Volume 46 Number 2

David L. Erben (Ed.)

Adrift in the Technological Matrix

2003
157 pages
ISBN 0838755518
Bucknell Review

Technology has consistently transformed the world with a process that seems to be constantly accelerating. Yet, the process of technological innovation is all too often discussed as though it were occult and inevitable. The struggle to understand the way "new" computer and communications technologies are transforming the world is complex. What the essays collected in this issue of the Bucknell Review attempt is a general cultural approach to the notion of there being a technological "matrix" in which we all now find ourselves "adrift" and of which our experience is often "dread." "Adrift" and "dread" are not single metaphors in the collection. The metaphors are allowed to transform themselves from essay to essay. In order to attempt the interrogation of the technological matrix, the authors have drawn from a variety of disciplines - literature, philosophy, religion, art, media studies - while retaining the great substantial contributions of previous theorists of technology. The main thrust of this collection of essays is to underscore the vast enrichment given to a study of the "new" technologies when approached from a broad cultural standpoint. Throughout these essays, by means of various readings of the technological space we find ourselves in, by academic scholars and practicing artists, the authors demonstrate the remarkable cultural cross-fertilization among the disciplines in regard to the "new" technologies. In this collection the principal focus is on the ways in which philosophical, artistic, and scientific concepts and discoveries have metaphorically penetrated our relationship with technology. Following Heidegger, the authors all in one way or another address the fundamental question: is technology something we do or is it something done to us? To posit the notion of being adrift within a "technological matrix" is to metaphorically create a threshold space, a frame. The authors in this collection are concerned with a number of broad issues, including the political and epistemological relationships between theory and technology. But this frame, this matrix, itself is overlaid with, and becomes an allegory of, is inscribed into, a whole range of issues which are "unpacked." We are living in a world overdetermined by technology, by a technological "matrix" consisting of cyberspace, cellular phones, hand-helds, DVD, and other technical resources and the accompanying language ("ripping," "hacking," surfing," "Web," "wired," etc.): a matrix of electronic, linguistic, and media networks and rhizomatic relations. However, the nature and effects of this matrix and these relations still largely remain unclear. Frequently associated with postmodern movements like cyberpunk fiction and music and extreme individualism (for example "computer hacking"), this matrix often suggests utopian visions of collectivity, role-playing, and of "free unmediated" communications exchanges using verbal environments. Adrift in the Technological Matrix offers a broad, provocative, and often playful critical approach to the resources we associate with the technological matrix that surrounds and influences us, investigating the relation of embodied practices to reading and writing - the kinesthetic, tactile, and visual, and how these affect the experience of space.

Contributors: Mark C. Taylor, Robert Markley, J. Yellowlees Douglas, Catheirne Gouge, David Kolb, Johanna Drucker, Silvio Gaggi, and Geoffrey Bennington.

About the editor:

David L. Erben is an assistant professor at the University of Toledo and of Mescalero descent. He became interested in the Internet and the "new" computer technologies in the early 1990s when they were promoted as emancipatory and revolutionary, particularly for marginalized and minority peoples in the U.S. and Easter Europe. Currently, his work on technology focused on the way it has failed to live up to these expectations.

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