TECH NOT LOGY
Einstmals trug nicht nur die Technik den Namen τέχνη. Einstmals hieß τέχνη auch jenes Entbergen, das die Wahrheit in den Glanz des Scheinenden hervorbringt.Einstmals hieß τέχνη auch das Hervorbringen des Wahren in das Schöne. Tέχνη hieß auch die ποίησις der schönen Künste.– Martin Heidegger, 1954
To ask for the origin of life is to ask for the origin of the environment. Living organisms are inscribed in their environments much like patterns woven into a carpet. The two cannot get apart, and yet there seems to be a distinct asymmetry in their relation.– Jesper Hoffmeyer, 1998
INTRO TO TECH NOT LOGY
The project Tech not logy seeks to reunite art and technology – in their extended modes – to contribute to the coherence between the mind, the collective and the environment.Homogeneity
Humans, both as individuals and collective entities, have recklessly destroyed the very essence of life - diversity, variety and richness in our relationships with ourselves, others, and our environment. We live in a world where homogenisation and sameness dominate our psychological, social, and biological landscapes. We are bombarded with endless options, yet they all seem to be variations of the same: 30 different types of peanut butter, 200 mass media channels, 300,000 TikTok dance variations of one song, cars under the hood are indistinguishable, and bookstores are overflowing with cookie-cutter bestsellers. The natural landscape in the Netherlands has changed to be dominated by just three plant species, leading to a loss of variety, diversity, and semiotic richness. Similarly, a few US tech companies now dominate global societies' communication infrastructure, providing a social simulacrum to accelerate and redistribute data. People who dare to be different are often met with suspicion, and the fear of being "cancelled" perpetuates this trend towards uniformity.Material conditions
Tech not logy is a reaction to the material aspects of our lives and its relationship to the decline of diversity and increase in homogenisation. The pressures of modern life have made us "productive" 24 hours a day, with only 8 hours spent working for low wages and the rest spent contributing to companies through the spectacle of mass media, viewing ads and consuming and improving algorithms and adding data to AI models, all for the benefit of the top 1%. Over the last 40 years, the U.S. has seen a massive transfer of wealth from the public to the private sector, totaling $50 trillion. It's important to always pay attention to language, as it often reveals meaning that is hidden by ideology. The word "private" comes from the Latin word "privare," which means "to steal."What we bring to the table
For the past 30 years, we have been fiercely investigating the complexities of identity and social mass media technology. From 2012 until 2019 we founded Fazzination, a digital knowledge network, about investing in knowledge that is close to oneself, to counter the threat of social media, or as we call it : social mass media technology. By investing in one's personal and collective knowledge 'architecture', to break free from the 'social relation' invented by technical developers and business developers, we hoped to reclaim the power of the individual in shaping our collective future. This effort is driven by a deep concern about the domination of the collective over the individual, a hallmark of fascism as warned by Michel Foucault. This kind of domination stifles human agency and creativity at a time when we desperately need people to stand up against the numerous challenges facing our world - climate change, social and economic injustice, rising nationalism, the erosion of democracy and the dependence of art in serving the status quo."For those of us on the spectrum almost everything is black or white. We aren't very good at lying and we usually don't enjoy participating in the social game as the rest of you seem so fond of. I think in many ways we autistic are the normal ones and the rest of the people are pretty strange – especially when it comes to the sustainability crisis." Greta ThunbergTech not logy is everything modern technology is not
Tech not logy reveals, thanks to Heidegger, the true essence of technology, which is not simply a human extension, a tool, or instrument. Tech not logy highlights the distinction between being and becoming, and how capitalism favours a static state of being over the dynamics of becoming. Tech not logy exposes the interconnectedness between organisms and the environment, breaking down the false separation between the two. By exploring the relationship between technology and the individual and collective, tech not logy offers a deeper understanding of the role modern technology plays in becoming enslaved to it.
TECH NOT LOGY IS PART OF A LARGER CORPUS
From 2019 we're working on an artistic-political corpus that has since expanded into a municipality, city, political party, garden and the concept for a new living being. In addition, these parts produce their own works. Human being is central to this cosmology: the question is how it understands herself. This question is relevant because each domain in which man and his mentality interferes is disturbed, affecting humans, other organisms and the entire system.*We have been grappling with the question of finding a philosophy of technology that can equip us with the necessary understanding to resist the current domination by modern technology. While Heidegger provided profound insights, it was in 1954, well before digital technology infiltrated our minds and collective networks like a virus. We believe that Tech not logy offers a way out of this conundrum. Not by offering another concept, like Stiegler, Latour or from Posthumanism that is often non-materialist, but by combining deep insights from theoretical biology, biosemiotics, philosophy, social theory and by rearticulating artists like Joseph Beuys.The general critique in all our projects is the role technology and mass media plays since WO2 and how it infected the mind, the collective and our relation to the environment. Digital technology has further atomised individuals and collectives, losing their agency. For the main part technology contributes to the instrumentalisation, commodification, normalisation and uniformisation of thinking. Now we're locked inside the spectacle, flooded with signification, in the illusion of the social, sedated by technology, the opium of the people. To challenge this condition, we return to where our cosmology started in 2019 and add a new layer to our cosmology of municipality, city, party, garden and per~son: the extended concept of technology."Tέχνη hieß auch die ποίησις der schönen Künste."
