Theoretical foundations

The sometimes dizzying speed at which the present is evolving toward an indefinite complexity at the most diverse corners and ends – in technological terms as well as in terms of social norms and (inter-)subjective values – makes it necessary to establish new sense-making routines. Occupying a fixed standpoint seems to be an almost hopeless endeavor, which is why it might prove worthwhile to choose the manifest in-between as a (heuristic) starting point for exploratory forays. Hybrid world designs are booming in times of the Internet of Things (IoT), ubiquitous computing (ubiComp), and expanding accesses of Artificial Intelligence (AI). In the academic landscape, too, at least since the 1980s with ANT and related posthumanist schools of theory, hybrids have become the focus of attention. From Bruno Latour’s «Symmetrical Anthropology» and the corresponding «Parliament of Things,» over Donna Haraway’s «Cyborg Manifesto,» Michel Serres› remarks regarding the «Hermaphrodite,» Michel Callon’s «Sociology of Translation,» to Karen Brand’s «Agential Realism,» to name just a few relevant names, many theorists from a wide variety of subject areas have touched upon the issue of relational co-dependence. All of them have one thing in common: the will to do justice to – and above all to master – a highly complex present. What all such undertakings have in common is that they require a certain degree of theoretical fuzziness in order to actually function. Attempts to establish absolute theorems that carry with them an objective generality are just as doomed to failure in the face of discursive negotiations of reality as are absolute relativistic practices.

The explicit relationality, which seems to characterize the discourse as a whole, is one of the strengths of the theoretical pieces that are assembled in this list, which is by no means exhaustive.

The theoretical background is just as broad as the project’s trajectory itself: spanning from Media Theory, over Science & Technology Studies (STS) to psychological, and cognitional approaches, the project allows for different connections to be drawn.

 

The research setting is meticulously designed in order to allow for idiosyncratic experiences to evolve. Design shall be treated as an important factor regarding the sense-making process, which is why it is being associated with material components, such as texture, lighting and colours, as well as with idealist issues such as overall conception and storytelling. The implementation of technological sensor-actor mechanisms also comes down to design choices, which have the potential to make a difference perception-wise.