Jos de Mul. The Tragedy of Finitude. Dilthey's Hermeneutics of Life. Analecta Hermeneutica, Vol. 1, no. 1 (2009), 248-251.
The publication of substantial parts of Wilhelm Dilthey’s philosophical legacy in volumes 17 (1977), 19 (1982), 20 (1990), 21 (1997), and 23 (2000) of his Gesammelte Schriften necessitates a thorough reinterpretation of his entire philosophy. The Tragedy of Finitude. Dilthey''s Hermeneutics of Life aims to contribute to such a reinterpretation by reconstructing the ontological foundation of Dilthey’s hermeneutics of life.
Jos de Mul. The work of art in the age of digital recombination. In J. Raessens, M. Schäfer, M. v. d. Boomen, Lehmann and S. A.-S. & Lammes (eds.), Digital Material: Anchoring New Media in Daily Life and Technology. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, May 2009, 95-106.
Artists, from the prehistoric painters who engraved and painted figures on cave walls to new media artists whose work depends on computer technologies, have always used media. Media, used here in the broad sense as ‘means for presenting information’, are not innocent means. Ever since Kant’s Copernican revolution, we know that experience is constituted and structured by the forms of sensibility and the categories of human understanding, and after the so-called linguistic and mediatic turns in philosophy, it is generally assumed that media play a crucial role in the configuration of the human mind and experience. Media are interfaces that mediate not only between us and our world (designation), but also between us and our fellow man (communication), and between us and ourselves (self-understanding). Aesthetic experience is no exception: artistic media are interfaces that not only structure the imagination of the artist, but the work of art and the aesthetic reception as well.
In this paper I aim to contribute to this reflection by analyzing the way the computer interface constitutes and structures aesthetic experience. My point of departure will be Walter Benjamin‘s ‘The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction‘, first published in the Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung in 1936. In this epochal essay Benjamin investigates how mechanical reproduction transforms the work of art, claiming that in this ontological transformation the cult value, which once characterized the classical work of art, has been replaced by exhibition value. The thesis I will defend in this paper is, firstly, that in the age of digital recombination, the database constitutes the ontological model of the work of art and, secondly, that in this transformation the exhibition value is being replaced by what we might call manipulation value.
Jos de Mul. Database Architecture: Anthropological Reflections on the Art of the Possible. The Journal of Asian Arts & Aesthetics. Vol.3, no.2 (2009), 1-14.
Abstract: In 1956, the Dutch artist Constant Nieuwenhuys started working on a visionary architectural proposal for a future global society; he didn't stop for almost twenty years. New Babylon was elaborated in an endless series of models, sketches, etchings, lithographs, collages, architectural drawings, and photo collages, as well as in manifestos, essays, lectures, and films. New Babylon envisages a global society of total automation in which the need to work is replaced with a nomadic life of creative play, in which traditional architecture has disintegrated along with the social institutions that it propped up. Unlike most other representatives of the counter culture of the 1950s and 1960s Constant fully embraced technological progress: "Technology is the indispensable tool for realizing an experimental collectivism. To seek to dominate nature without the help of technique is pure fiction, as is collective creation without the appropriate means of communication. A renewed, reinvented audiovisual media is an indispensable aid. In a fluctuating community, without a fixed base, contacts can only be maintained by intensive telecommunications" (Constant, 1974).
However, it is not only because of the use of "intensive telecommunications" and computers that New Babylon prefigures the world of cyberspace. It is also, and more profoundly, the flexible database-like structure of New Babylon. The dynamic, endless recombination of architectonical elements that characterize New Babylon expresses the database ontology that rules our present world. It will be argued that "database architecture" of New Babylon foreshadows the ambiguous qualities of "recombinant global urbanism."
Key words: Architecture, Database, Ontology, Constant, Recombinant Urbanism
Jos de Mul. Multitasking. Keynote lecture at the International Conference on New Millennium Learners (OECD / Flemish Ministry of Education and Training). Brussels, September 22, 2009.
On the grand scale of worldwide changes that have occurred throughout the twentieth century the introduction and domestication of a range of new media is an important phenomenon. Telephone, radio, film, gramophone, television, walkman, audio and video recorders – all of these devices have come to be mundane elements of our everyday lifeworld. The advent of the personal computer can be labeled a new chapter in this history. The modern-day computer is an interactive multi-medium (also called a hyper-medium), which can simulate and merge each of the media mentioned before.
Nowadays, when we are on holiday we can call home from an internet café using Skype, simultaneously send a few digital holiday pictures, pass on some links with information on our holiday destination using the inbuilt chat box, and show in real-time the tan we’ve acquired via the web cam. All of this is aided by the fact that most personal computers and notebooks are now connected to the internet. Moreover, due to ongoing miniaturization the internet’s nodes become ever more mobile. Many vacationers don’t even have to go to an internet café anymore, since they can do all of the aforementioned things via their mobile phones or personal digital assistants (PDAs).
The development of mobile hypermedia has important social consequences. These days, users are connected to one another 24 hours a day. Now, a sense of sober-mindedness is never a bad thing in the world of new media. When we look at the data, for instance as regularly presented by the Dutch Social and Cultural Planning Bureau (the SCP), then on the surface things don’t appear to be all that bad in the Netherlands, compared to a country such as the United States – which always shows what’s in store for us, too. According to the SCP Dutch citizens spend an average of almost three hours on media use, which is slightly less than one third of their free time. Moreover, this number has stayed the almost same since 1975.