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Lyotard and the Inhuman ConditionReflections on Nihilism, Information and Art$
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Ashley Woodward

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780748697243

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748697243.001.0001

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Inhuman Arts: From Cubism to New Media

Inhuman Arts: From Cubism to New Media

(p.165) Chapter 7 Inhuman Arts: From Cubism to New Media
Lyotard and the Inhuman Condition

Ashley Woodward

Edinburgh University Press

Twentieth century European philosophy has seen many influential critiques of the technological dehumanisation process, often accompanied by appeals to the humanising powers of art as a potential response. And yet, Guillaume Apollinaire wrote in The Cubist Painters in 1913 that “Artists are, above all, men who want to become inhuman.” What would it mean for art to be “inhuman,” and what relation might inhuman arts have to the dehumanising effects of technology? This chapter traces the idea of the inhuman in art from cubism to new media art, focusing on the reflections on these topics by Lyotard, through his activities both as a philosopher of art and as an exhibition director. It traces the meaning that “the inhuman” has in relation to art in his work from the exhibition Les Immatériaux to his later writings on Malraux, aiming to show how, for Lyotard, a “positive” aesthetic conception of the inhuman can act as an antidote to the “negative” inhuman of contemporary cultural conditions.

Keywords:   Jean-François Lyotard, Cubism, André Malraux, Paul Virilio, New Media Art, Les Immatériaux

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