Rethinking machines
in The machinic city
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Chapter 3 reconceptualises the term ‘machine’ from a technical device to a device with abstract potential and multiple forms. Five main types of machines that are constitutive of both performance art (as a form of aesthetic machine) and urban life are analysed in this chapter: performative, media, Capitalist, human and urban machines. A particular emphasis is placed on the importance of assembling efficient with not-so-efficient machines, and on the potential of machine failure to trigger unexpected but meaningful events. The performative machine is discussed through existing theoretical frameworks of performance that foreground its potential for enabling improvisation and reflection. The media machine is conceptualised through the dominant power of media in contemporary society as the most important commodity. The Capitalist machine is described as a resilient actant that adapts and resists any attempts to criticise or confront it. The human-machine is described through the paradigm of the posthuman and its connection to the cybernetic machine. It is conceptualised as a hybrid where human beings and technological apparatus are assembled to produce new modes of subjectivity. The urban machine is defined through its double role as a stage for performance but also as a collective of actants. Following the analysis of these machines, a definition of machinic subjectivity is provide by referring to Guattari’s definition of the machine and his focus on the aesthetic machine as a means of eschewing the homogeneity of capitalist subjectivity.

The machinic city

Media, performance and participation

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