The Inhuman Condition: Jean-François Lyotard’s Les Immatériaux and Technological Sublime

Paul Boyé

To cite this contribution: 
Boyé, Paul. ‘The Inhuman Condition: Jean-François Lyotard’s Les Immatériaux and Technological Sublime’Currents Journal Issue One (2020),

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Course of study:
Doctor of Philosophy, School of Design, Univeristy of Western Australia

Keywords: Lyotard, sublime, postmodern, Les Immatériaux, posthuman, art and technology, curation, relativism and reductionism, nihilism, anti-capitalism.

Jean-François Lyotard engaged with art and technology at several points across his philosophical project. This article will analyse these engagements, playing close attention to how technological development re-oriented how the philosopher’s aesthetic philosophy of the sublime, along with his considerations of anthropocentricism vis-à-vis a concept of the ‘inhuman’. His curatorial effort as a part of Les Immatériaux is a central concern of the essay, as it is taken to be a practical experiment with many of his ideas. The exhibition is argued to be a pre-eminent curatorial experiment that anticipated much of the posthuman discourse advocated by contemporary artists today.

Bracha L. Ettinger , Jean-François Lyotard (2007). Accessed from Wikimedia Commons 28 September 2020:

The task of this essay is to broadly examine the various engagements with art, technology and humanism performed by French philosopher Jean-François Lyotard. Along with Lyotard’s published philosophical writing, this essay will pay close attention to Les Immatériaux—an exhibition that Lyotard co-curated with designer Thierry Chaput—which will be considered to mark a crucial intersection for the philosopher and his considerations of the technological world as it evolved around him. Two key terms will emerge across this examination: ‘inhuman’ and ‘sublime’. Both terms invoke a clear philosophical tone, but their relationship—arguably analogous to the relationship between art and technology itself—is complex and entangled. While there are many engagements with art and technology contemporary to Lyotard, it is the non-anthropocentric tenor of which Lyotard characterises his engagement that will be emphasised here. The inhuman, as something never quite human but nevertheless surrounding the conceptual categories of what a human is taken to be, offers a resource to radically de-center humanist assumptions. Additionally the sublime—a feeling which overwhelms and suspends the human capacity to imagine and understand, is a distinctly in-human aesthetic category. As such, Lyotard’s various engagements with artists and aesthetics can be understood as philosophical experiments with this analogy of the inhuman and the sublime. It is clear that Lyotard’s work provides several resources that contribute to what is termed ‘posthuman studies’, despite the underuse of Lyotard as a point of reference in this field, as will be argued below. Through a review of literature and Les Immatériaux, this essay will explore the extent of these resources and their relevance to art theoretical discourse that is set on renegotiating the limits and purview of humanism today.

Across Lyotard’s engagements with art, there is a sustained reference to the avant-garde: to specific artists and as a concept in general. The Postmodern Condition observes that the avant-garde signs a contradiction that, at once, demands for a suspension of ‘artistic experimentation’, coupled with ‘an identical call for order, a desire of unity, for identity, for security, or popularity’.1 In other words, under the banner of postmodernism, the notion of an avant-garde artistic community is both embraced and condemned for being without purposeful and/or recognisable reference. Lyotard posits that postmodern art does not affirm earlier standards of realism, often to the point of collapse to kitsch, where ‘art panders to the confusion which reigns in the “taste” of the patrons’.2 Kitsch is postmodern nihilism of taste at its zenith, subverting the conventional pillars of what is beautiful toward an ‘aesthetic of the sublime that modern art (including literature) finds its impetus and the logic of the avant-gardes finds its axiom’.3 The aesthetic category of the sublime—derived by Lyotard from Kant’s third critique—comes to define the character of avant-garde artistic communities, and offers an appeal to enact and witness modernity’s undoing. It is an eminently artistic strategy that ‘allows the unpresentable to be put forward as the missing contents, but the form, because of its recognisable consistency, continues to offer to the reader or viewer matter for solace and pleasure’.4 To make sense of this contradiction, Lyotard invokes the paradoxical sentiment of post modo—or the future anterior—to explain the sublime feeling conjured by postmodern art as a shock to subjectivity by once-familiar means at a time; a confrontation to the viewer that makes themselves accountable and immanent to contents, themes and materials preceding and exceeding modernity.

