High Techne: Art and Technology from the Machine Aesthetic to the Posthuman

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9780816633562: High Techne: Art and Technology from the Machine Aesthetic to the Posthuman

In an age of high tech, our experience of technology has changed tremendously, yet the definition of technology has remained largely unquestioned. High Techne redresses this gap in thinking about technology, examining the shifting relations of technology, art, and culture from the beginnings of modernity to contemporary technocultures.

Drawing on the Greek root of technology (techne, generally translated as "art, skill, or craft"), R. L. Rutsky challenges both the modernist notion of technology as an instrument or tool and the conventional idea of a noninstrumental aesthetics. Today, technology and aesthetics have again begun to come together: even basketball shoes are said to exhibit a "high-tech style" and the most advanced technology is called "state of the art." Rutsky charts the history and vicissitudes of this new high-tech techne up to our day -- from Fritz Lang to Octavia Butler, Thomas Edison to Japanese Anime, constructivism to cyberspace.

Progressing from the major art movements of modernism to contemporary science fiction and cultural theory, Rutsky provides clear and compelling evidence of a shift in the cultural conceptions of technology and art and demonstrates the centrality of technology to modernism and postmodernism.

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About the Author:

R. L. Rutsky is at the San Francisco State University.

From Publishers Weekly:

From Baudelaire's confrontation with the specter of art photography to the present age of mirror shades, Pentium-envy and ambient dance tracks, Rutsky provides a fairly comprehensive, though sometimes fluidly categorized, overview of the development of the modern "aesthetic of technology." For Rutsky, technology, once clearly defined as "other" than what is human, has perhaps replaced religion and psychology as the main source of metaphors for how the mind (and soul) work. Citing a range of modern philosophers and thinkers from Heidegger, Benjamin and Duchamp to the inevitable William Gibson and the doyenne of cyber-aesthetics, Donna Haraway, the book covers a lot of ground--Shelley's Frankenstein, the constructivist films of Vertov, a reading of William Gibson via Frederic Jameson, a long section on Fritz Lang's film Metropolis and a detour into a theory of Nazism and Hitler fascination as the fervid fetishizing of an androgynous leader. Rutsky falters a bit when it comes to contemporary art and cultural practices, where some fieldwork and reportage would have given his examples more punch. Like George Landow's paean to cyberculture, Hypertext, the book is best on how thinking about technology helps resolve certain philosophical conundrums--organic vs. mechanic; rational vs. irrational; masculine vs. feminine--that have plagued the West, perhaps even providing the ground for a total unified field theory. Lucid and cogent in its presentation of highly complicated issues, this study will reward those interested in the fatal attraction of art and culture. (Dec.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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