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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On the Invention of Photographic Meaning

Allan Sekula, ‘On the Invention of Photographic Meaning’, pp.84-109, in:
Burgin, V. Ed. 1982. Thinking Photography. Palgrave Macmillan, London.

p.84

The meaning of a photograph, like that of any other entity, in inevitably subject to cultural definition. The task here is to define and engage critically something we might call the ‘photographic discourse’.

A discourse is defined as an arena of exchange, that is, a system of relations between parties engaged in communicative activity.

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Fingers

Vilém Flusser, ‘Fingers’, pp.57-63, in:
Flusser, V., Zielinski, S., Baitello, N., Novaes, R.M., 2013 [1979]. Natural:mind. Univocal, Minneapolis, MN.

p.57

I am sitting on a chair. The chair is a product of Western civilization and if it were to be analysed it would reveal the history of the West.

The juxtaposition “chair – desk” is a characteristic structure of particular situations of my culture.

p.58

This is a slight paleo-technological writing instrument (a product of the beginning of the 20th century). The machine has keys inscribed with letters of the Latin alphabet.

My fingers hit the keys in a particular order. This order is therefore determined by the specific order of such a language.

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Technology is Society made Durable

Bruno Latour, ‘Technology is Society made Durable’, pp.103-130 in:

Law, J. (Ed.), 1991. A sociology of monsters: essays on power, technology, and domination. Routledge, London New York.

p.103

In this paper I argue that in order to understand domination we have to turn away from an exclusive concern with social relations and weave them into a fabric that includes non-human actants, actants that offer the possibility of holding society together as a durable whole.

To be sure, the distinction between material infrastructure and symbolic superstructure has been useful to remind social theory of the importance of non-humans, but it is a very inaccurate portrayal of their mobilisation and engagement inside the social links. This paper aims to explore another repertoire for studying this process of mobilisation.

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Why Material Visual Practices?

Asko Lehmuskallio and Edgar Gómez Cruz, ‘Why Material Visual Practices?’, pp.1-16, in:

Gómez Cruz, E., Lehmuskallio, A. (Eds.), 2016. Digital photography and everyday life: empirical studies on material visual practices. Routledge, London; New York.

p.1

The way we understand the camera, as part of a technology and as a tool, plays a crucial role in our understanding of photography.

Although a variety of differences can be found, many photo practices tend to continue along well-paved paths.

Of all the features taken can be shared over vast distances, shown on publicly available websites are used for a variety of other purposes, not all engage in the possibilities that digital photography affords. But importantly many do.

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Photo-genic Assemblages: Photography as a connective interface

Edgar Gómez Cruz, ‘Photo-genic Assemblages: Photography as a connective interface’, pp.228-242, in:

Gómez Cruz, E., Lehmuskallio, A. (Eds.), 2016. Digital photography and everyday life: empirical studies on material visual practices. Routledge, London; New York.

p.228

Photography, as we have understood it for more than a century, has radically changed and we are still in the process of those changes becoming stabilised.

The opening point of this chapter is that digital photography is shaping different ‘assemblages of visuality’ (see Wise 2013) from those of its photo-chemical predecessor.

I understand ‘assemblage’ following Latour’s (1990) ideas of a fixed arrangement between technologies, practices and discourses.

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Is the camera an extension of the photographer?

Martin Lister, ‘Is the camera an extension of the photographer?’, pp.267-272, in:

Gómez Cruz, E., Lehmuskallio, A. (Eds.), 2016. Digital photography and everyday life: empirical studies on material visual practices. Routledge, London; New York.

p.267

The act of finding meaning in the photograph is, of course, to engage photography as representation. This, in turn (if it is not to be an innocent reading), inevitably entails a measure of academic discipline and methodology: the semiological scrutiny of images treated as texts, with the aim of revealing or interpreting the meanings included within them.

With regard to photography, this is a developed practice that, over the last 30 years or so, became almost synonymous with photography theory.

Now the ongoing convergence of photography with computing and the rapid development of photography as a networked and computational medium have rendered photography radically more transient, relational, dynamic and polymorphous; we have witnessed a kind of supercharging of what it already was!

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Allure and Abjection: The Possible Potential of Severed Qualities

Frenchy Lunning, ‘Allure and Abjection: The Possible Potential of Severed Qualities’, pp.83-105, in: Behar, K. (Ed.), 2016. Object-oriented feminism. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis.

p.83

This is a tale of two gestures that meet in the heat of a metaphoric confrontation of transformation. In comparing Graham Harman’s work on allure juxtaposed with Julia Kristeva’s work on abjection, certain relationships, similarities, and movements suggest a way to read across each of their central metaphors in structure and movement, and in their implications of marginal identities and aesthetic locations.

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All Objects Are Deviant

Timothy Morton, ‘All Objects Are Deviant: Feminism and Ecological Intimacy’, pp.65-79, in: Behar, K. (Ed.), 2016. Object-oriented feminism. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis.

p.65

Object-oriented ontology (OOO) subverts the metaphysics of presence by arguing that all beings withdraw, that is, they are incapable of being (fully) accessed by another entity: my idea of this glass is not the glass, the parts of the glass are not the glass, and so on.

Withdrawal rather underscores the unspeakable suchness of a thing. Withdrawal is a paradoxical term, since it might be better to imagine what it consists in as an intimacy or proximity that makes a thing impossible to access because it is too close.

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Playing String Figures with Companion Species

Haraway, Donna J. “Playing String Figures with Companion Species” in:

Haraway, D.J., 2016. Staying with the trouble: making kin in the Chthulucene. Duke University Press, Durham.

https://monoskop.org/media/text/haraway_2016_staying_with_the_trouble

String figures are like stories; they propose and enact patterns for participants to inhabit, somehow, on a vulnerable and wounded earth. My multispecies storytelling is about recuperation in complex histories that are as full of dying as living, as full of endings, even genocides, as beginnings.

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