Keynote speakers

Technoetic Creativity
Roy Ascott
Plymouth University, United Kingdom
Saturday, November 17, 2012
DAY 2: The Technological Unconscious as a Medium
Philip Ross (USA). Junior Return, 2005, photo courtesy the artist. 2008 Photo by Philip Ross
Philip Ross (USA). Junior Return, 2005, photo courtesy the artist. 2008 Photo by Philip Ross

My interest is in the building of organisms of learning and research that can elicit and develop a technoetic creativity that is at once syncretic and ubiquitous. I shall briefly examine a number of dynamic models in whose design I have been centrally involved over the past several decades in England, Canada, Austria, and currently China. In every case, both analogue and digital processes and systems are addressed, prioritizing issues of behaviour, multiple identity, and connectivity. Whether media employed is immaterial or moist, questions of consciousness are central to the advancement of art. I take the position that consciousness, like space, is primordial. The suggestion that it is generated by the brain is as unlikely to me as the idea that space is generated by the body. Just as visual and auditory organs have evolved to register and negotiate space, so the brain has evolved to access consciousness. Science tells us that we see less than 1% of the electromagnetic spectrum, and hear less than 1% of the acoustic spectrum. We have no measure of the degree of consciousness that can be reached, but many technologies over the millennia have been developed to widen or intensify the access, both somatic and chemical. Science cannot provide an explanation of how and why we have qualia or phenomenal experiences; technoetic art, by contrast, argues for the navigation of consciousness through a diversity of technologies, both archaic and contemporary. As for personal identity – what it is to be a Self – the isolated, solitary self of western culture since the Enlightenment is giving way to the emergence of the generative self. We see that the single-self organism is evolving into the multiple-self, which participates in the evolution of a variable field of multiple realities.


Roy Ascott (b.1934, Bath, England) is an artist, researcher and art theorist who, since the 1960’s, has worked progressively towards an art that is cybernetic, telematic, technoetic, and syncretic. His seminal projects include Terminal Art (USA–UK, 1980), La Plissure du Texte (MAM, Paris, 1983), Planetary Network (Venice Biennale, 1986), Aspects of Gaia (Ars Electronica, Linz, 1989), The Moistmedia Manifesto (gr2000az, Graz, 2000). His retrospective The Syncretic Sense was shown in Plymouth Arts Centre, 2009, at the Incheon International Digital Arts Festival (South Korea, 2010) and at SPACE, London 2011. The exhibition Roy Ascott: La Plissure du Texte is part of the 9th Shanghai Biennale 2012. He is the author of over 200 articles on art and new technologies in journals, catalogues and anthologies. His books are translated into Korea, Japanese, and Chinese, and include The Telematic Embrace (Berkeley, 2003) and The Future is Now (Beijing, 2012). He is the founding president of the Planetary Collegium, and the DeTao Master of New Media Art at the Beijing De Tao Masters Academy in Shanghai.