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UR Scanner - Information for action through network technology 1997-2001
Interactive tool
Disclosing the Urform is key in Benjamin's utopian social theory. He writes of Ursprung (origin), Ursprungsphänomen and Urgeschichte (primal history), not in order to assert an origin that is now left behind, but so as to stress the whirls of unredeemed potential inside present forms. Benjamin combines these ideas with the Marxist intuition that the base submits possibilities that are hampered by the superstructure, the current social relations of production.Simultaneously this unredeemed potential is exposed as a repository of social and technological desires that should have been, and could yet be. Benjamin writes: 'We are only just beginning to infer exactly what forms now lying concealed within machines will be determining for our epoch'. The future lives in the present, possibility is coiled up inside actuality. The social promises of technology are mobilised by Benjamin to herald a new epoch because they exist preformed as possibilities. The idea of ur-ness is itself both actual - the true potentials of technology and of social organisation are hindered and held back - and potential - it's theorising is the re-interpretative strategy that allows revolutionary imagination to unfurl. Esther Leslie