here you'll find a collection of essays that outline my basic interests
in postmodernism, automata theory, philosophy and art.
if you click on the links above the abstracts you'll be able to download the texts as a .pdf file. make sure you have acrobat reader installed.
Das Forschungsvorhaben möchte die Relationen, Dynamiken und Intensitäten im Kontext des Mediums der Nachrichten untersuchen und sich im engeren Sinne hierbei auf eine vergleichende Untersuchung zwischen so genannten „alten“ und „neuen“ Massenmedien beziehen. „Alt“ in diesem Kontext bezieht sich auf die etablierten Massenmedien wie Radio, TV und Presse, während der Begriff der „neuen“ Medien sich auf jene medialen Formen im Internet beruft, welche es erlauben, Inhalte der Benutzer selber, so genannten „user-generated content“ für andere Nutzer bereit zu stellen, zu verändern und zu konsumieren. Prominente Beispiele hierfür wären Webseiten wie youtube oder flickr, sowie text- und videobasierte Blogs.
Das Forschungsvorhaben möchte des Weiteren zeigen, in welchen Arten und Weisen die Ausübung von Kontrolle im Hinblick auf Nachrichten exerziert wird. Kommerzielle Einflussnahme und bestimmte Gesetzesentwürfe sind hierbei ebenso von Bedeutung wie neu geschaffener Institutionen (wie z.B. das „Information Awareness Office “ in den USA). Bemerkenswert ist jedoch, dass alle diese Versuche der Kontrolle sich eines Paradigmas bedienen, dem eine linear kausalen Dichotomie zugrunde liegt, also einer klaren Verkettung von Ursache und Wirkung. Als Beispiele wären unter anderen der Populismus und Reaktionismus solcher Sendeanstalten wie FOX zu nennen oder gefälschte Blogs , die den Eindruck vermitteln sollen, als würden sie die Meinung einer Privatperson widerspiegeln, obwohl es sich hierbei um transnationale Unternehmen und Medienkonglomerate handelt.
Research Proposal for a future Doctoral Study (draft)
After finishing the MA thesis for the course at Goldsmiths, I felt that there were many open ends that should be tied together into another piece of work. Furthermore, I am also interested in the deeper structure of the problems I previoulsy addressed and therefore wish to continue my research in form of a PhD degree. Still having news media as its topic, this research proposal goes one step further and looks at the underlying methodology but also attempts to propose a different methodological angle in order to observe and analyse the research problem at hand.
In the proposed research, the question of the ontology of news media in the example of 24-hour news channels will act as a line of flight out of which the an analysis concerning the composition of its many layers will manifest. Rather than pinpointing those layers on a matrix of determinate structures, the research aims to avoid introducing a moment of stasis into the observation and therefore its re-introduction into the relations of the thing observed. Movement and change as such are critical to the observation, since the analysis of the thing in question will aim to contribute to its ontogenetic transformation.
The research therefore aims to outline the intrinsic and machinic gestures and procedures which are inherent to all the layers news media have an effect on, ranging from politics, social issues and economics over to media technology, information theory and military theory to finally arrive at aesthetics, an ecology of affect, the notion of control, the abstract properties of news media as well as the notion of entropy and the category of Being. The research will analyse and lay open the moment of stoppages which are inherent in the dynamics of the process and will ask the question in the face of these moments of halt the event ‘news media’ bears how it might be possible to contribute to a building of a machine of change rather than trying to unveil a grounding ontology of the Real in which news media can be situated.
Your objectivity will be televised. Ecology, Economy and Affect in News Media (Masters Thesis, Goldsmiths College, 2006)
Although the title of this essay is held apparently ambivalent, this ambivalence is nevertheless intended to describe the problematic the essay seeks to examine in the context of the ontogenesis of news media and new media art. The notion of objectivity is brought in here because it is believed to be critical in a trend that has been bemoaned by media professionals and scholars alike, what they dubbed the “commodification of news” in a style-over-substance manner.
As for the reasons of this commodification, there are various lines of argumentation. One strategy is to connect this development to a “lack of diversity in programming and news reporting” which “has created an alienating and largely undifferentiated product offering” , whereas another rhetoric blames the “increases in citizen journalism, ‘arm chair’ news analysts, as well as, free online access to print and born-digital reporting”, which turn the news into “a commodity, rather than a scarce resource” . Along these lines is also the claim that although there is an “expansion in the manner in which people access news”, these newer forms of news reporting “can never take over the old” since “the print edition will always be the king and internet sources can only supplement them” .
