On Techno-Aesthetics

Gilbert Simondon Writing to Jacques Derrida in 1982 to express his support in the foundation of a new college for philosophy in France, Simondon describes the "intercategorial fusion" of techno-aesthetics. Techno-aesthetics revolve around the object's beauty as well as its function, something primarily experienced through use rather than in contemplation. Simondon describes a number of handheld tools that one may derive an aesthetic pleasure by using them. Key to this text, for my own research, is his assertion that aesthetics is not about the "consumer" of the work of art", but more so "the set of sensations" of the artists. "[I]t's about a certain contact with matter that is being transformed through work" (4). Simondon claims that there is a continuum from aesthetics to technics—a claim that would seem to counter his assertion that aesthetics sit at a neutral mid-point between religion and technics at the end of The Mode of Existence of Technical Objects (see entry for part III). Finally, Simondon turns to "industrial aesthetics" which he applies to the mediation of naturally occurring phenomena humans cannot perceive, like electricity, through a technical apparatus, such as an oscilloscope. Deriving aesthetic pleasure from such an object is a diversion "from its function," using it in ways it was not designed for—such latitude of use exists around all technical objects.

The brief letter opens new avenues of thought for the consideration of what is now called "new media" art. Simondon's focus on the ways to shift a technical object from function to aesthetic pleasure and his focus on the aesthetic experiences of making things through technology will be key in my consideration of new media works and research into praxis.