gratitude for technology (2009) – baruch gottlieb

Subtitle: Memolography & navigable narrative for the manifestation of the human origns of things in the work of digital media.

Baruch Gottlieb’s Gratitude for Technology Blog



  • Environmental film – oxymoronic. petrochemical origins of celluloid
  • Paradoxes as glaring as they are unresolvable
  • Zielinski: for romantics, electricity was “confirmation that ‘the pulse of humanity is the rhythm of the universe’ an vice versa”
    • “A life proper to matter … a material vitalism that doubtless exists everywhere but is ordinarily hidden or covered.” Electricity scratches the vitalist itch precisely because it involves the operation of matter on iteself 201006112228.jpg
  • Call for a comprehensive “manifestation” (in what ways should this be manifested?) of all the human labour which went into the contemporary media surface
  • Weltanschauung
  • Meanings are in the surface itself
  • Flusser – the power of retrospective chronology: history. “with the invention of writing, history begins, not because wiritn keeps a firm hold on processes, but because it transforms scenes into processes: it generates historical consciousness.” Why Gottlieb is concerned to define history in this way? Concern for ‘truth’ in narrative, constructed nature of all narrative?
  • Facts – spaciotemporal coordinates – HISTORICAL FACT
  • Shatter-space resulting from attempting to navigate (only) chronologically can satisfyingly insufficiently explored with a computer
  • Friedlich Kittler “There is no software”


  • The Human Body in Ideographic Systems
    • form of the human body itself – fundamental substance for the communication of meaning
    • mimeolography – a way of retrieving the relevance of the figure of the human being, exploring the persistent fact of physical body in digital media
  • surface of digital is smooth – no traces of the life labour (physical, conveying meaning, others) who made the surface
  • human figure in ideographs – the generalized ‘citizen’, an ideal person. reminded here of the Le Corbusier Le Modulor and the inscribing of idealized man into architecture (along with his mathematics)
  • hieroglyphics and chinese characters
    • ideogram – expresses ideas
    • logogram – expresses a word
    • phonogram – speech sounds (phonemes)
  • comparison of chinese characters (and their graphic gestalt combination of multiple ideograms to create new concepts) to film montage (Eisenstein). problems with this: #1 there is difficulty in ‘inventorying’ the film image as it is associative of the world outside the frame, suggestive of the whole world. chinese ideograms are more like words than images. #2 cultural dictates are more present in chinese ideograms, images are more loose (albeit framed by mechanized culture / industrialized society).
  • mouth is the most common chinese radical ideogram (used to transliterate foreign words), the presences of a human figure has been historically necessary to make sense of the abstract
  • memeology is about expressing everything through human form – “body language is the only human form of communication which acknowledges, in every semantic instance, the artificiality of representation, and the impossibility of absolute objectivity.”
  • The Human Fact of the Surface
  • “digital media acknowledgement of the people’s lives that went into the technology which produces it”
  • “true meanings of the contents delivered to the screen”
  • scales of production: the intimate enactor of the digital image surface (i.e.: a person on a screen, pornography) and the production mechanisms of technologies (engineers, designers, manufacturing workers)
  • OBJECTLESS GRATEFULNESS as perceptual mode – we need to be grateful to these people on every scale
  • limitations of written language (Flusser) to describe the nature/materiality of digital image – written word precludes the image’s power (why did Gottlieb choose to write a book?)
  • tracing human activity to unearth the earthly materiality (through the body) of digital media
  • OBJET PHILOSPHIQUE – “a kind of novelty objcet for the learned households of the dawn of the age of electricity. Something like a primitive plasma ball or electroscope, the ‘objet philosophique’, essentially a scientific instrument converted for dmoestic purpose, was not art, but state-of-the-art, it existed simply for the owner to contemplate the nature of electricity itself” (write Gottlieb about this – would like to get a ref)
  • Mimeology + Navigable Narrative
  • Imperfectionism
  • Zielinski – Variantology – an-archeological genealogies – imperfectionistically rigorous – multi-linear narrative is most effective interface between digital representation and material reality
  • Jon Jost – Speaking Directly (1973) – every critique using technology cannot but legitimize the technology used to make the critique
  • Dialectic of Enlightenment, ‘The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception’ – the homogeneousness of discursive flow. “Any direct challenge to technology, using technology is only vanityAdornoHorkheimerHabermasbyJeremyJShapiro2.png
  • Jost is aware of ‘the world’ being what he’s trying to show, outside the frame of media (ecology of technologies supporting filmic production) – uses a voice over to talk through the un-shown elements which technologizes, uses the internal mechanisms of film to try and critique it.
