07.07.2023 | Kunst und Ökonomien

Cybernetics in China, an Introduction. Seminar mit Gary Zhexi Zhang

In Kooperation mit The New Centre for Research & Practice

Im Rahmen des Art & Curatorial PracticeProgramms des The New Centre for Research & Practice veranstalten Mi You und Gary Zhexi Zhang ein Seminar zum Thema Cybernetics in China. Die Veranstaltungssprache ist Englisch, die Seminarsitzungen finden am 8., 15., 22. und 29. Juli in New York bzw. online statt. Im Folgenden finden Sie die Veranstaltungsbeschreibung:

Cybernetics, or “control theory” as it is known in Chinese, rose to prominence in the middle of the 20th century as the syncretic philosophical, social, and technical language of feedback systems. While the background of its founding figures in the United States, from Norbert Wiener to Gregory Bateson, are well-studied, less is known about the lineage of cybernetics in China.

This Seminar will begin by focusing on the life and work of Qian Xuesen, the key protagonist of cybernetics in China, and his trajectory from being an engineer of ballistic systems to his influence as a theorist of social, ecological, and industrial systems. Alongside his work as a mathematician and engineer, the later Qian Xuesen was also a strong advocate of Qigong and paranormal research. Through Qian, we will examine the influence of cybernetic thought and its diffusion in the 20th century China in events such as the efforts to redesign the agrarian economy during the Great Leap Forward and the discourses around population modeling and control that underpinned the One Child Policy.

We will then broaden our scope to consider China’s experience of cybernetic thought as an expression of the “organic materialism” (Needham) found in the history of Chinese science and Taoism. As in the United States and the Soviet Union, the figure of cybernetics in China faded away towards the end of the 20th century through its subsumption into other social and scientific disciplines. We will explore the presence of cybernetics in Chinese scientific discourse and science fiction of the 1980s, approaches to AI research, and international relations.

Further information