Hansen, Mark B. N. New Philosophy for New Media. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2004.

In New Philosophy for New Media, Hansen argues that digital media has changed how we perceive. He claims it is no longer an ocular event but an affective event of the body. Hansen employs Bergon’s theory of perception and his emphasis on the body (what he calls “a center of indetermination within an acentered universe”) to argue that the “digital image” encompasses the entire process by which information is made perceivable through embodied experience. He places the body in a privileged position – as the agent that filters information in order to create images. By doing so, he counters prevailing notions of technological transcendence and argues for the indispensability of the human body in the digital era. Hansen claims that we are undergoing a paradigm shift in “aesthetic culture”– a shift from from a dominant ocularcentrist aesthetic to a haptic aesthetic rooted in embodied affectivity.” He wishes to demonstrate that new media artists “have focused on fore-grounding the foundation of vision in modalities of bodily sense” (12).

I can see how this kind of argument will help us move aesthetics from a surface level concern to a more experiential domain. It points to a shift in aesthetic experience, where the old model — disinterested perception of an object– is replaced by a more particular and embodied approach (something that sounds a lot like Wysocki’s “Sticky Embrace of Beauty”).  Hansen questions: “Why is it then, that we continue to speak of the image, even following its digital transfiguration (dissolution)? Why do we take recourse to a hybrid infrastructure? Why, given the disjunction between surface level appearance and materiality, do we continue to associate a given set of numerical coordinates or of information with a visually perceivable form?  While Manovich’s aesthetic questions hint at some of these same concerns, Hansen claims that he extends Manovich’s thinking. Hansen says, not only does the user actively “go into” new media, the user creates the image – it is a process which takes place within the user’s body. He states: “we must accept that the image, rather than finding instantiation in a privileged technical form (including the computer interface), now demarcates the very process through which the body, in conjunction with the various apparatuses for rendering information perceptible, gives form to or in-forms information. In sum, the image can no longer be restricted to the level of surface appearance, but must be extended to encompass the entire process by which information is made perceivable through embodied experience” (10).