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Themesicon: navigation pathCyborg Bodiesicon: navigation pathMonstrous Bodies

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The central thought in the discourse concerning the fluidity of media technologies and bodies is the principle of algorithmic programmability. This becomes a metaphor both for digital as well as artificial life, or as Melhus' example shows, for biotechnological manipulation. In his book «The Language of New Media», the Russian-American media theorist and artist Lev Manovich writes that the fundamental principle of digital media is one of «numerical representations.» The consequences are firstly that «a new media object» was able to be formally (mathematically) described, and secondly that it became an «object of algorithmic manipulation.» [9] A further principle is «variability.» This consists in the fact that «a new media object is not something fixed once and for all, but something that can exist in different, potentially infinite versions»: «New media […] is characterized by variability. (Other terms that are often used in relation to new media and that might serve as appropriate synonyms of variable are mutable and liquid.) Instead of identical copies, a new media object typically gives rise to many different versions.» [10] By variability Manovich not only means the media surface representation, the


smooth merging of consecutive sequences, but also the possibility of producing similar, only slightly different media objects in an almost unlimited number, a result of programmability. This would correspond to the economy of postindustrial society, which no longer posits mass standards and the serial repetition of the same, but rather individuality and free choice.

In a further step, Manovich's concept of variability, liquidity and mutability applies to the way in which users handle data and media objects, and then generally becomes a model of postindustrial culture that posits the apparent possibility of free choice and free form. With this Manovich makes an important point, which we also permanently encounter in the apparently unrestricted, posthuman possibility of designing the body. However, despite Manovich's putatively technology-based argumentation it soon becomes clear that it is ultimately supported merely by algorithmic programmability and that his discourse with respect to the fluid and the programmable is descriptive and metaphorical. Manovich is not alone with this. Besides theorists such as Marcos Novak or Peter Weibel, this ambivalent techno-metaphorical

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