The Nature of the Machines – Judy Spark

The energy related infrastructure that sits around the periphery of our living environments that is of such fundamental importance to the functioning of our daily lives, seems to give rise to attitudes that shift between their not being seen at all, and their being regarded as visual intrusions. If we bury cables, hide the hardware, we lose the means by which we may understand our dependence on and connection to these things and the natural phenomena that they are related to; storing, receiving, transmitting. We are in the grip of a failure to understand how our energy dependent apparatus relates to, and is a part of, the natural world.

Judy will be speaking about the our relationship with energy at Feeding the Insatiable in November later this year.

The philosophical starting point of this work is Martin Heidegger’s 1954 claim that modern technology ‘enframes’ the earth and its natural energies so that they are understood merely as ‘standing reserve’. This enframing hides the other possible ways that things in the world might ‘reveal’ themselves, to the extent in fact that it can also be argued that technology has become the defining characteristic of human being in contemporary times. The purpose of her talk is to encourage philosophical debate around human attitudes towards ‘energy’. It is difficult for humans to step out of the paradigm of technological intertwining and dependence enough to gain any understanding of this position and of the natural phenomena that literally fuel our existence. But we may hope that our comportment can be shifted; this paper will explore the possibilities within that shift

Image: Judy Spark: “Aerial Coil” (B/W print Courtesy of BT Archives) and “Of Origins Unknown; the Galena Radio” from Tuning to the Ether, Cupar Festival of Visual Art, 2009


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