Cultural TechniquesGrids, Filters, Doors, and Other Articulations of the Real

Cultural TechniquesGrids, Filters, Doors, and Other Articulations of the Real

Bernhard Siegert

Print publication date: 2015

ISBN: 9780823263752

Publisher: Fordham University Press


In a crucial shift within posthumanistic media studies, Bernhard Siegert dissolves the concept of media into a network of operations that reproduce, displace, process, and reflect the distinctions fundamental for a given culture. Siegert seeks to re-locate media and culture on a level where the distinctions between object and performance, matter and form, human and non-human, sign and channel, the symbolic and the real, are still in the process of becoming. The result is to turn ontology into a domain of all that is meant in German by the word Kultur. Cultural techniques comprise not only self-referential symbolic practices like reading, writing, counting or image-making. The analysis of “media” as cultural techniques emphasizes the practices in which they are embedded, shifting from first-order to second-order techniques, from the technical to the artistic, from object to sign, from the natural to the cultural, from the operational to the representational. Cultural Techniques ranges from seafaring, drafting, and eating, to the production of the sign-signal-distinction in old and new media, to the reproduction of anthropological difference, to the study of trompe-l’oeils, grids, registers, and doors. All chapters address the fundamental question of how ontological distinctions can be replaced by chains of operations that process those alleged ontological distinctions within the ontic.