Technics and the Human Sensorium: Rethinking Media Theory through the Body

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Coté, Mark (2010) Technics and the Human Sensorium: Rethinking Media Theory through the Body. Theory and Event, 13 (4). ISSN 1092-311x


The import of media cannot be expressed solely on the level of discourse. Media and technology1 are not adequately reckoned with only in discursive terms of social construction or ideology. The myriad effects of media have always exceeded the bounds of representation. While there is a rich and important body of scholarship on the symbolic and cultural significance of media, much work remains to be done in examining media as an ever-expanding collection of technological artifacts, as sensorial vectors with concrete experiential effects. Especially in our historical moment of ubiquitous mobile digital networks, it is necessary to consider media in terms of its pre-linguistic and pre-cognitive effects in the human sensorium. As such, the following constitutes an intervention in a growing and diverse body of literature which examines the social and political role of affect and sensation.2 Here this intervention comes in a rearticulation of the relationship between the human and technology. That is, media and technology will be positioned in a 'return to the senses' as something other than an external force which degrades, occludes, biases, or distorts the otherwise natural condition of the human. Indeed, it will be argued that there is no a priori or natural configuration of the human sensorium; rather, that sensory perception is only ever calibrated in relation to technics. As such, it presents an imperative not just to think about the media but to feel it. This will entail rethinking a number of long-standing binary oppositions: between the interiority-exteriority of thought, and natural human-artificial life.

Item type Article
Official URL
Subjects Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Communication and the Arts
Historical > FOR Classification > 2001 Communication and Media Studies
Historical > SEO Classification > 970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture
Keywords ResPubID20996. media, communications, human interaction with technology, human body, senses, cyborgs, humans and machines
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