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DRIFTWORK - 22/09/10

silicon assemblages

“An assemblage is carried along by its abstract lines, when it is able to have or trace abstract lines. You know, it’s curious, today we are witnessing the revenge of silicon. Biologists have often asked themselves why life was “channeled” through carbon rather than silicon. But the life of modern machines, a genuine non-organic life, totally distinct from the organic life of carbon, is channeled through silicon. This is the sense in which we speak of a silicon-assemblage. In the most diverse fields, one has to consider the component parts of assemblages, the nature of the lines, the mode of life, the mode of utterance…” -Gilles Deleuze

This led to a discussion which identified both that ‘that carbon is not the only line to be taken into account’ (organic and non-organic life) but also to an early and incoherent consideration of the way in which a technology might be considered. So perhaps one way of looking at this is Simondon saying ‘It could be said that the technical object evolves by engendering a family; the primitive object is the forefather of this family…’

How could and should silicon chips be considered in the technological lineage of a technological evolution ? Is this useful within the context of the thinking of assemblages or is it marked by a leaning towards the increased specialization of the technological object of the computer chip, achieved not ‘…function by function but synergy by synergy’ so that as Simondon says ‘what constitutes the real system in a technical object is not the individual function but the synergetic group of functions…’ For the group of functions is not related to silicon but to the computing functions. And whilst the underlying concept of non-organic life is interesting and fascinating it cannot be right to identify it with mere silicon, because the technological function is more than this, instead with the evolving technological object. The assemblage appears small whilst at the same time hinting at a larger and more complex concept. So perhaps when Simondon says ‘a natural technical evolution…’ It’s not arguing against the silicon-assemblage but instead identifying the actual component parts.

Driftwork - silicon assemblages - by sdv duras | 20100922

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