Cybernetics is a transdisciplinary approach for exploring regulatory systems (such as mechanical, physical, biological, cognitive, and social systems) their structures, constraints, and possibilities. Cybernetics is applicable when a system being analyzed is involved in a closed signaling loop; that is, where action by the system generates some change in its environment and that change is reflected in that system in some manner (feedback) that triggers a system change.
- Quotes are arranged chronologically
- Cybernetics: or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine
- Norbert Wiener, title and subtitle of his groundbreaking 1948 book.
- In 1956 W. Ross Ashby stated in An Introduction to Cybernetics that "cybernetics was defined by Wiener as the science of control and communication in the animal and the machine." Yet, in his original book Wiener doesn't use this exact phrase. Wiener spoke of cybernetics as "control and communication in the animal and the machine."
- The machines of which we are now speaking are not the dream of the sensationalist,nor the hope of some future time. They alreadyexist as thermostats, automatic gyro-compass ship-steering systems, self-propelled missiles – especially such as seek their target – anti aircraft ﬁre-control systems, automatically controlled oil-crackingstills, ultra-rapid computing machines, and the like. They had begun to be used long before the war – indeed, the very old steam-engine governor belongs among them –but the great mechanization of the Second World War brought them into their own,and the need of handling the extremely dangerous energy of the atom will probably bring them to a still higher point of development. . .the present age is as truly the age of the servomechanisms as the nineteenth century was the age of the steam engine or the eighteenth century the age of the clock.
- Norbert Wiener, “Cybernetics or Control and Communications in the Animal and the Machine”, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, (1948), p. 55; as qtd. in Antoine Bosquet, “Cyberneticizing the American War Machine: Science and Computers in the Cold War”, p. 79
- The concepts of purposive behavior and teleology have long been associated with a mysterious, self-perfecting or goal-seeking capacity or final cause, usually of superhuman or super-natural origin. To move forward to the study of events, scientific thinking had to reject these beliefs in purpose and these concepts of teleological operations for a strictly mechanistic and deterministic view of nature. This mechanistic conception became firmly established with the demonstration that the universe was based on the operation of anonymous particles moving at random, in a disorderly fashion, giving rise, by their multiplicity, to order and regularity of a statistical nature, as in classical physics and gas laws. The unchallenged success of these concepts and methods in physics and astronomy, and later in chemistry, gave biology and physiology their major orientation. This approach to problems of organisms was reinforced by the analytical preoccupation of the Western European culture and languages. The basic assumptions of our traditions and the persistent implications of the language we use almost compel us to approach everything we study as composed of separate, discrete parts or factors which we must try to isolate and identify as potential causes. Hence, we derive our preoccupation with the study of the relation of two variables. We are witnessing today a search for new approaches, for new and more comprehensive concepts and for methods capable of dealing with the large wholes of organisms and personalities.
- Lawrence K. Frank (1948) "Foreword". In L. K. Frank, G. E. Hutchinson, W. K. Livingston, W. S. McCulloch, & N. Wiener, Teleological mechanisms. Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sc., 1948, 50, 189-96.
- The concept of teleological mechanisms however it be expressed in many terms, may be viewed as an attempt to escape from these older mechanistic formulations that now appear inadequate, and to provide new and more fruitful conceptions and more effective methodologies for studying self-regulating processes, self-orienting systems and organisms, and self-directing personalities. Thus, the terms feedback, servomechanisms, circular systems, and circular processes may be viewed as different but equivalent expressions of much the same basic conception
- Lawrence K. Frank (1948) "Foreword". In L. K. Frank, G. E. Hutchinson, W. K. Livingston, W. S. McCulloch, & N. Wiener, Teleological mechanisms. Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sc., 1948, 50, 189-96.
- In a letter written in 1947 by Warren Weaver to Norbert Wiener:
- When I look at an article in Russian, I say, "This is really written in English, but it has been coded in some strange symbols. I will now proceed to decode."
