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Scott Possiel. Textual Magic and the Experience of Religious Writing in the Roman World

Abstract: This paper examines the application of religious writing in the Roman world as a tool for granting supernatural abilities to material objects. It outlines a category of textual magic comprised of objects from the 1st to 5th century Mediterranean including curse tablets, magical nails, and city walls. These materials utilize the inscription of named deities, esoteric signs, and sacred passages in order to transform art and media into powerful agents. In a period of overlap between oral and literary culture, the functions of writing as a technology were unbounded and flexible. These circumstances enabled the written word to operate not only as an interpersonal communication device, but also as a technology for enhancing religious experience. Textual magic, as a mechanism for creating agency in objects, aligns with contemporary theories of both materiality and textuality of the ancient world. Combining a material approach with a close reading of text, this paper argues that objects with religious writing from any tradition in Late Antiquity must always be approached with an appreciation for both their textuality and materiality.

Bio: Scott Possiel is a PhD Candidate in Ancient Mediterranean Religions at Boston University. His research focuses on the interaction of textuality and material culture among the religious traditions of the Late Antique Mediterranean. Utilizing theories of orality and literacy, materiality, and semiotics, Scott seeks to understand textual objects as more than mere devices for communication. He is currently writing a dissertation on the multi-functional application of writing at single “sites” in the sixth to eight centuries such as saints’ shrines, magical ritual codices, and votive inscriptions.

Dr. Phil. Christian Bauerand Prof. Andreas Muxel. The Gigantomachia of Men and Machine or The Birth of Techno-Theology from the Spirit of Political Theology

Abstract: Nowadays people are facing a struggle between mankind and AI. We have to re-consider that the development of mythological, religious and scientific thinking has brought about the first concepts of machine and machinery. This triangle, the further involvement of arts and the requirements of authorship lead to conflicts within the political realm.Politicians are expected to deal with the challenges of the ubiquitous presence of machine intelligence. Some react by calling for ethical regulations to set limits with regard to algorithmic regulations. Considering the original self-determination of the individual we want to discuss the requirements that need to be fulfilled to strengthen the individual person as his/her own authority amidst powerful Techno-Theology on the one hand and elder version of Political Theology on the other.

The Gigantomachia between men and machine is a matter of authority, legitimacy, and sovereignty as well. It is still possible to prevent an escalation. To come closer to a solution we present the approach of digital majority.

Dr. phil. Christian Bauer is a philosopher with research in the field of information design, applied ethics, aesthetics, and anthropology. He lectures Information-, Media- and Communication Theory as well as Cultural Philosophy and Ethics at the University of Applied Sciences of Würzburg-Schweinfurt. He is looking for a general application of digital majority.

Prof. Andreas Muxel works and lectures in the field of design, art and technology. He is Professor for Physical Human-Machine Interfaces at the Faculty of Design at University of Applied Sciences Augsburg where he founded and directs the Hybrid Things Lab. He is looking for poetical and engaging tools for thinking, regardless of whether they are hardware or software.

Natalia Fedorova. Men inside the machine: artistic research of the 1960s Soviet space program histories

The paper is an artistic research focused the earth – spacecraft communication patterns of Soviet engineers and cosmonauts. Communication modes revealed the programmatologies of the New Soviet Man and localised this man inside three machines. Spacecrafts such as Vostok 1 by a rocket. The new Space industry was formed from the existing rocket science industry and aviation. During the parade dedicated to Gagarin flight March of Aviators was played. The call to ‘go higher and higher’ in it was also a symbolical one and was aimed at achieving Heavens as a means of breeding New Man. So the third machine involved was the ideological machine operating through radio waves. In this case on 12 April 1961 Gagarin was inside three machines. Each of these technologies served military purposes primarily. Vostok spacecraft, as Gerovich points out, became the technological analog of the totalitarian myth, an omnipresent panopticon that monitored cosmonaut’s every move (Gerovich, 2015:43).