Posthuman(-ist) landscapes?

September 27, 2014


One of the most interesting parts of what I understand to be posthumanism is the break with the enlightenment subject. The human mind has never seemed to directly correspond to the ideas and ideals of the rational, objective knowledge of a world where a priori truths are just waiting to be unearthed by the inquisitive intellect.

Using that as a starting point for the exploration of what a posthuman can be, I find that it comes down to the subject. What could be an implication of the break with some enlightenment ideals is a de-objectivization of places. Where they no longer consist solely of measurable and spatially objective physical properties but of experiences, actions and usage patterns. In a sense the understanding of place as a something based on the experiences it creates or is stage to as complement to measurable space.

It will hopefully run the gamut from the personal or subjective (experiences) to the intersubjective (experience and action) and finally to the measurable (usage patterns). The idea being that a space must be viewed in the complex way it exists.
Thus here the posthuman landscape would be a revised view of existing spaces and places. Or maybe a revised way of looking at and describing places and spaces. It is no longer a singular, clear and unambiguous point but rather a complex mesh of different, complementing and conflicting descriptions.

/Gustav Knochenhauer


One Response to “Posthuman(-ist) landscapes?”

  1. Much as you suggested in the seminar discussion, a distinction needs to be raised between 1. ‘post’- ‘humanism’; 2. post- ‘humanity’; 3. post- ‘human’. 1. Humanism, as you explain, is aligned with the enlightenment project, modernity, the rise of science, claims for rationality and objectivity. It can be exemplified in Immanuel Kant’s (perhaps ill-named) ‘copernican revolution’ by which he asserts that knowledge circulates (as so many stars in a constellation) around the human subject; or another way of putting this, that ‘objects’ of knowledge conform to human knowledge; that knowledge rotates around an axis that is ‘man’. Here it would seem that ‘posthumanism’ and ‘postmodernism’ can be related, as an enlightenment project falls into crisis (World War II and Auschwitz often being cited as symptoms of this crisis of rational, anthropocentric knowledge. 2. (Post)Humanity then alludes to a ‘condition’ or characteristic features of a given temporal location as experienced by an individual or a collective. 3. And the (post)human is the subject him or her or itself, who presumably is very much affected by both their context-condition of (post)humanity.

    Hilde Heynen is helpful here where she draws a distinction between modernisation, modernity and modernism:
    “In this respect a distinction should be drawn between modernization, modernity and modernism. The term ‘modernization’ is used to describe the process of social development the main features of which are technological advances and industrialization, urbanization and population explosions, the rise of bureaucracy and increasingly powerful national states, an enormous expansion of mass communication systems, democratization, an expanding (capitalist) world market, etc. The term ‘modernity’ refers to the typical features of modern times and to the way that these are experienced by the individual: modernity stands for the attitude to life that is associated with a continuous process of evolution and transformation, with an orientation towards a future that will be different from the past and from the present…The experience of modernity provokes re- sponses in the form of cultural tendencies and artistic movements. Some of these that proclaim themselves as being in sympathy with the orientation toward the future and the desire for progress are specifically given the name modernism. In its broadest sense, the word can be understood as the generic term for those theoretical and artistic ideas about modernity that aim to enable men and women to assume control over the changes that are taking place in a world by which they too are changed.”
    (Hilde Heynen, Architecture and Modernity: A Critique, 1999, p. 10).

    Especially important in your discussion is the relation between objective and subjective (object and subject), and the role that intersubjective relations play, which leads us to questions concerning place…but place that is complex, overlaid with diverse, sometimes conflictual-sometimes felicitous, perspectives and material relations. Which leads me to the question of which specific place will you study as your exemplary ‘post human landscape’? From your collage above it looks as though you will take on Sergels Torg, which could be a great idea. Now, don’t forget the ‘gender’ angle…

    H Frichot

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