Sense and the Limits of Knowledge

Tucker, I., 2011. Sense and the Limits of Knowledge: Bodily Connections in the Work of Serres. Theory, Culture & Society 28, 149–160. https://doi.org/10.1177/0263276410372240

p.150

Theories across social and cultural theory have for some time now thought about the construction of knowledge, and considered the option that knowledge may actually mediate and consequently partially obscure the world, rather than provide transparent access to it.

Notions of change, movement and fluidity stand in place of stability, identity and fixity. The human condition is seen as acting as a grounding presence, with questions raised about how bodies are experienced, and how forms of bodily activity cannot be captured through words but have a material existence on and beyond the boundaries with language and knowledge.

Pivotal to Serres’ interest are bodies, the primary materiality of the human condition, through which we feel, touch, taste and see the world. Serres seeks to explore whether knowledge produced through traditional empiricism can beneficially inform as to sensory experience, or whether it acts to shade and mask the senses, rather than enlighten them.

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The Affective Turn

Patricia T Clough, 2008. The Affective Turn: Political Economy, Biomedia and Bodies. Theory, Culture & Society 25, 1–22.

p.1

The turn to affect points instead to a dynamism immanent to bodily matter and matter generally – matter’s capacity for self-organization in being in-formational – which, I want to argue, may be the most provocative and enduring contribution of the affective turn.

pp.1-2

Yet, many of the critics and theorists who turned to affect often focused on the circuit from affect to emotion, ending up with subjectively felt states of emotion – a return to the subject as the subject of emotion. I want to turn attention instead to those critics and theorists who, indebted to Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Baruch Spinoza and Henri Bergson, conceptualize affect as pre-individual bodily forces augmenting or diminishing a body’s capacity to act and who critically engage those technologies that are // making it possible to grasp and to manipulate the imperceptible dynamism of affect.

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After Life

Patricia MacCormack, ‘After Life’, pp.177-187, in:

MacCormack, P. (Ed.), 2014. The animal catalyst: towards ahuman theory. Bloomsbury Academic, London; New York.

p.177

For oppressive machines, the ahuman aberrant is required to isomorphically raise the status of the majoritarian, and the future hurtling posthuman’s future is only as a cog in that operation of ascension. Ecosophical and ecominoritarian elements of ahuman theories seek to alter this monodirectional system.

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The real terror of Instagram

Crano, R., 2018. ‘The real terror of Instagram: Death and disindividuation in the social media scopic field’. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 135485651775036. https://doi.org/10.1177/1354856517750364

p.2

Well beyond photography’s mere digitization, we now have recourse to nuanced notions of the live, networked, and algorithmic image. Such concepts, and the methodological ambits that emerge alongside them, situate contemporary photography, appropriately, within broader trends of and discourses on participatory culture, user-generated content, and ‘prosumption’.

What I would like to do here, in part, is to further contextualize this participatory turn – in culture generally and in photography specifically – alongside broader socioeconomic transformations and emergent techniques of capitalist subject-formation and exploitation.

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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.

p.36

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.

p.38

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.

p.40

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.

p.91

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.

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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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The One-Eyed Man and the One-Armed Man: Camera, Culture, and the State

John Tagg, ‘The One-Eyed Man and the One-Armed Man: Camera, Culture, and the State’, pp.1-49, in:
Tagg, J., 2009. The disciplinary frame: photographic truths and the capture of meaning. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis.

p.1

This carefully constructed room has an old name. It is a camera. A room, but a room with a purpose: the training of light, graphing it—quite literally, photo-graphing, subjecting light to the punctual rule of the room’s inbuilt geometrical law.

The camera is, then, a place to isolate and discipline light, like a room in Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon. And, like that room in the Panopticon, the cell of the camera has its utility both as a training machine and as a device for producing and preserving text.

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The Camera That Ate Itself

Matthew Fuller, ‘The Camera That Ate Itself’, 55-85 in:

Fuller, M., 2007. Media ecologies: materialist energies in art and technoculture, 1st MIT Press paperback edition. ed, Leonardo. The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts London, England.

p.55

This persistent whimsy that labor-saving technology will of itself release people into a helter-skelter world of self-determined fun is less a theory than a suburban myth.

Nevertheless, Flusser’s Towards a Philosophy of Photography insists we play along. Having been liberated from the necessity, if not from the compulsion, to work, people are available for play.

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