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<eyebeam><blast> The Politics of New Technologies

For my contribution to this internet discussion, I offer an excerpt from
a recent paper:

        "...I grow increasingly wary of the discourses used to
naturalize globalization as an unending experience of mood enhancing VR,
prosthetic empowerment and information access. Cultural critic Nicola
Green notes a tendency in much writing on digital technologies to
fetishize the screen, rather than seeing computers as objects, which
thus helps to erase the physical aspect of the cyborg experience. Not
seeing the computer as a manufactured objects embedded in social and
economic relations facilitates the erasure of our link to producers who
are also part of the integrated circuit. I doubt that the notion that
America has reached the post-industrial age via technological advances
would ring true to thousands of electronics assembly plant workers in
Mexico and the Caribbean whose labor conditions are closer to sub-human
than post-human.
        Is it a coincidence that the rhetoric of digital disembodiment
has so effectively been esconsed in the artworld in the past decade,
precisely in a period when Congress, the far Right and power brokers of
the art market so effectively decimated public culture? Even a discourse
that substantively addresses the mutation of ontology beyond embodiment
and of categories of the human occurs in time and space, which is to
say, in history,  and is thus embedded in a particular social moment.
The discourse of digital disembodiment and techno-liberation has served
quite effectively as proof of the supposed end of the need for identity
politics (which was more involved with issues of cultural inequity and
social injustice, than the institutionalization of essentialism and
victim-speak, as it has been demonically portrayed). It has permitted an
information elite to present itself as vanguard of a newer and better
form of democracy, which of course, we have to pay to be part of -
reinventing of politics as a gated "interactive" community. It has
ushered in another spate of formalist aesthetics recast as
mathematically calculated abstraction. It has encouraged a simplistic
dismissal of cultural practices engaged with the social via the
insistence on simulation as the explanation of all symbolic signifying
systems.  This discourse represents  the invasiveness of new
technologies as enjoyable and empowering, as if  all of us could simply
will our passage into the posthuman. This approach obfuscates the
polarized power relations  that characterize the age of multinational
capitalism, the negative psychological impact of constant surveillance
in the workplace, the ethical debates around gene patenting, and the
frequent poor and third world people as involuntary testers of medical
technologies and pharmeceuticals."

        Are these issues considered unpopular? Unfundable? Unexciting?

Coco Fusco


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