Humanist Discussion Group

Humanist Archives: Feb. 21, 2022, 6:22 a.m. Humanist 35.544 - school: technology & magic (Padova)

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 35, No. 544.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
                      Hosted by DH-Cologne
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        Date: 2022-02-21 06:10:09+00:00
        From: Alfred Nordmann <alfrednordmann@GMX.DE>
        Subject: Padova Summer School - Technology and Magic

Third Padova Summer School on Philosophy and Cultural Studies of
Technology (September 19-24): Technology and Magic

Technology and magic are inextricably bound up with each other – despite
all efforts to pit them against each other. Historically and systematically.

Sympathies. Historically, the familiar story begins with non-scientific
practices of magically controlling the world through prayer, ceremonial
practice, and other forms of incantation. However, confronting today’s
inscrutable technological complexity is not unlike confronting an
animated world – and thus we indulge and soothe our devices, partaking
in the rituals of their maintenance and use. Not just in robotics or
computer modelling, this involves knowing the world through
participation and repetition, simulation and similarity, resonance and

Media Effects. Technology and magic inhabit the sphere of make-believe
or illusion. This includes old and new technologies of staging and
producing magic, including the magic of technologies that astonish and
amaze and work like magic. Cues and codes, images and texts, buttons and
switches mediate between invisible powers and manifest performances,
establishing a working order of things.

Iconicity. Image and performance are incarnated in artworks and
technical works. The auratic body and authentic material substrate of
technical devices is collected and curated, repaired and restored, held
sacred in museums. The uniqueness of the body even of mass-produced
things can produce a shock of the old which limits and qualifies the
claims of the new.

Grand narratives invite critical scrutiny: „Any sufficiently advanced
technology will be indistinguishable from magic“ (Arthur C. Clarke)? The
disenchantment of the world created the conditions for its
re-enchantment? Mastery through calculation is antithetical to
participation in the power and agency of things? Some of our topical
headings might include “Nature Technologized and Technology
Naturalized,” “The Technoscientific Reanimation of Matter,” “Performance
and Ritual in Technology and Art,” „Media Technologies for the
Production of Wonder.“

Faculty includes Natascha Adamowsky (Cultural and Media Studies,
Passau), Jacopo Bonetto (Archaeology, Padova), Marcello Ghilardi
(Archaeology, Padova), Fabio Grigenti (Philosophy, Padova), Natalia
Nikiforova (History of Technology, Saint Petersburg), Alfred Nordmann
(Philosophy,  Darmstadt), Oliver Schlaudt (Philosophy, Heidelberg, and
Cognitive  Archaeology, Tübingen), Astrid Schwarz (Philosophy and
Technoscience Studies, Cottbus).

The Summer School is free of charge, participants are expected to cover
the cost for travel, reasonable accommodation will be offered. We invite
advanced MA students, PhD candidates and postdocs from philosophy, STS,
art history and design theory, and related fields.  If you are
interested please contact Alfred Nordmann for further detail: The application deadline will be May 15.

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