- … Norbert Wiener of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a brilliant mathematician who recently won fame with his invention of cybernetics, a new science of communications... His prolonged studies of the striking analogies between the control systems in animal bodies and those in complex machines became the basis of his newly created cybernetics, a science of communications.
- "How U.S. cities can prepare for atomic war" in: LIFE. Vol. 29, nr. 25 (18 dec 1950). p. 77.
- CYBERNETICS. Catch on to this word now. It's a new coined to label the fast-growing electronic brain system of industry which mat have more effect on the way we live than will atomic energy.
- "Cybernetics" in: The Rotarian. Sept 1953. p. 14.
- The celebrated physicist and mathematician A.M. Ampere coined the word cybernetique to mean the science of civil government (Part II of "Essai sur la philosophic des sciences", 1845, Paris). Ampere's grandiose scheme of political sciences has not, and perhaps never will, come to fruition. In the meantime, conflict between governments with the use of force greatly accelerated the development of another branch of science, the science of control and guidance of mechanical and electrical systems. It is thus perhaps ironical that Ampere's word should be borrowed by N. Wiener to name this new science, so important to modern warfare. The "cybernetics" of Wiener ("Cybernetics, or Control and Communication in the animal and the Machine," John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, 1948) is the science of organization of mechanical and electrical components for stability and purposeful actions. A distinguishing feature of this new science is the total absence of considerations of energy, heat, and efficiency, which are so important in other natural sciences. In fact, the primary concern of cybernetics is on the qualitative aspects of the interrelations among the various components of a system and the synthetic behavior of the complete mechanism.
- Hsue Shen Tsien (1954) Engineering cybernetics. p. vii: About the Origin of the Word 'Cybernetics'.
- Cybernetics is likely to reveal a great number of interesting and suggestive parallelisms between machine and brain and society. And it can provide the common language by which discoveries in one branch can readily be made use of in the others... [There are] two peculiar scientific virtues of cybernetics that are worth explicit mention. One is that it offers a single vocabulary and a single set of concepts suitable for representing the most diverse types of system... The second peculiar virtue of cybernetics is that it offers a method for the scientific treatment of the system in which complexity is outstanding and too important to be ignored. Such systems are, as we well know, only too common in the biological world!
- W. Ross Ashby (1956) An Introduction to Cybernetics. p. 4-5.
- Cybernetics is one of the youngest sciences in the world. Generally speaking, it was born in 1948, when the American mathematician Norbert Wiener, the pioneer of modern cybernetics, published a book under that title. The name soon became a fashion in the West, where even science is an object of fashion. Cybernetics, as such, is a concept that dates back many, many centuries. In ancient Greece it meant the art of steering, the skill of sailing ships — a skill so highly esteemed in that land of seafaring people that there were special festivities in its honour. In 1834 the famous French scientist Andre Ampere classified 128 branches of science, among which he named cybernetics as the science of steering, alongside with others for which he invented names. Wiener, thus, did not think up a new name. He simply applied the old one to a modern science.
- "The international Congress on Cybernetics" in: New times. (1956) Nr. 27-52. p. 62.
- [Cybernetics is] the art of ensuring the efficacy of action.
- The word 'cybernetics' is still new to many people, even though it has now been an accepted word of our language for some ten or fifteen years. Speaking generally, cybernetics is the scientific study of control and communication. It is an attempt to give an integrated account of both physical and biological systems in terms of their capacity to communicate between different points of the system, and in terms of their control.
There has been considerable research into general methods of communication in recent years, and this has been primarily the work of communication engineers, who are trying to discover in general terms what they themselves are doing.
- Frank Honywill George (1958) "Cybernetics and biology" in: M.L. Johnson Ed. New biology. Ns 26-31. p. 106.
- Cybernetics is the science of the process of transmission, processing and storage of information.
- Sobolew (1958) Woprosy Psychology, cited in T. C. Helvey (1971) The Age of Information. p. 6.
