Meeting with André Nusselder

Friday October 14 2005, I attended an small meeting organised by the Cyberspace Salvations research group. There were 6 people present: Peter Pels & Stef Aupers (Cyberspace Salvations), André Nusselder (AIO EUR), a masters’ student and an AIO in theology at Leiden. André was invited to tell about his promotional thesis. Below the notes:

051014 André Nusselder – promovendus EUR

“interface fantasies”

Andre uses Lacan theories about fantasies. Sisek too. Lacan stands in tradition of Hegel. “Mediation” > new term “mediatisation”.
topic: Mediation of Self by means of media.
Levy “Becoming virtual”. 3 Forces of virtualisation:
1. language
2. laws & rules that virtualise powers
3. technology

Freud: Reality always mediated. Freud started out with “Lifting up forgetfulness”: forgetting events in reality. Later he found out that many of those so-called events in reality hadn’t really occurred > psychic reality of neurosis (vs. material reality). This led Freud to doubt reality ‘out there’ and let him to believe that reality is already partly constituted by our psychic activity.
Lacan: calls himself Freudian. De Saussure > linguistics > back to Freud. Theory of imaginary; theory of personal identity. “Das Ich muss enwickled werden.” The “I” is being formed by identifying oneself in images: mirror is example: child learns to see itself as other, as “me”. Gives unity to incoherent self. Doubleness: natural body & imaginary body. Unity is virtual, alienated. According to Lacan: a person is already alienated (so alienation is not only due to media).

In Lacanian theory 2 orders: imaginary order & symbolic order.
About symbolic order: we are speaking beings “parlettre”. The word only gets meaning through communication. People are intersubjective by nature. The other is place where we find meaning and understanding. The other is place where we find truth. Truth always has the structure of fiction, says Lacan. Truth is grounded in ways people speak about themselves.
Self is substitution by significator. Self can only be found in speaking: fictional alienation.

Authors André uses for thesis:
Michel Candric: reality is always shaped by technology. There is no pre-technological reality, this must be an illusion. Language can be seen as technology too.
André tries to show that technologies are a basic fact of human life, not some ‘virtual world’ next to ‘real life’.
Frank Biacra: our experience of presence is a psychological construction.

Freud: desire. Fantasy is unavoidable for construction of object of our desires. We try to construct the objects of our desires by means of new technologies.
Steven Johnson: technological developments & interface design are kind of art form.
Derick de Kerkhove: Skin of Culture. Media design our culture, its skin. Technologies are extension of ourself. In these designs, we can find the interior images of ourself. Presence in V.R. is as close to pure design as possible in technology.

Theory of imagination implies that we already live in virtual space of the mirror. We are living a duplicate life. We give a form to data-objects with our interface designs. Doubleness in the world: we experience with our sense, while acting as a mediated, constructed personality in the world.

Avatars: identification with images in technological worlds that belong to our identity construction. This is not naive Spielerei, but ‘real’. John Suler (psychotherapist in cyberspace) lets patients adopt avatars in role-playing therapy.
Lacan’s theories can be used to counter perceptions that new technologies break down humanist values.
Q: what is difference between medation vs. mediatisation? In what ways are technologies (as mediatisation) principally different from language, images, etc. (as mediation)?
A: Difference lies in aspects like multimediality.
Stef: content: sense of unity through mediation, medatisation leads to fragmentation.
time-place relations

Subjecttheory: we can never coincide our selves with our imagined selves. This is a good thing: If we are too fixed on a certain self-image, we become pathological…

Coherence vs. multiple ‘ironical’ personalities.

Q. image vs. language as constituent of identity.
Image is

Q: Lacans theory stresses the imaginary, subjective foundation of humans. Is there something before that, something material before the imagined?
A: The body is always formed by imagination from outside, not natural.

Q: You have to be careful not to sweep mediatisation under mediation, by saying all is imagined from the outside, then you deny the media-specific, materially grounded qualities and meaning.
Q: and also: the interaction between technologies and humans, not one-way influence.

Q: does multimediality give us direct experience that works on the body? Is it different than other media in this respect?
A: what is the body? Is it organical, flesh? Or our imagined external expressive energy, libido, desire?
Q: difference between mediation/mediatisation: we don’t realise that the former is a medium, while we see it with the latter.

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