Sensible Atoms: A Techno-aesthetic Approach to Representation [Book Review]

NanoEthics 5 (2):203-222 (2011)
This essay argues that nano-images would be best understood with an aesthetical approach rather than with an epistemological critique. For this aim, I propose a ‘techno-aesthetical’ approach: an enquiry into the way instruments and machines transform the logic of the sensible itself and not just the way by which it represents something else. Unlike critical epistemology, which remains self-evidently grounded on a representationalist philosophy, the approach developed here presents the advantage of providing a clear-cut distinction between image-as-representation and other modes of existence of images, such as the one of ‘ imaginaction ’ that I draw from a comparison between far-field and near-field microscopies. Once this regime of imaginaction is distinguished from representation, I focus on nanotechnological percepts and argue that they follow a transmodal logic. I then draw the implications of this enquiry in terms of a new sensible condition that changes the way we think of non-living objects. Finally, I conclude that if techno-aesthetics dares to posit and articulate sensibility beyond the privileged sphere of subject/object relationships, it simultaneously engages us to consider the political character of our responsibilities towards the design of nano-engineered sensorial spaces.
Keywords Aesthetics  Baumgarten  Bergson  Deleuze  Nanotechnology  Near-field microscopy  Philosophy of scientific instruments  Techno-aesthetics  Whitehead
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DOI 10.1007/s11569-011-0124-0
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Lorraine Daston (2007). Objectivity. Distributed by the MIT Press.

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