- For Stafford Beer, cybernetics was ‘the science of which operational research is the method’: ‘The representation and analysis of real world processes using logic, mathematics and computer science’, Operations Research (OR) and its offspring Systems Analysis (SA) transformed the manner in which war was prepared for, planned and imagined.
- Stafford Beer, “What Has Cybernetics to Do with Operational Research?”, Operational Research Quarterly10, no. 1 (1959), 1–21, as qtd. in Antoine Bosquet, [https://www.academia.edu/390023/Cyberneticizing_the_American_War_Machine_Science_and_Computers_in_the_Cold_War “Cyberneticizing the American War Machine: Science and Computers in the Cold War”, pp. 88-89.
- All this (the early excitement of Cybernetics) is now history, and in the decade which elapsed since these early baby steps of interdisciplinary communication, many more threads were picked up and interwoven into a remarkable tapestry of knowledge and endeavour: Bionics. It is good omen that at the right time the right name was found. For, bionics extends a great invitation to all who are willing not to stop at the investigation of a particular function or its realization, but to go on and to seek the universal signiﬁcance of these functions in living or artiﬁcial organisms.
The reader who goes through the following papers which constitute the transactions of the ﬁrst symposium held under the name Bionics will be surprised by the multitude of astonishing and unforeseen connections between concepts he believed to be familiar with. For instance, a couple of years ago, who would have thought to relate the reliability problem to multi-valued logics; or, who would have thought that integral or differential geometry would serve as an adequate tool in the theory of abstraction? It is hard to say in all these cases who was teaching whom: The life-sciences the engineering sciences, or vice versa? And rightly so, for it guarantees optimal information ﬂow, and everybody gains...
- Heinz von Foerster (1960) as cited in Peter M. Asaro (2007). "Heinz von Foerster and the Bio-Computing Movements of the 1960s,"
- Cybernetics is still headline news, and increasingly we hear about its applications to new fields of scientific and industrial endeavour. Stafford Beer's new book Cybernetics and Management is an admirable account on the relation that exist between cybernetics and the problems of management in industry [and]... covers a range of applications that have not previously been dealt with in print.
- Cybernetics is the general science of communication. But to refer to communication is consciously or otherwise to refer to distinguishable states of information inputs and outputs and /or to information being processed within some relatively isolated system.
- Henryk Greniewski (1960) Cybernetics without mathematics. p. 53.
- Cybernetics is concerned primarily with the construction of theories and models in science, without making a hard and fast distinction between the physical and the biological sciences. The theories and models occur both in symbols and in hardware, and by 'hardware* we shall mean a machine or computer built in terms of physical or chemical, or indeed any handleable parts. Most usually we shall think of hardware as meaning electronic parts such as valves and relays. Cybernetics insists, also, on a further and rather special condition that distinguishes it from ordinary scientific theorizing: it demands a certain standard of effectiveness. In this respect it has acquired some of the same motive power that has driven research on modern logic, and this is especially true in the construction and application of artificial languages and the use of operational definitions. Always the search is for precision and effectiveness, and we must now discuss the question of effectiveness in some detail. It should be noted that when we talk in these terms we are giving pride of place to the theory of automata at the expense, at least to some extent, of feedback and information theory.
- A great deal of the thinking [in Organizational Development] has been influenced by cybernetics and information theory, though this has been used as much to extend the scope of closed-system as to improve the sophistication of open system formulations. It was von Bertalanffy (1950) who, in terms of the general transport equation which he introduced, first fully disclosed the importance of openness or closedness to the environment as a means of distinguishing living organisms from inanimate objects.
- In 1946, a Macy Foundation interdisciplinary conference was organized to use the model provided by "feedback systems," honorifically referred to in earlier conferences as "teleological mechanisms," and later as "cybernetics," with the expectation that this model would provide a group of sciences with useful mathematical tools and, simultaneously, would serve as a form of cross-disciplinary communication. Out of the deliberations of this group came a whole series of fruitful developments of a very high order. Kurt Lewin (who died in 1947) took away from the first meeting the term "feedback". He suggested ways in which group processes, which he and his students were studying in a highly disciplined, rigorous way, could be improved by a "feedback process," as when, for example, a group was periodically given a report on the success or failure of its particular operations.
