D o m i n i c   Pe t t m a n                                                                                                                
books  articles  teaching  media  bio  contact


Cabinet Presentation and Discussion /

“The City as Phantasm,” with Carla Nappi, Dominic Pettman, and Merritt Symes Cabinet Magazine Event (29 April 2015)

Interview by New Books Network

Author Dominic Pettman interviewed by Carla Nappi, “Human Error and Lapine Totems, New Books Network: Science and Technology Studies (May 2013)

Dominic Pettman explains why love is a technology in 60 secs

"Love Me Love My Avatar"

Produced by Paper Tiger TV and aired on Manhattan Neighborhood Network December, 2008.


 "The Internet as Playground and Factory"

The Politics of Digital Culture ‘Mobility Shifts’ Conference, New School.


On Social Lubrication: Between the Digital and the Chthonic One of the more striking maxims framing this conference on contemporary labor practices is that "Social participation is the oil of the digital economy." My paper taps this metaphor in order to explore the ways in which debates surrounding "peak oil" set the cultural tone for our lives and interactions to a degree that even Hubbert and Co. could not foresee. Working - as we do - not only within a market economy, but a libidinal one, means that the very notion of the social (and by extension, participation) are inflected through the often subliminal erotics of transactions. I therefore trace some of the pulsions of this concept through Lyotard to more recent theorists such as Alan Stoekl and Bernard Stiegler, specifically in order to understand the relationship between economy, energy, and ecology. What happens to digital labor, in other words, when oil runs out - both literally and metaphorically?


"The Libidinal Economy of Virtual Intimacy"

Video Vortex 3 in Ankara, Turkey October, 2010. Produced by The Institute of Network Cultures.


There is a popular conception amongst many Zeitgeist watchers, especially in places like the US, Western Europe and Australia, of the urbanized East as existing somehow further into the future. As William Gibson once stated: “The future is here; it just isn't equally distributed yet.” This kind of cultural fetishism extends to not only technolust, but the practices that new gadgets and electronics encourage. The phenomenon I'd like to focus on in this paper is that of virtual girlfriends and boyfriends: whether in the form of digital avatars, automated text messages, or episodic confessionals on YouTube. Such hyper-mediated encounters – which emerged from Japan, but are spreading unevenly over the globe – fascinate and appall those who still hold P2P romance IRL in high-esteem. A romantic relationship between a flesh-and-blood person and a computerized image seems like an insult to the intrinsically human and humanist discourse of courtship; and indeed it is.

How does this perspective change, however, if we consider “love” as a technology? That is, as both a code with its own algorithmic parameters, and a discourse which challenges the hyper-rational assumptions of the “merely machinic.” Extending arguments articulated in my most recent book, Love and Other Technologies, this paper asks how the emergence of virtual dating, and other cybernetically-inflected treatments of romance, are working to undo our jealously-held notions of intimacy and identity. In doing so, this presentation seeks to explore the specific libidinal economy of user-generated online hubs, in order to suggest that we are witnessing the early coalescence of a new inclusive mode of community.


Book Trailer

Human Error

Human Error — Species-Being and Media Machines (Posthumanities Series, University of Minnesota Press, 2011). 

In Human Error, Pettman describes the three sides of the cybernetic triangle - human, animal, and machine - as a rubric for understanding key figures, texts, and sites where our species-being is either reinforced or challenged by our relationship to our own narcissistic technologies. Consequently, species-being has become a matter of specious-being, in which the idea of humanity is not only a case of mistaken identity but indeed the mistake of identity. Human Error boldly insists on the necessity of relinquishing our anthropomorphism but also on the extreme difficulty of doing so, given how deeply this attitude is bound with all our other most cherished beliefs about forms of life.