In the quote on top of this website, Heidegger shows art and technology are deeply related, and we still have a sense for this source. But it is hard to connect with it since both art and technology split up and turned their vital source against the diversity of the human mind and thought and collective potentials. We propose therefore a technology that is beyond our daily comprehension, but still close to us, technology in its most extended concept: tech not logy.We believe that in doing so, it is possible to reconnect technology with the source of art. Not the art of the image or digital art, art as part of the spectacle, but to reconnect with Erweiterte Kunstbegriff, the extended concept of art by the German artist Joseph Beuys. Modern art serves the status quo; therefore art should extend itself to interfere with life, as a social or political concept or collective counter force, to reconnect the mind, the collective and the environment and to enable each person, "Jeder Mensch", to become an artist. Not to make art but to da/design its own life als part in the coherence between mind, collective and milieu. The extension of art applies to technology as well since art and technology share a common source. We need an extended concept of technology to interfere the status quo. When both extended concepts, of art and technology, meet and collaborate we can overcome the challenges we face, in such a way that it will serve life, the psyche and collectives and contributes against homogenisation and the loss of variety.
STAGE 1: The two pillars OF Tech not logy
The first is an advanced understanding that reality and the true nature of life, of all living organisms is becoming. Becoming means that nothing can be reduced, so not even to the 'being' of 'human being'. You always end up in a relation, nothing is. Being is a phase in an ongoing process of individuation according to Simondon and later Deleuze. Think of it: how could an individual ever be, had it not become first? And if it 'is', how to change and adapt without becoming. Look at a young kid or a plant and you understand being is not what it's all about. But in our day to day culture everything is about being (identity) and not about becoming. Becoming is evolving, changing, moving, is relating, is unknown, and this is a mode of existence where it is hard to market products and produce and capture desires.The human organism becomes in its interactive relation with the environment, the milieu, but becoming can be limited by the potential of the organism and the condition and diversity of the environment.
THE ESSENCE OF TECHNOLOGY
This brings us to the second: the essence of modern technology. What we understand and know about modern technology is totally insufficient to allow it to rampantly invade every aspect of our environment and of our body and mind. Many of us, if not everybody, thinks technology is something out there that serves, instrumentalises, automates and is a tool, a means to an end. If so, what then caused the cascading crises and catastrofes we're facing and the tech dystopia we're in? The German philosopher Martin Heidegger (see our disclaimer about him being a Nazi below) revealed in 1954 the essence of modern technology. This essence is that technology considers the world as 'Standing Reserve'. Standard Reserve is a way of organising and controlling the world in order to extract value from it and distribute this energy. Think of the exploitation of earth and its resources, materials are distributed in industrial processes while transforming human beings in human resources, HR. Today digital technology has turned the human mind and collective processes into 'Standing Reserve'. Ideas, creativity, opinions and even emotions, are transformed into informational energy and pumped around, groups are placed opposite which produces new data that can be circulated further. Through AI technology language and human creative processes are appropriated and redistributed as Standing Reserve. No need to ask what this means for the richness of human creativity, for the variety and diversity. But it is not just the usage and outcomes; while complexity of these domains remain, the human beings, being part of this complexity, inevitable alienates and remotes from themselves. We believe this is already going on.Heidegger's greatest fear was that people would start to regard other people as Standing Reserve - 1954, nine years after the Holocaust and Nazi eugenics - in what he then called "Biotechnik." At the same moment in the USA the civil rights movement had started protesting against racial segregation and discrimination: slavery has proved human beings are able to use human beings as Standing Reserve.The urgency of 'Tech not logy', though, is what has changed since the 2000's. Not what humans are prepared to do against others, but what we do against ourselves. Human beings treat themselves as Standing Reserve, to redistribute their life's potential, to profit a few moguls and investors. The "involuntary comfort" in which people wallow is sad and exemplifies the decline of human agency; philosophy has been warning against this for decades. But we see something different: human being who empties to the bottom the source of his own individuation in what has come to be called identity. Identity and consumption are mutually related. Technology absorbs and distributes this desire, this energy. Leaving no potential to individuate in the process of becoming, to life. Resulting in homogenisation, loss of variety, leading into sameness, the cultural Heat Death.We are now at the point where modern technology and human consciousness are in a positive feedback loop, in an 'ecstacy of communication' to phrase Baudrillard (1984). Can we still separate the two and thus bend or reroute something? But along which path? The human route is cut off, reason is part of the plot, and morality has dissolved. Then only technology remains, were it not that we ourselves are that technology.We