Yuk Hui – Art and Cosmotechnics


e-flux/University of Minnesota Press, ISBN-13: 978-1517909543, English, 341 pages, 2021, USA

Yuk Hui has quietly earned a reputation as one of the most knowledgeable and lucid contemporary philosophers focusing on technology and society. This is no accident. He has the rare quality of combining Eastern and Western knowledge with a mutually understandable attitude. He defines the concept of cosmotechnics as a “unification of the cosmos and the moral through technical activities, whether craft-making or art-making”. He thus recursively defines technodiversity, i.e. the description of a technological development “as involving different cosmotechnics” instead of a universal chronological history as we usually do. This is a particular challenge to the technocentrism that often pervades media art. He suggests reversing the classic approach of using technology to produce art, and instead using art to produce or transform technologies such as virtual reality or artificial intelligence. Hui explains that a new way of thinking about technologies is needed that is philosophically distinct from tradition. This includes an “individuation of thinking” in which Eastern and Western traditions can take on a new, common form after being appropriated, and a creative, non-utilitarian attitude instead of an extractivist one. Art and Cosmotechnics is a must-read, especially for Westerners, to unlock the transformative potential of art vis-à-vis technologies.