  • Gottlieb wants to get out of this trap – methods: Mimeology and Navigable narrative – not flattening, not ex-plaining, dynamic, real-time. (At this point in the book – I cannot wait to find out more about these methods…)
  • McLuhan – “archetypal cesspool” created by the changing of the culture world by media – we get nostalgic about prior media
  • Most media is historically positioned to be understandable (HTML is like a book with links, videogames are like cinema but interactive, cinemae is like theatre). Gottlieb thinks this limits appreciation of the force and potential for exploding meanings of digital media
  • Ryoki Ikeda – Datagram – clean, harsh, stark, data.
  • Mimeology – fleshy, messy, shrinking image of man in the digital media world
  • Mass Human Materiality
  • Kierkegard – “you are like the man who collected a fee for exhibiting a ram in the afternoon, which in the forenoon could be seen gratis grazing in the open field”
  • “imaging” and “image”. the osaka bull is not a ‘picture’ but the result of messages, protocols from sensors – coherency of the image is instrumentalskawata.jpg osakaBull.jpg
  • like the electron-microscope we probe the digital media surface for the fragments of human experience stored there (relational, political, economic, cultural)
  • pace (preposition): with due respect to…
  • Marx – the machine stores knowledge of the worker as well as saps meaning from labour. Marx’s emphasis was on distribution, not on human relatinoships
  • contemporary complexity of hardware software work instruments
  • a note (again) about the impossibility of encyclopedic cataloguing of all the human relationships that underly the digital media surface
  • The Origina of Things in Human Hands
  • Labour is a matrix of relations where all classes are implicated. Labour includes affective (mood, emotion) labour. Michael Hardt‘s labout of reproduction/love. Sara Ruddick “Appreciation of Love’s Labour”.
  • Take into account all labour – including labour of reproduction, mothering, geek hackers, black-market organ traders – all implications of product, including product consumed by the producer (as in a subsistent farmer)
  • Syntax of the Human Form
  • Limitation of mimeography – gravity, syntax, difficulty of visual fidelity (“another paradigm of fidelity is being explored”)
  • Gravity –> verticality –> movement –> time
  • Mimeolographic proportion is related to the amount of human activity in something – not to it’s scale. I.e.: An industrial surface is made up of matrices of human activity, having transformed matter to make the surface.
  • Eschewing the emergence of fiction, mimeolography first embodies facts through body syntax
  • Something here about mime from Serres that I don’t understand: “The organic genesis gives to artificial reproduction the term expressing vitality and imitation of artifacts.”
  • Excursus 1: The Origin of this Text (my favorite bit so far)
  • “The forming of the five sense is a labour of the entier history of the world down to the present” – Karl Marx
  • An incredibly satisfying social/material history of the paper on which Gottlieb’s text is written: paper, Canadian lumberjacks, paper mills and business models, chainsaws, metalic blades, factories powered by arabian oil – seems APPRECIATIVE
  • Flusser – paper, literacy and the rise of revolutionary europe – polical sense of history through alphabet. Text, literature creates history – it kills myth and magic
  • Nice passage: “The day the man who stirred the vat of carbon and polymer which became this ink on this page, is remembered tinily in every letter and bit of punctuation. That unique and irreplaceable day, the day the labourer drew the crude from the sands that would make that polymer, many months earlier, his farther dies, is in the letters on this page, and so is almost every other story, if we want, all at once.” “Without acknowledging all these stories… we will never find meaning in the age of micro-production.”
