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Why Heidegger Never Asked Banham to Conceal his Nudity

Part 1 Dissertation 2012
Grace Mc Ginn
University College Cork, Ireland
From the early days of the technological revolution, beginning sometime round the end of the 19th century with the invention of the light bulb and the radio (amongst numerous other patents), right through to the current overhaul of communication and mechanization, there have been numerous writings and discussions around the topic of technology and its integration with human science and architecture. Contributors from a diverse and varied background have delivered their opinions on the persistently invasive subject, rolling out an endless supply chain of ideas and theories that begin to scratch the surface of the technological ice-berg. Walter Benjamin, for example, took on the topic of art and film in his essay ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’ while, in a subsequent epoch Marshall McLuhan looked at the re-appropriation of the environment against the arrival of the circuit board and mass information most conspicuously in his book, The Medium is the Massage. This discussion, however, explores the theories of the German philosopher Martin Heidegger and the innovation of the British culturist Peter Reyner Banham, mapping their individual contributions on to the vast plains of technology.

Martin Heidegger first introduced his attitude towards the progressively pervasive subject of technology in his 1949 essay ‘The Question Concerning Technology’ (originally entitled ‘The Framework’). The essay proposed an alternative to the common debate by infusing technology with philosophical additives regarding thinking, being and existing. A generation later, the British born – though American enthused – Reyner Banham, re-invigorated the subject in his essay A House is Not a Home (1965) - diluting the concept of a house into a bundling of wired thoughts and piped ideas.

Despite the apparent differences in the personality and philosophical and methodical approach of the two protagonists Banham and Heidegger, a surprising confluence in their thinking can be discerned as distinct attitudes reveal shared considerations on the organic, human qualities of technology. At points these present themselves in diverse manners, but also at times in assistance with each other as they forge a platform for a discussion on technology and dwelling which remains increasingly relevant today.

Grace Mc Ginn

Dr Gary Boyd
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