From a more theoretical perspective, the ‘commodification’ claim as outlined above is debatable because its methodology and genealogy are inconsistent and its starts with the very notion of ‘commodification’, implying that there has been a time without the connection between media and the commodity market. This perception of news media is flawed from a historical perspective insofar as the first emergence of a regular commercial mail system, out of which the forerunners of the modern newspapers arose, took place during the time of the mercantilist states of Venice. This development also marked the beginning of long-distance trade between European kingdoms during the late Middle Ages and the earliest onset of the Renaissance.
In that sense, the ‘news’ has always been little more than a commodity, a virtualized system of information relating to transactions of commodity trade and their distribution. Rather than trying to account the news for being responsible of current shifts in the commodity relation towards news media, one has to examine and understand what motivated contemporary culture to regard news media not as just another commodity and why some individuals perceive that the commodity relation of the news media has changed in the past few decades. The underlying reason for that is not so much that the commodity relation of the news media towards society and culture has changed due to novel ways of its distribution, which is a case of cum hoc ergo propter hoc , but that the conditions of emergence for the commodity relation of news media have undergone shifts in two ways, economically and politically which affect the commodity relation in general and therefore contemporary capitalist culture throughout all strata and nuances.
Comparative Media Systems and the Question of the Public Sphere (Goldsmiths College, 2005)
This essay starts with a short summary of the economic and political factors that enabled early mass media systems like the printing press to enable itself as a ‘fourth estate’ within society and therefore as an organ of public opinion before introducing the three media models provided in the comparative analysis of Hallin and Mancini’s ‘Comparing Media Systems’ in order to arrive at a comparison between a radical-constructivist versus a consensus-based approach towards an analysis of media models to provide an answer to the question in how far a comparative analysis can provide an increased understanding of socio-political contexts in relation towards media systems.
What is polycontextural logic and what's the critical contribution of it to interactive media? (Goldsmiths College, 2005)
This essay seeks to outline the basic premises of Gotthard Günther’s concept of polycontexturality and why it contributes to a critical analysis of new media. Since new technologies already begin to challenge our pre-established concepts of ontology, it is necessary to examine how exactly traditional ontology works and if it still can be applied to the most recent forms of human-machine interfaces.
Theorists like Baudrillard and McLuhan already joggle those traditional concepts by either saying that the simulacrum is the new condition for the Real or by stating that we reached the end of the Gutenberg-galaxy and therefore also the end of our traditional ways of thinking in terms of notational systems. This essay wants to outline this issue from another, mere structural perspective, in order to re-relate those ideas onto applicable approaches within the field of new media, particularly in terms of a ‘Semantic Web’ that should enable a progressive way of human-machine interaction, therefore taking into account the ideas of Lev Manovich of the database as a symbolic form and looking at the field of semiotics and how it is incorporated in markup languages such as XML or RDF.
The 'War on Terror' as a Clash of Civilisations? (Goldsmiths College, 2004)
What Zizek tries to oppose is the notion of an exclusive identity that is underlying the most recent concepts of a ‘clash of civilizations’ It appears, however, that nation-states and political civilizational blocs are perceived as the dominant political institutions which derive their legitimacy through cultural identity and govern their security policy by civilizational defence, which can strategically be described as the mode of nation-state warfare.
This observation of the current global situation is problematic in particular points and this essay will attempt to outline an alternative view towards this perception of modern global civil society as it will present why and how the most recent conflicts and their consequences are increasingly inappropriate to be described in the traditional and commonly accepted terms.
In general, the current situation differs in two aspects. First, on a cultural and political level, for it has to be taken into account that the process of globalization is reevaluating the traditional notions of nationality, cultural belonging and religion. It is therefore not only necessary to understand the processes of those relationships but it is also important to examine how exactly the cultural legitimacy for waging conflicts is created nowadays by a nation-state as well as by sub-state or particularistic groups.
