Why do we have such a difficult time coming up with a reliable definition for “technology”? For one, just when we think we’ve pinned it down, it refuses to stand still. Do we have any real way of maintaining a truth about a category that is constantly updating, innovating, and mutating in relation to every other concept we might use to define it? We frame technology as an other, somehow alien to our humanity. This problem of recognition becomes even more complex when we speak of the relationship between art and technology, two poorly defined terms with deeply intertwined applications. In Art and Technics, urbanist, cultural critic, and theorist of technology Lewis Mumford tries to make sense of the divergence between art and technology. To avoid ambiguity, he orients his definitions around a universal origin point. For Mumford, in its most pure state “art” could be defined as “the expression of the inner life without any reference to physical media and processes and concrete operations…” He defined “technics” as “man’s control of the forces of nature.” Written in 1951, these definitions now seem quaint. Mumford conceded that “in actual history, this separation [between art and technics] does not hold.”

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