[Hanart Forum]Cybernetics For the 21st Century
10 January - 11 January 2023
Hanart Forum
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Cybernetics in 21st Century poster

Cybernetics for the 21st Century
Lectures and Symposia


Cybernetics is not only an ephemeral and contingent event in intellectual history, but rather it meant firstly to be a new science of machines, which breaks away from the mechanism of the 17th century, that is why Norbert Wiener in his 1948 Cybernetics: or the Control and Communication in Machine and Animals could claim that cybernetic machines overcome the dichotomy between the biological Bergsonian time and the mechanical Newtonian time; secondly, a universal discipline, it is able to unify all other scientific disciplines, and later also disciplines of the social sciences, demonstrated by the so-called Second Order Cybernetics; thirdly the latest development of Western philosophy, which led to Martin Heidegger’s claim that cybernetics marks the end or completion of Western philosophy.

Today cybernetics has already been absorbed in almost all engineering disciplines as well as in art and humanities and realized what it has promised as a universal method. The significance of cybernetics remains to be questioned and taken beyond what has been characterized as control and surveillance. More than ever, we are living in an epoch of cybernetics, however, we still fall prey to the dichotomy of nature and culture without understanding the significance and the limits of cybernetics. Cybernetics brought forward digital earth, where one finds the end of nature and the beginning of ecology. We, moderns, are alcoholics, who failed to get out of the positive feedback of progress, like Nietzsche describes in Gay Science, the pursuit of the infinite leads to the realization that nothing is more frightening than the infinite. A new recursive epistemology in the sense of Gregory Bateson, which inherits cybernetic thinking while seeking to overcome its intoxication, is needed for the program of re-orientation.

This research program titled “Cybernetics for the 21st Century” aims to firstly reconstruct the history of cybernetics, from the perspectives of different geographical locations, political projects, and philosophical reflections; and secondly to ask what might be the contribution of the cybernetic movement to the new form of thinking that is urgently needed to understand and reorient our digital earth.

Cybernetics for the 21st Century Symposia

The first edition of the program consists of eight lectures and two symposia with the presentation of philosophers, historians of science, and sociologists, including Andrew Pickering, Katherine Hayles, Brunella Antomarini, Slava Gerovitch, David Maulén de los Reyes, Michal Krzykawski, Mathieu Triclot, Daisuke Harashima. The program is hosted by Yuk Hui and organized by Jianru Wu.

Jointly presented by: Media Lab of Guangdong Times Museum, Research Network for Philosophy and Technology, and Hanart Forum

Online Symposia: January 10-11, 2023 at Hanart Forum

Cybernetics for the 21st Century Symposium (I)

January 10, 8-10pm (GMT+8)

Theme: Locality and Epistemology

Guests: Andrew Pickering, Slava Gerovitch, David Maulén de los Reyes, Michal Krzykawski

Host: Yuk Hui

Symposia will be live-streamed with simultaneous translation.


Cybernetics for the 21st Century Symposium (II)

January 11, 9–11pm (GMT+8)

Theme: Politics and Artificial Life

Guests: Katherine Hayles, Brunella Antomarini, Daisuke Harashima

Host: Yuk Hui

Symposia will be live-streamed with simultaneous translation.


Lectures uploaded: All eight lectures with both English and Chinese subtitles can be found online:


Speakers and Lectures

Andrew Pickering

Andrew Pickering is now Professor Emeritus of sociology and philosophy at the University of Exeter, UK. He has held fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton and the Stanford Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, and universities including MIT, Princeton, and Durham. He is a leading figure in science and technology studies and has published widely on the history, sociology and philosophy of science, technology and mathematics. His writings have been translated into many languages, including Chinese translations of his books Constructing Quarks: A Sociological History of Particle Physics, Science as Practice and Culture and The Mangle of Practice: Time, Agency and Science. His most recent book is The Cybernetic Brain: Sketches of Another Future. He is now working on cybernetic relations with nature and cybernetic art.

