Enactive individuation

technics, temporality and affect in digital design and fabrication

Kåre Poulsgaard

pp. 281-298


The nature of creative engagement with computers and software presents a number of challenges to 4E cognition and requires the development of analytical frameworks that can encompass cognitive processes as they extend across material and informational realms. Here I argue that an enactive view of mind allows for better understanding of digital practice by advancing a dynamic, transactional, and affective framework for the analysis of computational design. This enactive framework is in part developed through the Material Engagement Theory (MET) put forward by Lambros Malafouris, in part from the phenomenologically inspired philosophy of Bernard Stiegler. Both advance temporality, technics and technique as key to understanding human creative imagination and their work can support each other in different ways; Stiegler allows for a theorisation of digital tools largely missing from the cognitive archaeology of Malafouris, whilst Malafouris provides a cognitive theory to further develop key ideas in Stiegler's philosophy. Bringing their work together through Gilbert Simondon's theory of individuation, I develop the concept of enactive individuation and apply this to the analysis of a case of robotic design and fabrication from my fieldwork with digital architects and engineers. This case allows for further exploration of how enactivism might productively be extended into the digital realm by underscoring the explorative engagement at heart of even highly systematic work with computers and software.

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