Infrastructures of Creativity – IIT, Chicago (April 2014)


Michael Shrage 

“To succeed, jump as quickly at opportunities as you do at conclusions.” — Franklin

“Human knowledge and human power meet in one; for where the cause is not known the effect cannot be produced. Nature to be commanded must be obeyed; and that which in contemplation is as the cause is in operation as the rule.” — Bacon

“You cannot divorce discussions of self improvement from discussions of improvement — and I say this to anyone who is wearing a pair of glasses, using a computer, etc.”

“ But man has almost constant occasion for the help of his brethren, and it is in vain for him to expect it from their benevolence only. He will be more likely to prevail if he can interest their self-love in his favour, and show them that it is for their own advantage to do for him what he requires of them. Whoever offers to another a bargain of any kind, proposes to do this. Give me that which I want, and you shall have this which you want, is the meaning of every such offer; and it is in this manner that we obtain from one another the far greater part of those good offices which we stand in need of. It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages ” — Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, 1776

  • An exchange that mutually improves - Gedankenexperiment: What happens when exchange becomes investment?
  • Ford – River Rouge – Mass production – What about the importance of the “human capital of driving.”
  • Page Rank – Larry Page – Google has figured out a way to monetise your human capital
  • “These technologies — these innovations — have improved you”
  • “Innovations are transformations of individual capabilities — as individual self interest evolves — the opportunities for new forms of innovation explode”
  • This is misunderstood by contemporary economics — but was understood by Smith (Self-improvement)

“The basic resource in any company is the people.”

“The reason why we are on a higher imaginative level is not because we have finer imaginations, but because we have better instruments. In science, the most important thing that has happened over the last forty years is the advance in instrumental design.” — A.N. Whitehead An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Natural Knowledge

Where Are the Customers’ Yachts —> Where are the customer’s resources

Pamela Edwards: Questions about Bacon, Smith and their concept of felicity, introspection, self-regard, love, generosity. Smith mocking master planners, people can develop situations for themselves

  • “If you put a cucumber in brine you don’t purify the water, you get a pickle.”
  • “Innovations is the conversion of novelty into value.”
  • “Methodological Individualism”
  • Collaboration is a negotiation of the self
  • Conflation of self-interest / selfishness has prevented us from redefining
  • “I have stood on the shoulders of giants” was actually a dig at Robert Hooke, Newtons’ rival (who was short)
  • Carrie Fischer – novelist – “Instant gratification isn’t soon enough”

Paul Starr

Innovation and Democracy in Post-industrial America

  • Author of the Creation of the Media
  • National innovation systems — the patent, publishing, printing
  • ‘Penny presses’ and ‘Dime Novel’ — low in taste and low in price
  • Cheap print was ‘public policy’ in America

3rd industrial revolution

  • Not just technology in and of itself
  • Generative technology – user programmable
  • Post-office — Internet
  • It is entirely misleading to oppose innovation and public responsibility towards entrepreneurial
  • Google’s Page Rank was a NSF grant-funded technology
  • Fred Lock —
  • App Economies and Inventive Entrepreneurs
  • Inventor-entrepreneurs — combining tinkering and hacking
  • Bengler — radically distributed non-market mechanisms, cooperative enterprises (online communication reduced transaction costs, it removes the need for consensus decision making at all)
  • Opening up the circle of innovation — peer production, professional amateur  collaboration
  • Things becoming genuinely public instead of being technically public or policy-public

Gary Fine — re-appropriation (Richard Price), the limitations of creativity

  • The Entrepreneurial State – government as a funder of innovation, or government as a purchaser of innovation. The government is more influential where?


