This research project seeks to elucidate the essential interweaving of the technological and the human from an original perspective: To understand technology, it focuses neither on its own operations nor on its psychological and social effects on humans. Instead, it steps back to concentrate on the essence of technology, yet not to ignore concrete and always materialized technologies but to bear in mind the function of technology in the human-technology-nature relation. Walter Benjamin explicitly argues against conceiving of technology as a human instrument to master nature: Technology does not master nature, but a human relation to nature. Humans cannot but relate to nature, and the term technology denotes – yet is irreducible to – the entities and practices used and performed to manage this indispensable and vital relation.

To theoretically articulate this functioning of technology, the project takes as its point of departure Benjamin’s statement according to which “the way in which human perception is organized – the medium in which it occurs – is conditioned not only by nature but by history”. Speaking of historical conditioning of that which might seem natural and ahistorical, namely perception, Benjamin underlines that our most immediate contact with the world is conditioned by technology understood as a medium.

Benjamin’s approach, conceiving of technology as a medium, overcomes the duality of social and technological determinisms. For Benjamin, technology is changing neither only the objective world (transforming it, in our present, into the Internet of things) nor the subjects approaching it. The problem is that technology changes (also) something else, something which arguably is beyond the subject-object dichotomy while linking the subjective and the objective, and the human and the natural, as the medium of their connection and perhaps even of their enaction: It is in this sense that the project seeks to capture technology as a medium of – not only human – existence.