- Margaret Mead (1964) Continuities in Cultural Evolution p. 272-273.
- If cybernetics is the science of control, management is the profession of control
- Anthony Stafford Beer (1966) Decision and control. p. 239.
- Cybernetics is the science or the art of manipulating defensible metaphors; showing how they may be constructed and what can be inferred as a result of their existence.
- As an anthropologist, I have been interested in the effects that the theories of Cybernetics have within our society. I am not referring to computers or to the electronic revolution as a whole, or to the end of dependence on script for knowledge, or to the way that dress has succeeded the mimeographing machine as a form of communication among the dissenting young. Let me repeat that, I am not referring to the way that dress has succeeded the mimeographing machine as a form of communication among the dissenting young.
I speciﬁcally want to consider the signiﬁcance of the set of cross-disciplinary ideas which we ﬁrst called “feed-back” and then called “teleological mechanisms” and then called it “cybernetics,” a form of crossdisciplinary thought which made it possible for members of many disciplines to communicate with each other easily in a language which all could understand.
- As Alain Enthoven was himself to recognize, ‘you assume that there is an information system that will tell you what you want to know. But that just isn’t so. There are huge amounts of misinformation and wronginformation’. Thus, far from eliminating the Clausewitzian ‘fog of war’, cybernetic warfare itself generated ‘a kind of twilight, which, like fog or moonlight, often tends to make things seem grotesque and larger than they really are’.
- Alain Enthoven as quoted in Carl von Clausewitz, On War, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1968, p. 140; as qtd. in Antoine Bosquet, “Cyberneticizing the American War Machine: Science and Computers in the Cold War”, pp. 97-98.
- Perhaps the most important single characteristic of modern organizational cybernetics is this: That in addition to concern with the deleterious impacts of rigidly-imposed notions of what constitutes the application of good "principles of organization and management" the organization is viewed as a subsystem of a larger system(s), and as comprised itself of functionally interdependent subsystems.
- Richard F. Ericson (1969) Organizational cybernetics and human values p. 14-15.
- The theory of information became the cornerstone of cybernetics because the latter deals with "the study of systems of any nature that are capable of receiving, storing and processing information and utilizing it for control".
- Aleksandr Kondratov (1969) Sounds and signs. p. 67.
- The meaning of the term "cybernetics" is today somewhat different from that used when Wiener, McCulloch, Rosenblueth, Bigelow and others used the Greek word "Kybernetes," or helmsmen, to describe an automatic computer... the definition, which I first gave in 1966:
"Cybernetics describes an intelligent activity or event which can be expressed in algorithms. Algorithms, in turn, refer to a system of instructions which describes unambiguously and accurately an interaction which is equivalent to a given type of flux of intelligence and a subsequent, controlled activity. The development of cybernetics aims, among other things, at the design and reproduction of functions which are peculiar to intelligent organism."
- T. C. Helvey (1971) The Age of Information: An Interdisciplinary Survey of Cybernetics. p. 6.
- The essence of cybernetic organizations is that they are self-controlling, self-maintaining, self-realizing. Indeed, cybernetics has been characterized as the “science of effective organization,” in just these terms.
But the word “cybernetics” conjures, in the minds of an apparently great number of people, visions of computerized information networks, closed loop systems, and robotized man-surrogates, such as “artorgas” and “cyborgs.”
- Richard F. Ericson (1972) "Visions of Cybernetic Organizations". p. 427.
