Transversal Transformations. Perspectives on the pervasive dynamics of technology

Transversal Transformations. Perspectives on the pervasive dynamics of technology 

Workshop for young researchers at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, April 26-27 2018

In our everyday live we communicate with and through digital machines. Algorithms guide us on shopping sites, social networks and dating platforms. They predict our desires from collected data, recommend products, partners and political leanings. Meanwhile in the bio, neuro and nano sciences, digital machinery is used to decipher the structures of matter itself and enable the design and fabrication of hybrid structures and synthetic life forms.


Research from the histories of media and science suggest that the implementation of a new model of reality, modes of knowledge and imagination in the peak of cybernetics which can be dated from the 1950s well into the 1970s continue to have effects today (vgl. Hagner/Hörl 2008:7). This can be traced to techniques of anticipation and control of possibilities. Today a wide range of approaches has been established to interpret present developments. This includes a renewed interest in ecology that encompass media and affects (Durham Peter, Morton, Fuller, Angerer), hybrid networks and modes of existence (Latour) as well as recent feminist approaches on materialism and posthumanism (Barad, Parisi, Braidotti).


The workshop conceives contemporary technologization as a transversal transformation: It affects everyday life, politics, knowledge, nature, culture, art and technics as well as their modes of description, reflection and critique. The public discussion on digitalization is led by politics and economics. In the workshop, we aim to collect a broad range of perspectives from the humanities and cultural studies – to discuss expertises of the technological that go beyond the visions of the tech industry.


The following questions and topics are of particular interest (but not limited to these):

  1. Which terms, concepts and theories could be useful to reflect on the (onto-) epistemological conditions of the technical age? What are the blind spots of recent theoretical approaches?
  2. How can we historicize the technological transformations that are at stake here?
  3. If we assume that asignificant semiotics (Guattari) are gaining more and more relevance and that the symbolic order of language is imploding while ‘the human’ impends to be porous, how can we have think about representation differently?
  4. Which modes of subjectification and psychopolitics are determined and enabled through recent technologies of ‘manifold pervasion’ and dividuation? How do they relate to established modes of subjectification? And is there a need of new forms of critique?


Besides discussing different theoretical approaches we also aim to address these questions via concrete and exemplary topics, particularly from a perspective of literary, cultural and media studies.



Thursday 4/26 2018

14:15 – 14:45 Introduction

14:45 – 16:15 Aufzeichnungsmedien

Benjamin Lindquist (Princeton) – Theorizing Synthetic Speech

Oliver Völker (Frankfurt/Main) – Witterung aufnehmen: Klimaerwärmung und technische Medien

16:15 – 16:30 Break

16:30 – 17:30 Reading

18:00 – 19:30 Keynote: Erich Hörl (Lüneburg): Kritik der Environmentalität

Freitag 4/27 2018

10:00 – 11:30 MedienSubjektivierungen

Stephan Strunz (Berlin) – Protokybernetik des Lebenslaufs: Skizze zu einer Genealogie der datenbasierten Lebensverarbeitung (1770-1850)

Kai Löser (Bielefeld) – Idiot und Gesellschaft. Skizze zum Idioten als kybernetischer Widerstandsfigur

11:30 – 11:45 Break

11:45 – 13:15 Ökologische Medien

Naomie Gramlich (Potsdam) – Die dritte Natur und die Medientechnologien

Lisa Krall (Köln) – Verschränkungen, Intra-aktionen und unendliche Dynamiken in der Umweltepigenetik. Möglichkeiten eines diffractive reading biomedizinischer Studien.

13:15 – 14:45 Break

14:45 – 16:15 Maschinischer Kapitalismus und Kritik

Jakob Claus (Berlin) – Double bind und Subjektivierungsmaschinen

Holger Kuhn (Lüneburg) – „The Common Sense“. Maschinische Verschuldung bei Melanie Gilligan

16:15 – 16:30 Break

16:30 – 17:15 Final Discussion



Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Dorotheenstraße 24, 10117 Berlin

Room 3.246