Mordechai Feingold

Isaac Newton: A Wellspring of Englightenment Creativity

  • Émilie du Châtelet / Voltaire / Newtown
  • Newtonian’s system as a splendid picture of nature
  • Watt steam engine
  • Pierre Simon de Laplace
  • Universal gravitation was the first and only general law discovered by man
  • Fourier – ‘today I am 21 years old, by this age Newton had already
  • Buffon – french biologist – how he had discovered the binomial theorem without knowing that Newton had done so…
  • The Fourierist - Charles Fourier
  • Francesco Solimena, Giambattista Vico
    • A work in which all that pertains to human understanding is reduced to a common principle
    • Gravitation of bodies — fundamentalism of Newtonianism
  • Adam Smith
    • Newtonian pedigree
    • “This means that between the one and the others there is a reciprocal action”
  • Beccaria
    • Applying the Newtonian principle to criminality and law
  • Kant
    • Universal history as a universalist model for the principles of nature and man
    • “After Newton and Rousseau, God is justified and Pope’s theorem ["whatever is, is right"] is true.”
  • Anti-Newtonian
    • The bounds of natural science may possibly extend beyond how we know Newton…
    • Jean-Paul Marat — resentment of contemporaries not recognising his genius
  • Goethe
    • A martyr of scientific truth
    • Theory colours — “I am the only person who knows the truth in the difficult science of colours — of that, I say, I am not a little proud… “

Alexander Pope – “Newton Nature and Nature’s laws lay hid in night: God said, “Let Newton be!” and all was light.”


Creative Networks (The Armor Conference Room)
Discussant: Kim Erwin, IIT Institute of Design

  • Laura Forlano — Shared Machine Shops
    • Center for Social Innovation (Toronto —
    • Community / family / networks / regular
    • Openness
    • Innovating the institutional form — “the future arrives sooner here”
    • Peer production of organisations
    • Pumping Station 1 — Chicago
    • Critically Generative
    • Defense Distributed — 3D printed as masculine
    • Laser cut fashion — laser cutting as feminine
    • Inclusion / Exclusion…
    • Use of online tools and media — communicating invitations
    • What cities generate these sorts of places?
  • Airi Lampinen — Networked Privacy
    • privacy as an interpersonal boundary process by which people regulate interaction with others
    • social network services
    • sharing — ‘emic’ notion… there are many activities where we are consciously deciding at different ‘granularities’ of privacy — fitbits (you don’t make a decision about each footstep), or tracking on Facebook (you don’t get to make a decision if you’re using the system)
    • Interpersonal boundary regulation is a cooperative effort
    • ‘Opt-in’ systems provide a huge workload for people
    • Sharing is not just about online practices — telling someone not to take pictures of you at a party, exchanging
    • Main point: “Privacy is more than just individual”
  • Harmeet Sawhney,
    • Analytics of creativity in the University
    • Paris Salons — hand selected people, selection, social (writers commenting on musicians commenting on architectures), shallow discourse
    • London Coffee Houses — less curated, cross-class interaction
    • Format / Selection
    • Institute of Advanced Study and Thank Tanks
    • In the University — academy — review panels are narrow subject matter experts, the value put on consensus is too high
    • Low threshold for entry is not a bad thing
    • Insistence on detailed proposals makes the work pedantic and potentially less creative (interesting vis a vis
    • Formats — play between the formal and informal
    • Creativity is the sharing of half-baked ideas — why in the bar do most of the good ideas happen?
    • “Conference Chicken” — the role of food
    • Think Tanks / IAS
      • Critiques of the University are only coming from the Think Thanks, not from IAS (who tend to covet the favour of Universities)
      • IAS’s claims to rigour — there should be different
      • IAS as an ‘asylum’
      • Medvetz
    • The difference between speculative research and commercial work — pragmatic planning is required by the market

Fred Block

Doing 21st Innovation with the Paradigm of 18th Century Political Economy 

  • Poor design of powerpoint as deliberate
  • Market versus state binary
    • Market: efficient, innovative, dynamic
    • State: Wasterful, rigid, static
  • The use of the market/state binary has underwritten policy – tax cuts for corporations and the rich


  • Karl Polanyi
    • economies and institutional infrastructure
  • Enlightenment thinkers were about pushing back absolute list control — the binary of state and market was part of their language
  • The Design aware in the R&D magazine traced back to public private
  • Institutional mechanisms
    • Stanford research institute — department of defence contract — Apple SIRI
    • SBIR/STTR — 3 phase program — technological capability / business capability
    • Programs give out 7000 grants a year — firms keep themselves small to remain eligible
    • CRADAs — interdisciplinary groupings
    • When private firms want a serious technological problems solved, they hire government laboratories (the “work for others” agreements in federal laboratories)
  • The Risk-Reward issue
    • The federal R&D spend as a percentage
    • The state market binary means that the benefits of federal efforts are not paid back by the industrial/commercial rates (corporate tax0
    • Consumers pay twice for new drugs, for example, as we pay once as developers (tax money) and then corporate market margins