Following from this point it is suitable to note how Lyotard’s philosophy is consistent in his effort to emphasise the status of nihilism in modernity, and how nihilism is an irreducible component of capitalism, technological industry, and of the production of knowledge in imperialist institutions in general. In an early essay titled “Dead Letter”, Lyotard draws out the contemporary nihilist separation of existence and meaning, which impoverishes culture (the union of these two terms in Lyotard’s formulation). Invoking the familiar Marxist theme of alienation via mechanisation, Lyotard rhetorically asks ‘what meaning is there in existing?’: ‘a question that resounds for everyone, Monday morning and Saturday night, that reveals the emptiness of “civilization” in all its industrial flashiness’.5 Our daily labour and leisure is devoid of meaning when it is ‘organised by the model of the machine, a model whose purpose lies outside itself, which does not question that purpose’.6 To embrace this void is to reduce down to ‘a technologism that seeks its reason in itself alone’, thereby dividing meaning and existence, denigrating culture and succumbing to bureaucratic and recursive lifestyles without purpose. “Dead Letter” is reflective of Lyotard’s early anti-capitalism sentiment, which would persist despite his developing critical distance from his conventional Marxist peers. However, from 1980 onwards (marked by the publication of The Differend), the nature of Lyotard’s anti-capitalism—in particular its anti-technological sensibilities—would start to shift and complicate, particularly as he began to pay closer attention to aesthetic experience, the avant-garde and the sublime.

Ashley Woodward thematises Lyotard’s writing from 1980 onward as having frequent recourses ‘to the aesthetic of the sublime… which has traditionally been invoked to explain the experience of things which move us, but cannot be explained according to the traditional theories of the beautiful’.7 Despite inconsistencies in how Lyotard presents his analysis of the sublime, Woodward notes that ‘the sublime typically appears with a positive valence in his work, and is posited as offering creative possibilities beyond the impasses of modern thought and the postmodern social conditions’.8 In 1991 Lyotard published his Lessons on the Analytic of the Sublime, which is a direct reading of the concept of the sublime as presented by Kant’s third critique, and the place that it has occupied in Lyotard’s own philosophical project. ‘Sublime feeling’ is characterised here as having ‘neither moral universality nor aesthetic universalisation, but is, rather, the destruction of the one by the other in the violence of their differend’.9 In other words, a sublime feeling has the capacity to annihilate, to void once immutable relations and fundamental constructs, categories and concepts.

The sublime feeling invokes a novel aesthetic sensibility that Lyotard embraced as the grounds of new experimentation and artistic investigation: ‘The value of the aesthetic of the sublime as a response to nihilism is thus that it opens up the possibility of experimentation within our new cultural conditions’.10 As such, Lyotard’s earlier cut-and-dry anti-capitalism is complicated by a renewed interest in how the sublime is a catalyst for artistic experiments, where it is ‘not aimed at compensating for the meaninglessness of life in a general existential sense, but at artistically transforming the experience of postmodernity’.11 The sublime feeling is an irritant, a dissensus that transforms assumed relations, subjects and practices outward and beyond what is held essential by modernity, turning over the technological engines of capitalism into novel production, firing questions aimed at regime and order. From this point, Lyotard’s post-1980s engagement with art and technology come to overlap and ramify these points, endorsing the comportment of sublime feelings towards the diversification of aesthetic experience and artistic experimentation.

Although The Postmodern Condition was tasked with reporting on ‘the status of science and technology, of technocracy and the control of knowledge and information’, it was not until later in Lyotard’s work that he started to closely investigate how the tenets of modern art and the avant-garde had been prefigured, and continually moderated by the development of new technology.12 However, there are moments where this is conceptually anticipated. For instance, Lyotard dilates the term ‘development’ to presuppose ‘a horizon of nondevelopment, where, it is assumed, the various areas of competence remain enveloped in the unity of a tradition and are not differentiated according to separate qualifications subject to specific innovations, debates and inquiries’, or what could be summarily noted as the scientific/non-scientific divide which traditionally places art in the latter category.13 The idea of scientific development encroaches further across this divide in postmodernity, thereby ‘[l]amenting the “loss of meaning” in postmodernity boils down to mourning the fact that knowledge is no longer principally narrative’.14 This perspective—that scientific development doctrines change the rules of engagement and legitimation beyond its traditionally understood boundary—would test and reshape Lyotard’s early reticence, leading to an eventual embrace of new technology as a valid artistic subject.

