From Elephans Photographicus to the Hybronaut

Laura Beloff, ‘From Elephans Photographicus to the Hybronaut: An Artistic Approach to Human Enhancement’, pp.51-66, in:

Elo, M., Luoto, M., 2014. Senses of Embodiment: Art, Technics, Media. Peter Lang.

p.51

[Ref Bateson and von Uexküll on environment of the organism]

Uexkull’s research revealed that every species has its own constructed Umwelt because each species reacts in a distinctive way to the same signals it receives from the physical world. What is thus necessary for one’s biological survival, is included within one’s perception of the world; the Umwelt.

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On Aesthetic Plasticity

Tom Sparrow, ‘On Aesthetic Plasticity’, pp. 177-218, in:

Sparrow, T., Malabou, C., 2015. Plastic bodies: rebuilding sensation after phenomenology. Open Humanities Press, London.

p.177

The argument so far has followed two general, intertwined trajectories: one critical, the other constructive. The critical thread has argued that the two visions of embodiment offered by Merleau-Ponty and Levinas are inadequate for thinking how our bodies actually interact with the material world. The constructive thread has assembled evidence which suggests that both phenomenologists were cognizant of the function that sensation plays in the constitution of experience and identity.

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Post-Dualist Embodiment, with Some Theses on Sensation

Tom Sparrow, ‘Post-Dualist Embodiment, with Some Theses on Sensation’, pp. 25-66, in:

Sparrow, T., Malabou, C., 2015. Plastic bodies: rebuilding sensation after phenomenology. Open Humanities Press, London.

p.26

Certain bodily transformations never present themselves phenomenally. Or they do, but only after they have happened, like an afterimage whose original image is forever lost. They affect us unwittingly, spontaneously causing a malfunction or disablement of the body that consciousness never directly witnesses.

Sensation, I will claim, is something undergone by animate and inanimate bodies alike, but it is undergone in such a way that we tend to forget it ever happened or that it is happening at every moment.

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Plastic bodies

Tom Sparrow, ‘Introduction’, pp. 21-24, in:
Sparrow, T., Malabou, C., 2015. Plastic bodies: rebuilding sensation after phenomenology. Open Humanities Press, London.

p.21

[on this book]

While it draws liberally from the resources of phenomenology, the idea of embodiment assembled in its pages is quite often at odds with the first- person orientation of the phenomenological method. It is therefore as much about the limits of phenomenology as it is about the limits of the body.

In the last analysis it is really about how we might rebuild the somewhat unfashionable concept of sensation following the rescue attempts made by Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Emmanuel Levinas.

This is because sensation, as I understand it here, is unsuitable for proper phenomenological investigation. It does not present itself phenomenally as an object of consciousness, or as what Husserl calls an intentional object. Sensation is something that happens below the phenomenal level, so at best it is a mediated datum of consciousness.

How, then, can we speak of this non-phenomenal sensation? My contention is that we experience it primarily through its effects and can thereby think it on the basis of these effects. Perception, passion, cognition, consciousness, identity, and freedom are some of these effects. These are indeed accessed phenomenally, but as products of sensation.

p.22

To be clear: I am not attempting a phenomenology of sensation, and neither were Merleau-Ponty and Levinas. What I do is to take up their speculative remarks about sensation and develop these into a novel theory of embodiment, but one markedly more speculative than phenomenological.

Sensation is thus approached from two perspectives, the phenomenological and the speculative. A simple twofold argument is presented: sensation is the basic material of subjectivity; as such, sensation is responsible in a non-trivial way for the subject’s power to exist.

pp.23-24

There are, however, more points of contact between phenomenology and, say, Deleuze and Spinoza, than usually acknowledged by partisan readings of the history of twentieth-century French philosophy.

p.24

Embodiment is now thoroughly incorporated into almost all the human sciences and phenomenology has been integral to this incorporation.

What is called for now, however, is a post-phenomenological perspective. By this I mean a perspective which is not simply anti-phenomenological, but one which has gone through phenomenology and retained its kernel of truth, even if this kernel proves to be non-phenomenological in nature. For me, this is the truth of plasticity.

But I also retrieve a pre-phenomenological, occasionally pre-critical perspective, one which draws liberally from the materialist and empiricist traditions to see what effects they can produce today. In this respect this book is a work of metaphysics. It does not claim to have invented a brand new theory of the body, but to have mobilized several philosophical traditions and rebuilt the body using a diverse team of thinkers.

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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