Designing the Self (2007–2010)

Essay, Objects

The transformation and transcendence of the human being has long been a subject of philosophic inquiry. Currently, however, through advances in technology and scientific understanding of the functioning of the brain, the human being is increasingly subject to fundamental modification. Progress in the scientific understanding of human cognition and behaviour, as well as the potential modification of these, challenge long-held beliefs about responsibility, identity, autonomy, agency and in this sense about our “selves.” When we think of our selves we mainly refer to internal matters—to our dreams, desires, wishes, fears or memories. Our self, however, is to a large extend shaped by external objects. Things play a fundamental part in thinking consciously about ourselves, for example, through objects of self-definition, but also unconsciously, as objects shape our thinking and carry of memories. In this sense, we may say that objects are part of our thinking and thereby our part of ourself.

This project explores the role of artefacts and technologies for the creation of selves and particularly how new technologies may influence the kind of selves being created. It suggests, that new technologies of the self do not require to work on oneself anymore, but have become instrumental and have turned humans into technological selves.

Images: José Delgado, The Physical Control of the Mind, 1969.