Artifacts and Attachment

Peter-Paul Verbeek, ‘Artifacts and Attachment: A Post-Script Philosophy of Mediation’, pp.125-146, in:
Harbers, H. (Ed.), 2005. Inside the politics of technology: agency and normativity in the co-production of technology and society. Amsterdam University Press, Amsterdam.

p.125

Within Technology Studies, the predominant vocabulary for understanding the role of artifacts in society is offered by actor-network theory. Bruno Latour, one of its major representatives, maintains that the social sciences’ exclusive focus on humans should be abandoned.

The so-called “principle of symmetry” is the most notable feature of Latour’s approach, entailing that humans and nonhuman entities should be studied symmetrically.

p.126

It will appear that Latour’s vocabulary is helpful in answering this question, but that it needs to be augmented in order to do full justice to the role of things in people’s everyday lives. I shall develop this augmentation by reinterpreting phenomenology, and by elaborating it literally into a post-script philosophy of technical mediation.

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A history of light: the idea of photography

Junko Theresa Mikuriya, ‘Introduction’, pp.1-9, in:
Mikuriya, J.T., 2017. A history of light: the idea of photography. Bloomsbury Academic, London.

p.1

[On photography]

Its apparent instability belies its generosity; its hospitality is such that its boundaries are porous and mutable, inviting the encroachment of others. Hence photography is often considered to be overly reliant upon its surroundings; attempts to define and to theorise photography would reduce it to a set of cultural, social, political or technological productions, identifying its history solely as the development of the photographic camera, or the inevitable outcome of a changing aesthetic sensibility.

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Afghan Box Camera

Birk, L., Foley, S., 2013. Afghan box camera. Dewi Lewis Publishing, Stockport, England.

Frontispiece

Gulbert would recite prayers and verses and blow on the camera, and then take out the photographs announcing, “A MIRACLE!”

p.11

In Afghanistan in the 1950s a simple hand-made wooden camera known as the kamra-e-faoree began to be used widely in the country for the first time.

Further afield in industrialised Europe and North America, patented relations had already appeared in the 1910s; whilst the photograph process the camera used was first introduced by William Henry Fox-Talbot in 1840s England.

In contrast […] to photography as a thing of the elite, the kamra-e-faoree brought photography to the common man and quite literally, to the street.

Only a narrow pavement slot was required to fit a camera, a chair and a cloth backdrop. The chair in which the customer posed for the portrait could also serve the photographer as a perch on which to rest or even sleep in quieter times. The camera lid provided a handy platform on which to place a pair of scissors and box of photo paper as well as hold a mug of tea and a saucer of sweets.

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Functional Information: Towards Synthesis of Biosemiotics and Cybernetics

Sharov, A.A., 2010. Functional Information: Towards Synthesis of Biosemiotics and Cybernetics. Entropy 12, 1050–1070. doi:10.3390/e12051050

p.1051

Understanding of the informational nature of life has led to the emergence of two new disciplines, cybernetics and biosemiotics, which approached the same problem from different angles.

Cybernetics was conceived to study communication and control in machines and living organisms in the light of the information theory. However, because living organisms are too complex and we still have very limited means to control them, cybernetics has much stronger links with technology (i.e., communication industry, computers, and robots) than with biology.

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Concrete Is as Concrete Doesn’t

Brian Massumi, ‘lntroduction: Concrete Is as Concrete Doesn’t’, pp.1-21, in:
Massumi, B., 2002. Parables for the virtual: movement, affect, sensation. Duke University Press, Durham, NC.

p.1

When I think of my body and ask what it does to earn that name, two things stand out. It moves. It feels. In fact, it does both at the same time. It moves as it feels, and it feels itself moving. Can we think a body without this: an intrinsic connection between movement and sensation whereby each immediately summons the other?

The project of this book is to explore the implications for cultural theory of this simple conceptual displacement: body-(movement/sensa­tion)-change.

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Potential

Michel Serres, ‘Potential’, pp.33-66, in:
Serres, M., Burks, R., 2011. Variations on the body. Univocal Publishing, Minneapolis.

p.33

No seated professor taught me productive work, the only kind of any worth, whereas my gymnastics teachers, coaches and, later, my guides inscribed its very conditions into my muscles and bones. They teach what the body can do.

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Metamorphosis

Michel Serres, ‘Metamorphosis’, pp.3-31, in:
Serres, M., Burks, R., 2011. Variations on the body. Univocal Publishing, Minneapolis.

p.4

Anxiety, of course, occurs before the climb, just as fear returns after; but during it, the body progresses, on the rock face, as though it were protected. But, leaving aside guides, pitons, ropes and partners, by what, by whom?

Stretch out your arms and legs: your twenty fingers and toes attain in space a large rectangular frame or a circle – your starfish, octopus or gibbon’s maximal hold on the world. Your active force and sensibility radiate at the extreme points of this figure.

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Energy, Information

Michel Serres, ‘Energy, Information’, pp.94-97, in:
Serres, M., Schehr, L.R., 1982. The parasite. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.

p.94

If all the merit, honor, and glory are usually given to the popu­lace of the anthill, sometimes they are given to the grasshoppers. All that is necessary is to have enough of them in the system for us to be happy. As usual, good and evil are divided, and the corresponding marker is sometimes given to the worker, sometimes to the singer.

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Insects’ Meals

Michel Serres, ‘Insects’ Meals’, pp.91-93, in:
Serres, M., Schehr, L.R., 1982. The parasite. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.

p.91

The ant does not have as its dinner guest a flute-player or a folk-singer, whose voices constantly fill space. Thus, the ant excludes the parasite.

The dismissal of the para­site does not cost a thing. Chasing out the hare, on the contrary, costs the master, that is to say, results in servitude; it is dearly bought.

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Work

Michel Serres, ‘Work’, pp.86-90, in:
Serres, M., Schehr, L.R., 1982. The parasite. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.

p.86

What is work? Undoubtedly, it is a struggle against noise. If we allowed things to happen without intervening, stables would fill up with manure, the fox would eat the chickens, and the phylloxera would cross the seas to dry out the vine leaves. The channel is filled with mud.

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