18th Century political economy does not work in the 21st Century

Gary Fine

  • “It is my chosen role to paint pictures, not to talk about them”
  • The justification of creativity — things placed before us to be assessed
  • “Cold reading” — a reading prior to the artist’s interpretation
  • Artists are already artist — the network, the community, the theoretical infrastructure
    • Reminds of the comment that the job rate for an artist is 100% — when they graduate, they’re artists!
  • “Medium Theory” (pun – about media but also between ‘high and low’)
  • Materiality draws out its evaluation, its justification — participants / critique
  • Failed critiques (?)
    • Making faculty crawl through a wooden tunnel
    • Faith — Christianity
  • MFA critiques — not in the person and not in the object
    • Interesting in terms of digital ‘branding’ — constellation thinking
  • Constituting creativity (requirements)
    • in a material world (the power of what is spoken)
    • into a community (the power of the speaker)
  • Formal systems of judgement for creativity / art
    • market
    • material
    • community…

Stephane Gutzeil

  • Experimental School
  • Studying innovation in a ‘humanistic’ way
  • “First venture capital fund attached to a University in Europe”
  • Bauhaus — informing design practice at Stanford, Black Mountain College,
  • “The men of vision…”
  • Thomas Mann — “conservatism of the future” — conservatism of the future, is serene … it envisions the new placed with
  • Mies Vanderoe
    • “all education must begin with the practical side of life” (fermitas)
    • possible, necessary and desired
  • Gropius versus Corbusier
  • Function is one out of three goals, “in its simplest form, architecture is function”
  • Creating ‘new order’ is the artists task
  • An artist is of continual self sacrifice for the Bauhaus
    • “Art” as imaginative perception
  • Critique of the contemporary avant guard — as the artist is bringing about
  • Critique of Design Thinking — applied, formulaic — Bauhaus did not understand design as potentially a recipe or formula

Harvey Molotch 

  • Cyril Stanley Smith — playfulness — “necessity is not the mother of invention…”
    • Aesthetically motivated investigation (e.g.: Music being the reason we invented math)
    • Love (Steve Jobs, Bruno Latour)
  • Polanyi’s Nice – Eva Zeisel – head of the largest factory in the world in Hungary – arrested for plotting the death of Stalin (Hans Zeisel)
  • To end the dualisms of form and function
  • Transient novelty
  • The Semiotic Handle — “Technology of Enchantment” (Alfred Gell)
  • “A Matter of Taste” – Stanley L. (study of naming)
    • Tastes rise and fall over time…
    • Indigenous and Exogenous forces


  • Happiness (like technology) is not a thing, not a goal, but an effect of other things. The importance of work.
  • That all improvement is self-improvement.  Self-interest. Communalism and ‘the gift.’ Think of the inherent interests of the ‘programmer’ or ‘artists —> the interest in the material, in the obsessive/fetish, etc. How to balance this
  • The difference between innovation, invention — as external or internal to creators / societies / communities
  • Somehow this discussion of Newton and his massive influence — makes it seem that there is a ‘constructed’ world of ideas — everyone reading into and reacting to the system of erudite and enlightened ideas…
  • The invention of privacy
  • How a prototype argues — how a design argues — how an invitation argues
  • Presenting other peoples’ papers — ego removal
  • Inverted Conference — only dinners, then breaks to do work
  • Silicon Valley — collaboration on napkins – the restaurants start giving out bigger napkins
  • The self evidence of what aesthetics can offer??
  • Diffusion of power (in people) by emphasising process
  • The devolution of judgement / critique through online communities
egs readings

computer graphics: a semi-technical introduction – kittler (2001)

