Singular Technologies and the Third-Technoscape
The undeniable success of science to accurately predict observable phenomenons led non-scientists to adopt its efficiency, but not its prudence, and develop a pre-emptive approach to everything, where a map precedes the territory. This top-down process amplifies the pregnance of efficient technological practices, but also their uniformization over any other consideration. Industrial technology production addresses a general case, omitting singularities. The primacy of the map over the territory in our society prompted us to explore the conditions of success of alternative, situated practices.
In the course of a 9 month cycle we have attached ourselves to a transdisciplinary research-action in Brussel’s × Lab. Starting within Dyne:β×λ, and pursuing with Petites Singularités we explored technological arrangements for alternate collectives and activist networks. In a critique of abstract and unequivocal technological production, we chose to give a major importance to human relations, and engaged along time in specific places. We contextualized our initiatives to explore territoriality, emphasizing the importance of local conditions, and searching for a possible articulation between human community development and dedicated technological production. We engaged in the liminal spaces of city fringes where a diversity of life develops, and came to focus on technological practices that would be embedded in specific contexts.
From our experience with free software, we work towards the formulation of singular technologies, or technologies that foster human agency and critical, intentional technology production, adapted to local usage: “rooting technologies”. Singular technologies are conditioned by an active presence, and an engagement of the community. Their production involve many different aspects that hybridize them with life ensuring their diversity and perennity.
While citizen-driven technological practice is often associated to the idea of a Third-Space, a social space to develop further imaginations, we put in question this idea inscribed in an already problematic binary practice, divided between work and home. Instead, we argue that the formation of singular technologies occur in a Third-Lanscape. Borrowing from Gilles Clément’s concept of Third-Landscape – an undetermined fragment of the Planetary Garden – that refers to the sum of spaces where humankind abandons landscape evolution to nature alone*, we propose the concept of Third-Technoscape to designate places of technological production abandoned by the industry and institutions to civil society. Such spaces, neglected by the mainstream, show more natural resources in terms of bio- and noo-diversity than architectured spaces colonized by pre-emptive thought – essentialist and hylemorphic.
We will present the ways by which singular technologies develop in a perennial manner by several examples embedded in a specific landscape of the city where diversity blooms as a survival practice. We’ll therefore respond to the constant top-down bottom-up dichotomy by a side step and a transversal approach.
*: Gilles Clément, “Manifeste du Tiers-Paysage” (Editions Sujet/Objet, 2003)