julie kern donck

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Objects of Power: Embodiments of Agency in the Western Techno-Empire is a speculative dissertation written in the context of academical research for the Royal College of Art in London in 2019. It has been supervised by Jonathan P. Watts and awarded with a distinction by the board.

abstract

This text is not intended to theorise power or agency, nor to elaborate a resistance manual; it is a navigation, a logbook that tries to understand our physical and fictional productions according to the power they bring with them. The focus of my interest is the way in which our tools, the objects of our knowledge, our technologies and our imaginations—because any technology is primarily fictional, starting with language—encapsulate the idea of power by their potentiality of being in action. Because these objects are ours, because we have this manufacturing bond with them, because despite the fact that they are increasingly dematerialised... their modes of production, the origins of their ideation as well as their finality, is ultimately determined by ourselves.

As agents with a certain set of choices, we use both our intelligence and the objects resulting of it as the means to our ends; collectively, this means a constant power struggle, gatherings and repeallings; it means the emergence of a city, of politics, of the State, of technical domination and of war as a permanent condition—our present techno-empire. In such a realm, our body is the principle and the end of any action. This text will review the different embodiments of agency, from flesh to disembodiment; from a physical agent to a new ideation of God.

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