Ian Hacking: Rewriting the Soul

I recently met with Paula Gardner, my Independent Study Supervisor, with whom I discussed Nikolas Rose’s ‘The Politics of Life Itself’ and we started to look for new points of interest that were geared towards my thesis. After getting through Rose’s book I felt there was a sense of gloom about the human race–is the mind really just a product of modulation that the brain undergoes? Where is the soul in all of this?

Paula recommended that I read ‘Rewriting the Soul’ by Ian Hacking as a means to dig deeper into my residual curiosity. I have read a complimentary chapter of this book online but will post my notes on the book, and its relevance to my thesis, once I get my hands on it–I remember Paula had a copy.

Post to follow.

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N. Katherine Hayles, Cyborg–augmented self?

Having read Nikolas Rose’s “The Politics of Life Itself” I found some connection to Hayles’ work on the cyborg and augmentation of the self. If biomedicine and the study of genetics in general lends to empowering the medical gaze of the molecular self, which in turn suggests that individuals can alter their own biology to achieve an optimal state of being relative to some ‘normal’ standard, then perhaps this is a realization of the cyborg. Modulation and augmentation of the body allows us to live optimally–of course this is the ideal supposition. What I feel both Rose and Hayles–especially in her works “How We Became Posthuman” and “Cyborg to Cognisphere”–touch on one central idea that is the loss of self. Technology grants us new ways to intervene ourselves, our minds, our bodies, and so with the ability (or rather the possibility) to edit and modify ourselves we surrender to the understanding that the mind is simply a product of our biology and that it has no stable, fixed, pre-destined identity. The self therefore is no longer of importance and is …

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Philip Beesley

In addition to immersing myself in research and readings over the course of my independent study, I found it equally important to explore digital projects that blend art and technology. What I find fascinating about such projects is the dialog they afford–a quality I look to integrate in my final thesis MDes project.

I was led to Philip Beesley’s portfolio by Barbara Rauch, Principal Advisor for my thesis, as she found he would serve as an inspiration. Philip Beesley is an Architect and Professor with an extensive portfolio of industrial design, digital prototyping, and mechatronics engineering. He is interested in creating pieces that break traditional boundaries between art and technology and mimic lifelike processes in doing so. He uses nature, the hybridity of organic and inorganic materials, as well as emotional reaction in crafting his works–much of what appeals to the direction in which I would like to drive my interactive thesis project.

Philip Beesley: http://philipbeesleyarchitect.com/sculptures/index.php

Orgone Reef and Hylozoic Ground are two beautiful projects that have really fed my imagination. See pictures below.

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