Interfaces and interfacings: posthuman ecologies, bodies and identities

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Chelsea Atkins Skelley (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Stephen Yarbrough

Abstract: This dissertation posits a posthuman theory for a technologically-driven ubiquitous computing (ubicomp) world, specifically theorizing cognition, intentionality and interface. The larger aim of this project is to open up discussions about human and technological relations and how these relations shape our understanding of what it means to be human. Situating my argument within posthuman and rhetorical theories, I discuss the metaphorical cyborg as a site of resistance, the everyday cyborg and its relations to technology through technogenesis and technology extension theories, and lastly the posthuman cyborg resulting from advances in biotechnology. I argue that this posthuman cyborg is an enmeshed network of biological and informatic code with neither having primacy. Building upon Anthony Miccoli, I see the interface (the space in between) as a functional myth, as humans are mutually constituted by material, biological, technological and social substrates of a networked ecology. I, then, reconfigure Kenneth Burke’s identification theory for the technological age and argue that the posthuman subject consubstantiates with the substrates, (or substances), to continuously invent a fluid intersubjectivity in a networked ecology. This project, then, explores both metaphorical and technological interfaces to better understand each. I argue that interfacing is a more thorough term to understand how humans, technologies, objects, spaces, language and code interact and thus constitute what we conceptualize as “human” and “reality.” This framework dismantles the interface as a space in between in favor of a networked ecology of dynamic relations. Then, I examine technological interfaces and their development as they have moved from the desktop to touchscreens to spaces wherein the body becomes a literal interface and site of interaction. These developments require rhetoric and composition scholars to interrogate not only the discourse of technologies but the interfaces themselves if we are to fully understand how human users come to identify with technologies that shape not only our communication but also our sense of subjectivity, autonomy, agency and intentionality. To make my claims clearer, I analyze science fiction representations of interfaces to chart more accessible means through which to understand the larger philosophical arcs in posthuman theory, intentionality as well as artificial intelligence. Using the films, then, this work seeks to elucidate the complexities of relations in the networked ecologies that define how we understand ourselves and the world in which we live.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2016
Cognition, HCI, Intentionality, Interface, Rhetoric
Ubiquitous computing
Ambient intelligence
Human-computer interaction $x Psychological aspects
User interfaces (Computer systems) $x Psychological aspects
Technological innovations $x Psychological aspects
Intentionality (Philosophy)

Email this document to