One of the major difficulties with consolidating a figure from the British nineteenth century in India as an object of knowledge is that British India is now being painstakingly constructed as a cultural commodity with a dubious function. The deepening of the international division of labor as a result of the new micro-electronic capitalism, the proliferation of worldwide neocolonial aggression, and the possibility of nuclear holocaust encroach upon the constitution of the everyday life of the Anglo-US.
In Karen Barad’s helpful parsing representationalism holds that matters represented are distinct and independent from their representations (Barad 2007: 46–48).
Any claim of representation to give us unfettered access to the real should therefore be treated as suspect, as no representation would ever be adequate to the entity represented. So, we are caught between a representationalist rock and a hard place of complicit silence. The question I am thus interested in here is this: can we articulate an alternative to representationalism, but one in which the ethical need for representation is not, in Gayatri Spivak’s words, simply ‘disown[ed]with a flourish’ (1988:105)?
Rather than privileging the real thing over a mere representation (adequate or not), post-positivist views can end up elevating the representation over an ultimately inscrutable ‘real.’
My argument, during the last lectures, was that a new layer of consciousness – with new codes, and therefore, with new categories of thought, evaluation, and action – is emerging.
The brain, with its extremely complex structure and it’s intricately intertwined functions, is the model par excellence of a black-box, and serves as a starting point for the cybernetic analyses of complex systems.
The slow, but inexorable, diversion of interest – which progressively abandons problems of the modification of the objective world (of work), towards problems of information (of data processing) – is in essence a diversion from the muscular and digestive systems, towards the nervous system.
And the concept of the cerebral orgasm, also diverts our interest from the reproductive system.
The social fabric, once viewed as a battlefield of interests, is progressively visualised as a neural net.
[…] the utopian vision is connected to a view of the brain, because both are visions where the material and the mental are confused with each other.
Margrit Shildrick, ‘Introduction’, pp.1-8, in:
Shildrick, M., 2002. Embodying the monster: encounters with the vulnerable self, Theory, culture & society. SAGE Publications, London ; Thousand Oaks, Calif.
What are the figures of difference that haunt the western imaginary, and what would it mean to reflect on, rework and valorise them?
On the one hand, I turn to the monster in order to uncover and rethink a relation with the standards of normality that proves to be uncontainable and ultimately unknowable.
Daniel A. Novak, 2007. Labors of Likeness: Photography and Labor in Marx’s “Capital.” Criticism 49, 125–150.
This essay provides a new technological and discursive context for Karl Marx’s
theory of the laboring body and reproduction, and in doing so, seeks to change
the way we read Marx’s relationship to visuality, photographic reproduction, and
Walter Benjamin, ‘Review of Gisèle Freund’s La Photographie en France au dix-neuvième siècle: Essai de sociologie et d’esthétique’, 1938
Benjamin, W., Leslie, E., 2016. On photography. Reaktion Books, London.
Research into the history of photography began about eight to ten years ago.
Gisèle Freund’s study represents the rise of photography as conditional on the rise of the bourgeoisie and is successful in making this conditionality comprehensible in relation to the history of the portrait.
Setting out from the portrait technique that was most widespread during the ancien régime, the costly ivory miniature, the author illustrates the various procedures which around 1780 – that is, 60 years before the invention of photography – pushed for acceleration and price reduction and, thereby, a wider diffusion of the demand for portraits.
Roger Cardinal. 1992. Philippe Dubois’s L’ Acte photographique. History of Photography 16, 176–177. https://doi.org/10.1080/03087298.1992.10442546
[…] roughly speaking, Dubois suggests, the nineteenth century emphasized the documentary sobriety of the camera, while the twentieth century has foregrounded its transfigurative or abstractive propensities – the author points to a third position based upon the tenet that ‘one cannot theorize about photography except in terms of its referential inscription and its pragmatic efficacy.
Dubois, P., 2016. Trace-Image to Fiction-Image: The unfolding of Theories of Photography from the ’80s to the Present. October 158, 155–166. https://doi.org/10.1162/OCTO_a_00275
After the incredible impact of the posthumous publication of Roland Barthes’s Camera Lucida in 1980, we saw, throughout the decade, a great number of more or less theoretical books, of special issues of journals (as well as new journals), of French translations of important texts, and countless colloquia on this theme, all of which bear witness to the extraordinary moment of vitality of this period at the end of the Structuralist years, a period that opened onto essentialist, phenomenological, and even ontological questions.
It was, we could say, a period of invention of “photography as theoretical object.”
Yael Eylat Van-Essen, ‘The Image as a Networked Interface: The Textualization of the Photographic Image’, pp.259, in:
Mitchell proposes relating to pictures as to living entities with needs, which we should try to relate to on their own terms.
The suggestion that we attribute a subjectivity of their own to living images, as opposed to examining them according to the meanings they create, can be seen as sequential to thought rooted in the theories of Nietzsche and Heidegger, and later, in the works of other theoreticians such as Gilles Deleuze and Jean-Luc Nancy, who sought to relate to a work of art using the question of its “being”.The image, according to them, has its own being that is not derived from the object it represents. It is not a copy or an imitation of something external to it; it is an autonomous entity in its own right.
Yuk Hui, Modulation after Control, New Formations 84-85, On Societies of Control, ed. J. Gilbert and A. Goffey, 2015, 74-91.
In control societies, Deleuze proposes, we can observe a new form of operation that is no longer about the enclosure of space. To be more precise, it is no longer a control that explicitly and directly imposes its violence or force on individuals; and nor does it archive their obedience according to its institutional and social code, as we can see in the example of prisons.
Rather, this new type of control is characterised by creating a space for the individual, as if he or she has the freedom to tangle and to create, while their production as well their ends follow the logic of intangible forces. If we understand the first form of control – direct intervention – as moulding [moulage], then this second form of control can be understood in terms of modulation.