need a “Tech not logy”, an “expanded concept of technology” that negates and reveals at the same time. A tech not logy to rethink subjectivity, the social and our relation to our milieu that is deconstructed and dialectical at the same time. Without knowing with Tech not logy we have created what Catherine Malabou calls plasticity, a Plastic Ontology. Tech not logy is not the negation of technology, not technology, it is the affirmation of the nature after technology conquered the world. It is also not non-technology, since the essence of tech not logy is technological. Plasticity is a concept we, educated as sculptors, are quite familiar with and is strongly related to what we call "Closures" (see below).The idea behind an extended concept of technology is to reconnect with the source of technology and art, which Heidegger showed were deeply related. The current state of technology and art has become separated and has turned against the surprise and diversity of human thought and mind. The critique behind Tech not logy is that technology and mass media, especially since World War II, have infected the mind, collectives, and our relationship with the environment. Digital technology has further atomised individuals and collectives, leading to the loss of agency. For the most part, technology contributes to the instrumentalisation, commodification, normalisation, and uniformisation of thinking. As a result, people are now locked inside the spectacle, flooded with signification in the illusion of the social, and sedated by technology, which has become the "opium of the people."To challenge this condition, the idea is to reconnect with the source of art and technology through an extended concept of technology. This technology would be beyond our daily comprehension, but still close to us, and would bring back the idea of art as a means of bringing out the truth in the beautiful. This extended concept of technology would also collaborate with the extended concept of art, as proposed by the German artist Joseph Beuys. He believed that by connecting the dots, there would be no artistic, social, or political concept left that was able to challenge the status quo. Art should extend itself to interfere with life and enable each person to become an artist. The same would apply to technology, as both share a common source. By collaborating, the extended concepts of art and technology can overcome the challenges faced today, in such a way that it will serve life, the psyche, collectives and contribute against homogenization and the loss of variety.
TECH NOT LOGY is part of Boolean Works with Gemeente Nieuwe IJssel, S.O.O.O.S, ANDSTERDAM, Per~soon, DENKMAL, The Three Sisters, and other artistic-political projects.
Stage 2: variety of principles of Tech not logy
We lay the foundation of Tech not logy by relating several insights and principles that motivate our projects since 2019. To put it bluntly: we're working on a relational ontology that is grounded in theory of life, information, phenomenology and art. In Tech not logy two fresh concepts are added. Individuation of Gilbert Simondon (1954) which inspired Deleuze, Stiegler and Latour. We relate individuation to identity as 'becoming' to 'being'.Second new is the informational dimension of Bateson and Pierce (1839 - 1914). As you may know we're working on Boolean Works since 1991 so we're very familiar with Leibniz > Boole > Shannon/Weaver information as this lays the foundation of the information society. But this information is not 'relational', leading to the dystopia we are in. We thoroughly believe there is something hidden in the nature of Boolean Logic – the result of a long philosophical odyssee, decoding the logic of human reason – that is expressed in todays dystopia. Tech not logy rejects this since it leaves life out of the equation.Standing Reserve
The concept of modern technology as "Standing Reserve" (Heidegger, 1954). From covering the various Earth's spheres to annexing social structures and parasitising and hyper-parasitising the human mind by social mass media technology. Thinkers after Heidegger – Stiegler, Latour e.o. – have not countered Heideggers deep insight, unfortunately. Horizontal planes
According to the French philosopher Catherine Malabou, capitalism has stolen from anarchism the idea of an open plane, on which all is possible. This horizontal plane, life as a platform, is ever further stretching, dissolving differences and is both flattening and homogenising. What seems paradoxical is that the most inspirational contributions in the field of theory and culture today come from cyberculture, from YouTube or podcasts and not from the 'verticalising' institutions of neoliberal academia that are expressions of the status quo. So, ironically, capitalism, through technology, is at the same time horizontalising, and give rise to the most critical and creative voices and supply a platform for large audiences interested what lies under this horizontal plane.Individuation
We argue the current revolt of Identity goes at the expense of Individuation (Simondon, 1954). Identity prefers 'phase' over 'process' and 'being' over 'becoming'. Simondon's individuation is unique for it concerns all individuals; objects (like crystals and bricks) living organisms and human beings, the psyche and the collective.Separation organism and milieu
The separation of organism and environment is an epistemological misunderstanding turned into an ontological catastrophe leading to the destruction of the environment by human. The division between organism and its environment in culture and science inspired our conception of Per~son as a relative being. Kurt Goldstein, 1933, Gregory Bateson, 1972 and Jesper Hoffmeyer, 1998 are our great inspirations from the fields of psychology, systems theory and biosemiotics.Erweiterte Kunst
The extension of art into the concept of "Erweiterte Kunst" (Joseph Beuys, 1972) enables art to cover all ecologies and art becomes artistic-political. Erweiterte Kunst, the extended concept of art, engages all people to shape and da/design the world.Umwelt