If The Postmodern Condition posited that new technologies have transformed knowledge and set the path toward a ‘computerization of society’, bringing about a postmodern condition where aesthetic experience is qualified by the sublime rather than the modern tenets of beauty, it is only after this report that Lyotard starts to analyse the products of this transformation.15 The reminder of the essay will break down and present Lyotard’s engagement with art and technology after The Postmodern Condition, and will do so by preserving and calling to attention the shifts, contradictions and changes of position that Lyotard takes up in this period.

In 1985, Lyotard presented a paper which examined the critical issues with art that engages new technologies of communication.16 The argument is that there are several barriers to the way we can understand the aesthetic experience of art that engages communication technologies. The barriers are established in reference to the logic of Kant’s critical philosophy, which appears to entirely preclude the possibility of art and technology as capable of invoking any kind of genuine aesthetic experience. For Kant, a sensible presentation free from conceptual representation is necessary in order to induce a sublime aesthetic experience that is open to judgement. Lyotard’s argument is that communication technologies foreclose such instances of presentation by being always-already determinate, calculated and programmed. Woodward explains that from Lyotard’s Kantian perspective ‘[w]hen artwork is produced or presented using such technologies, all of its parameters are programmed… it is in principle fully knowable’.17 Communication technologies are characterised by Lyotard as being inherently determinate, particularly when regarding their calculative properties, and this is at conflict with the Kantian parameter of sensation which requires a factor of incalculability or in-determination. In his words, ‘[w]orks produced by the new techne necessarily, and to quite diverse degrees, and in diverse parts of themselves, bear traces of having been determined to be one or more calculations, whether in their constitution and/or their restitution’.18 So if the calculating character of communication technologies preclude aesthetic experience in principle, then a complication of the Kantian framework that Lyotard is working from is required to house the sublime feelings invoked by such technology, thus creating an opening for artists to experiment and investigate.

Lyotard is concerned with how forms conduct and organise aesthetic experience. With respect to Kant’s argument, if forms are the object of what is communicable, sharable amongst subjects and the conceptual condition of beauty, then the sublime is ‘manifested when the presentation of free forms is lacking… when the imagination which presents forms finds itself lacking that such a feeling appears’.19 As such, art that engages any new technologies of communication are possible without form, as a test to our powers of imagination. It is not that new technologies entirely preclude aesthetic experience, but rather it is that such experience must be valued with the feeling of the sublime in full consideration.

But how does Lyotard come to embrace the formlessness of sublime feeling provoked by technological art, given the cold calculability of computers, networks and the industry of communication technology? In part, it is by giving further meaning to formlessness as marking a shift in the way form and matter co-implicate one another. In the Kantian framework, which Lyotard takes to exemplify the modern formula of form and matter, aesthetics is an understanding of form as a common property that organises incoherent data, and matter as ‘what is par excellence diverse, unstable and evanescent’.20 As this formula shifts per the postmodern condition, matter asymmetrically dominates aesthetics within a regime of what Lyotard calls ‘immaterial’: ‘The matter I’m talking about is an-objectable, because it can only ‘take place’ or find its occasion at the price of suspending these active powers of the mind’.21 The regime of the immaterial is an aesthetics after the sublime, and comes to define the parameters of the postmodern vis-à-vis form and matter. It is here that Lyotard starts to embrace the potential of such a regime; sublime formlessness is taken as a ‘complexification in sensibility’, opening up toward ‘new artistic clouds and new clouds of thought’.22

Six years after the publication of The Postmodern Condition, Lyotard and designer Thierry Chaput curated the exhibition Les Immatériaux at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Lyotard’s role as a curator was as novel—inasmuch as it was unusual for a philosopher to undertake such tasks at this time—as it was effective; he took this opportunity to put into practice the observations that he had made in his work, with an emphasis on how communication technologies were constantly updating domains across art, philosophy and science. The thrust of the exhibition was to resist inheriting modern norms and to rewrite how materials ought to be considered in and throughout the new technological paradigms of the time. Lyotard derived the term ‘immaterial’ through extending the word ‘material’ and intervening on other lexical proximities: ‘referents’ [matieres], ‘hardware’ [materiels], matrices [matrices] and maternity [maternite].23 The ‘im-’ denotes a negation or an undermining of the face-to-face or the ‘in-the-flesh’ in order to modulate and calculate material orders. The aegis of technoscience, for Lyotard, reinforces this directive, eschewing matter and carrying out ‘an exaggeration almost, of the intimacy between mind and things’.24 The immaterial is not, however, purely negative; it is fundamentally concerned with matter and material things, and the negative syntax is intended as more of a reflective articulation, taking to task the way in which material is set up to be mastered, calculated and controlled by modern industry. In other words, Lyotard was not trying to describe de-materialisation per communication technologies, but rather shift the viewpoint of matter and its conditions as a subject for investigation.

Les Immatériaux worked in reference to the postmodern condition, addressing new forms of thinking and discourse coming out of modernity and its technological objects. The world exhibition format—characterised by an emphasis on wonder and immersion—that dominated venues such as the Centre Pompidou at the time, ‘would find an echo in Les Immatériaux, only now mutated into their opposite: the task is to produce an “unease” (malaise), Lyotard suggests, a loss of security’.25 Daniel Birnbaum and Sven-Olov Wallenstein posit that the exhibition threw the ‘visitor back into his or her own inner sphere’, and what is at stake is ‘neither the absorption of the subject into the community, nor a return to an inner private world, but the subject in the state of coming into being’.26 This type of environment reflects at once the avant-garde shock of future anterior confrontation, and the feeling of sublime catalysed by new technological aesthetic experiences. Amongst the myriad of strategies employed, a stand-out technique of Les Immatériaux was the use of headphones, which via radio signal, transmitted a soundtrack continuously to the visitors. Nathalie Heinich recounts that the ‘voices streaming through the earphones did not provide any direct ‘explanation’ of what the visitor had in sight, but were rather unidentified fragments of discourse indirectly related’.27 For instance, as the viewer reached ‘Zone 4’, the soundtrack played excerpts of Antonin Artaud’s To Have done with God’s Judgement— ‘when I am squeezed/and I am milked/until the departure/of food,/and its milk/out of me’—and Dolores Rogozinski’s The Angel— ‘That your body was already a prosthesis, prostituted to the impossible. That the unknown invokes you’.28 As the soundtrack plays, the viewer stands before Annegret Soltau’s Schwanger—a photographic montage that exaggerates and intensifies documentation of the artist’s own pregnancy—side-by-side to Maria Klonaris and Katharina Thomadaki’s Orlando-Hermaprodite II—a kaleidoscopic collision of self-portraiture and drag persona set a confrontational scale. The soundtrack isolates the viewer into continuous poetic reference, mixing freely and intensely with the visual codes offered by the artworks. Les Immatériaux took the aesthetics of control and modulation offered by modern technology, nested it with art work, computational systems and scientific phenomena, in order to drag out such an aesthetic experience along the excesses of sublime feeling: radical embodiment, isolated intensity and highly-conscious poetic materialisations.

It is with such strategies that Lyotard, as a curator, effectively utilised and immanently critiqued the technoscientific character of modern society. Conceptually the immaterial—far from being a one-sided negation or obsolescing of materiality—comes to form a sublime materialism that would underwrite much of Lyotard’s later writing on aesthetics and technology. Stephen Zepke positions Les Immatériaux as an experimental interface that treated its subject matter as ‘formless and imperceptible elements that were translated into machine languages’, resulting in an ‘immaterialist materialism [that] filled visitors with uncertainty, on one side about the ‘objects’ they were experiencing, and on the other about the subjectivity that has this experience’.29 This anti-essentialist and materialist perspective opens up into Lyotard’s movement from identifying and experimenting with the sublime, into what he would later call the ‘inhuman’: calling into question anthropocentricism and the postmodern redundancy of humanist philosophy. Beyond immaterials, it is Lyotard’s late passage into examining this inhuman condition that survives beyond the extent of his philosophical project, examples of which the second half of this essay will delve into.

