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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter April 21, 2020

Forensic Iconicity: The Experimental Law’s Whatness in Digital Culture

Cristina Costantini
From the journal Pólemos


Thinking about the whatness of the Law in the digital era means to return to question its ontological abyss and its metaphysical violence. The essay rests on the idea that Law, to declare or to command, to condemn or to absolve, needs a material medium of communication that allows its sensible perceptibility. At the same time, the concrete appearances of the Law in the public sphere are partial and paradoxical: they are haunted by an ontological excess that resists against a conclusive form of mundane apprehension. Forensic Iconicity is the expression coined to figuratively depict the structural ambiguity between ostensibility and concealment that marks the Law’s presentialness. The aim of the work is to explore the transmutations and the displacements of the ancient bodies of symbolic representation of the Law up to the current dispersion in algorithmic sequences and digital traces. Moreover, according to the view proposed, the unresolved relationship between the abstract prophecy of Law and its physical precipitate has been captured and explained by the means of different paradigms, moving from political theology to algorithmic angelism.

Published Online: 2020-04-21
Published in Print: 2020-04-28

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