I’m still working these thoughts out but it seems to me that Turing, while he constructs a “univesal machine” that facilitates postmodern and poststructuralist communications/representations/relationships etc. was working from a perspective that seems Modernist. That is, he anticipates his universal machine by imagining this human “computer” and the way he (it’s always a he) relates to/with/in response to his materials:
The behaviour of the computer at any moment is determined by the symbols which he is observing, and his ‘state of mind’ at that moment . . . we avoid introducing the ‘state of mind’ by considering a more physical and definite counterpart of it . . . [a] note of instructions must enable him to carry out one step and write the next note. Thust the state of progress of the computation at any one stage is completely determined by the note of instructions and the symbols on the tape . . .
It sounds a bit like Turing is indicating that the instructions, the “more physical and definite
counterpart” of the ‘state of mind’ and the symbols under investigation dictates “the state of progress of the computations” or the human computer’s “thinking”? At all points in this piece he seems to be assessing the way human beings compute (or think) in relation to this “material” symbols and instructions. Sounds Modernist to me.
Pinning down Turing’s perspective is complex because he had so much work. Do you mind me asking what project this is part of? Interesting trying to periodize Turing… I think I’m in a different frame of reference because the recent discussions I’ve had about Turing focus not on his universal machine but on his “immitation game” example that led to what we now call the Turing Test – a conversation that quickly leads into performativity, gender, sexuality, the posthuman….