Academic journal article Afterimage

Poiesis and Enchantment in Topological Matter

Academic journal article Afterimage

Poiesis and Enchantment in Topological Matter

Article excerpt

By Sha Xin Wei/MIT Press/2013/384 pp./$40.00 (hb)

In a recent appraisal, if not rant, on the state of media theory today, Geert Lovink ended with a laundry list of tasks:

What we need now are philosophical responses to the cult of selfies, more interventions in the moral panic over the loss of attention and the presumed distraction epidemic ... a further strengthening of New Materialism and similar investigations into hybrids of the real and the virtual, drone aesthetics, Internet of Things politics, and the role of gender in programming. (1)

Coupled with this was the familiar lament concerning philosophers or theorists who cannot do programming. But there are significant exceptions to this, and the first book from Sha Xin Wei, Poiesis and Enchantment in Topological Matter, is a sterling example. Sha is as at home designing complex interactive and "responsive environments" as he is in higher mathematical theory and the ontology of the universe of "stuff" if not objects. Newly named director of the School of Arts, Media + Engineering at Arizona State University's Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, Sha founded the Topological Media Lab in 2001, first at Georgia Tech and then at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. There, multifarious experiments were carried out in motion sensing technologies, gestural sound, active textiles, and wearables--all with the aim of creating radically desubjectified experience. …

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