320 pages | 87 B/W Illus.
Cybernetic-Existentialism: Freedom, Systems, and Being-for-Others in Contemporary Arts and Performance offers a unique discourse and an original aesthetic theory. It argues that fusing perspectives from the philosophy of Existentialism with insights from the ‘universal science’ of cybernetics provides a new analytical lens and deconstructive methodology to critique art.
In this study, Steve Dixon examines how a range of artists’ works reveal the ideas of Existentialist philosophers including Kierkegaard, Camus, de Beauvoir and Sartre on freedom, being and nothingness, eternal recurrence, the absurd, and being-for-others. Simultaneously, these artworks are shown to engage in complex explorations of concepts proposed by cyberneticians including Wiener, Shannon, and Bateson on information theory and ‘noise’, feedback loops, circularity, adaptive ecosystems, autopoiesis, and emergence.
Dixon’s ground-breaking book demonstrates how fusing insights and knowledge from these two fields can throw new light on pressing issues within contemporary arts and culture, including authenticity, angst and alienation, homeostasis, radical politics, and the human as system.
1. Introduction: Cybernetics and Existentialism in Arts and Popular Culture; 2. Visual Art – The Aesthetics of Systems and Being-towards-Death; 3. Interactive Art – Commanding, Controlling and Being-for-Others; 4. Participatory Performance – Autopoiesis with Strangers; 5. Theatre Art – Staging Cybernetics and the Existential Crisis; 6. Cyborg and Bio Art – Invoking Freedom and Actualizing Science Fiction; 7. Identity Art - The Adaptive System of the Authentic Self; 8. Uncanny Art – Existential Absurdity within Cybernetic Environments; 9. Conclusion: Being-in-new-systems