Embracing the Telematic: A Techno-Utopian Vision of Art and Pedagogy for the Post-Human Age of Control

Karen Ferneding


Within the present context of a postmodern technological society characterized by surveillance and information computer technologies (SICT), globalization and the mediation and commercialization of the cultural sphere, technics , the human experience of technology, is perhaps one of the most significant but least acknowledged challenges facing the human condition. Technics, therefore, is examined specifically in relation to the nexus of art and pedagogy via the work of cybernetic artist, art educator and visionary, Roy Ascott. Ascott’s re-conceptualization of art and pedagogy involves the application of cybernetics and telematics, the fusion of computers and telecommunications systems, such as the Internet, to create collaborative artworks towards manifesting a utopian vision of a unified, global consciousness. Ascott, as a techno-utopian visionary, foresees the inevitability of a post-biological human era that shall use such “technologies of transcendence” towards the “fruitful control” of society. Ascott’s techno-utopian position thus demands a radical reconceptualization of the purpose of art, the role of artists within society and art education, a vision that is characterized by alignment with the technologies of telematics, science and gobalization. This review questions the fundamental assumptions of Ascott’s post-political and technocentric vision that seeks to realize a prelapsarian utopia via technospiritualism – a cybernetic based endeavor that essentially expresses a will to control. Ascott’s techno-utopian vision of art and pedagogy, characterized by a naïve idealization of cybernetic systems of surveillance and control, reflects how art and art education are positioned within present administered society, and as such signify a deeper level of cooption than evidenced by its repurposing of commodifying practices as art. Educators, therefore, need to give Ascott’s work serious attention.

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Copyright (c) 2015 Karen Ferneding