Auto-Mobile DNA, The Mythology of the Automobile in the Society of Control

(Kröger, Fabian, Automobile DNS, Zur Mythologie des Automobils in der Kontrollgesellschaft, in: Treusch-Dieter, Gerburg, Düker, Ronald, Gehrke, Claudia (Hg)., Konkursbuch Auto, Tübingen 2004, S. 161-170).

Translation: G. M. Goshgarian

The domestication and subjection of the auto and the self

The tremendous success of the “index fossil” known as the automobile finds its explanation in the mythology and symbolism that the automobile brings together.[1] But this grand narrative, this promise of individualism and freedom, autonomy and unconstrained mobility, also represents an “illusory misrecognition”: nestled in the bodies of their cars, people imagine that they are free and autonomous subjects, even as they are effectively brought under the sway, as Käte Meyer-Drawe writes, “of processes of subjection.” “The automobile both participates in and also contradicts the utopias of modernity.”[2]

Today this contradiction is growing ever sharper. This is shown especially clearly by, first, increasingly heavy traffic surveillance and control, and, second, technological transformation of the auto itself. Ever more swiftly, the car is becoming a “dangerous place” in which “random checks” by the police remain an ever-present possibility. Along with the intensification of traffic controls from without, cars are also increasingly coming under electronic control from within, as automatic steering replaces driver-controlled steering.

In the process, the mythology of the automobile is being radically undermined: originally a “composite of speed, discomfort and danger,” as Roland Barthes noted as early as 1963, the auto could “cross over, in future, from the realm of fairy-tale to that of reality, eventually becoming a fully domesticated object.”[3]

The avoidable accident plays the decisive role in this process. The old mythology of automobility collides with the new utopia of accident-free traffic. As a result, the automobility that eliminating accidents is supposed to bring about is, paradoxically, all the more effectively ruled out.

In what follows, we shall first follow the traces of the accident in order to sketch a few contemporary aspects of the subjection and domestication just evoked. Then, with the help of an example, we shall show that a reference to DNA is breathing new life into the mythology of the automobile. It will be seen that the invasion of the public domain by artifacts such as the car or genome has its pendant in a translation of technical programs into collective myths, symbols, and desires.

From taking pictures of accidents to the radar trap

The photographs taken by the Swiss police photographer Arnold Odermatt now seem to us to be part of a day long past. In his forty-two-year career, Odermatt photographed traffic accidents in the streets of the Swiss canton of Nidwalden with a Rolleiflex camera.

“We see wrecks baring the fangs of their radiator grills and staring into the camera with their one eye, or a helpless, unsalvageable Citroën, its rear end torn away.”[4] To be sure, not a one of these cars that crashed into one another in the 1950s and 1960s boasted a microprocessor, and traffic flowed by, at the time, without camera surveillance. Yet automobile traffic has been a natural object of police surveillance for as long as every vehicle has had its own license plate.[5]

The “post-crash” police gaze that emanated from Odermatt’s camera, documenting accidents after the fact, was soon eclipsed by the “pre-crash” police camera. The beginnings of “preventive” photography by German traffic police date back exactly forty-five years: on 15 February 1959, the first radar traps were put in place in Düsseldorf.[6] The police no longer had to measure a stretch of the road by hand and then clock speeders with a stop-watch.[7]

Traffic becomes a gateway for the police state

Systems of more recent date, such as Section Control, used in Austria, reverse the principle that radar traps are based on: rather than registering only speeders, every vehicle is preventively “flash-photographed” by a laser scanner and an infrared camera. What is more, bigger areas are now subjected to surveillance. Speed is not measured, as in traditional radar controls, at a particular spot at a particular time; rather, average speeds are calculated on stretches of road “up to four kilometers long.”[8] If a vehicle covers a given distance in less than a specified minimum time, the video documentation is forwarded to the police, who can use it to issue a traffic ticket. Increasing the area under surveillance is justified on the grounds that this can help prevent accidents.[9]

Similarly, if the proposed toll system for trucks goes into operation in Germany, “every vehicle approaching a toll bridge” will be photographed – in other words, not only every truck, but also every car.[10] Of course, the operating authority, a consortium known as Toll Collect, has promised that it will immediately destroy the films of the cars. In the case of Section Control as well, only data on speeders are supposed to be saved. But what makes this so politically controversial is the fact that different guidelines can be put in place at the drop of hat, leading to the construction of “really first-rate” data bases. More than anodyne traffic measures are at stake here: the cameras are just what is needed to carry out computer-aided manhunts or track a particular individual’s movements.

