New-Cybernetics Research Group

DM.M-MD/MA-2, MA Special Topics Digital Media / SS 2018
Time: Di 10-14h / Room: 2.10.100

“The art and science of manipulating defensible metaphors” (Gordon Pask about Cybernetics)

Cybernetics is a transdisciplinary approach for exploring regulatory systems—their structures, constraints, and possibilities. Cybernetics has been established as an Art/Science/Perspective in the 1940/50 mainly driven by the development of war machinery. After it’s big hype in the 1960/70s it disolved into different disciplines like computer science, sociology, anthropology, psychology, philosophy or architecture. While the core of cybernetic ideas, especially the regulating qualities of negative feedbacks, became a tool of control and enforcement; A smaller, not so well know leg of cybernetics, so called “New-Cybernetics” (by Gordon Pask) or “Second-Order Cybernetics” (by Margaret Mead and Heinz von Förster) formulated in the 1960/70s introduced cybernetics of cybernetics, looking at cybernetics from within and with cybernetics. Margaret Mead defines “cybernetics as a way of looking at things and as a language for expressing what one sees”.

In this seminar we want to take a closer look at the manifold ideas/concepts that emerged from Cybernetics, New-Cybernetics and it’s surrounding disciplines. From here we will develop projects that investigate and appropriate Cybernetic thinking in an art and design practice. Cybernetics means “process”: Cybernetic systems can’t be studied by looking at their layout or building plan, they have to be studied in action. The course will alternatate between analysis, theory and practice.

First Session Introduction into Cybernetics + New-Cybernetics

Second Session Term + Concepts (your research)

Form/Outcome: Cabinet of Curiosities / Wunderkammer link

A collection of objects or machienes that offer a sight into an alternative technological (maybe political) world; Into the weird. Objects that perform concepts. A process and a analogy/metaphorically; An experiment

Denkbilder/Denkobjekte (Objects/machines to think with) The relationship of objects (art) to theory. Instead of having a text that is read, he text performs itself trough a object.

Third Session Form/Outcome

Possible topics are:

  • Negative Feedback (Control)
  • Positive Feedback (Catastrophe)
  • Human Machine Interaction
  • Second-order Cybernetics (Margaret Mead)
  • Machine Performativity
  • Autopoesis (Varela/Maturana)
  • Self-Replicating Machines (John von Neumann)
  • Self-Organisation (Heinz von Förster)
  • Order from Noise (Heinz von Förster)
  • Homeostasis (Ross Ashby)
  • Non-Universal Machines (Ross Ashby)
  • Interactions of Actors Theory (Gordon Pask)
  • Dance of Agency (Pickering)
  • Perichorese (Otto Rössler)
  • Pancomputationalism
  • KyperEthik (Heinz von Förster)
  • Interspecies communication / xenolinguistics (John C. Lilly)

References (still growing)

First Meeting:

17.04.2017 10h (room 2.11.100)

Slack Channel



  • 17.04.2017 (first meeting, starts at 10h)
  • 24.04.2018
  • 08.05.2018
  • 15.05.2018
  • 22.05.2018 —-
  • 29.05.2018
  • 05.06.2018
  • 12.06.2018
  • 19.06.2018
  • 26.06.2018
  • 03.07.2018
  • 10.07.2018

* General Information for attending my couses