Lecture: Cybernetics in Britain

Slava Gerovitch

Slava Gerovitch teaches history of mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He holds two PhDs: one in philosophy of science (from the Institute for the History of Natural Sciences and Technology in Moscow) and one in history and social study of science and technology (from MIT’s Science, Technology and Society Program). He has written extensively on the history of Soviet mathematics, cybernetics, cosmonautics, and computing. He is the author of From Newspeak to Cyberspeak: A History of Soviet Cybernetics (MIT, 2002), which won an honorable mention for the Vucinich Book Prize for an outstanding monograph in Russian studies, Voices of the Soviet Space Program: Cosmonauts, Soldiers, and Engineers Who Took the USSR into Space (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), and Soviet Space Mythologies: Public Images, Private Memories, and the Making of a Cultural Identity (University of Pittsburgh, 2015), the winner of the Gardner-Lasser Aerospace History Literature Award and a finalist for the Historia Nova Prize for the best book on Russian intellectual and cultural history.

Lecture: Cybernetics Across Cultures: The Localization of the Universal

Michal Krzykawski

Michał Krzykawski, Associate Professor in philosophy and head of the Centre for Critical Technology Studies at the University of Silesia, Katowice, Poland. His research revolves around continental philosophy of science and technology, critical theory, and political economy. He is particularly interested in a dialogue between philosophical thinking, technology and science in the context of epistemological, psychosocial, and ecological issues related to the current digital transformation. He is the author of The Other and the Common. Thirty-Five Years of French Philosophy (2017, in Polish) and co-author of Bifurcate: There Is no Alternative, edited by Bernard Stiegler with the Internation Collective (2021).

Lecture: Cybernetics and Communism: Cybernetic Thinking in the Polish People’s Republic

David Maulén de los Reyes

David Maulén de los Reyes teaches history of technology at the Metropolitan Technological University (UTEM). He has written about the relationships between art, science, and technology in Chile and Latin America within the processes of social change, developing a specific methodology of the sociology of symbolic production for the retrospective study of project disciplines such as design, architecture, urban planning, and engineering. He has been the curator of the third Biennial of the National Museum of Fine Arts MNBA “Situation of Chilean Contemporary Art;” the project for the new Gabriela Mistral cultural center, visualization of information “Genealogical Trajectories of Buildings for the 3rd United Nations Conference on Trade and Development UNCTAD III,” and the IFA project “Everyone is a Bauhaus. Past and future of a concept,” at ZKM. He has contributed to the platform “Is Modernity Our Antiquity?” XII Documenta in Kassel. He was co-editor of the special issue on Cybernetics in Latin America published by Springer’s AI & Society Journal, research that he has continued developing.

Lecture: Why Did Cybernetics Disappear in Latin America? An Incomplete Timeline

Brunella Antomarini

Brunella Antomarini teaches Aesthetics and Contemporary philosophy at John Cabot University, Rome. She lives in Rome and has a pluri-disciplinary education in contemporary epistemology, aesthetics, anthropology, and post-humanism. Her current research concerns the analysis of the common functions of the organic body and the retroactive machine through an epistemological convergence of different views, such as pragmatism, cybernetics, and systems theory. Among her recent publications: Le macchine nubili (Castelvecchi, Rome, 2020). “The Xenobots as Thought-Experiment: Teleology Within the Paradigm of Natural Selection,” (Studi di Estetica No. 23, 2/2022) “Contact in Absentia: Toward a Cybertouch,” (The Covid Spectrum. Theoretical and Experiential Reflections from India and Beyond, 2021). Peirce and Cybernetics: Retroduction, Error and Auto-Poiesis in Future Thinking. (“Cognitio”, São Paulo, 2017). The Maiden Machine: Philosophy in the Age of the Unborn Woman (Edgewise, New York, 2013); Thinking Through Error. The Moving Target of Knowledge (Lexington Books Lanham, 2012). She is the editor of Yuk Hui’s book Pensare la Contingenza. La rinascita della filosofia dopo la cibernetica(Rome, Castelvecchi, 2022).

Lecture: Leibniz’ Teleology, or A Pre-history of Cybernetics

Mathieu Triclot

Mathieu Triclot teaches philosophy at the University of Technology of Belfort-Montbéliard, France. His research belongs to the French tradition of “philosophy of technical milieux” (Simondon, Beaune, Stiegler). His first book Le moment cybernétique focused on the history of American cybernetics and the invention of the notion of information. Since the publication of Philosophie des jeux vidéo, he has participated in the development of game studies in the French-speaking world, notably by defending the perspective of play studies, centered on the phenomenological analysis of the regimes of experience with the computing machine. He has participated in numerous research projects in the field and is now focusing on the problems of a “techno-aesthetic” and the analogies between games and music or dance, focusing in particular on the relationship between gesture, computer program and image. More recently, his research focuses on the role that the notion of “technical milieux” can play in the context of design and the reform of engineering training.

