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The subject of circulation: on the digital subject’s technical individuations

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The concept of the digital subject proposes that online subjectivity is a mediated construct. This article extends this concept by arguing that online subjectivity is not a property of human users, but of digital subjects enacted in circulating data. It develops the digital subject by, first, using Phillip Agre’s concept of “grammars of action” to argue that computational architectures exclude humans from the position of the user; and, second, using Gilbert Simondon’s and Yuk Hui’s philosophies of technology to posit the digital subject as a determinate technical entity that, as per Hui’s reworking of Simondon, inhabits a “digital milieu”. Online, this digital subject inverts the human–technology relationship. It individuates by entering circulation, excluding us from individuating whilst individuating us in turn. This article expands upon this claim by analysing projects by Amalia Ulman and Zach Blas and their thematisation of visibility, identity and authenticity in online subjectivity.

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Wark, S. The subject of circulation: on the digital subject’s technical individuations. Subjectivity 12, 65–81 (2019).

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