Beyond Machines (but Still within the Phenomenology of Gestures)

Vilém Flusser, “Beyond Machines (but Still within the Phenomenology of Gestures)”, pp.10-18, in:
Flusser, V., 2014. Gestures. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis.
During its first phase (antiquity and the Middle Ages), history emphasizes the way the world should be; that is, people work to realize a value—ethical, political, religious, practical, in short, “in good faith.”
During its second phase (modernity), it emphasizes the discovery of being in the world; that is, people work epistemologically, scientifically, experimentally, and theoretically, in short, “without faith.”

Continue reading “Beyond Machines (but Still within the Phenomenology of Gestures)”


The Machines

Deleuze and Guattari, “The Machines”, pp.36-41, in:

Deleuze, G., Guattari, F., 1983. Anti-Oedipus: capitalism and schizophrenia. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis.


A machine may be defined as a system of interruptions or breaks (coupures).

Every machine, in the first place, is related to a continual material flow (hyle) that it cuts into.

Each associative flow must be seen as an ideal thing, an endless flux, flowing from something not unlike the immense thigh of a pig.

In a word, every machine functions as a break in the flow in relation to the machine to which it is connected, but at the same time is also a flow itself, or the production of a flow, in relation to the machine connected to it.


In the second place, every machine has a sort of code built into it, stored up inside it. This code is inseparable not only from the way in which it is recorded and transmitted to each of the different regions of the body, but also from the way in which the relations of each of the regions with all the others are recorded . An organ may have connections that associate it with several different flows; it may waver between several functions, and even take on the regime of another organ – the anorectic mouth, for instance.


The third type of interruption or break characteristic of the desiring-machine is the residual break (coupure-reste) or residuum, which produces a subject alongside the machine, functioning as a part adjacent to the machine.

Balance Sheet for Desiring Machines

Deleuze and Guattari, “Balance Sheet for Desiring Machines”, pp.90-115, in:

Guattari, F., Lotringer, S., 2009. Chaosophy: texts and interviews 1972-1977. Semiotext(e), Los Angeles, CA.


The object is no longer to compare humans and the machine in order to evaluate the correspondences, the extensions, the possible or impossible substitutions of the ones for the other, but bring them into communication in order to show how humans are a component part of the machine, or combined with something else to constitute a machine.  the other thing can be a tool, or even an animal, or other humans. We are not using a metaphor, however, when we speak of machines: humans constitute a machine as soon as this nature is communicated by recurrence to the ensemble of which they form a part under specific conditions.


What defines desiring-machines is precisely their capacity for an unlimited number of connections, in every sense and in all directions. It is for this very reason that they are machines, crossing through and commanding several structures at the same time. For the machine possesses two characteristics or powers: the power of the continuum, the machinic phylum in which a given component connects with another, the cylinder and the piston in the steam engine, or even, tracing a more distant lineage, the pulley wheel in the locomotive; but also the rupture in direction, the mutation such that each machine is an absolute break in relation to the one that it replaces, as, for example, the internal combustion engine in relation to the steam engine.


Desiring-machines are not in our heads, in our imagination, they are inside the social and technical machines themselves. Our relationship with machines is not a relationship of invention or of imitation; we are not the cerebral fathers nor the disciplined sons of the machine.  It is a relationship of peopling: we populate the social technical machines with desiring machines and we have no alternative. We are obliged to say at the same time: social technical machines are only conglomerates of desiring-machines under molar conditions that are historically determined; desiring machines are social and technical machines restored to their determinant molecular conditions.


It seems to us on the contrary [in contrast to Marx]  that the machine has to be directly conceived and relation to a social body, and not in relation to human biological organism. If such as the case, one cannot regard the machine as a new segment that’s exceeds that of the two, along a line that would have its starting point in abstract man. For man and the tool are already components of a machine constituted by a full body acting as an engineering agency,  and by men and tools that are engineered (machinés)  insofar as they are distributed on this body.


The question we asked to ask it’s not how the technical machine follows after simple tools, but how the social machine, and which social machine, instead of being content to engineer men and machines, makes the emergence of technical machines both possible and necessary. (There were many technical machines before the advent of capitalism, but the machinic phylum did not pass through them, precisely because it was content to engineer men and tools. In the same way, there are tools and every social formation which are not engineered, because the phylum does not pass through them while the same tools are engineered another social formations, hoplite weapons, for example).

The machine understood in this manner is defined as a desiring machine: the ensemble composed of a full body that engineers, and men and tools engineered on it. Several consequences follow from this view of the machine, but we can only plot them here in a programmatic way.

Firstly, desiring machines are indeed the same as technical and social machines, but they are their unconscious, as it were: they manifest and mobilise the investments of desire that “correspond” to the conscious or preconscious investments of interest, the politics, and the technology of a specific social field.

To correspond does not at all mean to resemble; what is at stake is another distribution, another “map,” That no longer concerned see interests established in a society, nor the apportionment of the possible and the impossible, of freedoms and constraints, all that constitutes that society’s reasons.