- Now "cybernetics" is the term coined by Wiener to denote "steersmanship" or the science of control. Although current engineering usage restricts it to the study of flows in closed systems, it can be taken in a wider context, as the study of processes interrelating systems with inputs and outputs, and their structural-dynamic structure. It is in this wider sense that "cybernetics" will be used here, to wit, as system-cybernetics, understanding by "system" an ordered whole in relation to its relevant environment (hence one actually or potentially open).
- Ervin László (1972) Introduction to Systems Philosophy: : Toward a New Paradigm of Contemporary Thought. p. 38.
- The main object of cybernetics is to supply adaptive, hierarchical models, involving feedback and the like, to all aspects of our environment. Often such modelling implies simulation of a system where the simulation should achieve the object of copying both the method of achievement and the end result. Synthesis, as opposed to simulation, is concerned with achieving only the end result and is less concerned (or completely unconcerned) with the method by which the end result is achieved. In the case of behaviour, psychology is concerned with simulation, while cybernetics, although also interested in simulation, is primarily concerned with synthesis.
Most of the major developments in models and theories of artificial intelligence have taken place in the western world — mostly, indeed, in the US and Britain — and it was only relatively recently that "core developments", as opposed to more peripheral developments and applications, have spread over Europe and the Soviet Union.
- Frank George (1973) "Soviet Cybernetics, the militairy and Professor Lerner" in: New Scientist (March 15, 1973). Vol. 57, nr. 837. p. 613.
- During the 1950s and 1960s most of the work which was called cybernetics tended to focus on control systems in engineering or on applications of the concept of feedback in fields ranging from mathematics to sociology. At the 1970 meeting of the American Society for Cybernetics in Philadelphia Heinz von Foerster sought to redirect attention to the original interests which had led to the founding of the field of cybernetics. In a paper titled "Cybernetics of Cybernetics" he made a distinction between first order cybernetics, the cybernetics of observed systems, and second order cybernetics, the cybernetics of observing systems.
- Stuart A. Umpleby (1991) "Strategies for Winning Acceptance of Second Order Cybernetics." In George E. Lasker, et al. (eds.) Advances in Human Systems and Information Technologies. Windsor, Canada: International Institute for Advanced Studies in Systems Research and Cybernetics, 1992. pp. 97-196. (paper).
- The cybernetics phase of cognitive science produced an amazing array of concrete results, in addition to its long-term (often underground) influence:
- the use of mathematical logic to understand the operation of the nervous system;
- the invention of information processing machines (as digital computers), thus laying the basis for artificial intelligence;
- the establishment of the metadiscipline of system theory, which has had an imprint in many branches of science, such as engineering (systems analysis, control theory), biology (regulatory physiology, ecology), social sciences (family therapy, structural anthropology, management, urban studies), and economics (game theory);
- information theory as a statistical theory of signal and communication channels;
- the first examples of self-organizing systems.
This list is impressive: we tend to consider many of these notions and tools an integrative part of our life...
- Francisco Varela (1991) The Embodied Mind p. 38.
- Think about the technology of sports footwear," she says. "Before the Civil War, right and left feet weren't even differentiated in shoe manufacture. Now we have a shoe for every activity." Winning the Olympics in the cyborg era isn't just about running fast. It's about "the interaction of medicine, diet, training practices, clothing and equipment manufacture, visualization and timekeeping." When the furor about the cyborgization of athletes through performance-enhancing drugs reached fever pitch last summer, Haraway could hardly see what the fuss was about. Drugs or no drugs, the training and technology make every Olympian a node in an international technocultural network just as "artificial" as sprinter Ben Johnson at his steroid peak.
- Donna Haraway in Hari Kunzru, “You Are Cyborg”, WIRED, 02.01.97
- From the start, the cyborg was more than just another technical project; it was a kind of scientific and military daydream. The possibility of escaping its annoying bodily limitations led a generation that grew up on Superman and Captain America to throw the full weight of its grown-up R&D budget into achieving a real-life superpower. By the mid-1960s, cyborgs were big business, with millions of US Air Force dollars finding their way into projects to build exoskeletons, master-slave robot arms, biofeedback devices, and expert systems. For all the big bucks and high seriousness, the prevailing impression left by old cyborg technical papers is of a rather expensive kind of science fiction. Time and again, scientific reasoning melts into metaphysical speculation about evolution, human boundaries, and even the possibility of what Clynes and Kline call "a new and larger dimension for man's spirit." The cyborg was always as much a creature of scientific imagination as of scientific fact.