At the time of Les Immatériaux, Lyotard had introduced a line of thought that would be developed further in his later writing: the prospective end of the modern anthropos,

that on the occasion of these new technologies, perhaps there is a decline of humanism, of the self-satisfaction of man within the world, of narcissism or anthropocentricism, and that an end of humanism may emerge.30

In the introduction to his late collection of essays—titled The Inhuman—Lyotard theorises two distinct kinds of inhuman condition. Firstly, the situation of an in-humanity that constraints and sets the limits of becoming to its own conditions concomitant with capitalism and the emerging spectre of neoliberalism. The second sort is an inhuman that appeals to humanity through an element that creates ‘a mind haunted by a familiar and unknown guest which is agitating it, sending it delirious but also making it think’.31 This dual-faceted sense of the inhuman is analogous to the way in which, as we have explored above, the postmodern aesthetic experience of the sublime results from modern nihilistic sensibilities, but on the other hand, represents an aesthetic workspace replete with new possibilities. Additionally, Lyotard situates the political as a resistance to the first sort of inhuman, with the second kind providing resources and conditions to carry out such a resistance. The second kind of inhuman is prior to the first, being its condition as well as the key to its renegotiation. Woodward updates Lyotard’s phrase ‘postmodern condition’ and replaces it with the phrase ‘inhuman condition’, insofar as the latter phrase encompasses and reorients the contents of the former phrase, ‘characterised by the persistence of the post-metanarrative of “development”, and all its consequences’.32 The dual sense of the inhuman exposes an entanglement between technology, philosophy, art and politics, particularly in the capacity for discourse and acts within these realms to be effective and realised in the world.

Lyotard’s examination of anthropocentricism puts forward the question of ‘what a human is?’—or in other words, how the human is legitimated—vis-à-vis the inhuman condition. Robin Mackay writes that this questioning of ‘legitimation entails a kind of destabilisation of the human, an admission that we inhabit a material culture that is no longer “ours”, is no longer straightforwardly human’.33 The inhuman condition rewrites how human-centred any given understanding of matter is construed, expressed by a shifting of terms from ‘interaction rather than creation’. Yuk Hui refines Lyotard’s term ‘interaction’ to not be limited to examples of human/machine interaction, but rather that interaction is defined as a ‘transmission of a message without end’.34 The calculative properties of interaction rewrite matter, and represents ‘a liberation from rules and responsibility, and a kind of passing beyond the rules of inscription’.35 With Les Immatériaux, Lyotard showed how postmodern art, computer systems and communication technologies enact this rewriting of matter beyond a human-centred perspective, and toward the possibility of a liberated material world vis-à-vis the inhuman condition. As Francesca Gallo writes, Les Immatériaux is ‘dedicated to identity, and to the transformation which this idea has suffered due to advances in science and technology’.36 Of course, this suffering is exactly the dyadic figure of the inhuman, that contains the germ of a properly material revolution away from the tradition sense of what a human is, but also perpetuates technocratic subjugation, limiting the human within an ever-more constricted definition streamlined for alienation and exploitation.

