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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Afghan Box Camera

Birk, L., Foley, S., 2013. Afghan box camera. Dewi Lewis Publishing, Stockport, England.

Frontispiece

Gulbert would recite prayers and verses and blow on the camera, and then take out the photographs announcing, “A MIRACLE!”

p.11

In Afghanistan in the 1950s a simple hand-made wooden camera known as the kamra-e-faoree began to be used widely in the country for the first time.

Further afield in industrialised Europe and North America, patented relations had already appeared in the 1910s; whilst the photograph process the camera used was first introduced by William Henry Fox-Talbot in 1840s England.

In contrast […] to photography as a thing of the elite, the kamra-e-faoree brought photography to the common man and quite literally, to the street.

Only a narrow pavement slot was required to fit a camera, a chair and a cloth backdrop. The chair in which the customer posed for the portrait could also serve the photographer as a perch on which to rest or even sleep in quieter times. The camera lid provided a handy platform on which to place a pair of scissors and box of photo paper as well as hold a mug of tea and a saucer of sweets.

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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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Potential

Michel Serres, ‘Potential’, pp.33-66, in:
Serres, M., Burks, R., 2011. Variations on the body. Univocal Publishing, Minneapolis.

p.33

No seated professor taught me productive work, the only kind of any worth, whereas my gymnastics teachers, coaches and, later, my guides inscribed its very conditions into my muscles and bones. They teach what the body can do.

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Metamorphosis

Michel Serres, ‘Metamorphosis’, pp.3-31, in:
Serres, M., Burks, R., 2011. Variations on the body. Univocal Publishing, Minneapolis.

p.4

Anxiety, of course, occurs before the climb, just as fear returns after; but during it, the body progresses, on the rock face, as though it were protected. But, leaving aside guides, pitons, ropes and partners, by what, by whom?

Stretch out your arms and legs: your twenty fingers and toes attain in space a large rectangular frame or a circle – your starfish, octopus or gibbon’s maximal hold on the world. Your active force and sensibility radiate at the extreme points of this figure.

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Media archaeology and re-presencing the past

Vivian Sobchack, ‘Afterword : media archaeology and re-presencing the past’, pp.323-333, in:

Huhtamo, E., Parikka, J. (Eds.), 2011. Media archaeology: approaches, applications, and implications. University of California Press, Berkeley, Calif.

p.323

[…] this discourse of presence (a “presence in absence”) and its particularly concern with the past and the conditions under which it can be re-presenced (as well as historiographically communicated) are central to media archaeology.

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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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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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