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George Revill (Open University Milton Keynes)


‘What goes, on what one goes and what goes by’: Technology, travel, communications and critical phenomenology.


When Michel Foucault described the railway through multiple locations expressed by the verb ‘to go’, his words did more than simply recognise railways as an ‘extraordinary’ product and producer of modern life. Rather he set out an immersive sense of communication in which medium and message are wrapped together as simultaneously subject, object, representation and practice. Other cultural theorists too, perhaps most notably De Certeau and Serres, have also used transport and travel metaphors to explore processes of communication and world making. 

Drawing critically on this work in the context of cultural history of transport and communications technology, the lecture begins to develop an expanded conception of communication as the foundation for a critical phenomenology. The work connects Ranciere's conception of a politics of the distribution of the sensible (from his politics of aesthetics) with Ihde's ideas of communicative interaction, Serres and Nancy's work on sensing and communication and a conception of material semiotics based in the work of the American pragmatist Charles Sanders Peirce.