Transmission in Motion

Seminar Blogs

“Human-Technology Assemblages” – Anthony Nestel

In her article “Next Slide Please: The Magical, Scientific, and Corporate Discourses of Visual Projection Technologies” (2006) Jennifer F. Eisenhauer strips technological entities from a pre-determined, fixed meaning. According to Eisenhauer, “technology acquires meaning through a complex series of relations” (Eisenhauer 2006, 198-199). By means of a genealogy of slide projection technologies, Eisenhauer eloquently demonstrates how the meaning(s) of such technologies transform through cultural periods. These transformations are made possible by virtue of complex material and discursive relations.

Consequently, how to understand these relations? Moreover, how to evade the discourse concerning technological determinism? And, finally, what to replace technological determinism with?

I wish to define these human-technology relations, following Deleuze, Guattari and Delanda, as assemblages. According to Manuel Delanda, Assemblages are defined by the “emergent properties” (Delanda 2016, 11): the properties of the whole that are caused by the interrelations between the different, independent heterogeneous components for two reasons (Delanda 2016, 11). Firstly, the emergent are crucial, otherwise, the parts that compose and assemblage, could merely form a collection of components that coexist without generating a new individual (the individual in our case is the meaning that is attached to technology due to human-technology relations). We must note that these emergent properties are not essential, they are one of the infinite other possibilities. Secondly, making the emergent properties of a whole depend on the interrelations between its components guarantees, that the established properties are not taken to be transcendent  – or, essential. The identity of assemblages is not determined as a result by “essences [that] belong to a different plane of being from the entities whose identity they define, a transcendent place” (Delanda 2016, 12), but are contingent on the emergent properties that emanate through the interrelations of the assemblage’s parts. In this regard, all assemblages, according to Delanda, are singularities: individually and historically unique entities that belong to a materialist ontology immanence. It is immanent since all assemblages “populate the same ontological plane” (Delanda 2016, 13), a plane that has not developed from a necessary, transcendent plane. The human species exists on the same ontological plane as a human organism and all other singularities by making no hierarchical and “ontological distinctions between levels of existence, such as genus, species, and organism” (Delanda 2016, 13). I would add technologies and all other entities in this equation. Thus, to put it differently, humans and meaning are constituted by means of reciprocal/constitutive relations; humans and meaning never precede their/its relations.


  • Delanda, Manuel. 2016. Assemblage Theory. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
  • Eisenhauer, Jennifer F. 2006. “Next Slide Please: The Magical, Scientific, and Corporate Discourses of Visual Projection Technologies.” Studies in Art Education 47, No. 3 (Spring,): 198- 214