Kittler Computer Graphics: A Semi Technical Introduction


  • “The generation of 2000 likely subscribes to the fallacy – backed by billions of dollars – that computer ad computer graphics are one and the same.”
  • “The technolohistorical roots of computer [graphics?] lie not in television, but in radar, a medium of war”
  • Random Access: “Now for the first time in the history of optical media, it is possible to address a single pixel in th 849th row and 720th column directly without having to run through everything before and after it.”
  • The essay will concern itself with synthesis of imagery, not analysis of the visual scenes in photographs — it ‘postpones’ the question of automatic image analysis for symposia on perception to take place not sooner than a decade from now.”  Automatic image synthesis is the concern – as in how computers undertake “optical deception” (not optical perception).
  • Kittler locates in this capacity for deception that which “elevates the medium of the commuter above all optical media in Western history.”
  • “two-fold digitality” – spatial resolution and colour resolution, creates problems:
    1. Three colours are not enough – “it would require non colour canons to even begin to approach the visible spectrum” (nice use of military ‘canons’ to describe, presumably the many ways that colours are produced on CRTs, LCDs…)
    2. Description of spatial coordinates are subject to sample-rate limitations. A hint here of creative possibilities of same, “The sampling effect of Nyquist and Shannon does not just chop flowing curves or forms into building blocks, known among computer graphics specialists as Manhattan-block geometry since American city planners love right angles above all else. Sampling also produces continuous and thus striking forms where the program code never intended any at all.”
    3. Problem of processing complexity (?) as every pixel has an infinite number of possible neighbours … attempts at synthesis and analysis of images based on linear neighbours “tends to be so chaotic, that it is as if perception were regressing to pure sensation a la David Hume or Kaspar Hauser.”

Peano’s Theory of Natural numbers

Ross Ashby

John von Neumann

Heidegger: “in the appearing of things, never do we, either preliminarily or essentially, perceive an onrush of sensations.” (vis Chapels of Extreme Experience…)


Computer graphics –> optical physical media –> the eye

The complete virtualisation of optics, provides optical optic modes limited only in number and complexity by the amount of available RAM.

This brings up the idea and obsession of the ‘optimal’ algorithm for the image. This is not present in photography and film (?) as these “simply did what [they] had to do under the given physical conditions.”

“It is only in the name of impatience that all existing computer graphics are based on ‘idealisations’ — a term that functions here, unlike in philosophy, as a pejorative.” (i.e.: ‘idealisation’ not as an ‘ideal’ to strive for in philosophy but a ‘reduction of reality’ in engineering)

Rilke’s Malte Laurids Brigge

Bodies reduced to surfaces — Hausdorff dimension of 2.37 (neither 2 nor 3 dimensional)

Jurassic Park vs. Hans Holbein’s The Ambassadors

  • Raytracing
    • Axel Roch – military predecession – tracking of enemy planes with radar
    • Alan Watt computer graphics expert
    • 1637 Descartes – light rays that trace refraction and reflections
      • Res cogitans
      • Res extensa
      • Decartes imagined the pathway of a single ray of light ‘as subject’ through a glass blown globe
      • Only possible to implement this kind of recursive, infinite regression of possible paths with the computer
      • “Whenever you encounter a computer image whose shining highlights are a close send to heavenly Jerusalem’ and whose start shadows are a close second to Hell’s, you are dealing with elementary ray tracing.”
  • Radiosity
    • “light energy calculation”
    • Dutch Interior after Vermeer
    • Based on rocket-reentry derived heat diffusion models (Fourier)
    • An algorithm born of necessity, not of “nature” of computer graphics or light
    • “What so called nature can accomplish in nanoseconds with its parallel calculation derives its alleged digital equivalent to overload” (ref programmability of matter)
    • “What you get is what you see. And what you’ve got is a computer chip”

“Locality or specularity is and will always be thhe opposite of globally or diffusion.”


Verterbrate eyes are cones and rods – “what-ness” and “that-ness”

Dennis Gabor – Heisenberg – raytracing and radiosity in Kajiya’s equation as in the spirit of modern physics

Phenomenology – “legein to phainomena,” – “to gather that which appears”

“Projectiles have relegated subject vs object, this simplest of all oppositions, to the grave.”

