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
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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Tom Sparrow, ‘On Aesthetic Plasticity’, pp. 177-218, in:
Sparrow, T., Malabou, C., 2015. Plastic bodies: rebuilding sensation after phenomenology. Open Humanities Press, London.
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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Michel Serres, ‘Potential’, pp.33-66, in:
Serres, M., Burks, R., 2011. Variations on the body. Univocal Publishing, Minneapolis.
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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Michel Serres, ‘Work’, pp.86-90, in:
Serres, M., Schehr, L.R., 1982. The parasite. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.
What is work? Undoubtedly, it is a struggle against noise. If we allowed things to happen without intervening, stables would fill up with manure, the fox would eat the chickens, and the phylloxera would cross the seas to dry out the vine leaves. The channel is filled with mud.
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Wolfgang Ernst, ‘Media Archaeography: Method and Machine Versus History and Narrative Of Media’, pp.239-255, in:
Huhtamo, E., Parikka, J. (Eds.), 2011. Media archaeology: approaches, applications, and implications. University of California Press, Berkeley, Calif.
The media-archaeological method as proposed here is meant as an epistemological alternative approach to the supremacy of media-historical narratives. Equally close to disciplines that analyse material (hardware) culture and to the Foucauldian notion of the “archive” as the set of rules governing the range of what can be verbally, audiovisually, or alphanumerically expressed at all, media archaeology is both a method and an aesthetics of practising media criticism, a kind of epistemological reverse engineering, and an awareness of moments when media themselves, not explicitly humans any more, come active “archaeologists” of knowledge.
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Allan Sekula, ‘On the Invention of Photographic Meaning’, pp.84-109, in:
Burgin, V. Ed. 1982. Thinking Photography. Palgrave Macmillan, London.
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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Vilém Flusser, ‘Fingers’, pp.57-63, in:
Flusser, V., Zielinski, S., Baitello, N., Novaes, R.M., 2013 . Natural:mind. Univocal, Minneapolis, MN.
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.
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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Allan Sekula, The Traffic in Photographs, pp. 15-25, in:
Art Journal, Vol. 41, No. 1, Photography and the Scholar/Critic (Spring, 1981)
The discourse that surrounds photography speaks paradoxically of discipline and freedom, vigorous truth and unleashed pleasures. Here then, at least by virtue of the need to contain the tensions inherent in this paradox, is the site of a certain shell game, a certain dance, even certain politics. In effect, we are invited to dance between photographic truth and photographic pleasures with very little awareness of the floorboards and muscles than make this seemingly effortless movement possible.
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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.
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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