Lecture: Cybernetics for the 21st Century? Or Ontology and Politics of Information in the First Cybernetics

Daisuke Harashima

Daisuke Harashima is a research associate of Future Robotics Organization at Waseda University (Tokyo, Japan). He writes and teaches on humanities and technics in contemporary information societies from the perspective of fundamental informatics and new cybernetics, which focuses on the differences between living beings and machines as systems, to reflect on the modern technological condition and to realize new values based on respect for life. His writings are published in books, including Critical Words: Media Theory (Filmart, 2021; co-authored, in Japanese), Autonomy in the Age of Artificial Intelligence: Reconstructing the Basic Concept for the Future [AI jidai no jiritsusei: Mirai no ishizue to naru gainen wo saikouchiku suru] (Keiso Shobo, 2019; co-authored, in Japanese), Frontiers of Fundamental Informatics: Can Artificial Intelligence Have Its Umwelt? [kiso jouhogaku no furonteia: jinkou chinou ha jibun no sekai wo ikirareruka?] (University of Tokyo Press, 2018; co-authored, in Japanese), and in journals including Gendai Shiso and Eureka. He is also the translator of Yuk Hui’s Recursivity and Contingency [Saikisei to Guzensei] (Seidosha, 2022; in Japanese) and Tim Ingold’s Being Alive[Ikiteirukoto: Ugoku, Shiru, Kijutsusuru] (Sayusha, 2021; co-translated, in Japanese).

Lecture: Life-in-formation: Cybernetics of Heart (Cybernetics for the 21st Century)

Katherine Hayles

Katherine Hayles, Distinguished Research Professor of English at the University of California, Los Angeles and the James B. Duke Professor of Literature Emerita at Duke University, teaches and writes on the relations of literature, science and technology in the 20th and 21st centuries. She has published eleven books and over 100 peer-reviewed articles, and her research has been recognized by a Guggenheim Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowships, a Rockefeller Residential Fellowship at Bellagio, a National Humanities Center Fellowship, and a University of California Presidential Award, among other awards. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Her books have won numerous awards, including the Rene Wellek Prize for the Best Book in Literary Theory in 1998-99 for How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics, and the Suzanne Langer Award for Outstanding Scholarship for Writing Machines. She writes on media theory, experimental fiction, literary and cultural theory, science fiction, and contemporary American fiction. She has won two teaching awards, and has held visiting appointments at Princeton, University of Chicago as the Critical Inquiry Visiting Professor, and Institute for Advanced Studies at Durham University UK, among others. Her most recent book is Postprint: Books and Becoming Computational (2021, Columbia UP).

Lecture: Detoxifying Cybernetics: From Homeostasis to Autopoiesis and Beyond


About Media Lab

Initiated in 2019 and officially established in December 2021, the Media Lab of Guangdong Times Museum is dedicated to contemplating and exploring the languages and traditions of art from the perspective of media and technology in an era of accelerated technological development. It aims to deliver a new vision of art and technology by experimenting with the ways in which digital media build new social relationships and foster cultural imagination through rehearsals and speculations.

About Research Network for Philosophy and Technology

The Research Network for Philosophy and Technology was established in 2014 as a project to rethink the relationship between philosophy and technology, and the future of this relationship from global and historical perspectives. It is first of all an attempt to address the varieties of technological thought, in comparison with and also beyond the dominant Promethean discourses. It also wants to elaborate on and develop further the relevance between non-modern thoughts and modern technologies. These questions are often undermined and ignored in the established academic disciplines of technology and philosophy; this is also the reason why this network hopes to bring together different points of view and new thinking, based on solid historical research, philosophical speculations, and experiments.

About Hanart Forum

Hanart Forum was established in 2022 as a discursive platform for contemporary thought, and a site for exploring diverse artistic practices. Hanart Forum is situated in a restored heritage building in Happy Valley, Hong Kong, an Edwardian-colonial-style row house that dates from 1920. The site will be ready for projects by mid-spring 2023.


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