CarSnap: Using video cameras to carry out permanent computer-aided man-hunts

According to a police plan presented at a 2003 conference of the Interior Ministers of the German Länder, video cameras should be set up at central points throughout Germany in order to film the license plates of every passing vehicle, and the results checked against data stored in the main wanted-persons computer of the federal criminal police. If the police is looking for the owner of one of the vehicles filmed, an alarm is supposed to go out.[11] The police imagination has virtually no limits. CarSnap, as the image-recognition and pattern-detection technology involved here is called, resembles the technology used in the biometric systems which scan all the video film taken at airports for traces of wanted persons: thus vehicles can be automatically identified not only by their license plates, but also by their makes, their “symbols and emblems,” or what they are carrying.[12]

The question that arises here is whether or not the mythology of the automobile will collapse under the pressure of this permanent man-hunt. The old ideal of automobilitas lives on in the getaway car: the myth of the ultra-mobile escape vehicle careening into the curve with squealing tires. Cameras that are no longer directly used for traffic surveillance, but, rather, for general purposes of police repression transform the getaway car required for the classic bank hold-up into a trap from which there is no escape.[13] Here the utopia of accident-free traffic meets that of a crime-free society. Both can be realized only in a police state in which everyone is always under scrutiny.

When classic radar traps are eclipsed by technologies such as Section Control, the proposed German truck toll system TollCollect, or CarSnap, it becomes impossible to ignore the affinities between former New York mayor Ralph Giuliani’s “zero-tolerance” strategy and the goal of accident-free traffic which Sweden was the first country to write into law, in 1997, under the rubric “Vision Zero.”[14] Yet the registration of license-plate numbers or the levying of tolls does not by itself suffice to count as the prototype of a future society of surveillance. Police-state surveillance from without is compounded by a far-reaching technological transformation of the automobile itself.

The culture of “assistance” and GPS: Taking control from inside

In automobile industry ads, the old promise of unlimited, omni-directional automobility is alive and well. “Limits – what an ugly word.”[15] On the other hand, limits are celebrated, and almost in the same breath, so that the accent can be put on the possibility of mastering them by means of technology: “Wet leaves covering the bend in the road. Your first thought? Isn’t it nice to be driving a BMW that has DSC?”.[16]

“There are 1000 milliseconds in a terrifying second. PRE-SAFE utilizes every one of them.” [17]


Beneath the adventure of automobility, we find, as if this were its subtext, the limit par excellence – the accident. The accident calls the promise of automobility into question. The automotive industry has accordingly set itself the goal of achieving “accident-free traffic”[18] and thus attaining true automobility at last – that is, unrestricted mobility, free of traffic-jams and accidents. Preventing contact between a vehicle and other objects in accidents serves as a pretext for using sophisticated sensors, activated when accidents loom to the end of bringing all contact between a car and its environment under total, permanent technological control. Cars whose wheels can’t lock (ABS), spin (TCS), or skid (ESP) obey the paradoxical logic of firm implantation in the moment of speeding.[19]

In contrast to radar traps, which confront the driver from the outside as threatening controls or disciplinary measures from which he can symbolically distance himself, these electronic “driver-assisted control systems” are, in both senses, controls that have moved inside; they are always there in the car along with the driver, and the driver identifies with them.

Of still greater significance is the inclusion of automobiles in the Global Positioning System (GPS) developed by the US military in the 1970s. GPS makes it possible to fix, by satellite, the exact position of a car and the direction in which it is moving. Automobiles became capable of receiving navigational signals once radios were built into them; now they acquired the capacity to transmit them as well: “Information relayed by the electronic systems in automobiles – about, for example, speed, the amount of gas left in the tank, the brake fluid level, the inside and outside temperature – is combined with data from, say, the navigational system. This information is then relayed to other vehicles or stations at street level.”[20]

The chip manufacturer Motorola is already dreaming about taking the next step, christened, significantly, “Digital DNA”;[21] it is supposed to make it possible to intervene directly in “driving dynamics.” A driver will no longer need to keep an eye on the brake-lights of the vehicle ahead of him, because “his own automobile will already know, thanks to a radio link, the right braking distance.” The rear-end crash, so the claim runs, will then become a thing of the past. Since right-of-way rules are also “electronically reproducible,” “it may even be possible to do without traffic lights.” Autos would at last become truly auto-mobile: they would “be in a position to control traffic on their own.”[22]

Such total control over cars once achieved, camera surveillance would become altogether superfluous. All the external apparatuses needed to carry out man-hunts or speed checks would now be located inside vehicles. The pending internal transformation of cars goes hand-in-hand, however, with advertisements associating them ever more closely with the “sublimity of the starry firmament.”[23] Today, the connection is most effectively forged by way of an analogy with human DNA.

Automobile DNA as a new promise

The discourse on progress in the automotive industry is similar to that in biomedical research: just as the auto industry has set itself the goal of bringing cars under control in order to make accident-free driving possible, so genomics wants to bring DNA under control in order to cure disease. External control over the self by DNA is to come to an end; external control over human beings by automobiles is to commence. Yet whereas it has so far proved possible, at best, to manipulate DNA, the automobile has from the very beginning represented a fully programmable corporal dream; thus it would appear to be in advance of genomics. Today, nonetheless, utopian fantasies tend to revolve, in the first instance, around the human body. In June 2000, scientists likened the project of decoding the human genome to the invention of the wheel.[24] It was not long before the comparison was taken up by automobile advertisers, who linked cars with the genetic material in DNA, interpreted as the secret code of the self. This is attested by various images currently in circulation. Volkswagen started things off in 2002: “An automobile which knows that you are irreplaceable. Which knows the position your seat has to be in. How your seatbelt, rear-view mirror, and steering column have to be adjusted. Which knows the temperature and humidity level you like. . . . A total automotive concept, as unique as your DNA.”[25]

SEAT followed suit in April 2003 with the slogan “competition runs in our genes.” This “competition in our genes” found its visual translation in the form of a chromosome map composed of skid marks.[26]

Werbeanzeige Seat
Werbeanzeige Seat

The most recent example dates from September 2003: “Every human being is one of a kind – why shouldn’t your BMW be?”[27] In the background gleamed strings of letters representing the four DNA bases.

Ausstattungen, in: BMW 5er Limousine, Katalog, BMW AG, München 2003.
Ausstattungen, in: BMW 5er Limousine, Katalog, BMW AG, München 2003.

Not accidentally, this advertising campaign has come on stage at a conjuncture in which the old mythology of the auto is coming into contradiction with the new techniques for avoiding accidents. The movement from control by the self to control from without evoked in the first section of this essay finds another illustration in the DNA-analogy. For genomics would have us believe that we human beings are also controlled from without by our DNA. If the self is an auto, then we are Mars Exploration Rovers, and DNA is sitting back on earth trying to park us where it wants. But we shall say more about that in a moment. First, let us try to show, by way of an iconographic analysis of a Volkswagen ad, how the logic of DNA is twinned with its cultural counterpart, the logic of the car.

The inner world of the outer world of the inner world

Spanning the first two pages of our advertisement is a computer-generated representation of the DNA double helix.

Werbeanzeige von Volkswagen, in: DER SPIEGEL Nr. 30/2002, S. 28-31.
Werbeanzeige von Volkswagen, in: DER SPIEGEL Nr. 30/2002, S. 28-31.

Stretching across the next two pages is a photograph of the driver’s seat area of the limousine.


One is first struck by the fact that the two pictures represent both an interior and an exterior, and that this division is repeated in the foreground and background of each one. Thus the inner world represented in the first picture contains, in the form of the double helix visible in the foreground, a representation of an inner inner world. It is paired with an outer inner world in the form of an unidentifiable environment in the background. In this simultaneous making-visible / making-invisible, one can discern, to begin with, a reference to what is known as the “central dogma of molecular genetics,” the idea that DNA is the central agent of heredity, while the cell in which it is found plays no significant role. Furthermore, this representation overlaps with the logic of genetic engineering: only against the background of a making-invisible or eclipsing of the cell can the helix be made visible in the laboratory – that is, isolated and brought out from within the cell, and then worked on in the foreground.

Whereas the first picture pays homage to the theory of molecular biology and the practices of genetic engineering, the iconic language of the second couples this logic with that of the car: here, too, both domains appear. In the foreground, the interior of the car functions as an inner outer world, while, in the background, we find the outer outer world: a few hundred yards off, we can make out a bridge built with steel girders whose form echoes that of the DNA double helix.[28] Although the automobile represents movement toward the outside, what we are shown is its immobile interior. Although the DNA is found inside, it is freed up and displayed outside, in the form of a bridge.

With this mirror reversal of inner and outer spaces, the advertisement provides a very precise illustration of a thesis put forward by the cultural critic Gerburg Treusch-Dieter. She writes, in an analysis of various automobile advertisements, that one can observe a “reversal of direction” in them: “today the interior of the automobile occupies the place once held by the outer world.”[29] Thus the interior becomes a landscape – and, correspondingly, the inside of the cell is displaced to the world outside, just as DNA is forged into a bridge. While the immobile self is lost in the traffic jam, its DNA, which has been rendered mobile, is isolated and then reproduced in the laboratory.

Today, writes Treusch-Dieter, automotive temporalization is giving way to “an immobile spatialization.” The advertisements of the automobile industry manipulate “the automobile into the genetic code of the self. . . as if this code were a steering system that takes over the wheel of the car.”[30] It is easy to trace this spatial dialectic in our advertisement as well. The driver does not, after all, appear as a driver in the ad – quite as if the genetic code incarnated in the double helix had taken his place in the driverless Phaeton.

Organicizing the automobile

This iconographic translation of the spatial and visual relations of the worlds of molecular biology and the automobile leads on to the message of the advertisement: that a motor vehicle is analogous to human DNA. Just as DNA appears to command the human body, so this automobile apparently knows how to adjust its automotive body parts to human beings.

This displacement of human traits onto non-human objects is known as anthropomorphism. In the late nineteenth century, Ernst Kapp coined the term “organ projection.” He defined it as the human aspiration to construct tools and machines modeled after the members and organs of the human body. He considered hammers, for example, to be imitations of the fist, or cameras as ideal eyes.[31] But our advertisement does not claim that the Phaeton is an organ; the claim is, rather, that it is modeled after the DNA molecule. After all, organic complaints are today described in terms of defects in DNA, in line with the molecularized conception of the body prevailing in the biotechnical age. In this sense, the Phaeton can be described as an anthropomorphic projection of a molecule. This projection transcends the character of an imitation of the human body in three steps:

First, our advertisement contends that the information contained in DNA constitutes “knowledge,” and displaces it onto a technical artifact, the automobile. The effect is to make the car something organic: it thinks along with us. Physics becomes biology. The opposite process is observable in the steel bridge pictured on the second page of the advertisement: the bridge is incapable of knowing anything. Here DNA, which is in fact organic, has become petrified inorganic form. Biology becomes physics.[32]

Second, if the motor vehicle knows “how to adjust your seatbelt, rearview mirror, and steering column,” just as “your DNA” supposedly “knows” how it has to form the human body, then the line between driver and vehicle is blurred. The automobile and the human body mesh in Cyborg-like fashion: although the seat is, de facto, part of the car, it is symbolically brought into harmony with the driver’s body, becoming “part” of it, when “the vehicle” knows the position his seat should be in. A big promise is being made here: if we take DNA to be the “prosthesis par excellence,” then man as prosthetic god can only mesh with it, since he has developed, in the guise of the Phaeton, an auto-mobile prosthesis comparable to DNA which has been made-auto-mobile.

In a third way as well, this molecule projection transcends mere organ projection: if the vehicle “knows” “how your seatbelt should be adjusted,” just as “your DNA” supposedly “knows” how it is to form the human body, then the question arises as to how this auto-mobile DNA came to know what it knows. The answer is that it was possible only because the auto-DNA is now programmable. The “knowledgeable” car thus actually refers us to the car’s on-board computer, in which “information” has been stored. Left out of the story is the fact that it is the driver who here programs the DNA. Hence the potential customer need have no fear of the Phaeton’s genetic material: what he is being offered here is pure, not diseased DNA, genetic material that he can program himself. Ultimately, he adjusts the position of “his own” seat himself. Until DNA becomes fully programmable, realizing the promise of self-directed motion / auto-mobility of human beings, we can enjoy a foretaste of this luxurious future by buying the object on offer.

Nanocar or telemobile?

It can be seen, in sum, that the old mythology of automobility collides with the new utopia of accident-free traffic.

To this end, police-state traffic controls imposed from without are interlinked with a complementary, comprehensive technological transformation of the interior of the automobile. At the same time, this move from steering by the self to steering by remote control is reflected in the development of the analogy between the automobile and DNA. Cars are patterned after a programmable genetic code that has taken over the task of steering the auto / the self. This technically supported domination has helped bring about the radical dissolution of the old mythological promise of unlimited, omnidirectional automobility.

There are, accordingly, two possible paths of development for the automobile in future. Either “man will one day no longer need cars, because he has himself become a car with the help of his gene technologies and nanotechnologies,”[33] or Roland Barthes’ diagnosis will prove accurate: it is “natural,” according to Barthes, “that the automobile should be losing its fabulous-heroic character, since adventure is today being wholly taken over by the exploration of outer space; in the competition with missiles, cars can no longer fulfill the dream of unheard-of speed, since they have become immobile objects.”[34]

As if bent on proving its determination to win this race, Scuderia Ferrari put a small test-tube filled with red Ferrari paint aboard the European Space Agency’s probe, known as Mars Express; the paint was propelled toward Mars at ten times the speed of sound, or 10,800 kilometers an hour.

But this can hardly make us forget that the true prototypes of the fully remote-control automobility of the future are the Mars Rovers themselves. The European space probe Beagle, for example, was supposed to land on Mars in a controlled crash, cushioned by big airbags. Whereas, on earth, the accident-to-be-avoided is merely an ideological trope calculated to legitimate the implementation of a comprehensive apparatus of surveillance and control, Mars Rovers triumph over accidents by incorporating them. In that sense, the Beagle is well ahead of the automobile. Rather than heralding an accident-free utopia, one crashes into parking spaces. That is logically consistent. Unfortunately, after its crash-landing, the space probe was never heard from again.

As for the US-American Rover Spirit, it got so tangled up in its airbags after landing that it had to be backed out of them. Thus even rational management of crashes provides no protection against unforeseen accidents. The true accident within the bogus crash remains a subversive element defying all calculation.


Barthes, Roland, Mythologie des Automobils, in: NRW-Forum Kultur und Wirtschaft (Hg.), Auto-nom, Das Automobil in der zeitgenössischen Kunst, Ostfildern-Ruit 2003.

Berns, Jörg Jochen, Himmelfahrten, Mutmaßungen zu Herkunft und Heimkehr des Automobils, in: Winzen, Matthias, Bilstein, Johannes (Hg.), Ich bin mein Auto, Die maschinalen Ebenbilder des Menschen, Köln 2001, S. 11-24.

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft (Hg.), Networked Vehicle: (Auto)mobile Kommunikation, Pressemitteilung vom 21. Februar 2002.
HypoVereinsbank (Hg.), Märkte & Chancen Automobil-Zulieferer, Branchenreport 2003.

Kapp, Ernst, Grundlinien einer Philosophie der Technik, Zur Entstehungsgeschichte der Cultur aus neuen Gesichtspunkten, Braunschweig 1877.

Meyer-Drawe, Käte, Das Auto – ein gepanzertes Selbst, in: Winzen, Matthias, Bilstein, Johannes (Hg.), Ich bin mein Auto, Die maschinalen Ebenbilder des Menschen, Köln 2001, S. 101-113.

Ruppert, Wolfgang (Hg.), Fahrrad, Auto, Fernsehschrank, Zur Kulturgeschichte der Alltagsdinge, Frankfurt am Main 1993.
Strübin, Eduard, Volkskundliches zum Automobil, in: Schweizer Volkskunde, Korrespondenzblatt der Schweizerischen Gesellschaft für Volkskunde, Nr. 63, S. 1-13.

Teepe, Gerd, Intelligenz von draußen, in: Automotive, Juni 2003, S. 9-11.

Treusch-Dieter, Gerburg, Das Ende einer Himmelfahrt, in: Lösch, Andreas, Schrage, Dominik, Spreen, Dierk, Stauff, Markus (Hg.), Technologien als Diskurse, Konstruktionen von Wissen, Medien und Körpern, Heidelberg 2001, S. 239-253.

[1] Paleontologists use the term “index fossil” to refer to species that were in existence for only a short time, yet were widespread. The concept was first applied to automobiles by Eduard Strübin (the name is often mistakenly spelled “Stubin”). See Strübin, “Volkskundliches zum Automobil,” Schweizer Volkskunde: Korrespondenzblatt der Schweizerischen Gesellschaft für Volkskunde, no. 63, pp. 1-13).

[2] Käte Meyer-Drawe, Das Auto – ein gepanzertes Selbst, in: Winzen, Matthias, Bilstein, Johannes (ed.), Ich bin mein Auto, Die maschinalen Ebenbilder des Menschen, Köln 2001, p. 111f.

[3] Roland Barthes, Mythologie des Automobils,: NRW-Forum Kultur und Wirtschaft (ed.), Auto-nom, Das Automobil in der zeitgenössischen Kunst, Ostfildern-Ruit 2003, pp. 65 and 61.

[4] Die Stille nach dem Crash, Tageszeitung, 5 November 2001.

[5] In 1901, license plates were made mandatory in Germany, and the first count of all existing automobiles dates from 1907. See, for example, Ruppert, Wolfgang, Das Auto, Ruppert, Wolfgang (ed.), Fahrrad, Auto, Fernsehschrank, Zur Kulturgeschichte der Alltagsdinge, Frankfurt am Main 1993, p. 126.

[6] 40 Jahre Geschwindigkeitsmessung in Deutschland,  (Stand: 20 December 2003).

Radar controls were officially inauguarated by the Interior Ministry of the German Land of Westfalia on 21 January 1957. (45 Jahre Radarfalle, (Stand: 20 December 2003)).

[7] Automobil- und Verkehrschronologie, 1951 – 1960, (Stand: 20. Dezember 2003).

[8] ASFINAG, Section Control, (Stand: 17 January 2004).

[9] This system has, for example, been in use in the Kaisermühlen Tunnel on Vienna’s Danube-Riverbank Autobahn since 12 August 2003.

[10] Joachim  Rieß, Datenschutzexperte bei Toll Collect, Hamburger Abendblatt, 26 September 2003.

[11] This plan has already become reality in London, where, for years, all the arteries leading into or out of the city are under video surveillance. On Zurich’s Sihlquai as well, ten thousand vehicles are subject to surveillance every day.

[12] CarSnap, (Stand: 17 January 2004).

[13] It has been suggested that a little of car owners’ DNA should be mixed into the paint on their cars in order to make it impossible for them to hit and run (see (Stand: 10 January 2004).

[14] See VISION ZERO, (Stand: 26 January 2003).

[15] Mazda advertisement. DER SPIEGEL No. 38/2002, pp. 106-107. It should be noted that there are still no general speed limits on German autobahns.

[16] Advertisement for BMW, DER SPIEGEL No. 35/2002, pp. 28-31.

[17] Foldout advertisement from Mercedes-Benz, DER SPIEGEL No. 43/2002, pp. 1-2.

[18] See DaimlerChrysler (ed.), HighTech Report 2001, pp. 7-8.

[19] According to one study, electrical components, which today make up 22% of the average car, will make up 35% in 2010. See HypoVereinsbank, (ed.), Märkte & Chancen Automobil-Zulieferer, Branchenreport 2003, p. 9).

[20] Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft (ed.), Networked Vehicle: (Auto)mobile Kommunikation, pressinfo from 21 February 2002, in: (Stand: 11. April 2002).

[21] Intelligenz auf Rädern, (Stand: 1 February 2004).

[22] Teepe, Gerd, Intelligenz von draußen, Automotive, June 2003, p. 10f.

[23] Berns, Jörg Jochen, Himmelfahrten, Mutmaßungen zu Herkunft und Heimkehr des Automobils, in: Winzen, Matthias, Bilstein, Johannes (ed.), Ich bin mein Auto, Die maschinalen Ebenbilder des Menschen, Köln 2001, p. 16.

[24] See the Frankfurter Rundschau, 27 June 2000.

[25] Advertisement for Volkswagen, DER SPIEGEL No. 30/2002, p. 28-31.

[26] Advertisement for SEAT, TVSpielfilm 8/03, Issue from 15 to 18 April 2003, p. 249.

[27] Ausstattungen, BMW 5er Limousine, Katalog, BMW AG, München 2003.

[28] The picture is a view of the Nordelbe Bridge in Hamburg, built in 1887 and redesigned and renovated in 1960. For further photos, see und (Stand: 20. April 2003).

[29] Treusch-Dieter, Gerburg, Das Ende einer Himmelfahrt, in: Lösch, Andreas, Schrage, Dominik, Spreen, Dierk, Stauff, Markus (ed.), Technologien als Diskurse, Konstruktionen von Wissen, Medien und Körpern, Heidelberg 2001, p. 250.

[30] Ibid.

[31] vgl. Kapp, Ernst, Grundlinien einer Philosophie der Technik, Zur Entstehungsgeschichte der Cultur aus neuen Gesichtspunkten, Braunschweig 1877.

With this thesis, Kapp anticipated both Freud’s “prosthenic God” (see Civilisation and Its Discontents) and McLuhan’s interpretation of the media as “extensions of man.”

[32] The concept of molecular bio-logy contains this paradox in nuce: the molecular refers us to physics, which, in the form of atomic physics, concerns itself with the inorganic, while bios means life, that is, something that belongs to the organic. As for “logy,” it refers to the logos, which strives to comprehend both.

[33] Meyer-Drawe, 2001, p. 112.

[34] Barthes 2003, p. 65.

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