To conclude, this essay will now consider how the resources offered by Lyotard’s work—the aesthetics of the sublime and the inhuman condition—carries beyond his own project and continues to have relevance in theoretical discourse today. As Woodward notes, there are many examples of connections between Lyotard’s project and the various usages of the term ‘posthumanism’: ‘Lyotard’s work intersects with posthumanism… and his reflections on these issues in the 1980s were prescient of the debates gaining increased urgency and attention today’.37 Posthumanism—or the ‘philosophical critique of anthropocentrism’—is ostensibly made up of theoretical positions catalysed by the rapid development of technology, since this development has come to erode and mutate what was, in modernity, held to be essentially human; in other words, erasing the fundamental common ground that humanism is built on.38 A crucial precedent to posthumanism is the feminist critique of science. Although the following mapping is non-exhaustive, Donna Haraway’s Situated Knowledges is a fundamental essay in this discourse. Published in 1998, the essay complicates the ‘ideological doctrines of disembodied scientific objectivity’: ‘We unmasked the doctrines of objectivity because they threatened our budding sense of collective historical subjectivity and agency and our “embodied” accounts of the truth’.39 Here, humanism is parallel to objective, universalising accounts situated on a whole image of what a human ought to be for science to work, and Haraway’s intervention stages an (posthuman) advocation ‘for the view from a body, always a complex, contradictory, structuring and structured body’.40 It is a radical sense of embodiment—even one that crosses into seemingly disembodied textual, informatic arrangements, as N. Katherine Hayles has illustrated—that obsolesces the (white, chauvinist, colonialist) human of humanism.41 Beyond the initial stages of feminist critiques of science, the posthuman comes to emerge in later highly nuanced studies such as Karan Barad’s Meeting the Universe Halfway. Barad disengages the humanist doctrines that writes without second thought ‘Man is the sun, the nucleus, the fulcrum, the unifying force’, and instead poses a performative posthuman that embraces ‘technoscientific and other naturalcultural practices that specifically acknowledge and take account of matter’s dynamism’.42 Without reading and implementing such critiques that ratify the posthuman position as, at the very least, non-anthropocentric, it is unfeasible to start weaving sublime feelings and inhuman sensibilities into speculative futures or what David Roden calls ‘posthuman possibility spaces’.43 In other words,  a program of de-anthropocentric philosophy that decolonizes and dismantles patriarchal and white supremist essentialism must be elaborated and experimented with prior to any aesthetic experimentation with the inhuman condition if it is to carry any feasible and practical consequence beyond its experiment.

How does the feminist critiques of science that developed into posthuman studies build from and into Lyotard’s project? Rosi Braidotti posits that while The Postmodern Condition demarcates ‘the alienating and commodifying effect of advanced capitalism on the human’, Lyotard does not,

stop at this technophobic insight, but goes on to identify a deeper kind of inhumanity… that inner core of structural strangeness or productive estrangement is, for Lyotard, the non-rational and non-volitional core of the inhuman.44

Similarly, in regarding Lyotard’s inhuman as the subject of ‘nothing less than the destiny of the human species’, Paul Harris frames The Inhuman as a set of thought experiments that not so much think the post-human in a technologically-literal sense (read ‘transhumanist’), but rather a ‘pleading for the reassertion of the human mind in its contingency and finitude’.45 These critical appraisals of Lyotard’s work are important in clarifying both the limits, and the inherent critiques afforded by the concept of the inhuman. In order for the posthuman to, as put by Hayles, signal ‘the end of a certain conception of the human, a conception that may have applied, at best, to that fraction of humanity who had the wealth, power, and leisure to conceptualise themselves as autonomous beings exercising their will through individual agency and choice’, there must be certain efforts made beyond philosophy.46 Applying the emphasis above, it is the sublime—that which reaches around and through putative modern philosophical projects, and comes to tear apart conceptions of the human amicable to the individual and its continued power in the world—that should be aesthetically experimented with. As such, reaching back into the rich philosophical workspace offered by Lyotard’s project is one path among many to enact a thoughtful reiteration and return to the aesthetics of the sublime along with a decentring of the human, both of which are non-exhaustive and novel subjects for artistic investigation.


  1. Jean-François Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge, trans. Geoff Bennington and Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984), 73.

  2. Ibid. 76.

  3. Ibid. 77.

  4. Ibid. 81.

  5. Jean-François Lyotard, Political Writings, trans. Bill Readings and Kevin Paul Geiman (London: UCL Press Limited, 1993), 39.

  6. Ibid. 34.

  7. Ashley Woodward, Lyotard and the Inhuman Condition: Reflections on Nihilism, Information and Art (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press), 114.

  8. Ibid. 115.

  9. Jean-François Lyotard, Lessons on the Analytic of the Sublime, trans. Elizabeth Rottenberg (Stanford: Stanford University Press), 239.

  10. Woodward, 127.

  11. Ibid. 128.

  12. Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition, viii.

  13. Ibid. 19.

  14. Ibid. 26.

  15. Ibid. 7.

  16. Jean-François Lyotard, ‘Something like: Communication… without Communication’, in The Inhuman: Reflections on Time, trans. Geoffrey Bennington and Rachel Bowlby (Stanford: Stanford University Press), 108-119.