  • Sorge as the quatity of human life in labour
  • Whitman: Ah little recks the labourer – How near his work is holding him to God – The loving Loving Labourer through space and time. workislovemadesolid.jpg
  • Heidderger’s Sorge, Besorgen, Fursorge (general terminology)
    • Sorge, ‘care’, is ‘properly the anxiety, worry arising out of apprehensions concerning the future and refers as much to the external cause as the inner state’ (DGS, 56). The verb sorgen is ‘to care’ in two senses: (a) sich sorgen um is ‘to worry, be worried about’ something; (b) sorgen für is ‘to take care of, see to, provide (for)’ someone or something.
    • Besorgen has three main senses: (a) ‘to get, acquire, provide’ something for oneself or someone else; (b) ‘to attend to, see to, take care of’ something; (c) especially with the perfect participle, besorgt, ‘to be concerned, troubled, worried’ about something. The nominalized infinitive is das Besorgen, ‘concern’ in the sense of ‘concerning onself with or about’ something.
    • Fürsorge, ‘solicitude’, is ‘actively caring for someone who needs help’, thus: (a) ‘welfare’ organized by the state or charitable bodies (cf. BT, 121); (b) ‘care, solicitude’.
    • The concepts are distinct in that Sorge pertains to Dasein itself, Besorgen to its activities in the world, and Fürsorge to its being with others.
    • Da-sein is a term used by Heidegger to refer to being which understands its own being. Da-sein is conscious being, and is the kind of consciousness which belongs to human beings.
  • Narrativity of materials – is this anthropomorphic?
  • How the human relations of materials should be manifest spelled out here: they should be manifest in human labour and attention. (recursive?) Is this phrase ambiguous?: “I believe it is necessary to work to make manifest the origins of the things around us in human labour and attention.”
  • Mimeolography and Navigable Narrative as resistance in the electronic circuit of techno-economy. Resistance emits heat (human warmth) into the circuit of the global techno-economy. In this analogy – what drives the circuit (battery?)? What is being driven (electrons?)?
  • Human Scale
  • Flusser and Virilio (Open Sky)
  • Post-literate culture will have a new Illuminati, which returns to image, but without the physicality of that image, instead based in mathematics.
  • Abstracting to mathematics loses the body, loses scale.
  • Virilio is nostalgic about nature, reality – the speed of light eradicates the idea of the real. Even our ideas have lost their sense of scale.
  • Digital systems are weightless, thin: “Like a woman worried about putting on weight, reality seems to apolgize for having a relief, any kind of thickness.”
  • Post-human sense of scale is infinite – mind and body fuse, augmented by power and network


  • Mere Things and the Structure of Experience
  • Hegel’s ‘night of the world’ –
    • The human being is this night, this empty nothing, that contains everything in its simplicity—an unending wealth of many representations, images, of which none belongs to him—or which are not present. … One catches sight of this night when one looks human beings in the eye—into a night that becomes awful (Hegel, Jenaer Realphilosophie, 1805-6)
  • Our claims of subject knowledge – things emerge from the neigh of the world at the same time as the self. Gottlieb is making the point here that things only exist in terms of the self –
  • “We can only ever know that which is connected with human activity. All things are stories. If they are not stories they are nothing. We need stories in order to order things in a cosmology of things.
  • Grapheme and the Word
  • images belong to the mythic – chinese / egyptian alphabet – the alphabet disrupts this unity of ‘thing’ and its ‘descriptor’, but not consumately
  • Foucault – The Order of ThingsprefaceOrderFoucault.pdf (1966 – Les Mots et les choses – Words and Things) Las_Meninas_01.jpg
    • Language, at the End of the Renaissance was no longer about describing the world
    • Break down of the previous interwoven nature of the ‘seen’ and the ‘read’, the ‘visible’ and the ‘expressible’
  • Gottlieb suggests that (in our interwoven systems of power grids and data networks) we can now begin to think of the value of a thing existing as pre-human, non-verbalized. We now desire to return to the (McLuhan / Flusser) mythicism of old, in search of the ‘mere thing’ that has not be named or narritivized.
