Workshop (9-10 May 2019, Seoul): Politics of Milieu Today

International Workshop


Politics of Milieu Today


Date : 9-10 May 2019 (Thurday and Friday)


Veue : Seoul


Convenors : Sungwoo Park, Yuk Hui



-Department of Global Media and Communication Arts, Woosong Univeristy, South Korea;

-Korea Research Foundation (The Internet of Other People’s Things)

-Research Network for Philosophy and Technology


In the article “Living Being and its Milieu,” the French philosopher Georges Canguilhem outlined a history of the concept of the milieu since the early modernity to the German ecologist and zoologist Jakob von Uexküll’s notion of the Umwelt passing by Newton, Lamarck, Comte, Spencer and others. The history of the concept of milieu also implies an increasingly intimate and entangled relation between living being and its environment. Uexküll’s Umwelt suggests that there is a process of adaptation of the living being to an outer environment (Umgebung); the Umwelt is already an interiorized environment, namely a selected one. Uexküll’s concept of the Umwelt is very much limited to the analysis of animals, but not necessarily human beings, since human beings don’t only adapt to the environment, but also attempt to adopt the environment by transforming it through the invention of tools. Human beings domesticate animals through the modification of the environment, while at the same time they domesticate themselves with the symbols and tools that they have invented. The mode of self-domestication of human being also evolves in accordance with the concretisation of technical apparatus (from elements to objects to ensembles and now to systems), which at the same time could be read as a history of urbanism. This form of domestication through the modification of environment is described by Michel Foucault in his course at the College de France as “environmental governmentality.”


Today this environmental govermentality manifests in different forms of technology largely supported by the proliferation of “cheap data” co-produced by users and platforms, captured by non-human censors. It is the moment when the environmental govermentality overlaps with algorithmic governmentality in the digital milieu where every physical space can be perceived as multi-functional and multi-temporal space. These spaces are multi-functional and multi-temporal since virtually unlimited events can happen at the same time in the same space without interfering with each other. Time and space equipped with sensors and VR/AR technologies can be personalized and analysed with algorithms designed for specific purposes, should it be recommendation, surveillance, or social credit system, etc. The abstraction and complexification of space through digital technologies opens new forms of interactions and relations between users and their environment, at the same time it also imposes an increasing determination on both individuals and collectives by producing an inadaptability through artificial selection constituted by the smart environment. How can this environmental-algorithmic governmentality be understood and critically examined today? What are the alternative imaginations and usages of these technologies?\



Kioka Nobuo (Philosoper/ Osaka)

Victor Petit (Philosopher/ Paris)

Yuk Hui (Philosopher/ Berlin)

Sung-woo Park (Cultural Theorist/ Seoul)

Jung-sun Park (Media Artist/ Seoul)

Kee-woong Lee (Cultural Theorist/ Seoul)

Jin-woo Park (Media Theorist/ Seoul)




Il-joon Jung (Social Theorist/ Seoul)

Hyun-joo Yoo (Art Critic/ Seoul)

Soo-chul Kim (Cultural Theorist/ Seoul)

Hwan-seok Kim (STS Theorist/ Seoul)

Hyung-joon Jo (Publisher/ Seoul)




5/9, ‘Questioning Milieu: Philosophy and Politics’

13:30-14:00 introduction: Sung-woo Park (Professor Woosong University)-

‘New Era/Thought/Question and Milieu’

14:00-15:10 session 1: Kioka Nobuo (Professor Kansai University)-

‘Non-dualistic thinking in the Mesology (fûdogaku)’

15:10-16:20 session 2: Victor Petit (Philosopher)-

‘Environment vs. Milieu. Historical and Philosophical Perspectives’

16:20-16:50 Break

16:50-18:00 session 3: Yuk Hui (Philosopher)- ‘Machine and Ecology’

18:00-19:00 General Discussion: Il-joon Jung (Professor Korea University) (all participants)


5/10, ‘Milieu/ Technology/ City/ Society’

10:45-11:00 introduction

11:00-11:50 session 1:

Presenter. Jung-sun Park (Media Artist Woosong University)

Discussant. Hyun-joo Yoo (Art Critic Hannam University)

12:00-13:30 Lunch

13:30-14:50 session 2:

Presenter1. Kee-woong Lee (Research Professor Songkonghoe University)

Presenter2. Jin-woo Park (Professor Konkuk University)

Discussant. Soo-chul Kim (Research professor Konkuk University)

15:00-15:30 Break

15:30-16:30 session 3: Book Launch

Yuk Hui- ‘The Question Concerning Technology in China: An Essay in Cosmotechnics’ (Introducing Korean translation)

16:30-18:30 General Discussion: Hwan-seok Kim (Professor Kookmin University), Hyung-joon Jo (Publisher Saemulgeol) (all participants)

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