  17. Woodard, 141.

  18. Jean-François Lyotard, The Inhuman: Reflections on Time, trans. Geoffrey Bennington and Rachel Bowlby (Stanford: Stanford University Press), 111.

  19. Ibid. 113.

  20. Ibid. 138.

  21. Ibid. 140.

  22. Jean-François Lyotard, Peregrinations: Law, Form, Event (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988), 42-43. Quoted in Woodward, 144.

  23. Jean-François Lyotard, ‘After Six Months of Work…’, in 30 Years after Les Immatériaux: Art, Science and Theory, ed. Yuk Hui and Andreas Broeckmann (Lüneburg: meson press, 2015), 30.

  24. Ibid.

  25. Daniel Birnbaum and Sven-Olov Wallenstein, Spacing Philosophy: Lyotard and the Idea of the Exhibition (Sternberg Press, 2019), 62.

  26. Ibid. 63.

  27. Nathalie Heinrich, ‘Les Immatériaux Revisited: Innovation in Innovations’, Tate Papers, 2009,

  28. These quotes are taken from the English translation of the French soundtrack, a document provided to visitors that is archived here: ‘Les Immatériaux’, Monoskop,

  29. Stephen Zepke, Sublime Art: Towards an Aesthetics of the Future (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2017), 85.

  30. Lyotard, ‘After Six Months of Work…’, 36.

  31. Lyotard, The Inhuman, 2.

  32. Woodward, 4.

  33. Robin Mackay, ‘Immaterials, Exhibition, Acceleration’, in 30 Years after Les Immatériaux: Art, Science and Theory, ed. Yuk Hui and Andreas Broeckmann (Lüneburg: meson press, 2015), 221.

  34. Yuk Hui, ‘Anamnesis and Re-Orientation: A Discourse on Matter and Time’, in 30 Years after Les Immatériaux: Art, Science and Theory, ed. Yuk Hui and Andreas Broeckmann (Lüneburg: meson press, 2015), 182.

  35. Ibid. 186.

  36. Francesca Gallo, ‘Contemporary Art as “Immatériaux”: Yesterday and Today’, in 30 Years after Les Immatériaux: Art, Science and Theory, ed. Yuk Hui and Andreas Broeckmann (Lüneburg: meson press, 2015), 122.

  37. Woodward, 5.

  38. David Roden, Posthuman Life: Philosophy at the Edge of the Human (New York: Routledge Press, 2015), 21.

  39. Donna Haraway, ‘Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective’, Feminist Studies 14, no. 3 (1988): 578.

  40. Ibid. 589.

  41. N. Katherine Hayles, How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999), 41.

  42. Karan Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning (Durham: Duke University Press, 2007), 135.

  43. Roden, 53.

  44. Rosi Braidotti, The Posthuman (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2013), 108-109.

  45. Paul Harris, “Thinking @ the Speed of Time: Globalization and Its Dis-Contents or, Can Lyotard’s Thought Go on without a Body?”, Yale French Studies, no. 99 (2001): 148.

  46. Hayles, 41.

About the author:
Paul Boyé is a writer working and living on Whadjuk boodja. They are a PhD Candidate at UWA School of Design, a member of the Cool Change Contemporary committee and an editor of Cactus Journal. The fields of research they are currently committed to include art theory, science studies and the history of philosophy. Their PhD research has been presented at several conferences including Quite Frankly: It’s a Monster Conference (2018, Perth) and theInternational Symposium on Electronic Art (2019, Gwangju).

Currents  is a collaboration between the Centre of Visual Art (CoVA) at the University of Melbourne and the School of Design, University of Western Australia, and is funded through the Schenberg International Arts Collaboration Program. The Advisory Board and Editorial Committee are comprised of staff and graduate students from across the University of Melbourne and the University of Western Australia.
Currents acknowledges the traditional owners and ongoing custodians of the land on which this journal is produced—the Boonwurung and Wurundjeri people of the Eastern Kulin Nation and Whadjuk people. We pay our respects to land, ancestors and Elders, and know that education involves working with their guidance to improve the lives of all.

ISSN 2652-8207