The Umwelt theory (Von Uexküll, 1934) lays bare a species dependent timespace continuum saturated with functional and perceptual cues. Organisms live in different modes-of-existing where the relation between time and space vary enormously. Each species has its own Umwelt, very different from the common understanding of a united living environment. Umwelten can be vastly different from one another, even within the same environment. The human Umwelt dominates by interfering in all other Umwelten.Diversity
Diversity is hot. We understand the importance of diversity from a biosemiotic perspective. Biosemiotics claims life has only one goal: the increase of semiotic freedom, the # of ways sign-exchange can expand. Diversity plays an essential role in this: not primarily for the semiotic richness and variety today, as an expression of life's beauty and emancipation, but to keep the well of future diversity filled. Since future diversity (= realisation of potential and possibilities) depends on the diversity that is available today. In taking part in the culture wars, both sides forget this last dimension and their strategies are not contributing to this future diversity. Technology, there it is, contributes to widen the differences, pushing participants back in their trenches, hardening their positions, decreasing potentialities and energies.ChatGPT: "In other words, diversity is important not just for its own sake, but also because it is necessary for the continued evolution and growth of life. The current culture wars, with their focus on winning and losing, are not only divisive, but also harmful to the potential for future diversity. Technology, which is often seen as a tool for progress and advancement, can actually have the opposite effect by exacerbating existing divisions and limiting potentialities."Information
In science and technology Boolean Logic, Shannon/Weiner information, of Sausurian semiotics and genetics in biology – the hard but dumb binary sciences – dominate over biosemiotics, founded on Peircian triadic semiotics, on Batesonian information that is also triadic and universal in all living organisms and systems. Information is a too important concept to have it captured by cosmology, biology or AI. The various understandings need distributed as wide and deep as possible.ChatGPT: "The concept of information has traditionally been understood in a narrow, reductionist way that emphasises only its quantitative aspects, such as the amount of data transmitted. However, more recent perspectives, such as biosemiotics, Peircian triadic semiotics, and Batesonian information, take into account the qualitative, relational, and dynamic aspects of information, recognising that it is not just a one-way transmission, but an essential process that shapes and enables the functioning and evolution of living systems. These perspectives also emphasise the importance of understanding the different ways in which different organisms and systems process, interpret, and give meaning to information, which is why they are considered more holistic and inclusive than traditional binary approaches."Becoming
The capitalist domination and proliferation of "Being" over "Becoming"; this further atomises individuals and dissolves human agency in the process. Capitalism hides the true nature of life in the cosmos.ChatGPT: "In the capitalist worldview, individuals and societies are often viewed as static and unchanging entities, rather than as dynamic and constantly evolving systems. This emphasis on "Being" over "Becoming" can lead to a loss of agency and individuality, as individuals are reduced to mere cogs in a larger system. Additionally, this perspective can obscure the true nature of life, which is constantly in a state of flux and change. In contrast, a focus on "Becoming" acknowledges the dynamic and ever-changing nature of life, and emphasises the importance of individual agency and self-expression in the process."The three ecologies
'Tech not logy' is extended technology, to bind and cohere the psyche, the collective, and the milieu (The Three ecologies of Félix Guattari, 1989) into a 'tech not logical' environment.ChatGPT: "The "three ecologies" concept proposed by French psychoanalyst and philosopher Félix Guattari in 1989, refers to the interconnectedness and interdependence of the individual psyche, the collective social systems, and the natural environment. According to Guattari, these three ecologies are deeply intertwined and need to be considered together in order to create a sustainable and harmonious society. 'Tech not logy' is a concept that builds on this idea, suggesting that technology should be designed and used in a way that actively works to bind and cohere these three ecologies, rather than damaging or disrupting them. This could involve using technology to support mental and emotional well-being, fostering social connections and community, and promoting environmental sustainability."Anti-fascist life
Deleuze/Guattari and Foucault's contributions to the "rules" for living an anti-fascist life have inspired us deeply. Also the three instructions on the three ecologies of Guattari (1989) are short and clear: Awakening subjectivity, a constantly mutating socius and the environment in permanent redefinition. To avoid, just as in becoming, that capitalism captures and let you produce desires and thoughts.ChatGPT: "The concept of "Anti-fascist life" is also a central element of the 'Tech not logical' approach, which emphasises the importance of resisting the forces of homogenisation and conformity."Closures
Finally our personal fascination that inspires all our work from the 90's: Closures. Closures are imagined as timespatial narratives, sculptures, cartographies, and visual representations that capture the dynamic process of becoming within one's environment and between individuals in their environments.
Stage 2: Zooming in on a few concepts
Disclaimer: Being one of the most influential philosophers of the 20th century Martin Heidegger was also a member of the Nazi party for a brief period of time (1933-1934) and held various academic positions under the Nazi regime. He never publicly acknowledged or apologised for his actions during this period and it remains a significant and controversial aspect of his life and legacy.In Heidegger’s ‘Concerning the Question of Technology’ (1954) he clarifies the essence of modern technology. This essence is something different from its means: the essence is not a tool or an instrument. The essence of modern technology is the transformation of all human action into "Standing Reserve" or "Bestand", a way of organising and controlling the world in order to extract value from it and distribute this energy. From agriculture, oil and energy in Heidegger's 1950’s to today’s transformation of human beings into human resources, the appropriation and monetisation of social structures, the technological control over the public and private spheres, the transformation of human communication into data for future monetisation and the technological transformation of language and creative production into standing reserve. All at the cost of human agency, the dissolvement of social resistance against inequalities and young people who are exposed to radical consumerism and technologies that alienate and rob them from their social and political potential. In the final pages of his book, when the danger has been clarified, Heidegger introduces art; only art can resist the essence of modern technology.Erweiterte Kunst
Erweiterte Kunst, a term coined by Joseph Beuys, the pan-ecological German artist, expands art into the psychic, collective and environmental sphere. Art forms are not limited to traditional mediums like painting and sculpture, but also encompass social and political activism, teaching, and other forms of public engagement among them concepts, processes (happenings), institutions, politics, and societal structures. Erweiterte Kunst is a fundamental critique on the commercial nature of today's art and the art world. The artist, who can be everbody since 'Jeder Mensch is ein Künstler', has the potential to act as a catalyst for personal and societal change.Identity
Identity is an a priori in philosophy and social sciences - a pre-existing reality rather than something real. Identity played a huge role during the formation of the nation state and emerged from that process as a standalone and manipulative illusion. With the advent of social mass media technology, identity has been transformed into a feature of high informational energy and media/political value. People have learned to believe and invest in their identity, and treat their supposed identity as a commodity.Social technology
The social body, where public values rule against private domination, vanished after the global neoliberal takeover in the 80's saturated by finance, media, brand and image. In the exploitation of this void, this vast potential, technology remediated a social relational structure, privately owned.Dominance of social technology is not due to the instrumentalisation or mediation of something that already existed, technology as a means, but social technology is the technical simulation of a 'social' that is 'new', 'better' and more collective than social has ever been. This new social simulation is better in storing collective energy, turning it into potential information, and makes it exploitable at any time. And redistribute it where ever its contribution is the highest.Art
Art, long thought of as an oasis in the culture industry, free from the technological mentality, fits in the ordering, as part of the simulation that technology has propagated. The role art once played in the social and in the proliferation of agency and freedom of the human mind has been finally absorbed too as products of cultural politics, of ordering and regulating and supporting the dominant ideology.Life
All living beings, all objects and our psyche and collectivity are 'individuated,' they bring ‘themselves’ into being in the process of becoming. For most of us life in general feels rich, diverse, dynamic, and surprising, always in change and adapting; human life in modern times, though, becomes less and less diverse and vivid and more structured, regulated and guided by a technological force we are subjected to. Identity, as an example, is for young people something to work on, invest in, compete with, improve and identity is their ‘endpoint’, the goal, what is to be achieved. But again, identity is a construction that has no basics in social sciences, it is an a priori. To put it bluntly: today identity is produced by technology into a product where energy is stored for future exploitation. The culture wars, part of the same process, are grounded in the allocation of this potential energy and is a war on time, who owns the future? Social mass media technology platforms these wars. Identity is the symbolic that fuels this wars. To change identity from a technological simulation, and to learn to understand how identity and individuation are related, being vs. becoming, can help people to pull themselves back from these wars. In Gemeente Nieuwe IJssel we started with exercising as a way to connect the two.Modern technology vs. human consciousness
It is our intuition that human consciousness is unique in the universe, as expressed in language, art, science, psyche and society. Consciousness is not an exclusive human feature, it emerged in many living organisms, without the illusion of an inner self like human beings make. Technology, in contrast with consciousness, is present in all living organisms and its evolvement depends on the complexity of the relation between organism and its Umwelt. Modern technology is a special branch, fundamentally different, ruled by human reason, and evolved over the last 12,000 years. According to Heidegger, the essence of modern technology is ‘Standing Reserve’ (1954): controlling the world in order to extract value from it and distribute this energy. Modern technology is deeply intertwined with capitalism, ownership, and exchange. Think of mining, agriculture, industry, bureaucracy, mass media and technology of the social and the mind, of language, and human imagination. Now culminating in artificial intelligence, which rises as a third entity alongside and above technology and consciousness. It is indeed only syntax and not semantics. But does this matter in a society that thrives on sign exchange and 'spectacle'?In modern humans technology and consciousness collide: modern technology and human consciousness, initially complementary, have become conflicting concepts. This conflict is not surprising since technology and life are familiar, and scaffolding concepts from the very beginning. Human consciousness came much later, has only just arrived, but has become interwoven with technology over time. One from the origin of life, the other human, the two have come into conflict, they are not at all attuned to each other. The becoming character of human consciousness, clashes with the 'becoming' character of modern technology. Now modern technology and human consciousness struggle over each other's origin (life or human) and priority which leads, as Baudrillard puts it, the 'ecstacy of communication' (1984).Human consciousness and modern technology are emergent properties of the body-brain that imagine and relate to how the body-brain becomes (individuates) in its environment. Human consciousness mainly allows the brain-body to check, perceive, process, and perform, and exteriorises the organism-Umwelt relationship. In contrast, modern technology interiorises the organism-Umwelt relationship, and when it overflows by too much simulation and sign exchange, it flows into the subconscious, where it turns into habit and addiction. Suppression and prevention of these effects leads to homogenisation and decrease in variety and diversity. The fusion of modern technology and human consciousness needs a body-brain update.How did we, personally, got here?
Over the past two decades, our research has focused, quite pragmatic and ignorant, on two of the most pressing issues in contemporary society: identity and social technology. When we started questioning identity, in 2008, social technology had not yet taken over the discourse. Interestingly, during this period, the two concepts intertwined and infiltrated all aspects of public and private life. The proliferation of digital network technology has enabled the further manipulation, appropriation, and control over what is supposed to be identity, and materially decreased individual and collective agency.
Stage 3: Tech not logy as a Sketchbook
A World Beyond theory
Why has Europe, like Asia, India, and Africa, surrendered to the dominance of US digital technology that destroys human agency, the richness and variety of ideas, and destroys and appropriates the social fabric? After the US's first invasion of TV and advertising after WWII, which turned citizens into consumers, the EU and its founding governments did nothing to protect their citizens or the social and cultural structures against the aggression of US-based technology founded by libertarians. EU citizens and social structures continue to be bombarded by US technology. No anti-missiles or Iron Dome for Europe.Contemporary art has marginalised itself by turning into a capitalist instrument of homogenisation, supportive to the status quo and the dominant ideology. In todays art industry the uniqueness of the human mind (of the artist), as a great source of variation, has turned into the financialisation of scarcity, of the exception, rather than accumulate into an artistic-political movement, alike Guy DeBord or Joseph Beuys, to generally increase human agency, freed from social pressure and conformism, and to inspire individual and collective action for variety, against sameness.
Social technology is mass media
In 1973, the artist Richard Serra (yes, the sculptor) shed light on the structure of mass media in 'Television delivers people', produced by Carlota Fay Schoolman.
Social media technology and television are mass media that maintain the status quo, control the uniformity of social groups and collectives, and homogenise human minds and ideas. Recently television merged with advanced social technology into 'Social Mass Media Technology'. This new technology combines advertising, news, user data, celebrity culture, VR, AI, and fuses identity politics and business ownership.
There is a need for human agency to address the challenges we're facing: climate change, social and economic inequality, threats to democracy and autocracy, and the technology dystopia that we have allowed to emerge. Human agency that is needed to meet these challenges has been effectively diverted to sustain social entertainment and consumption, which has contributed to social conflict and the depletion of natural resources. This has come at the expense of the vitality of the human mind and ideas, the vitality and variety of the social community, and the diversity of the natural environment, all for the benefit of a few individuals and corporations and to preserve the hegemony of the US over the rest of the world.The complex of mass media, social technology, and its private ownership has become one of the biggest obstacles against the growth of human agency.Nearly all social mass media technology originates from the United States and represents the second wave of mass media after advertising and television following World War II. Now the EU is the outlet for this, all initiative comes from the US. And see what consequences this has in the US itself, it has broken up society. To make a new start to free humanity from this yoke, enabling human agency to increase and be available for collective challenges, we started Tech Not Logy.The EU must technologically emancipate itself from the hyper-capitalist version that the US offers the world. Many things need to change for this, including a more basic understanding of the nature of technology, enabling human capacities to be available for human and life-worthy purposes.To achieve this change, we need to shift our focus away from technology as a means for communication, entertainment and consumption, and towards technology as an attitude for mental, social and environmental revitalisation. This requires a new approach to technology development and deployment, one that values permeability, oppositions, dilemmas and trilemmas, heterogeneity and surprise.Finally, we must prioritise the ethical and moral implications of technology. We cannot allow technology to continue to be used to exploit people and resources for the benefit of a few at the expense of the many. Instead, we must ensure that technology serves the needs and values of all members of society and respects the rights and dignity of all living beings.By taking these steps, we can reclaim technology as the human capacity to build a more just, surprising and sustainable world. This is the vision of Tech not logy, and we invite you to join us in this important work.
