Immaterial Culture

“IV. Immaterial Culture”, pp.35-43, in: Flusser, V., 2015. Into immaterial culture. Metaflux.


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.

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Embodying the monster

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.

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Labors of Likeness: Photography and Labor in Marx’s “Capital.”

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
mechanical realism.

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Modulation after Control

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.

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Welcoming the Monstrous Arrivant

Margrit Shildrick, ‘Welcoming the Monstrous Arrivant’, pp.120-133, in:
Shildrick, M., 2002. Embodying the monster: encounters with the vulnerable self, Theory, culture & society. SAGE Publications, London ; Thousand Oaks, Calif.
My claim is that as the body is discursively materialised in both language and practice, that materialisation is never value-neutral. There is, then, a very legitimate interest for the postmodernist not just in how new bodies are constructed in discourse, but in the material constitution and effects of those bodies.

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Making Room for the Body

Bernadette Wegenstein. 2006. Getting under the skin: the body and media theory. MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.
[describes a ‘new historical approach’ argued for in the mid-twentieth century]
As British sociologist Bryan S. Turner states, the usefulness of the body to critical analysis lies in the fact that we both are and have bodies. Or, to put in the terms of Le Goff, we experience our own body as well as the bodies of others: “The body is a material organism, but also a metaphor; it is the trunk apart from head and limbs, but also the person [as in ‘anybody’ and ‘somebody’]. . . . The body is at once the most solid, the most elusive, illusory, concrete, metaphorical, ever present and ever distant thing—a site, an instrument, an environment, a singularity and a multiplicity.”
Today we know the histories of a sexual body, a female body, a pregnant body, a Greek body—to list but a few of innumerable examples—as well as the histories of a body-in-pieces; in other words, of certain organs and body parts in their specific cultural, historical, and geographical configurations.

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Bodies of Water, Human Rights and the Hydrocommons

Astrida Neimanis, 2009. Bodies of Water, Human Rights and the Hydrocommons. TOPIA: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies 21, 161–182.


Our bodies thus reveal to us the problem with any  reductive dichotomization of water as natural or cultural. While the 60-90 per cent of ourselves that is comprised of water is undoubtedly biological, we nonetheless live our bodies of water as brimming with economic, cultural and otherwise semiotic potentiality.

The “nature” of our bodily water is meaningful and meaning-making, just as the porosity, fluidity and leakiness of our selves are no mere metaphors.

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Tools for the Hand, Language for the Face

Ingold, Tim. 1999. ‘Tools for the Hand, Language for the Face’: An Appreciation of Leroi-Gourhan’s Gesture and Speech, Studies in History and Philosophy of Biology & Biomedical Science. 30: 4. 411–453


What might a more inclusive theory, that would accommodate the social and technical along with the zoological dimensions of human existence, look like?


To read Le Geste et la parole, however, is to realise that Leroi-Gourhan’s contribution extended far beyond questions of art and technology, to embrace a vision of human development of quite breathtaking scope.

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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.


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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