And the desiring-machine is nothing other than a multiplicity of distinct elements or simple // forms that are bound together on the full body of a society, precisely to the extent that they are “on”  this body, or to the extent that they are really distinct. The desiring-machine as a movement to the limit: the inference of the full body, the eliciting of simple forms, the assigning of absences of ties.


The method employed in Marx’s Capital take this direction, but its dialectical presuppositions prevented from reaching desire as a part of the infrastructure.

Thirdly, the relations of production remain outside the technical machine are, on the contrary, internal to the desiring-machine.

Not Symbiosis, Not Now

Colebrook, C., 2012. Not Symbiosis, Not Now: Why Anthropogenic Change Is Not Really Human. Oxford Literary Review 34, 185–209.

[…] theory and the humanities in general (along with humanity ‘itself’) have not been eager to consider this rather awkward problem, especially given that unlike questions of social justice, personal ethics and political freedom, climate change does not seem to offer solutions in which anyone might win or even improve their current lot.

Continue reading “Not Symbiosis, Not Now”

MirrorCameraRoom: the gendered multi-(in)stabilities of the selfie

Warfield, K., 2017. MirrorCameraRoom: the gendered multi-(in)stabilities of the selfie. Feminist Media Studies 17, 77–92.


Mark Deuze (2012) suggests that in our increasingly mediated lives, perhaps we are the medium. Theorists of Internet and social media studies have tackled similar befuddling questions where we’ve become at once producers and consumers—pro-sumers (Alvin Toffler 1980)—or simultaneously producers and users—produsers (Karl Fahringer and Axel Bruns 2008). Studying audiences at this period in history is like “wrestling with a jellyfish” (Justin Lewis 2013) because, among other things, audiences could be both always and everywhere (Peter Vorderer and Matthias Kohring 2013) or everywhere and nowhere (Elizabeth Bird 2003).

Continue reading “MirrorCameraRoom: the gendered multi-(in)stabilities of the selfie”

The Double Logic of Remediation

Jay Bolter and Richard Grusin, ‘The Double Logic of Remediation’, pp.2-15, in:

Bolter, J.D., Grusin, R., 2003. Remediation: understanding new media. MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.


In this last decade of the twentieth century, we are in an unusual position to appreciate remediation, because of the rapid development of new digital media and the nearly as rapid response by traditional media. Older electronic and print media are seeking to reaffirm their status within our culture as digital media challenge that status. Both new and old media are invoking the twin logics of immediacy and hypermediacy in their efforts to remake themselves and each other.

Continue reading “The Double Logic of Remediation”

Digital Photography

Jay Bolter and Richard Grusin, ‘Digital Photography’, pp.104-112, in:

Bolter, J.D., Grusin, R., 2003. Remediation: understanding new media. MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.


Many remediations are reciprocal in the sense that they invite us to imagine each medium as trying to remediate the other. In such cases, deciding which medium is remediating and which is remediated is a matter of interpretation, for it comes down to which medium is regarded as more important for a certain purpose.

Computer photorealism is trying to achieve precisely what digital photography is trying to prevent: the overcoming and replacement of the earlier technology of photography.

Continue reading “Digital Photography”

Animal interface: the generosity of domestication

Nigel Clark, ‘Animal interface: the generosity of domestication’, pp.49-70 [not this version], in:

Cassidy, R., Mullin, M.H., Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research (Eds.), 2007. Where the wild things are now: domestication reconsidered, Wenner-Gren international symposium series. Berg, Oxford; New York.


Market-driven pressures to minimize inputs and maximize outputs of animal bodies have led to increasingly industrialized agricultural practices in which technologies of control and modification are applied to ever more intimate aspects of biological being.

One way of looking at domestication is to see it as a shortening and tightening of nutrient cycles: an imposition of `efficiency’ that seeks to exclude links in the food chain that come between human consumers and those living things they wish to consume (De Landa, 1997: 08). Viewed in this way, domestication appears as an anticipation or prototype of the kind of `economic’ logic that is a definitive feature of the era we call `modernity’.

There are many ways of defining what it is to be `modern’, but to put it simply we might say that it is a way of thinking and doing that likes to know its goals, and sets out to attain them in the most efficient and speedy manner.

Continue reading “Animal interface: the generosity of domestication”

Sensation and Photography

Zahid R Chaudhary, ‘Sensation and Photography’, pp.1-35, in:

Chaudhary, Z.R., 2012. Afterimage of empire: photography in nineteenth-century India. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis; London.


How might we reorient our understandings of colonial representations if we shift our focus to that interface between bodies and world that is the precondition for making meaning?

In Afterimage of Empire I argue that, following the well-traveled routes of global capital, photography arrives in India not only as a technology of the colonial state but also as an instrument that extends and transforms sight for photographers and the body politic, British and Indian alike.

Continue reading “Sensation and Photography”

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.


[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.

Continue reading “From Elephans Photographicus to the Hybronaut”