It wasn't only the military that was captivated by the possibilities of the cyborg. The dream of improving human capabilities through selective breeding had long been a staple of the darker side of Western medical literature. Now there was the possibility of making better humans by augmenting them with artificial devices. Insulin drips had been used to regulate the metabolisms of diabetics since the 1920s. A heart-lung machine was used to control the blood circulation of an 18-year-old girl during an operation in 1953. A 43-year-old man received the first heart pacemaker implant in 1958.
By the 1970s, the idea of an augmented human had entered the mainstream. Steve Austin, The Six Million Dollar Man, and his cohort Jaime Sommers, The Bionic Woman (with bionic limbs and a super-sensitive bionic ear), were popular heroes, their custom superpowers bought off the shelf like a digital watch. The cyborg had grown from a lecture-room fantasy into the stuff of prime-time TV.
- Hari Kunzru, “You Are Cyborg”, WIRED, 02.01.97
- Wiener's dream of a universal science of communication and control has faded with the years. Cybernetics has given rise to new areas like cognitive science and stimulated valuable research in numerous other fields. But almost no one today calls themselves a cyberneticist. Some believe that Wiener's project fell victim to scientific fashion, its funding sucked away by flashy but ultimately pointless AI research. Others think cybernetics was killed by the basic problem that the nuts-and-bolts mechanisms of control and communication in machines are significantly different from those in animals, and neither are very like control and communication in society. So cybernetics, which was based on an inspired generalization, fell victim to its inability to deal with details. Whichever perspective is true (and as with most such stories, the truth is likely to be a mixture of both), cybernetics has left two important cultural residues behind. The first is its picture of the world as a collection of networks. The second is its intuition that there's not as much clear blue water between people and machines as some would like to believe. These still-controversial concepts are at the bionic heart of the cyborg, which is alive and well, and constructing itself in a laboratory near you.
- Hari Kunzru, “You Are Cyborg”, WIRED, 02.01.97
- An opportunity for cybernetics to change the course of the philosophy of mind was missed when intentionality was misinterpreted as "the providing of coded knowledge".
- Igor Aleksander (2001) in: New scientist. Vol. 169. p. 56 cited in: Jacques Vallée (2003) The Heart of the Internet. p. 8.
- Many of the core ideas of cybernetics have been assimilated by other disciplines, where they continue to influence scientific developments. Other important cybernetic principles seem to have been forgotten, though, only to be periodically rediscovered or reinvented in different domains. Some examples are the rebirth of neural networks, first invented by cyberneticists in the 1940's, in the late 1960's and again in the late 1980's; the rediscovery of the importance of autonomous interaction by robotics and AI in the 1990's; and the significance of positive feedback effects in complex systems, rediscovered by economists in the 1990's. Perhaps the most significant recent development is the growth of the complex adaptive systems movement, which, in the work of authors such as John Holland, Stuart Kauffman and Brian Arthur and the subfield of artificial life, has used the power of modern computers to simulate and thus experiment with and develop many of the ideas of cybernetics. It thus seems to have taken over the cybernetics banner in its mathematical modelling of complex systems across disciplinary boundaries, however, while largely ignoring the issues of goal-directedness and control.
- Cybernetics is the study of systems and processes that interact with themselves and produce themselves from themselves.
- Since the 1960s, Japan has produced a considerable number of cyborg narratives in manga and anime, particularly in works targeting male children and adolescents. From early manga examples such as Kazumasa Hirai and Hiro Kuwata's 8 Man and Shotaro Ishinomori's Cyborg 009, and their subsequent anime versions, the protagonist is commonly cyborged against their will or desires. This positions them as victims, regardless of how physically powerful they are. Their sense of inferiority and vulnerability usually underpins these narratives, either subtly or explicitly.
