[ISEA2008] Paper: Hyunkyoung Cho & Joonsung Yoon – Illusion of Technology in the Human-Computer Interactive Art


Introduction                                                                                                                                            Human-Computer Interactive Art suffers from an obsession that has led to bipolar discourses between negative and positive utopia. This discourse, provoked by insecurity in the face of technological advance, drives the illusion of technological superiority. We cannot escape from the illusion because of the structure of technology itself.

Enframing as the Subordinate Moments                                                                                            There is no neutrality or value freedom of technology, since all technical practices involve both active and receptive aspects. To integrate both aspects, Martin Heidegger used the puzzling meta-language that the technology is not the technology. The activity and receptivity of technology can be distinguished by the instrumental and ontological account. The former mainly considers each individual fulfilling his human desires, including cause and effect. The latter stresses more on the ensemble in social relations. The instrumental definition of technology is not wrong, yet it is not all true. It cannot explain the disagreement of the cause and effect, and so its promise has gone awry.

Heidegger demonstrates that the technology essentially has subordinate moments, and defines it with ‘enframing (Gestell)’ that a ‘world’ as a meaningful structure of experience is shaped by the provocative exigencies of technological planning and control. The enframing thrusts things into the ordering, setting-upon and challenging nature. It also moves the Human-Computer Interactive Art to busy instrumental circumstances, and makes it incline to one side, so-called the tendency of technological Determinism. It means that the Human-Computer Interactive Art is enframed as a part of stockpile of available materials and personnel, and always ready for technological purposes.

The Illusion as the Inversion                                                                                                                    The enframing incurs the illusion that operates in concealment, or appears as something it is not. Karl Marx defines that the illusion indicates not the form but the ‘inversion’ which is originated from a social relation. He analyzed in detail a use-value and an exchange-value of commodity. As a use-value, the form of commodity does not have a mysterious character, and it exists simply as either the result of human labor, or as an object with specific use. As soon as it takes over an exchange value in the social relation (like a market place), an enigmatic character arises in the form of a commodity. It is the illusion that conceals a direct relation between people, that a material relation between things takes on supernatural power as an idol or divine incarnation.

  • Hyunkyoung Cho Joonsung Yoon (South Korea) Dept. of Digital Media, Soongsil University

Full text (PDF) p. 109-110