Dutch Interior after Vermeer 1987 ComputerGraphics

events ideas

Weather Control – Mark Dorrian (2014)

Weather Control - Dubai’s sunny mountain ski-dome as an allegory of the future

Weather of Utopia

  • Chinese weather control – Olympics – weather army
  • Thomas Moore – Utopia – Geoengineering (the radical reconstruction of nature by culture) – Hithledae, Calvino
  • Utopus articulating an acting of geoengineering – making an island, a project that is designed
  • Technical ideas – stress the degree that atmospheric thinking becomes bound to utopic thinking
  • LeCorbusier – exact air, 64.4 deg F – coast of Chile
  • Charles Fourier – Walter Benajmin – Arcades Project
  • Climatalogical mechanism
  • Fourier sees the aurora borealis – seminal emanation
  • Sea of lemonade
  • Labour disappears we loose the alienated condition we currently have
  • – Astor
  • Terrestrial Axis Straightening Company (TASC)
  • Sans Desous les Desous
  • Fantastic Voyage — meteorological engineering
  • Atmo-terrorism — Terror from the Air by Peter Sloterdijk
  • Laputa — magnetic loadstone — magnetic levitation (live through tributes from the people who live below — with threat of weather control)

Owning the Weather

  • Weaponising the weather
  • 1971 – weather control rocketed into popular consciousness
  • NMOD
  • Examine the concepts — dominant air and space force in the future
  • “The world or parts of it are able to shape local weather communities…”
  • If we don’t do it — someone will have to do it for us…

Owning the Weather

  • Rem Koolhaas Delirious New York — culture of congestion
  • Dubai — emergence of similar dreamscape
  • Sprial Jetty — Nakheel Masterplanners of the Universe (branding at a global scale – through the medium of the satellite image)
  • SkyDome — experience dubiland…
  • Buckminster Fuller — domes floating from their own heatscape — Cloud 9
  • Weather is alienation — we need to make nice with the weather before we are able to get everything right
  • Climaticological erotics
  • Environment Bubble
  • The poignancy of air’s subjugation to technology comes from what it stood for before — freedom, openness, etc.
  • Irruguray’s “Forgetting of Air” – Heidegger’s idea of making an opening – air is always there
  • “The Uses and Abuses of Air”

Consuming Climate

  • Interiorisation of the nature — the anthropocene
  • Technological remediation
  • Arctic experiences — not ski slope experiences — why? Purity and external nature (the arctic)
  • Destruction as the pleasure principle

Questions — “The Grass is Always Cleaner” / The Seller of Air 




media readings

Powers Of The Hoard Notes On Material Agency – Jane Bennett (2012)

Jane Bennett Powers of the Hoard Artistry and Agency in a World of Vibrant Matter - video

Hoarding as a speculative account of the active expressive or calling capatiy of thing. 

Hoarders – extreme perception, noticing the “somatic effectivity of objects”, different from the artist as hoarding is ‘undifferentiated’ (whereas artistry is more anthropocentric, and ‘taste based’)

Artists – share some aspects but are not identical (Song Dong – Waste Not, Chardin – The Brioche) 
Spectrums: owner, connoisseur, collector, archivist, packrat, hoarder (objectophile?) 
“The History of Sexuality”, Foucault – the productive power around him

Bergson – perception as a subtractive process – it is selective.  What we do detect is the measure of possible action upon – normal perception is biased toward utility rather than vibrancy 
Heidegger – withdrawal of the thing in utility 
Freud - “the human body longs to return to the efficacy of the inorganic” 
Benjamin – the collector – the human body taking pleasure in the useless – ‘glorification of things’ 
Barthes – advenience instead of glorification – this picture ‘advenes’ that one doesn’t

political economies devoted to overconsumption, planned obscolences…

  • Times/places for psychoses – “Perhaps hoarding is the madness appropriate to us, to a political economy devoted to consumption, planned obsolescence, planned extraction of natural resources, and mountains of discarded waste.”
  • The mad walker of france as a response to the valuation of travel in french culture, and the demonisation of loitering resulting in obsessive 

  • Garbage in the atlantic / pacific ocean – a twenty-first century commons 

three insights that hoarders have (the three hoarder intelligences) 