The depiction of female cyborgs adds complexity to the positioning of cyborgs in manga and anime, especially in terms of gender. Female cyborgs may be equipped with remarkable physical strength, combined with voluptuous, eroticized bodies (for instance Major Motoko Kusanagi in Masamune Shirow's original manga and Mamoru Oshii's anime version of Ghost in the Shell); and these powerful female cyborgs are also frequently ascribed roles as protectors or supporters of incompetent and insecure male protagonists. Although some female cyborgs may possess characteristics that indicate a transgression of the conventional boundaries of gender, this transgression is often limited and undermined by other elements of their depiction. As Kumiko Sato points out in her essay "How Information Technology Has "Not, Changed Feminism and Japanism", "female cyborgs and androids have been domesticated and fetishized into maternal and sexual protectors of the male hero" and thus "their functions is usually reduced to either a maid or a goddess obediantly serving her beloved male master, the sole reason for her militant nature."
- Christie Barber, Mio Bryce, and Jason Davis; “The Making of Killer Cuties”, in “Anime and Philosophy: Wide Eyed Wonder”, edited by Josef Steiff, Tristan D. Tamplin
- For me, as I later came to say, cybernetics is the art of creating equilibrium in a world of possibilities and constraints. This is not just a romantic description, it portrays the new way of thinking quite accurately. Cybernetics differs from the traditional scientific procedure, because it does not try to explain phenomena by searching for their causes, but rather by specifying the constraints that determine the direction of their development.
- Ernst von Glasersfeld (2010) Partial Memories: Sketches from an Improbable Life. p. 136.
- In the late 1950s, experiments such as the cybernetic sculptures of Nicolas Schöffer or the programmatic music compositions of John Cage and Iannis Xenakis transposed systems theory from the sciences to the arts. By the 1960s, artists as diverse as Roy Ascott, Hans Haacke, Robert Morris, Sonia Sheridan, and Stephen Willats were breaking with accepted aesthetics to embrace open systems that emphasized organism over mechanism, dynamic processes of interaction among elements, and the observer’s role as an inextricable part of the system. Jack Burnham’s 1968 Artforum essay “Systems Aesthetics” and his 1970 “Software” exhibition marked the high point of systems-based art until its resurgence in the changed conditions of the twenty-first century.
- Cyborg. The word has a whiff of the implausible about it that leads many people to discount it as mere fantasy. Yet cyborgs, real ones, have been among us for almost 50 years. The world's first cyborg was a white lab rat, part of an experimental program at New York's Rockland State Hospital in the late 1950s. The rat had implanted in its body a tiny osmotic pump that injected precisely controlled doses of chemicals, altering various of its physiological parameters. It was part animal, part machine.
- Moira Weigel “Feminist cyborg scholar Donna Haraway: ‘The disorder of our era isn’t necessary’ “ The Guardian, (Thu 20 Jun 2019, Mon 24 Jun 2019)
- The '90s cyborg is both a more sophisticated creature than its '50s ancestor - and a more domestic one. Artificial hip joints, cochlear implants for the deaf, retinal implants for the blind, and all kinds of cosmetic surgery are part of the medical repertoire. Online information retrieval systems are used as prosthetics for limited human memories. In the closed world of advanced warfare, cyborg assemblages of humans and machines are used to pilot fighter aircraft - the response times and sensory apparatus of unaided humans are inadequate for the demands of supersonic air combat. These eerie military cyborgs may be harbingers of a new world stranger than any we have yet experienced.
- Moira Weigel “Feminist cyborg scholar Donna Haraway: ‘The disorder of our era isn’t necessary’“, The Guardian, (Thu 20 Jun 2019, Mon 24 Jun 2019)