“Convergence” at the Nexus of Technology, Digital Aesthetics, and Social Theory


Session Title:

  • Social Theory and Electronic Media

Presentation Title:

  • “Convergence” at the Nexus of Technology, Digital Aesthetics, and Social Theory



  • The digital era has given rise to a panoply of media, bombarding society with a wider variety of information than humanity has experienced in recent times at an ever-increasing velocity.This effusion of data that invades everyday human existence has created a ‘multimediated’ society, in which the presenter posits that technological cultures no longer converse in text, or images alone, but in a series of parallel, or concurrent, media texts, speaking in terms of words, imagery, and sound.This agrees with the writings of Jean Baudrillard who, in his book The Transparency of Evil, described the concept of transparence, in which all facets of postmodern society (politics, aesthetics, sexuality) have become aspects of one another. Sports become politicized, sexuality becomes aestheticized, discourse becomes rock video, and so on.The transparency of all aspects of the postmodern demands the provision of a greater context within which we can construct discursive spaces to describe multimedia cultures. Since 1990, Patrick Lichty (Lichty Studios) and Jonathon Epstein (Sociology, Kent State University), have investigated contemporary trends in critical thought through the use of technology and media metaphor for exposition of their theoretical work.These works have incorporated computer graphic pieces though interpreta-tions of Baudrillard’s writings on the hyperreal image, motion and video through Virilio’s commentary on speed, and Web installations following from Deleuze/Guattari’s thoughts on nomadicity and rhizomatic spaces. In each case, the work is tailored to follow ‘media equivalence’, that is, to use the technologies and media specific to the part of society under critical scrutiny. Haymarket Riot’s (Epstein, Lichty, Seawell) MACHINE video performance project holds with this concept, and addresses identity, religion, and politics of televised culture through the use of rock video.Through the convergence of digital technologies, social theory, and aesthetic vision, projects such as MACHINE create discursive spaces where borders between media, disciplines, and cultural forms blur and recombine. Following from this, theoretical concepts relating to postmodern society are then given a broader, more visceral context in which the media-saturated viewer can then relate more directly to the topics being discussed. Running time for the video is 18 minutes.