  • endurance / patience / waiting it out 
    • Spinoza – the ‘speed’ of things 
    • power of slowness – ‘i like rocks, they’re
    • “the human body longs to return to the efficacy of the inorganic”
  • porosity and contagion 
  • inorganic sympathy
    • the philosopher is his/herself also a thing with thing-power
    • act of sympathy and self-recognition
    • dissolving the units of life – besides the instinct to preserve living substance, there must exist another contrary instinct – as well as eros (brings together) there was a instinct of death (Civilizaation’s Discontents – Freud) 
    • death drive – a distinctive form of relationally – “a subteranian sympathy” with the inorganic 
    • utility isn’t the key to hoarding – but neither is it aesthetic – it’s something else
      (usually it’s either utility or aesthetics – but is there another relation?) 
    • Benjamin – taking pleasure in the useless sheer pleasure of thingness – as an act of non-commerciality – deliberate aestheticism
    • Barthes – advenience – might be a better description of the peculiar calling out of the thing 

why we may ignore thingness

  • man as the center of all things – human conceit
    • the philosopher is his/h
  • language is a subject-object – passive objects, active subject grammar
    • poetry is perhaps better served to express powers or things 
    • Shem the Penman hoarder in Finnegan’s wake - Joyce
      • taking all the gross matter of the world and turning into art
      • Bohemian character who, among other things, creates ink from his own excrement
      • “writing the mystery of himself in furniture?”
    • there are some similarities here to claims in ethnographic pursuits around not having a ‘qualitative grammar’ in anthropology (no “language of qualitative method” (Gubrium, J. F., and J. A. Holstein. 1997. The new language of qualitative method. New York: Oxford University Press.)
  • Bergsonian physiology of perception – screening out the vitality of things – bringing to the fore the passive qualities of stuff, as we perceive via utility
“sticky words”
  • transferring the object aspects (slowness, intercorporeal infusion advenience) – into human understandings (imaginative projection, use or aesthetic value 
  • religious practices
  • attention deficit disorder – a preference for lively things over planned / ogranised things
  • paranoia – an over extended receptivity 
  • fetish objects – persistence of ‘lucky charms’ 
  • web marketers – “the call from the data from web page hits as that data swings from useless thing to valuable commodity”


  • the opposite – total minimalists, attuned to the 
  • choice / compulsion
  • Weber – man being seperate from the objects that he or she produces because of capitalism 
  • Warhol – was an obsessive hoarder 
  • Projection into things by people does not exhaust our relations with things – there is a physical quality that remains (inorganic sympathy) that is “hard to talk about without sounding crazy”
  • New York as a Geologic City - Geologic Now
  • broken objects 
  • Charles Taylor – Secular Age – the power of art to reflect how we talk about objects


  • Taussig’s hint that language is related to materiality of things
  • Cadava’s story about Avital Ronnel – “whenever someone tries to conjure up the figure of humanity, someone gets fucked”

Two Lessons on Animal and Man – Simondon (1963)

“Animal life within the area of psychology”

First Lesson


  • There was no different in nature, but only in kind as to the souls of living creature (man, animal, plant)
  • Diogenes Laertius: on a puppy being beaten, “stop it, that is one of my old deceased friends who has been reincarnated as this beast.”
  • Metempsychosis - the transmigration of souls
  • The heuristic of this doctrine of belief is important – that is, what is allows us to learn about ourselves


  • There is identity in the nature of souls 
  • Living creatures vary in the different quantities, not qualities of ‘nous’ 
  • People, plants, animals are a descending scale of ‘strength, detail, and powerful, nous (noumena) 


  • Distinguishes between intelligence and intellect

I Am Also of the Opinion that Materialism Must be Destroyed – Harman (2010)

Graham Harman - I Am Also of the Opinion that Materialism Muse be Destroyed

The Reduction of Objects to Interrelations is bad as it fails to explain change, and fails to explain the appearance of new relations 

I am also of the opinion that Carthage must be destroyed - Cato

The two dichotomous view addressed here are refuted – as two forms of bad materialism: 

  • Undermining
    • science based metaphysics
    • knowledge can make contact with reality lying outside thought 
    • “tears objects down to reveal their deeper physical foundations, as if mocking them from below”
    • universalist tendencies: Pythagoras’ mathematical descriptions, Anaxagoras’ accounts of the homoiomereiai
    • Ladyman, Metzinger, Churchland, Sellars, Laruelle
    • Ladyman and Ross
      • scientism 
      • ‘structure is all there is’
      • resembles noumena to Harman, although they would deny this
      • physics as a special science (universal) versus special sciences which uncover ‘folk’ patterns (geology, sociology, etc.) 
      • “people can think and communicate about extra-representational real patterns but don’t usually try to; scientists often try and succeed in so thinking and communicating”
      • Eddington’s two tables
      • Things appear to relation on different, unconnected levels
      • For Harman the contradiction is: the lucid sphere of human intellection, with a largely formless phyiscal remainder lef over as a ‘realist’ component:  idealism with a realist alibi
  • Overmining
    • Neo-scholasticism - whatever exists is itself, an incommunicable, individual substance
    • “rejects reality of these objects for precisely the opposite reason, denying them any depth beneath the way they are given to us, as if jeering from above”
    • dialectical materialism – where things are fetishes, appearances by us as “manifest image” obsessed creatures 
  • Object Oriented Ontoloty
    • Latour, Whitehead, Zubiri, McLuhan, Lingis
    • The ‘middle way’ of the two above accounts


