Eva Horn

  • MACHINE LEARNING: FRIEDRICH KITTLER (1943–2011)

    THE GERMAN MEDIA THEORIST FRIEDRICH KITTLER, who passed away last October at the age of sixty-eight, was perhaps the most incisive contemporary exegete of our relationship with machines. Artforum asked Geoffrey Winthrop-Young, author of Kittler and the Media (2011), and Eva Horn, professor of modern German literature at the University of Vienna, to delve into Kittler’s rigorously antihumanist, wryly polemical, and stunningly prescient vision of a world in which technology is omnipresent.

    GEOFFREY WINTHROP-YOUNG

    FRIEDRICH KITTLER was a strange man: appealing and difficult, brazen and shy, a scholar equally adept at excluding and seducing. The contradictions extend to his work. Like Marshall McLuhan, he was both ahead of his time and decidedly retro, but this lack of synchronicity means that his work has become representative of an age marked by temporal fracturing. “The future,” runs one of William Gibson’s best lines, “is already here—it’s just not evenly distributed.” By the same token, the past is still around—it just hasn’t evenly receded. Both statements apply to