Speculative Realist Media Art Technologies: Probing into the Nature of Things
Venue:Stockholm School of Economics
We survey the recent history of speculative realist works and describe how object-oriented ontology, a contemporary branch of philosophy, provides a basis for media art production and a direction for technological innovation in the service of ontological discovery. By requiring that the “full depths” of objects be sounded, speculative realism places substantial technological and conceptual demands on the artist-inventor, offering media art renewal in terms of tools and methods. Object-oriented ontology aims to discover what Immanuel Kant described as the unknowable. Indeed, a paradox emerges as we grapple with interrupting our correlationist conceit and needing to frame information in a manner that is understandable. While science insists on external empirical observation, speculative realism, by contrast, urges us to view the universe from the (pure) perspective of the object—- ideally experiencing as the object experiences—- what Bogost refers to as alien phenomenology. An impossible task notwithstanding, we argue still worthwhile and stimulating, and as a formal line of inquiry, speculative realism offers a complementary path of discovery to that of science, still rigorous, but open-ended, being neither hypothesis-driven nor necessarily confined to the boundaries of an apparatus. Speculative realism offers the media artist nothing short of a paradigm shift, inducing an examination of inter-object relationships in which all objects occupy a flat ontology. Implications for media art exploring ecological, social justice and technological issues will be discussed.