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.

p.1

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.

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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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Between Bodies and Machines

Eve Forrest, ‘Between Bodies and Machines: Photographers with Cameras, Photographers on Computers’, pp.105-122, in:

Rubenstein, D., Golding, J., Fisher, A., 2013. On the verge of photography: imaging beyond representation. Article Press, Birmingham, UK.

p.105

This discussion has two aims. The first is to move discourse on photography away from the dominant representational framework that often ignores the doings of the photographer.

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Orientations Towards Objects

Sara Ahmed, ‘Orientations Towards Objects’, pp.25-64, in:

Ahmed, S., 2006. Queer phenomenology: orientations, objects, others. Duke University Press, Durham.

p.27

[…] by showing how phenomenology faces a certain directions, which depends on the relegation of other “things” to the background, I consider how phenomenology may be gendered as a form of occupation.

We are turned toward things . Such things make an impression upon us. We perceive them as things insofar as they are near to us, insofar as we share a residence with them. Perception hence involves orientation; what is perceived depends on where we are located, which gives us a certain take on things.

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