives employ aesthetic, sensate narratives and strategies to highlight or problematize ontic and epistemological responses to the digital environment.