Hardware alone appears meaningless. When you gaze into an electric circuit, nothing gazes back into you. Software’s visual environments seem to be the real point of access – in particular, operating systems populated by desktops and recycling bins (Chun, “On Software, or the Persistence of Visual Knowledge,” 43). Transistors are not represented on the screen here. This is not to say that software exists independent from hardware. In fact, the basic function of hardware is to emit “signifiers of voltage differences” (Kittler, “There Is No Software,” 150). What connects hardware and software is then a “functional analogy to ideology” (43). Continue Reading »
“It is raining,” philosopher Louis Althusser writes. These words: a declaration; a marked change in the world outside; an announcement about the rain felling outside Althusser’s room at the Sainte-Anne clinic in late 1982. Only then, two years after his scandalous psychotic fit, did he begin writing again. Peering through the window to outside, Althusser ended his dry spell with a book “before all else,” “about ordinary rain.” Such ordinary rain is not the common sense notion of rain that pertains to water falling from the sky. Althusser’s rain is far more commonplace: it is the underground current of materialism that runs through the history of philosophy (“The Underground Current of the Materialism of the Encounter,” 167). This watershed year also marked the emergence of another type of rain, which is seen through an altogether different window. 1982 was the year Time magazine named “the computer” its personal of the year. Three decades later, we now watch the streams that rush across our digital screens.
Those who knew Gilles Deleuze consistently note his firm commitment to joyful affirmation and his distaste for the ressentiment of negativity. Beatifying this sentiment, Deleuzians have established a whole canon of joy. But what good is joy in this world of compulsive positivity?
It is time to move from the chapel to the crypt. There is sufficient textual evidence to establish this counter-canon. And from it, we can create a glossary of the “Dark Deleuze.”
|Our Task||Create Conceptions||Destroy Worlds|
|Speed||Acceleration||Withdrawal Continue Reading »|
Posted in Ideas | Tagged accelerationism, aesthetics, affects, anthropology, barbarians, becoming, being, cinema, complexity, D&G, dark deleuze, deleuze, democracy, difference, empiricism, ethics, flows, Gilles Deleuze, immanence, inclusive disjunction, indiscernibility, intensity, molecular, nomadism, ontology, philosophy, politics, powers of the false, production, rhizome, speed, subjectivity, substance, technology, unfolding | 6 Comments »
From Chapter 4 of Jonathan Crary’s 24/7, which I just taught:
Chantal Akerman’s film D’Est (From the East), made in 1 992 and early 1993, carries a heightened self-consciousness about the circumstances of this weighty historical moment. Shot mainly  in Poland and Russia in the year and a half following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, it discloses a world in suspension, on the edge of an undetermined future, yet still weighed down by long-standing patterns and habits. Using very long takes, it is an extended portrayal of certain textures of everyday life, sometimes suggesting a Sartrean seriality. In her essay on D’Est, Akerman famously declared that she felt the need to make the film “while there’s still time” (“tant qu’il en est encore temps”).11 In one sense, she meant that she had to finish the project before it was too late, before cultural and economic forces transformed the subject of her work into something different, even unrecognizable. But, given the choices she made ofwhat to record, “while there’s still time” is also a way of saying: while there is still a world of time-in common, a world sustained by a collective inhabiting and sharing of time and its rhythms, in the older sense of the word “quotidian.” Continue Reading »
Highlights from Ray Brassier’s quite substantial critique of “communization”:
Endnotes “argue (rightly, in my view) that there can be no exit from the capital relation because it constitutes us: ‘What we are is, at the deepest level, constituted by this relation, and it is a rupture with the reproduction of what we are that will necessarily form the horizon of our struggles.’11 Thus there can be no secession from the capital relation, only its abolition. Communisation is the name for this abolition-in-process.” Continue Reading »
The reconfigured terrain of network culture frustrates many traditional modes of social engagement. Political power has both spread and concentrated – spreading as global corporations, international bodies, and private interests bypass the forces of traditional political institutions, and concentrating as information systems employed in government and industry enable the surveillance, registration, and control of populations.[i]
The common form of dissent in digital culture is rather the tactical use of media to signify “the intervention and disruption of a dominant semiotic regime, the temporary creation of a situation in which signs, messages, and narratives are set into play and critical thinking becomes possible.”[ii] Tactical media’s emphasis on symbolic disruption leads to a focus on artistic practices, from persuasive video games made to criticize immigration policy to chat-based interventions in the US Military’s controversial recruiting game America’s Army.[iii] The prevalence of cultural and artistic critique as the preferred style of political engagement should be expected, as it echoes a wider transformation in contemporary power whereby “the dissolution of an autonomous sphere of culture is rather to be imagined in terms of an explosion: a prodigious expansion of culture throughout the social realm, to the point at which everything in our social life – from economic value and state power to practices and to the very structure of the psyche itself – can be said to have become ‘cultural.’”[iv] The literary import of tactical media threatens to obscure potentials singular to media, however, as it focuses on the expression of and not the struggle within the “computational layer” or information itself – a slippage that threatens to ruin tactical media by “confusing tactics and strategy.”[v]
There is a way to cut through this confusion: if the urban space of the Metropolis is theorized as a media object, whereby “the ‘content’ of any medium is always another medium,” then culture and materiality intersect, which allows analysis to go from signs to signals and from semiotics to physics and back again.[vi] This principle is elegantly demonstrated by Austrian design studio mischer-traxler’s project “The Idea of a Tree,” an autonomous solar-powered production project that transduces the intensity of inconstant natural inputs to mechanically produce one object a day from sunrise to sunset. The product of process is a bench-like object that incorporates the sun conditions of the day by varying thread and glue color and thickness as it is wrapped around a mold to make a three-dimension representation of the day and place of production.[vii] The simultaneous transduction and transcoding of environmental energy into a material object exemplifies that multidimensional objects can be both technically diagrammed and studied according to their cultural expression. Generalizing from “The Idea of a Tree,” then every media object similarly contains both a diagram and an expression that make up its emergent environment.[viii] Media and literary studies have outlined theories for such a multi-dimensional analysis, demonstrating the different operations of speech, writing, and code.[ix] The Metropolis should then be described in similar terms to network culture not only by information, but the vectors of change that result from an abundance of information and an acceleration of informational character.[x] In particular, the Metropolis can be said to utilize information in three distinct ways: as “the relation of signal to noise,” “a measure of the uncertainty or entropy of a system,” and “a nonlinear and nondeterministic relationship between the microscopic and the macroscopic levels of a physical system” – all of which find corollaries in culture.[xi] Bringing together digital telecommunication flows and physical corporeal flows, urban geographers have conceptualized the contemporary process of urbanization through Internet eXchange points and MIDT airline traffic data[xii] It is through a similar combination of digital culture and informatization more generally that strategies common to struggles in the culture, technology, and environment of the Metropolis can be identified, analyzed, and enhanced.
Abstractly, the Metropolis connects through inclusive disjunction, a process that puts otherwise foreign elements into communication with one another and does not require its pieces to operate through a shared logic but unfolds their interiors through exposure.[xiii] Continue Reading »
Posted in papers | Tagged art, assemblage, assemblage art, D&G, deleuze, difference, digital culture, disjunction, Eugene Thacker, Gilles Deleuze, inclusive disjunction, media, media studies, metropolis, nevelson, power, space, spatialization, tactical media | Leave a Comment »