  • (Humanist?) Philosophy as “a war of competing apriori intuitions”
  • Noting again here the different genres of more- and less- anti-correlationist critiques that arise through realism

Material constraints for language






The Implacability of Things


  • John Plotz’s Portable Property (2008) 
  • Elaine Freedgood’s Ideas in Things (2006)
  • Arjun Appadurai The Social Lives of Things (1986)
  • The Adventures of a Watch
  • The History of a Lady’s Slipper
  • Chrysal
  • Adventures of a Guinea
  • Adventures of a Hackney Coach (1783)
Adorno on Product Design - “Do not knock. – Technification is making gestures in the meantime precise and rough – and thereby human beings. They drive all hesitation out of gestures, all consideration, all propriety [Gesittung]. They are subjected to the irreconcilable – ahistorical, as it were – requirements of things. Thus one no longer learns to close a door softly, discreetly and yet firmly. Those of autos and frigidaires have to be slammed, others have the tendency to snap back by themselves and thus imposing on those who enter the incivility of not looking behind them, of not protecting the interior of the house which receives them. One cannot account for the newest human types without an understanding of the things in the environs which they continually encounter, all the way into their most secret innervations. What does it mean for the subject, that there are no window shutters anymore, which can be opened, but only frames to be brusquely shoved, no gentle latches but only handles to be turned, no front lawn, no barrier against the street, no wall around the garden? And which auto-driver has not felt the temptation, in the power of the motor, to run over the vermin of the street – passersby, children, bicyclists? In the movements which machines demand from their operators, lies already that which is violent, crashing, propulsively unceasing in Fascist mistreatment. Not the least fault for the dying out of experience is due to the fact that things assume a form under the law of their purposiveness which restrict their interaction to mere application, without the surplus – were it that of freedom of behavior, were it that of the autonomy of the thing – which might survive as the kernel of experience, because it is not consumed by the moment of action.” 

Mark Hansen – 2012 Dec 13

Mark NB Hansen 

The Possibility of media forms that don’t address humans at the perceptual level 

Whitehead’s ‘neutral theory of subjectivity’ – all processes in the world – when sensors gather data they are having subjective

  • “perception in the mode of presentational immediacy.”
  • what we need is a new concept of perception - 
  • 21st century media extends our perception – traces, analytics, sensory experience that are not available to conscious awareness
  • toward a non-conscious sensibility 
  • the technical distribution of sensibility – humans should embrace their reliance on systems of data analytics as supplements to their activity 

Person of Interest - The Machine – antiterrorist system – knowledge is impossible, so they have to get involved - surveillance tech. There no interface – the machine has all the information – they are submitting themselves to the data…

Precogs - visions don’t agree with each other – the images are subject to hermeneutic analysis

The Operational Present…

  • Jordan Crandall – the technical transformations calculative ontology of prediction. Technological media – indelibly… sensory. 
    • the experiential paradigm of 21st century media – gathering data that is not available to consciousness
  • Precognitive vocation of networked media
    • Networked capitalism – “networked surplus value” 
    • Nigel Thrift – exploiting marginal advantage “captialism is attempting the huge resevoir as fore-thought – a vital performative element of situations”
    • There needs to be a politics that takes place in the gap between consciousness and media
    • Demonted – Libitz missing half second
  • Cyborg assemblage
    • The missing half second – schmitken 
    • There is no natural agency – the missing half second cannot exist as a self-standing agency
    • “Brain time”
    • Ignoring the technosocial brain-time experiment 
    • There can be no opening up the “small space of time” – it is an originary technical artifact
    • Experiential level of the web is just a surface level for the farming of data
    • Data phase of actualisation ”  
  • The feedforward effect of 21st century consciousness
    • Actuality is conditioned by tendency
    • Consciousness comes to learn that it lags behind its own efficacy 
    • “causal efficacy non-sensuous perception”
  • The pharmacology of 21st century media
    • Thrift – creation of neurophenomological world
    • nonphenomenolisable
    • Stop analysing media as technical structure of consciousness
    • Medialogical modulation – we are not re-engineering the present to expand human agency within the space of that present
    • non-anthropological theory of media