Secondly, on a strategic level, it seems no longer appropriate to apply traditional military know-how to the new situations. The overall form of new conflicts with which the military branches of western industrialised nation-states states are concerned with is repeatedly described as ‘asymmetric’ as opposed to the symmetric bloc strategy that was characteristic for the Cold War period. It seems that the US strategy of an ‘overwhelming force’ is not as effective as some military planners believe it to be. Although there have been major improvements in accuracy and range in terms of rockets and new weapon systems, the US Army is still faced with failures in military operations against relatively small and mobile targets
The Structure of Power in the Microscopic sphere (Goldsmiths College, 2004)
Starting with Kittler’s observation about Intel chip technology, a distinction between open and closed systems is drawn in relation to security mechanisms. While those mechanisms serve as a means of maintenance of a power relationship between the user and the manufacturer, an analysis of power in relation to social systems and politics is made in regard to the motivations that were involved in the specific composition of chip technology , like the technical distinction between ‘Real’ and ‘Protected Mode’. Since this form of machine design depends with a closure of knowledge, the element of transformation of code towards cryptography signifies an imposture of a strategy, which can be perceived as a specific mode of a power relationship.
Furthermore, since power relationships in the sphere of the social and political seem to inherit an antagonism, a closer examination of different theories concerning this matter, multilateral as well as unilateral, is required. Those insights meet in an analysis of the nature of warfare and its relation to the structuring of space as a particular strategic element.
Finally, the question of the absolute legitimacy and authority of warfare in regard to the structure of all things is addressed in relation to game theory and the theory of modern liberal economy. It turns out that cooperation instead of conflict seems to ensure long-term interactions between individual agents and thus, Kittler’s proposal to analyse social systems from the chip structure onwards is made allowance for.
The mechanics of quantum cryptography in aspects of dichotomy, transgression and synaesthesia (University of Cologne, 2003)
This paper wants to outline the relationship of quantum cryptography towards a contemporary concept of synaesthesia and the production of meaning on the side of the recipient. In order to describe this relationship, it is necessary to provide some information relevant to this subject.
At first, there will be an introduction of the “Mathematical Theory of Communication” by Claude Shannon in order to show how information theory deals with the phenomenon of communication and that this model in particular is not only suitable to describe and explain the technical issues that are involved here, it also complies to the conditions of spoken and written language. By establishing this more natural scientific interpretation of the term “communication” , it is now possible to describe the processes involved in cryptography, for which Shannon also provides a “communication theory of secrecy systems”.
By knowing the basic conditions of cryptography, the text will then introduce quantum cryptography and will show why this form of cryptography is different from the traditional forms and why this particular technique of enciphering and deciphering messages that carry meaning may be able to contribute to an extension our understanding of communication and logic and our view towards nature. In order to examine the relationship of nature in our perception opposed to the principles of nature a bit further, the text will also focus on Werner Heisenberg’s philosophical outlines towards quantum physics. After making it understandable that the classical logic is merely a special case of something called “quantum logic”, the text will reflect the reception of quantum theory of the physicists as well as in literature studies
Die Anthropologie Peter Sloterdijks (Masters Thesis, University of Cologne, 2004. German only)
Die sogenannte "Menschenparkrede", die Peter Sloterdijk als Versuch eines Antwortschreiben auf Martin Heideggers Brief „Über den Humanismus“ zu verfassen. Zum einen, um die Feststellungen und Positionen Heideggers kritisch zu prüfen und, wenn nötig, umzuformulieren, zum anderen, um die Frage nach der Notwendigkeit einer humanistischen Denkweise im Hinblick auf die aktuellsten technisch-naturwissenschaftlichen Errungenschaften und die Konsequenzen ihrer Anwendbarkeit zu stellen.
Sloterdijks Bruch mit dieser Heideggerschen Sicht vom Sein des Menschen bezieht sich nun auf das Potential der Instrumentalisierung dieses Seins. Er möchte darauf hinweisen, dass im Sein des Menschen auch stets Spekulationen über den Nutzen angestellt werden, welche schließlich im Hinblick auf Produktionsverhältnisse ihren Ausdruck finden.
Ist die Frage nach dem Nutzen des menschlichen Seins in solcher Weise institutionalisiert, ist ihr auch der Begriff der Zivilisation immanent. Zivilisation meint in diesem Sinne zunächst nichts anderes als eine Manipulation von Lebensprozessen. Es scheint von daher sinnvoll, sich die Frage zu stellen, inwiefern eine solche Geschichte der Manipulation von Lebensprozessen existiert. Sloterdijks Interesse gilt unter diesem Aspekt dem Vorgang der Menschwerdung, den Heidegger als eine Meditation der Ekstase der Lichtung des Seins formuliert. Sloterdijk stützt sich auf die Annahme, dass die Kondition des Menschen grundlegend ein Produkt von Herstellungsweisen und Resultat von Prozessen ist, die seines Erachtens bisher unangemessen erläutert wurden oder über deren Bedingungen und Wirkungen nicht genug bekannt ist.