Baruch Gottlieb – Digital Materialism: Origins, Philosophies, Prospects


Emerald Publishing Limited, ISBN-13: 978-1787436695, English, 216 pages, 2018, UK

Part of a spread resurgence of materialism, maybe induced by the extensive technological complexity we’re surrounded by, this book is a lucid attempt to deconstruct the way we understand digital technologies, through a methodological approach. This is a philosophical book, divided into six chapters, each elaborating on a specific aspect. It starts with “Domestication”, which elucidates on how technology works because of subordinated systems. It continues with “Abstraction”, looking at what technology is based upon and the related power it brings along with the produced waste. “Automation”, instead, explores the generation of digital information, and how time, history and electrification enabled the process, while “Digitization”, focuses on sampling and conversion from analogue to digital. “Fabrication”, takes the previous two chapters to the edge, leading to the concept of “anthropocracy” (absolute human control), while “Materialization”, then discusses the consequent digital materialism. Finally, in the last chapter, an articulated call for “Emancipation” is stated, through the act of educating technologies for our constructive social purposes. Gottlieb has contributed for years to the new media art scene with public projects, being an active member of the Telekommunisten group and curating exhibitions about both Flusser and McLuhan relationship with art. This book appropriately formulates his materialist position in understanding the collective power that we still have, and determining how and for what purpose technologies can be used.