Laws of New Media and Cybotanomy, 2007

Cybotanomy and Laws of Media: In the Laws of Media, McLuhan asserts that all technological artifacts, as social-political mechanisms for cultural production, are elements of the human condition. The human condition being the effect of the psyche upon the human body or mental capacitance.

Technology has extended the human sensory experience, and its intentions, into non-discrete methods of human intervention with the phenomena of a natural environment. The western mind works through a linear discourse based on the phonetic-ness of western language. He describes the electronic age as that of the removal from community biasness as a result. Essential to human adaptation within societies or civilization are the methods of production, historically, and in the uses of the technological to become removed from the process of history all together. McLuhan describes the removal as the electronic extension of the body through technology, and indicates that something comes from this as an effect thereof; That there are repercussions for the use of any extension, mediation between bodies, or technologies, and are not isolated to those mediums of communication between peoples but between environments (global, and local), societies, industries, markets, families, generally any group of peoples who require communications. What I do not like about this distinction between human living and environments is the concept of right versus left brain as related to third and first world political structures.

I understand that anthropologically they are not the same, have different cultural signifiers, but I suspect there is something innately human in their social structures and norms that cannot be denied or made to be too dissimilar. Otherwise, they would not be human cultures but something else. I did agree with the assertion that non human cultures, those of the plant or animal kingdom were not receptive of mediation, and in part because of human use of languages but I wouldn’t rule out the problem of needing and utilizing communication and social structure within these systems, but simply they exist within a differing temporal framework. I will discuss this later - how the Laws of Media relate to Cybotanomy. McLuhan goes on to develop a system of his Laws of Media based on four principles which I believe develop conceptually from invention (retrieval), history (enhance), consequence (reversal), and displacement (obsolescence).

Within his tetrad there is a dichotomy between the Figure and the Ground, taken from Gestalt psychology. Figure being the focus of attention, whereas ground recedes as inattention. The relationships formed between technology and people are based upon this dichotomy in representing affects and effects upon culture and environment and on a deeper level for how technology is developed, utilized, and perceived by a global collective consciousness. 

This dichotomy of Figure and Ground is further discussed as a Dichotomy of Visual and Acoustic spaces. Where the visual is represented in the linear approach to cognitive and perceptual realities, acoustic spaces are representative of the encompassing space of dimensional environments, of a natural space. The essence of perceptual space, either visual or acoustic, is relative to the neuro-physiological functions of the left and right hemispheres of the human brain. Where the left visually orientates a linear perspective of time and relationships, the right orientates an encompassing perspective. Historically speaking, the development of technologies within culture for McLuhan is dependant upon both language tools and the phonetic construct of written versus that of oral communication traditions (western versus tribal societies).

In the use of technology, primarily video in this case, to create communication structures between people can be said to be a balancing act of the visual representative space of object and figure recognition with that of metaphorical and symbolic inferences. McLuhan puts forward the suggestion that western societies in their linear scientific factual reality, which are based on the “civilizations” of Greek and Roman thought have lost some ability to process the mystical or acoustic spaces of non-western tribal traditions. However, through video tele-presence, the ability to process the symbolic from the remoteness of otherness, the balance between linear and acoustic space is brought into a type of harmony in the stimulation of left/right hemispheres of the brain. He goes on to describe the future of global networking (computer networks, social networks, global video channels, satellite telecommunications) as extensions of the human nervous system. In this way, the global communities of individuals are “linked” “connected” within consciousness. What this describes is the decentralization of culture and the expansion of nonhierarchical spaces, those of Distributed Networks rather than that of a Centralized Network. It describes the information age as one of hyper consciousness rather than that of sub consciousness.

These issues are embedded into my thoughts on Cybotanomy as a study of communications for networked organisms, organism being referred to in the reductivist sense as a networked object of modular components and metabolism of energy as a processing of data. In the Cybotanomy rover, the degree of motion and behaviors assigned as response mechanisms are directly extensions of internal metabolic processes within a botanical subjects vascular system. As the rate of respiration guides the rover to provide necessary conditions for ecological exploration of a given space, the botanical specimen is given the ability to propagate its own destiny and position in visual space.

The McLuhan Tetrad as applied to Cybotonamy by noah marchal