Richness and varietyThe coherence between the mind (the world of rich ideas and inner imaginations), society (the exchange of communality and solidarity), and the milieu (the connected Umwelten of all organisms) has shrunk under late capitalism. Richness and diversity suffer from sameness and homogeneity. But future diversity depends on the richness we create today. Social Mass Media Technology contributes to the decline of agency, to the increase of conflict and the breakdown of the epistemological framework for our understanding of the world and humanity's place within it. As Félix Guattari wrote in 1989: "Human subjectivity, in all its uniqueness, is as endangered as those rare species that are disappearing from the planet every day. It is up to us to resist this mass-media homogenisation, which is both desingularising and infantalising".
We founded Fazzination was as a community platform about knowledge, ideas and ideation, both personal and professional, in and between personal and SAAS networks. Back then we were convinced that the content and the user mechanisms mattered in an alternative against US social mass media tech. Today we understand, Fazzination contributed to the "Standing Reserve" and added to the over-saturation of communication, that in itself decreases diversity both in biological and cultural systems (Kalevi Kull, 2005, Maran, 2004).We founded Fazzination in 2012 and built an ecology-of-mind-as-network, in response to the rise of social media; as a counter narrative to it. Our main concern at the time was the potential impact of social media on the mind and the social well-being of society, and to go against the sameness it produces. Sameness is a characteristic of capitalism, and today's technology is its accelerator. 20 political parties in Dutch Congress, 20 candystores in one street in Amsterdam, 20 different flavours of peanut butter in the supermarket, 200 TV channels. Social technology homogenises imaginative and social energy and exploits the human imagination. Therefore, we designed Fazzination around personal and professional fascinations: the platform is safe by design, with a focus on an architecture of permeability and avoiding social acceleration. In terms of business model, Fazzination is without ads or data transfers, and the user is not exploited in any way. How? We merged a free network with SAAS clouds, with the user as the single point of control in and beween both types of networks. This network diversification gave the user maximum control, which turned out to be not always appreciated.We introduced many Dutch cultural and knowledge organisations during the early years of Fazzination. What was their view on de US dominated technology; does it comply with European ethics and social standards? We thought not. VPRO, NRC, Openbare Bibliotheken, OBA, diverse Hogescholen, NPO, Kennisnet, TNO, EYE were among them and we worked with thousands of users, local communities and partners in Fazzination like Gemeente Utrecht, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Avans University.What we didn't know then and what we know now is that you cannot build tech that does not correspond with how people see themselves , and what they expect from a platform like Fazzination. Fazzination was about tinkering, surprise and avoided social acceleration.Below the Fazzination architecture from 2012 presented to the specialists in The Netherlands. "Why do we need another social network when Facebook does such a great job?" responded digital experts in the Dutch Creative and Digital Industry.
In 2019, after Fazzination, we went back to the real world to further work on the variety and coherence between the human mind, the social and the milieu, which we name The three ecologies after Félix Guattari. With Tech not logy, as part of this enterprise, we develop and share ideas about the future of technology and mass media.
Stage 4: Previous notions on TECH NOT LOGY
The term "private," as in private property, comes from the Latin word "privare," which means "to rob, steal." Private refers to something that has been taken from the public domain.But what do private and public mean under late capitalism since there are no secrets anymore and everything is on public display? Reality TV and Social Media reverted the meaning of stealing (of private) and turned it into entertainment. Today everything is public except equity or the ownership of tech and media companies.The EU GDPR regulation focusses on digital privacy. We have always argued privacy is important but far less than the general impact from Social Mass Media Technology on the vitality of the human mind and the resilience of the social body. After GDPR Tech not logy standards are necessary.2.
