Press Enter / Return to begin your search.

Art and the Broken Mirror: A technogenetic perspective on digitally expanded realities

Paper and presentation at ISEA2020 Montreal.

This paper examines how experiences with digitally expanded realities – familiar as virtual, augmented, mixed, and other modes of mediated reality – are tendentially designed to convince us of their ‘reality’ by smoothly integrating with our cultural habits and neurosensory systems, by mirroring our expectations, intuitions, and neuronal patterns. The leitmotif of the paper is the ‘mirror’ as a both figure and metaphor in negotiations of human relations to reality. I particularly problematize the mirror’s recent recurrence as a productive, mimetic motif in neurosensory-based design that cues perception to mutate in reflection of cultural and neurosensory pathways we already know. I approach this from a technogenetic perspective with reference to the works of N. Katherine Hayles, Catherine Malabou, and Bernard Stiegler. The technogenetic perspective concerns how we change with technology and involves an attention to emotional-biological implications of experience. This perspective leads us to deal with perception as a construct of cultural as well as cognitive and neurologically complex natures and patterns, cuing our ongoing and potentially fatal negotiations between real and artificial, truth and fiction.

I propose that, instead of reproducing a mimetic mirror motif that we find across writings on subjectivity since Modernity and neurosensory design of today, art can pursue an alternative motif of the ‘broken’ mirror. This continues ideas put forth by the avant-garde artists concerned with perceptual instabilities but engages more deeply with the technologically challenged natures and patterns of perceptual experience today.



Image: Francesca Woodman Self-deceit #1, Rome, Italy, 1978/1979 © Courtesy George and Betty Woodman, New York / SAMMLUNG VERBUND, Wien