Hackers and Shamans

Hackers and Shamans

23rd November 2018 Uncategorised 0


“the way scientific and technical work is made invisible by its own success. when a machine runs efficiently, when a matter of fact is settled, one need focus only on its inputs and outputs and not on its internal complexity. thus, paradoxically, the more science and technology succeed, the more opaque and obscure they become.”

Bruno Latour

“users who are happy with being just users (…) be smart, be an idiot, this is the motto of the new black box ethic”

Peter Sloterdijk

At some point in history we stopped understanding how technology works, I think my mother can explain to me the way photography or analog cinema work, it’s relatively easy to understand what a light-sensitive photo paper does, but probably not the operations of a digital camera with all its circuits within.


-the human consciousness and the complex machine-

So here we are with these two black boxes: the human consciousness and the complex machine.

Some men, maybe in this very room could say “but I know exactly how a computer works, that’s not a black box for me”, some psychologists could say the same about the human consciousness, that they know every detail about it

Well, I prefer to have an approach in which we admit that we do not know everything, that our life is full of black boxes, full of obscurities. And that it is through a hacking approach how we travel, never fully decipher, these obscurities. To me, hacking has to do with playing within these black boxes and eventually alter the expected outcomes.

Hacking is a knowledge production system and could be applied to any kind of black box.

Probably there’s some people who thinks that someone who studied computer science and know how digital devices work is a hacker, it’s alright for them but for this particular project of mine I will consider hacking everything that, with a sense of play, alters the obscurities of our environment, this is why the concept of black box is useful.

-magic, the mother of technology-

When hacking happens, the final result looks like magic isn’t it? And here’s where I connect the figure of the shaman with the figure of the hacker.

In shamanic sessions weird stuff happens, when the human being is in an altered state of mind, the things you see do not look rational.

Same with hacking, if a website is hacked, the visitors, even the sysadmins will not understand easily what happened there.

I’m not afraid to use the concept of magic, because it allow us to be imaginative on what we can do through a hacker-shamanic approach.

tout corps de simulation entre désir et réseau
tout espíe de nature entre flou et lumière

Nani Balestrini pour Les Immateriaux

To hack is to travel through obscurity, to melt within the light, to embrace blurriness.

Hacking is


Shamanism, Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy by the Romanian scholar Mircea Eliade

Coding Freedom by Gabriella Coleman.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *