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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Gestell (or sometimes Ge-stell) is a German word used by twentieth-century German philosopher Martin Heidegger to describe what lies behind or beneath modern technology.

Heidegger's notion of Gestell

Heidegger applied the concept of Gestell to his exposition of the essence of technology. He concluded that technology is fundamentally enframing.

As such, the essence of technology is Gestell. Indeed, "Gestell, literally 'framing', is an all-encompassing view of technology, not as a means to an end, but rather a mode of human existence".

The point that Heidegger was attempting to convey with Gestell was that all that has come to presence in the world has been enframed. Thus what is revealed in the world, what has shown itself as itself (the truth of itself) required first an enframing, literally a way to exist in the world, to be able to be seen and understood. Concerning the essence of technology and how we see things in our technological age, the world has been framed as the "standing-reserve." Heidegger writes,

Enframing means the gathering together of that setting-upon which sets upon man, i.e., challenges him forth, to reveal the real, in the mode of ordering, as standing-reserve. Enframing means that way of revealing which holds sway in the essence of modern technology and which is itself nothing technological.

Furthermore, Heidegger uses the word in a way that is uncommon by giving Gestell an active role. In ordinary usage the word would signify simply a display apparatus of some sort, like a book rack, or picture frame; but for Heidegger, Gestell is literally a challenging forth, or performative "gathering together", for the purpose of revealing or presentation.

Later uses of the concept

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Gestell" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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