The Architecture of the invisible: Technology is Representation

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Jannis Kallinikos


Stockholm University


The article explores the idea that the utilitarian and technological orientation of modernity coincides with the conception, position and instrumentation of the world in ways that promote mastery and the distillation of utility. A central strategy in this direction is to reduce the complex and synthetic character of the world to limited domains that can be surveyed, inspected, reversed, controlled and so forth. Rather than being accidental, the principle of limited and selected objectification comprises a world-view that, following Heidegger (1977), I refer to as representation. These points of view make up a theoretical framework that is employed with the purpose of evaluating the current technological trajectory from the industrial to digital technology and its impact upon the work habits and the nature of formal organizations. Shorn of the insights supplied by the Heideggerian view, the differences between these two basic technological epochs and paradigms tend to be overstated and their common representational inheritance tend to be lost. For both represent detached and decontextualized systems of work that impose their own material and behavioural requirements. The article attempts, then, to reveal and illustrate the complex texture of questions related to the increasing distancing from the immediate world and the proliferation of formal and codified methods through an interpretation of Italo Calvino's novel Invisible Cities.

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