  • Weird note at the end about quantum mechanics – where there are no things, and language dissolves into mathematical code
  • Meaning and Story
  • Heidegger’s ‘mereness’ – things not invested with meaning through human activity are connoted negatively (utilitarian / pragmatic). Gottlieb thinks animals are also ‘mere’ in this sense (we know all we can ever know about their intellectual lives? Is this true? Alex the parrot)
  • Zizek on Hegel’s ‘night of the world’ (the world of ‘mereness’)
    • Zizek on Orson Wells – “it stands for the dimension of primordial density of matter, out of which definite objects (temporarily) emerge.”
  • Meaning comes through narrative – things lose their ‘mereness’ in this way
  • Mereness = truth before meaning
  • Mereness = possession by a mere human (with no language)
  • So… there are two ways out of mereness for an object:
    • To be given meaning – fact is formulated through language and becomes meaning
    • To be possessed by an un-narrated (mere) human – identity of it is fused with the mere owner
  • Also… there transition from mereness to meaning for an object is never complete
    • The totality of the truth of a thing can never be known
    • “… from the mereness of the thing, some part is scooped away into the vessel of meaning”IMAG0541.jpg
  • This mere human is a usefull semantic tool for the telling of the story of technolgy – a pre-linguistic human
  • Latin in Christianity as a way of collecting truth – through God’s with that Latin should spread across the globe. “all languages compressed into an atomic truth”
  • Instead of Latin, mimeology uses the human form. This roots communications in shared experience – one can only speak of this world with bodies rooted in this world.
  • God – directly accessible – inside every person is a mere person. Only available through imagining their loss.
  • Getting to a description of Navigable Narritive here: “computer based database modeling and traversal paradigms may offer access to the perceptual paradigm to be enterprised.” Also, a VIRTUOUS goal is to “coalesce relatedness or coherence from an excessive and uncontainable wealth of human information.”
  • Last note here about the Navigable Narrative goal above – that this is a virtuous purpose to which our “much vauted automated data processors can be employed.” Is there an attempt here to make ‘mere’ the automated data processors? I.e.: how is “much vaunted” connoted here?
  • Project and Program
  • Machines realize any design – energetically realised – hence are freeing devices
  • Moral/ethical judgement on the messages actually transmitted by these freed-up machines – not living up to their potential
  • Noisy communications are spewing from automated communication machines, resulting in thoughtless reception. Absent-minded examination Benjamin – Work of Art… : 2630564033_d1bb03c53e.jpg
    • “[T]he ability to master certain tasks in a state of distraction proves that their solution has become a matter of habit. Distraction as provided by art presents a covert control of the extent to which new tasks have become soluble by apperception. Since, moreover, individuals are tempted to avoid such tasks, art will tackle the most difficult and most important ones where it is able to mobilize the masses. Today it does so in the film. Reception in a state of distraction, which is increasing noticeably in all fields of art and is symptomatic of profound changes in apperception, finds in the film its true means of exercise. The film with its shock effects meets this mode of reception half-way. The film makes the cult value recede into the background not only by putting the public in the position of the critic, but also by the fact that at the movies this position requires no attention. The public is an examiner, but an absent-minded one”
    • Benjamin concerned here about profound changes in aperception (the mental process by which a person makes sense of an idea by assimilating it to the body of ideas he or she already possesses) wrought by media (film in this part of his argument.
    • Interesting that this passage is from a part of Benjamin’s text that points to a new kind of attention-making – tactile appropriation. Benjamin draws here on our perception and approrpiation of architecture (as a fundamental and consistent human art form – we always need shelter), which are appropriated by use and perception. He points to optical reception as necessary/connected to ‘contemplation’.
    • Benjamin wants to find modern sites where Erlebnis turns into Erfahrung.
  • FlusserVF-Bildarchiv-032.jpg
    • “image” is the wrong word – all computed image is interpreted code, processed abstraction, projection (Flusser) or project (Gottlieb)
    • OBJECT <–> IMAGE <–> TEXT <–> NUMBER (digital images as objects?)
