Cyborg Anthropology

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Hertzian Space

Hertzian-space-maggie-nichols.jpg

Definition

Hertzian space is a term used to describe a holistic view of the electronic device and its cultural interactions. Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby[1] described this "electro-climate," inhabited by humans and electronic machines, as the interface between electromagnetic waves and human experiences. In a sense, Hertzian space is a holistic view of the electronic device and its cultural interactions. It has been defined by Anthony Dunne as the architecture of the physical interactivity between a device and a person.[2] Everything that requires electricity gives off an electro-magnetic field that extends infinitely into space. Visible light is part of Hertzian space, as well as radio, medical X-rays, television signals and UV tanning lamps. While we only see the discrete object, there is in fact an entire wave-field emanating from the object.

Interaction with the natural and artificial landscape creates a hybrid landscape of shadows, reflections, and hot points". "Whereas 'cyberspace' is a metaphor that spatialises what happens in computers distributed around the world, Hertzian Space is actual and physical, even though our senses detect only a tiny part of the electromagnetic spectrum".[3] "The new media and technologies by which we amplify and extend ourselves constitute huge collective surgery carried out on the social body with complete disregard for antiseptics", wrote McLuhan, "If the operations are needed, the inevitability of infecting the whole system during the operation has to be considered. For in operating on society with a new technology, it is not the incised area that is most affected...It is the entire system that is changed".[4]

Dunne and Raby believe that increased awareness of Hertzian space will assist our design practices. They think that we are only beginning to understand the effects and consequences of technological advances, and that "it is an environment that must be fully understood if it is to be made habitable".[5] By thinking about technologies in terms of Hertzian Space, we gain a more holistic understanding of technology that goes beyond the merely visible technological object and encompasses the practices, economics, and ideologies that become encoded into technological artifacts.[6]

References

  1. Dunne, Anthony. Hertzian Tales: Electronic Products, Aesthetic Experience, and Critical Design MIT Press. March 2001. Pg 21., as quoted in Fried, Limor. Social Defense Mechanisms: Tools for Reclaiming Our Personal Space. MIT Media Lab Graduate Theses. January 2005. Pg 7.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Trails Forever project. FutureFarmers. Projects. http://www.futurefarmers.com/trails/projects.html Publish date unknown. Accessed Oct 2011.
  4. McLuhan, Marshall. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. 1st Ed. McGraw Hill, NY. 1964, pg. 70.
  5. Dunne, Anthony. Hertzian Tales: Electronic Products, Aesthetic Experience, and Critical Design MIT Press. March 2001. Pg 21., as quoted in Fried, Limor. Social Defense Mechanisms: Tools for Reclaiming Our Personal Space. MIT Media Lab Graduate Theses. January 2005. Pg 7.
  6. This entry was contributed in part by Andrew Warner.