An Aesthesia of Networks

An Aesthesia of Networks

Conjunctive Experience in Art and Technology

Anna Munster

ISBN 9780262313506
248 pp.
April 2013

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An Aesthesia of Networks

Conjunctive Experience in Art and Technology

Today almost every aspect of life for which data exists can be rendered as a network. Financial data, social networks, biological ecologies: all are visualized in links and nodes, lines connecting dots. A network visualization of a corporate infrastructure could look remarkably similar to that of a terrorist organization. In An Aesthesia of Networks, Anna Munster argues that this uniformity has flattened our experience of networks as active and relational processes and assemblages. She counters the “network anaesthesia” that results from this pervasive mimesis by reinserting the question of experience, or aesthesia, into networked culture and aesthetics.

Rather than asking how humans experience computers and networks, Munster asks how networks experience—what operations they perform and undergo to change and produce new forms of experience. Drawing on William James’s radical empiricism, she asserts that networked experience is assembled first and foremost through relations, which make up its most immediately sensed and perceived aspect. Munster critically considers a range of contemporary artistic and cultural practices that engage with network technologies and techniques, including databases and data mining, the domination of search in online activity, and the proliferation of viral media through YouTube. These practices—from artists who “undermine” data to musicians and VJs who use intranetworked audio and video software environments—are concerned with the relationality at the core of today’s network experience.

Contents

  1. Series Foreword

    Erin Manning and Brian Massumi

  2. Acknowledgments
  3. Introduction: Prelude to the Movements of Networks
  4. 1. Networked Diagrammatism: From Map and Model to the Internet as Mechanogram
  5. 2. Welcome to Google Earth: Networks, World Making, and Collective Experience
  6. 3. Data Undermining: Data Relationality and Networked Experience
  7. 4. Going Viral: Contagion as Networked Affect, Networked Refrain
  8. 5. Nerves of Data: Contemporary Conjunctions of Networks and Brains
  9. 6. Toward Syn-aesthetics: Thinking Synthesis as Relational Mosaic in Digital Audiovisuality
  10. 7. The Thingness of Networks: Invasion of Pervasiveness versus Concatenated Contraptions
  11. Notes
  12. Bibliography
  13. Index