Aesthetica Preprint, 97 (April 2013)

Emanuele Crescimanno: From the Analogue to the Digital: Photography, Experience, and Technological Progress

Experience mediated by technological means seems to be the sole and privileged experiential modality possible nowdays. Such state of affairs results from a process that has characterized the entire 20th century and that in recent years has become even more marked. Ths process has been accompanied by a growing sense of the progressive dehumanization of the experiencing subject, who is crushed by the ever increasing importance acquired by technological means.
The present volume by Emanuele Crescimanno ( focuses on this technological turn, starting from the assumption that it implies a rethinking of the human being, of her/his nature and experiential modalities. Drawing from Arnold Gehlen's philosophic anthropology and from the contemporary debate on the nature and future of technology, the volume focuses on experience and on the way in which it determines human beings, making their potentialities manifest and shaping their life projects. The analysis foregrounds the existence of continuities between human beings and technological means, continuities that overcome the sterile opposition between nature and culture, thereby obviating the risk of technological dehumanization.
Within this framework, photography seems to offer valuable general insights, especially in relation to the shift from the analogue to the digital. Photographic images were the first specifically technological images whose production was believed to be independent from human intention and more determined by the technical means that produced them, an understanding that establishes a direct relationship between photographs and the reality they portray. The fiduciary relationship between photography and reality still represents one of the prejudices that even today have not been removed completely, particularly because of the new centrality of photography that results from the digital turn and the omnipresence of technological means in our everyday life. The present study shows how technology plays a crucial role in the definition and the modalities of experience: the shift from the analogue to the digital places once again at the center of attention the subject who produces the images, her/his ethics and personal worldview, thereby moving beyond catastrophic predictions of the technology-induced dehumanization of the subject.