In her study of “technogenesis,” Katherine Hayles highlights the “dynamic interplay between the kinds of environmental stimuli created in information-intensive environments and the adaptive potential of cognitive faculties in concert with them” (97). Drawing upon the work of evolutionary biologists, Hayles asserts that feedback loops intertwine humans with their techno-rich surroundings, and epigenetic changes result in environmental modifications that “favor the spread of these changes” (100). The movement between analog and digital, or physical and virtual, provides an opportunity for the subject to assess and potentially transform the experience of self. This panel draws on theories of transduction and the glitch to explore how digital writers and rhetors exploit the boundary between analog and digital to create occasions for self discovery. Specifically, each paper shows a different effect of technogenesis as related to the co-evolution of the environment and the subject.
Bringing posthumanism, glitch feminism, and queer digital humanities into conversation with theories of neuronal plasticity, Speaker 1 follows Hayles’s statement that digital media can “subvert and direct the dominant order” (83) to assert that glitches in works of electronic literature (such as Whitney Anne Trettien’s glitch lit webtext Gaffe/Stutter (2013)) position difference as fundamental to artistic creation and interpretation. Speaker 1 argues that the movement away from literary hegemony (an extension of Hayles’s argument) can perhaps best be seen when considering the self as writer and reader—the author/reader of electronic literature must reject the dominance of an established notion of “literariness” and create out of the destruction of the glitch.
Speaker 2 will explore technogenesis by considering how technology and teaching/communication practices have co-evolved through an increase of technology’s capabilities to track the human body. Speaker 2 argues that in today’s era of hands-free, natural-user interfaces, digital rhetors can contribute to a new approach to the digital canon of delivery—one that explores the ways the data associated with a user’s gestures and posture can be creatively transduced. With the help of depth cameras like Microsoft’s Kinect v2, users in front of the sensor are tracked as complex, three-dimensional skeletons. Each user-as-skeleton is divided among more than 20 joints, and each joint comprises three dimensions of real-time data. Showing concrete examples of technogenesis in the classroom, Speaker 2 asserts that motion-sensing technologies allow differently-abled bodies to participate in meaningful classroom activities that allow for unique experiences of self-reflection.
Speaker 3 explores how distortion in new media, particularly video essays, expresses difference from normative structures. Referencing Richard Misek’s "In Praise of Blur," Speaker 3 argues that as blur and distortion shape and reflect the embodied experiences of the viewer and the artist, these effects alter ideas of disembodiment as well. While distorted moving images defy normative structures of seeing, they call into question subjective experience of vision itself, whether by seeing exterior spaces or by witnessing one’s own interior world. Using examples of artistic blur and distortion, Speaker 3 shows how these techniques—which can be achieved by digital and/or print technologies—offer an occasion to represent altered states-of-mind.