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The aesthetic turn: Exploring the religious dimensions of digital technology
KTH, Medieteknik och interaktionsdesign, MID.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7993-2825
2016 (English)In: Approaching Religion, ISSN 1799-3121, E-ISSN 1799-3121, Vol. 6, no 2, 156-163 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The arena for developing digital technology has undergone an aesthetic turn, broadening the focus from a functionalist approach producing centralized systems in the 1970s and 1980s to an increased awareness of the aesthetic aspects of the individual user’s interaction with technology in the 1990s and 2000s. Within the academic research fields studying digital technology (e.g. Human-Computer Interaction and Interaction Design) the aesthetic turn has resulted in a shift from a strong emphasis on user behaviour to an increased interest in aesthetic perspectives on the role of the designer, the design process, and the design material. Within these fields, aesthetics has often been interpreted as belonging to the realm of the individual; personal experiences such as pleasure, engagement, and emotions have been emphasized in both technology development and technology research. Aesthetics is not, however, only an individual phenomenon but also has relational and structural components that need to be acknowledged. Structural aspects of aesthetics condition the possibilities for individuals interacting with digital technology. Thus, the tension between individual and relational aspects of aesthetics in digital technology also reflects a tension between freedom and limitation; between change and permanence; between destabilizing and stabilizing forces. Such a broadened understanding of aesthetics offers a model of digital technology that roughly corresponds to Mark C. Taylor’s definition of religion. Taylor argues that religion is constituted by, on the one hand, a figuring moment characterized by structural stability and universality, and, on the other hand, a disfiguring moment characterized by disruption, particularity, and change. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the aesthetic turn and Taylor’s definition of religion to illustrate similarities between the two, suggesting possible religious dimensions of digital technology and how that can inform our understanding of people’s interaction with digital technology.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 6, no 2, 156-163 p.
Keyword [en]
HCI theory, digital technology, the aesthetic turn, Mark C. Taylor, poststructuralism, religion, philosophy
Keyword [sv]
MDI-teori, digital teknik, den estetiska vändningen, Mark C. Taylor, poststrukturalism, religion, filosofi
National Category
Human Computer Interaction Philosophy Religious Studies
Research subject
Human-computer Interaction; Philosophy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-335164OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-335164DiVA: diva2:1161791
Available from: 2017-12-01 Created: 2017-12-01 Last updated: 2017-12-04Bibliographically approved

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Åhman, Henrik

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