Brain time is not a space of action – systems that analyse behavioral traces 

  • the long circuits of attention - 
  • control of attention in ways that doesn’t even interface with consciousness 
  • the ‘content’ is the lure of the internet – but this doesn’t 
  • return of amateurism – an empty gesture
  • Recorded Future  
  • Lazarato
  • Biometric book – book portions of 
  • Benjamin – shock experience in film – as physiological (appreciates the way film works) 

Olga Goriunova – 2012 Dec 12

The force of digital aesthetics: on memes, hacking and individuation -

Olga Goriunova

  • Influence of the meme on real culture
  • Blue bucket campaign – Russia
  • Memes – “Know Your Meme”
    • ‘astroturfing’ not a forced meme
  • “Asian Father” meme
  • Meme is a system of technical performances 
  • In memetic – taking the human subject out of the picture – the human is replaced by 
  • The most successful meme was memetics itself 

Simondon & Bahktin 

  • Individuation of the becoming of being – oscillation between the individual and the pre-individual
  • Transindividuation – very positive to Stiegler, but in Simondon this has the absolute transformative power through a certain a kind of solitude
  • Theatre of individuation – ontogensis as a spectacular theatre of individuation 
  • … Psychic individuation relies on genuine interiority


  • Wholeness becomes through aesthetics 
  • The process of singularisation (individuation) – is primarily and profoundly aesthetics
  • A whole human being comes from aesthetics
  • The “aesthetic reflex of life” – it is not about representation
  • The emotion singularisation that aesthetics allows creates the body and the soul 
  • “Aesthetics expresses and set in motion through the act”
    • Always on the 
  • Ethico-aesthetics
  • The aethetic confirmation of the act of the production of the world

Towards memes…

  • Stiegler’s reading of this might be negative – as a non-attentional form that disindividuates
  • Technologies have always been a part of individuation – but now it is of a different scale
  • Meme cultures as youth cultures…
  • Raw production that is happening in a public way - 
  • Process of formation of subject – the process of formation and becoming 
  • Katherine Hayles, Jodi Dean – negative reading so the social / memetic 

Rebecca Black’s Friday

  • What do people accomplish by making these mimicries… ?

Nyan Cat - Oiginal Video

  • People watching Nyan Cat for 24hrs… enacting the ‘idiot’ (Deleuzian figure of the idiot – when the idiot searches for the truth in his own private way… The Idiot)
  • “i would prefer not to…’ – Bartelby
  • Certain kinds of discourses 
A particular technoaesthetic form – processual completion that brings the architectonics of a meme into being in the first place 
These are potentially individuating – not just ‘noise’ (political, etc., helping to develop a
4-chan - Gabriella Coleman - the figure of the troll
Technoaesthetics platforms such as 4chan – create memes – which then lead  Meme Center
Dick Hebdige - subcultures – dominant and non-dominant cultures…
  • Practicing of a resistance? 
  • How is this difference from punk? This is different as it is more fluid, changing boundary and scales 
  • Or a cutoff of the subcultures
Aesthetic judgement – “there are certain things that are good and certain things that are bad”
Technical and human infrastructures – aren’t these the same? (Stiegler)
“Playing the network” – having power around 
Proletarian image of the technician – is there a place in this discourse for the technician, the engineer – the systems developers – particularly in the flipping of 4chan – memes – meme generator …. not in terms of origin, but in terms of the technician’s own techno-aesthetic interest or motivation?
Art Platforms – “brilliance” – baktin and simondon to add the aesthetic side of the becoming.  What becoming is 
Creativity is loudest when next to tyranny.  
Agamben / Schozonitzen – concentration camps – that creativity inside youtube is like creativity inside the concentration camps (!?)