Technology and Culture Reading Group

TCRG – School of Culture and Communication – University of Melbourne

Month: June, 2013

TCRG June 25: Cacography or Communication? (Siegert)

by lukevanryn

This week our investigation of noise brings us to the work of Bernhard Siegert.

Drawing on Shannon, Serres and Derrida, Siegert argues that noise is the result of certain “cultural techniques” (Kulturtechnichen). Siegert presents an analysis of noise as through studies of the historiography of Roman engravings in Turkey, Kafka’s dreams of telephoning antiquity, and theatrical works for radio based on information theory.

The basic operation of those cultural techniques responsible for processing the distinction between nature and culture, or barbarism and civilization, is a filtering operation. If the goal of communication processes—be it breaking bread or breaking silence—is to establish social ties by means of transcending matter and turning it into a sign, then this sign first has to be produced in the technical real. (42)

We meet as usual in the Pierre Gorman Rm, 1888 Building, at 5:00 pm.

[PDF] Siegert, B. (2008). Cacography or Communication? Cultural Techniques in German Media Studies. Grey Room, 29, 26-47.

TCRG June 18: The Gesture of Writing

by lukevanryn

Vilem FlusserIn “the Gesture of Writing”, Flusser pays close attention to the materiality of writing, from its origins as inscription or cutting away, adding of material (chalk, charcoal) to a contrasting surface, to typewriting, which he compares to playing a piano. In each case the gesture is one of eliminating possibilities in order to make communication possible, in a similar way to Serres’s essay two weeks ago.

To write is a gesture which impresses upon surfaces, in order to have them represent situations of the historical and scientific universe […]. Should this gesture fall into disuse, (and there are symptoms at present which seem to suggest this), the universe of history and science will fall into oblivion, or at least it will cease to be the universe we live in. Because that universe is a ‘fiction’, (the result of techniques of writing), and materializes only in the form of surfaces covered by letters (18).

The typescript, itself fairly noisy, was published in Flusser Studies 8 (2009), and a PDF can be downloaded from this link.

We’ll meet at 5pm, in the Pierre Gorman Room.

TCRG June 4: Platonic Dialogue (Serres)

by lukevanryn

Kicking out the jams.

“To hold a dialogue is to suppose a third man and seek to exclude him” (67)

This week we’re discussing a short essay by Michel Serres titled “Platonic Dialogue”. In it, Serres treats the exclusion of noise as the problem that links science and philosophy, at the same time as it divides them.

“Serres’s major interest is the parallel development of scientific, philosophical, and literary trends. In a very simplified manner, one might say that Serres always runs counter to the prevalent notion of the two cultures -scientific and humanistic-between which no communication is pos­sible. In Serres’s view ‘criticism is a generalized physics,’ and whether knowledge is written in philosophical, literary, or scientific language it nevertheless articulates a common set of problems that transcends aca­demic disciplines and artificial boundaries.” (René Girard, quoted in Harari and Bell’s introduction to Hermes).

5pm, Pierre Gorman Rm, 1888 Building.

[PDF] Serres, M. (1982). “Platonic Dialogue” in Hermes: Literature, Science, Philosophy (pp. 65-70). Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.