Archive for May, 2014

Avital Ronell on The Test Drive

31 May 2014

Harman on Heidegger: ‘Buildings as Tool-Beings’

30 May 2014


Architecture Exchange posterMuch of Graham Harman’s so-called ‘object-oriented philosophy’ takes up Martin Heidegger’s account of the nature of tools and equipment, as set out in the first part and first division of his major work Being and Time. The key problem I have with Harman’s reading of this account is the overly binary view of perception which I think misses out a key part of the process of using tools. Heidegger’s now famous example describes how a piece of equipment like a hammer can be approached in two distinct ways: We can either pick it up and use it, or we can contemplate it from a distance. When we pick up the hammer and use it, it becomes what Heidegger calls ‘ready-to-hand’, the hammer is ready to be put to work, assuming we know how to wield it. In the second case, what Heidegger calls ‘present-at-hand’, we simply stare at the…

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From Things to Artworks, Luc Boltanski

29 May 2014

Book Symposium on “The Materiality of Bureaucracy” in HAU – Journal of Ethnographic Theory

28 May 2014

Installing (Social) Order

For those of you that are interested in the machinery of governance there is a wonderful book symposium in HAU – Journal of Ethnographic Theory. HAU is:

…an international peer-reviewed, open-access online journal which aims to situate ethnography as the prime heuristic of anthropology, and return it to the forefront of conceptual developments in the discipline.

HAU – focus and scope

I know there are many new peer-reviewed, open access online journals out there and sometimes, lets be honest, their quality is dubious. But HAU is really cool, the research is very empirical, the book symposiums very enlightening, and their recent “classics” series is totally fascinating.

The symposium is on Michael Hull´s “Government of Paper”, in itself an interesting read. Here is the list of contributions, check it out!

Book Symposium – Government of paper: The materiality of bureaucracy in urban Pakistan (Matthew Hull)

Materiality, materializationPDF
Constantine V…

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Urbaneering Cities, Maria Aiolova

27 May 2014

Tony Sampson on Viral Networks

26 May 2014

Beyond Conservation, Alfred Nordmann

25 May 2014

Zizek -Towards a Materialist Theory of Subjectivity

23 May 2014

Resonance: Specificities of Change w/in Systems & Entities

23 May 2014

Curatorial duo Rivet (Sarah Demeuse and Manuela Moscoso) considers resonance, a notion they take from philosopher Levi Bryant’s The Democracy of Objects, as a guiding term to reconsider perspectives on, and interactions in, the world. Informed by their current exhibitions, Resonance at the Goethe-Institut New York and Resonance and Repetition on view at the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, as well as by ongoing discussions with collaborators and artists, their talk highlights artistic projects and so touches upon current models of representation, resistance, and withdrawal.
In particular, they aim to consider and provisionally answer the following questions in this presentation: Why or whence the current increasing interest in the arts in thingness or human and non-human entanglements? Where do marks of distinctions between subjects and objects become unstable? What can we glean from this instability and resonance? In what kind of regimes of attraction can the art object participate, and what may it do differently from other objects?

Steve Fuller on ‘Dark Ecology’ by Philip Conway

23 May 2014


At the slowlorisblog there’s an interesting guest post from Steve Fuller. It’s a good read but I have a quibble with one of his comments:

To understand OOO and dark ecology (I take the latter as a specific extension of the former), one needs to understand the intuitive appeal of actor-network theory, which is that you’re better placed to understand the full range of agency in the world if you yourself are not an agent, but simply a mouthpiece for agency.

I really like the essay but that’s false. There are plenty of human actors and agents in ANT. The central tenet of ANT is that every node in a chain of translations transforms what it carries, conducts, transmits. Therefore, humans can’t be written off as mouthpieces; or, equally, even mouthpieces translate what they mouth.

The problem with ANT is that it’s a method that got out of hand; that it got exploded into being a complete philosophy of everything. Somewhere Latour remarks that ANT is a combination of Garfinkel’s ethnomethodology and Greimas’ semiotics. OOO ignores the former and only takes up the latter. So, OOO eradicates what remnants of phenomenology there was remaining in ANT. It’s essentially a dumbing down and, simultaneously, a massive overextension that arbitrarily excludes the ethno-sociological heart of the matter (which is very much there, and beating, if you look closely).

To understand Prof. Fuller’s take on this one needs to understand that he’s been waging war on ANT, etc. for decades and his readings are always uncharitable—sometimes productively so but, for my tastes, he’s a way off the mark.

More constructively: I think the principle intellectual-political product of this ‘dark ecology’ would be the whole ‘accelerationism’ thing. This explicitly grows out of Nick Land’s sophomore-entrancing shtick and is very zeitgeisty at the moment. Moreover, it explicitly sets itself up as a radical political project rather than just an intellectual one.