[ISEA2023] Paper: Edward Shanken — Technoshamanism: Symbiotic Techniques of Art and Healing


Short Paper. Theme Other Cosmologies Subtheme Symbiotic Imaginaries

The term “technoshamanism” has been used to refer to a broad range of social and cultural manifestations, including healing modalities and spiritual rituals, rave culture and electronic dance music (EDM), and various digital arts practices. I take technoshamanism to join together a combination of traditional shamanic technologies with emerging technologies based in silicon (dry), biology (wet) and hybrid (moist), all in the service of healing and sustaining life. This paper explores how contemporary artists pursue expanded forms of consciousness by symbiotically combining technoscientific tools and shamanic techniques. As this area of artistic practice remains a nebulous and undefined proposition, I describe some key artistic monuments to help demarcate this amorphous arena. Today there is no greater artistic calling, no greater aesthetic necessity than helping to heal and preserve Earth’s biodiversity for posterity. Technoshamanism, I propose, is a potent strategy to move in that direction.

  • Edward A. Shanken writes and teaches about the entwinement of art, science, and technology with a focus on interdisciplinary practices involving new media. He is Professor at UC Santa Cruz, USA, where he has served as Director of the Digital Arts and New Media (DANM) MFA program. Prior academic posts include: Associate Professor, Digital + Media MFA program at RISD; Associate Professor, DXARTS Ph.D. program at University of Washington; Universitair Docent, New Media MA program, University of Amsterdam; Executive Director, Information Science + Information Studies, Duke University. Fellowships include the National Endowment for the Arts and American Council of Learned Societies. Dr. Shanken earned a Ph.D. and MA in Art History at Duke, an MBA at Yale University, and a BA at Haverford College.