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Keynotes Abstracts

Society for Phenomenology and Media

Society for Phenomenology and Media
23rd Annual Conference
Being together in the Digital Age
March 25-27, 2022
Shanghai Jiao Tong University

Augmented, Extruded and Disseminated:
The Body in Excess.


We inhabit an age of Circulating Flesh, Fractal Flesh and Phantom Flesh. Organs are extracted from one body and inserted into other bodies. Hands from a cadaver can be attached to the arms of an amputee and be reanimated. By Fractal Flesh is meant bodies, bits of bodies and brains spatially separated but electronically connected, generating recurring patterns of interactivity at varying scales. Phantom Flesh proliferates. Phantom not as in phantasmatic but rather experienced as phantom limbs. We now simultaneously function as physical bodies offline and Phantom Flesh online. The body in excess has become a contemporary chimera of meat, metal and code. Subjectively, the body experiences itself as an extruded system, rather than an enclosed structure. The self becomes situated beyond the skin, and the body is emptied. But this emptiness is not an emptiness of lack but rather a radical emptiness through excess.  An emptiness from the extrusion and extension of its capabilities, its augmented sensory antennae and its increasingly remote functioning. What becomes important is not merely the body's identity, but its connectivity – not its mobility or location, but its interface. What it means to be human is perhaps not to remain human at all. In this age of body hacking, gene mapping, prosthetic augmentation, organ swapping, face transplants and synthetic skin, what it means to be a body and what it means to be human and what generates aliveness and agency becomes problematic. At the time when the individual body is threatened existentially by fatally being infected by biological viruses, the human species is confronted by the more pervasive and invasive ontological risk of infection by its techno-digital artifacts and entities.

Revisiting the COVID-19 App Through Mediation Theory.

Hongxiu Yan

Shanghai Jiao Tong University

In the philosophy of technology, mediation is a key to understand and analyze the significance of technology, such as Don Ihde and Peter-Paul Verbeek. Technological mediation theory is regarded as a program for postphenomenology. The COVID-19 app was designed for limiting the propagation of COVID-19 and interrupting transmission chains of disease. The primary aim of the app is to protect the public's life and health by technology, and the designer has taken ethics into accounts also. Meanwhile, the app as a technology is mediating human actions, decisions, relations between humans, relations of human-technology, etc. This paper will describe the forms, approaches, and effects which the app can mediate human and human can meditate the app.

Algorithm as situation: Methodological reflections on the study of digital cities

Pan Ji

This essay (essay) responds to recent debates in urban communication studies about the significance of “algorithm” as well as the methods to explicate its impact on city life. Where some scholars endeavor to reverse-engineer algorithm to reveal its original codes, I argue that we should instead approach algorithms as data-driven procedures that build, modify or maintain dynamic situations that make everyday urban life. Starting from the concept of algorithmic situation, I propose that scholars act as engaged detectives. Not only should we stay alert to transient cues that symptomize the digital assembling, separation and hybridization of heterogeneous symbols, things and human actors that constitute culturally, esthetically and socially recognizable situations. We may also re-code established algorithmic situations, so as to disturb naturalized social-techno systems, and evoke moments of revelation that expose the operation of algorithm. In so doing, I suggest thinking of algorithm not as “behind” urban situations, but as situations per se: the emerging inter-relations between culture, society and nature that can be engaged with empirically. To conclude, I offer a set of methodological reflections, which

go beyond pinning down a singular “algorithm or the black-box myth, and instead work from the engaged position as a curious and ingenious detective. 

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