It is widely accepted that the decrease in mental health is the result of the increasing individualisation of society. In the case of social mass media technology this causality is questionable and ambiguous.The human mind is fundamentally embodied and located in time and space. Technology, by compressing time and space, leaves individuals in an undimensional void. Information as space, and news as time, are the equivalents of these compressed, accelerated and hidden dimensions.The architecture and algorithms of social mass media technology claim to enable and optimise personal expression in a safe environment. Expression in a safe environment are the two crucial components for a child to develop a balanced and healthy identity. Social mass media has broken the balance, of this equilibrium, to contribute to the illusion of safety of the social at the expense of the richness of human expression and experiment. Expression in social technology is not meant to create safe / brave spaces for personal expression; these attempts at "becoming" are an intricate part of a social formation based on "being." The transactional communication that target individual users is not aimed at seducing individual minds, but at enclosing them within a sphere of social desire.In social technology human desires are reflected and reinforced through social illusions. Just when i thought i was out, they pulled me back in. Individualisation is misunderstood; it is the social apparatus that individuals should avoid and protect themselves from. The idea of social communities as a safe haven and an ideal is the greatest trick of capitalism and the biggest claim of social mass media technology. Not the individual desires are processed but through them the social bodies are fed and weaponised, in this indirect and roundabout way, to control the individual.This has consequences: in these times of multiple crises and a lack of social resistance, which is blocked and absorbed by social comfort, we depend on the independent minds of individuals to lead us out of our predicament. Social and social technology does not help:"For those of us on the spectrum almost everything is black or white. We aren't very good at lying and we usually don't enjoy participating in the social game as the rest of you seem so fond of. I think in many ways we autistic are the normal ones and the rest of the people are pretty strange—especially when it comes to the sustainability crisis." (Greta Thunberg)3.
Social Mass Media technology emerged around 2005 – after TV in the 50's – and later merged with news, entertainment, and politics. As a result, this technology came to dominate society. Our insights deepened, and in 2019, we quite Fazzination. Adding new software was no longer contributing to our mission of counteracting the effects of Social Mass Media technology. We concluded that a new paradigm of technology is needed, alongside Heidegger's concept of "Standing Reserve".4.
Too much communication in too little time to process
Social Mass Media Technology counters the vitality and diversity of ideas, but even diversity of human life itself. The constant flow of information contributes to the idea that too much communication in too little time reduces diversity in both biological and cultural systems.In 1983 the French sociologist and philosopher Baudrillard argued the social has vanished altogether and is resurrected by a structure where everyone is each others hostage ánd terrorist. This is a accurate but gruesome depiction of todays social mass media society.5.
The Valley kills variation
US-based social technology is propelled by venture capital that has been accumulated and managed in Silicon Valley since the 1950s. The business cases, business models, the growth acceleration, software architecture, algorithms, and ideological and commercial exploitation of this technology finally undermine the vitality of the human mind and social variation. Of course we are not against US-based media and tech moguls. EU-based ones like Qwans, Altrnative, or Talpa or Chinese platforms that corrupt their users have our attention too.6.
Trump tweeting on a Dutch platform?
It is important to emphasise that Social Mass Media Technology operates without borders, while users are bound by time and geography. The EU and its member states treat the digital sphere as a global sphere, and in doing so, an unfair level playing field is created. As a result the US invasion of technology and ideology is unprecedented and can not been properly challenged.Have you wondered why US companies and their shareholders are allowed to create immense surplus value, personal wealth, and social and mental damage leading to violence, division, and depression? In the US, this is part of the American dream, but in Europe, it is a nightmare, and US tech gets a free lunch. We Europeans are being foolish. Imagine if the situation were reversed, and the EU took over the US mental, social, political, popular, and media fabric, exploiting and perverting it. How would Musk, Cook, or Bezos like that? Or Trump tweeting on a Dutch platform?7.
Tech takes over the world
The US cultural hegemony began with advertising after World War I, and with commercial television after World War II. It has since hijacked societies all over the world and owns most of today's information, social, and media infrastructure. As a result, it is flooding the world with mental and social garbage and spreading sameness. Alternatively, it completely takes over public sectors and turns them into business divisions. For example, France recently kicked Microsoft out of the education system, where it had complete control over the educational information infrastructure. This is standard operating procedure for Microsoft and its friends, such as Meta, AMS, Oracle, IBM, Google, Apple, Twitter, etc., in many sectors and spheres in EU countries.8.
Tech not logy is not bringing moral and ethical concerns in order to avoid tech wrecks. Instead, we take the mechanisms of capitalism seriously and deconstruct their economic principles to build EU immunity over US technology.9.
Tech not logy, an extended technology concept
Unlike EU alternatives to US social media – such as the Dutch initiative "Public Spaces" – we do not believe that redefining "social" or "public" or applying new design principles can improve communication in late capitalism. The internet is not broken, as some people would have us believe, but is part of the dominant ideology.An earlier Dutch concept called "The Digital City," hailed as non-commercial, was the dystopian precursor to todays Metaverse. The ordering (themes, verticals) and control were already present in this early Internet. Standing Reserve was in the early phase of expanding into the digital sphere.Heidegger ends his book 'About the question of technology' (1954) with the notion that there is one area of production that is immune to "Standing Reserve': art. But, he added, he had seen signs this was changing too...
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© 2023 Soft Technology EU, DENKMAL, PER-SOON, GROND, SOOOS, ANDSTERDAM, De drie zusters and Gemeente Nieuwe IJssel
initiated by Stichting Nieuwe IJssel. All rights reserved.