Jos de Mul. The biotechnological sublime. Lecture at the Vrij Nederland Everything is algorithm session at the Brainwash Festival. Amsterdam, Agnietenkapel, 5PM, October 24, 2015.
Every once in a while we experience something extraordinary, something that lifts you above everyday reality . Such ‘awesome’ experiences might happen when we come across a magnificent landscape, hear a piece of music that really moves us, or when we fall deeply in love. Traditionally these kinds of extraordinary experiences are called “sublime”. In the following I will present some reflections on one particular kind of sublimity: the technological.
I will develop my argument in three parts. First I will point out the meaning and history of the concept of the sublime. Next, I will argue that in de twentieth century, the sublime has transformed from a natural to a technological category. In the third and last part I will defend the thesis that in the age of sublime algorithms, the sublime becomes a natural category again, which leaves us with some uncanny questions.