Publication 3331

Pickering A. (2007) Ontological Theatre Gordon Pask, Cybernetics, and the Arts. Cybernetics & Human Knowing 14(4): 43–57. Fulltext at
This essay explores the possibility of an ontological rather than epistemological understanding of cybernetics. My argument is that cybernetics embodies a nonmodern ontology, a vision of the world as built from lively, dynamic systems in performative interaction with one another – in contrast to the ontology of the modern sciences: an asymmetric picture of human agents linked to a passive and static world through the medium of representation. To put some flesh on this idea, I review Gordon Pask’s work in the theatre, the arts and architecture. I argue that his projects function as ontological theatre in a double sense. On the one hand, they stage specific examples of a nonmodern ontology more generally, on the other, they are examples of how one might go on in the world if one espoused that ontology. This review encourages an appreciation of cybernetics as a multidimensional form of life.


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