What is digital?

lecture by PD Dr. Martina Leeker, June 4,  11 – 12 am

The digitisation of the collections of museums and archives and their provision on the Internet does not capture either the peculiarity of digitality or the potential of aesthetic mediation. Digitality stands for a turning point towards a ubiquitous, all-pervading and everyday data world that is constituted by the most comprehensive connectivity possible and by techno-social cooperation. In the sense of a critical and speculative “Expanded Digital Mediation”, it can be the task of museums and archives to reflect on these digital cultures and, if necessary, to encounter them with other styles of composition, as places of gathering the deviant and the resistive. Four fields of reflection and action are proposed, the basis of which is a culture of mediocrity, which is constituted by the knowledge of the inescapable mediality and contingency of existence as well as the resulting insight into a general mediocrity. First is an observation of contemporary humans and technological history in post human and techno-ecological narratives, which are tested for their regimes in discursive labs. Secondly, labs for critique clarification and for the development of toolkits for their expression in digital cultures are important. Thirdly, labs can contribute as an aesthetic mediation 2.0, e.g. by transforming biased programming or promoting diversity and serendipity, to “decolonizing” technical modes of design. Finally, fourthly, “zones of dewetting” (Urs Stäheli), in which figures and narratives of the deprivation of digitality are developed and tested, are of importance. All four fields would have to be provided with techno-human organized archives for best practices. Solid continuity is indispensable in these undertakings.

Martina Leeker is a theatre and media scientist as well as an artist and performer in the field of “Performing Knowledge and Speculation Labs” (cf.: http://projects.digital-cultures.net/e-i/). Until autumn of 2018 she was senior researcher at the Centre for Digital Cultures (CDC) at Leuphana University Lüneburg. She is a lecturer at various universities in Germany and abroad in the fields of theatre studies, media studies and artistic research. Her main areas of research are: Digital cultures, criticism, theatre and media, art and technology as well as artistic research, an area which she practices herself as “Research with Art”. Some of her most recent publications (amongst others) are: Performing the Digital, edited with Imanuel Schipper and Timon Beyes (Bielefeld 2017); Interventions in Digital Cultures, edited with Howard Caygill and Tobias Schulze (Lüneburg 2018); (Aesthetic) Vermittlung 2.0. Von Kunst-/Vermittlung und Kritik in digitalen Kulturen, in: Kunstpädagogische Positionen, Issue 40 (2018). She is initiator and co-editor of the book series Digital Cultures of the CDC at Meson Press (https://meson.press/series-page/digital-cultures-series/) as well as of the CDC video interview series: What are digital Cultures? (https://www.leuphana.de/en/research-centers/cdc/people/research-topics/cdc-questions.html). Currently the monograph “Kritik in digitalen Kulturen. Vom Ende der Kritik und Anders-Kritisieren in posthumanen Zeiten” is being created.