– October 29 –
On the Mode of Existence of Technical Objects, Part 1, Ch.2 (Simondon)
The second chapter of Simondon’s “On the Mode of Existence of Technical Objects” is primarily about the relation between technical elements, objects and ensembles. The difference how each of them relates to an environment.
The adaptation-concretization process is one which causes the birth of an environment rather than being the result of an already established environment. It is caused by an environment which had merely virtual existence before the invention.[…] It could be said that concretizing invention brings into being a technogeographic environment (in this case, oil and water in turbulence) which is a condition upon which the possible functioning of the technical object depends. (48)
Thus created associated milieu is a virtual field of potentiality, which informs the process of invention of technical systems. Via recurrent causality the environment and the technical object constantly exchange information and energy and this process leads to higher level of self-organization of technics (what Simondon calls ‘technical individual’).
Only technical individuals have associated milieu. Technical elements, on the other hand, are distinguished by their technicality. Technicality signifies a degree of concretization and is for technical elements what associated milieu is for technical individuals. Elements can transmit their technicality into the future, “just like seeds that carry along the properties of a species and are to remake the new individuals” (63). Neither technical individuals nor technical ensembles last, since they are dynamic systems formed in close exchange with their environment. What is preserved from one stage of technical evolution to the next is the elements, that is, certain tools and manufactured objects. Interesting is the dynamic of participation of human inventors and users of machines in the process of technical concretization — from artisans and bearers of tools to organizers of the relationships between technical stages (elements, individuals, ensembles).
Chapter 2 (pp. 44-70) from: Gilbert Simondon, On the Mode of Existence of Technical Objects (1958), translated by Ninian Mellamphy, University of Western Ontario: 1980.
Simon Mills, “Concrete Software: Simondon’s mechanology and the techno-social,” The Fiberculture Journal, 2011/18, FCJ-127 (URL)
room M6040, Creative Media Centre
5:30pm on Wednesday, 29th October
Facilitator: Olaf Hochherz