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Digital materialism - Baruch Gottlieb

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Digital materialism - origins, philosophies, prospects
Baruch Gottlieb
Paperback / softback
Emerald Publishing
UK Publication Date

Digital materiality (digimat) proposes a set of basic principles for how we understand the world through digital processes.
Digital instruments may seem forbiddingly complex but they are based on simple mechanical principles which operate today on the subatomic scale, creating challenges for conventional human epistemology.

This short book sets out a methodical materialist understanding of digital technologies, where they come from, how they work, and what they do. This analysis starts from the classical materialism of the Greek physicist-philosophers, engages with the humanist and historical materialism of the flourishing of Enlightenment arts and sciences, and extrapolates from post-humanist new materialism informed by quantum physics. There can be no future without a present and that present is always, persistently material.

Readers of this book must grapple with the mattering of digital material, especially the awe-inspiring epistemological schism between the infinitesimal, lightspeed reality of digital data and conventional, empirical human epistemologies which provide the vocabularies and cultural metaphors we must have recourse to in the attempt to discuss, communicate and decypher these phenomena. The obsolescent figure of anthropos (human being) will provide a central foil and subject for this challenge to understand our digital tools and their seemingly irrepressible reproduction. The future of humanity is at stake!

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Baruch Gottlieb currently lectures in the Philosophy of Digital Art at the University of Arts, Berlin and is fellow of the Vilm Flusser Archiv.
He has been working in digital art with specialization in public art since 1999.

Within the inner workings of the instruments produced to process and provide digital information, says Gottlieb, are realms of extreme technical discipline, anthropocracy, and therefore the least metaphysical spaces on Earth. He argues that the mystification or metaphysical obfuscation of the instruments made to provide digital information is a political problem. and lies precisely in the lack of acknowledgment that the technology's pedigree is forced labor, slavery, and extreme discipline and control over other human beings and over nature.
( - Annotation 2018

"Part of a spread resurgence of materialism, maybe induced by the extensive technological complexity we're surrounded by, this book is a lucid attempt to deconstruct the way we understand digital technologies, through a methodological approach." - Neural Archive, October 2018

Keyword Index
Digital media.|Materialism.|Anthropology.|Materialism in art.
Country of Publication
United Kingdom
Number of Pages

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