    • layers of abstraction – digital images are projections out of abstraction into concretion (i.e.: there are alternatives – it is a live process)
  • Heiddeger – geworfenheit – thrownness
  • Manovich – content and conveyance ARE THE SAME in a computer (variables, memory, operations)
  • Gottlieb – this results in a flattening – “The equanimity of computers wears off on us. The computer does not know the difference between a photo of a pile of human corpses and a recipe for cheesecake, or the recording of a baby’s first words. The creative potential of the digital revolution of flattening is even more exponential that that of simple physical flattening. It is often claimed the possibilities are literally endless.” Invocation of neuroscience at the end – “Now we can begin to see how the destiny of the human organism is to increasingly shed its cumbersome physical form and merge electrically with the unceasing data flows of augmented human intercourse.”
  • Image as program means we are being programmed (in the same way that language, culture program us)
  • Part of this is a diminution of revolutionary sensibilities, tranquilizing – energy is used for surrender in a in a culture of absent-minded, over-noised, examiners.
  • “Everyone must show that he wholly identifies himself with the power which is belabouring him.” (Adorno – Dialectic of Enlightenment) – e.g.: Actual human men identifying with and hence further becoming Homer Simpson the cartoon character.
  • We can look at the negative material-ethic of film (e.g.: industrial, chemical, labour) but we can also claim that humanist ideals have been programmed into hardware – ludic labour (abolition of work). Either way there is a human intentionality in the technical image. (Contrast with earlier passage: “It goes without saying that the machine is indifferent to the task it is made to do.”)
  • Schirmacher (Cloning Humans with Media)
    • “It is called information technology, communication, media or internet, and its core activity is cloning humans.”
    • “the global village [has shown] itself as an ethical world beyond the petty distinction between hardware and software.”
    • “…media clones humanity on a daily basis. Talk shows and chat rooms provide a media group therapy which lets even the weirdest people feel like everyone else: : This is you — under different circumstances”
    • some of this is positive – “So we certainly should be grateful for the cloning done by media, but we have to get more experience in perceiving our imperceptible actions of true humanity. In ethical life humanity fulfills itself, of which we are vaguely aware and which we need to forget at once. Pushing hard for this forgetting is media’s strongest claim.”
  • This technological/information cloning may push us into the ‘good life behind our backs’ – but we must have sight of a long term, extraterrestrial, post-human plan.
  • Similarly, Verrilio (my translation): “Science cannot simultaneously look for another planet to colonize while telling us we have to save this one.”
  • The Matrix – our children (technological or human) will assert their autonomy of the figure of the human
  • Micro-Production
  • Nice evocative passage again about the material of writing the book itself – microproduction steps passing from typing on the keyboard, to microsensors reading the key presses, to translations in the operating system, etc. – each a step of microprocessing (read: microproduction) in the creation of value. Flussers abstraction from number to text to image to object and back again in action?
  • The force of microproduction is one of contraction and expansion. E.g.: the letter ‘I’ is infinitessimally small but blown up for
  • Bottomless Well  bottomless well - energy density and order.jpg bottomless well - power density.jpg bottomless well - microprocessor power.jpg
  • More methodology: “I have decribe the project at hand…. a manifestation of the legacy of human activity responsible for the digital media surface”
  • Apparently for this we need quantum physics and lots and lots of math = Navigable Narrative. Allowing perspective repositioning at any time.
  • Excursus 2: No Alternative
  • Berlin squats as R&D for future urban scenarios (that’s why the authorities don’t re-appropriate the territory)
  • “Radical anarchism is and will always be an elite idealism parasitic on a more pragmatic one” – necessarily hypocritical. There is no fundamental critique possible within any system.
  • McLuhan – The Angries – “it has always been the role of the intelligencia to act as the liaison and as mediators between old and new power groups…. And it is precisely this role of confidential clerk to the tycoon – commercial, military or political – that the dcuator has continued to play in the Western world until the present moment.”
  • THE BIG QUESTION: “Is another conceptual paradigm possible which accepts the techno-scientific modus operandi of contemporary society yet diverges or shifts it’s fundamental principles?”
  • Gratitude for Technology
  • Justice is the first virtue of social institutions, as truth is of systems of thought”
  • The difference of the digital: “New media may look like meia, but this is only the surface.” Manovich:
    • “This perspective is important, and I am using it frequently in this book; but it is not sufficient. It can’t address the most fundamental new quality of new media which has no historical precedent – programmability. Comparing new media to print, photography, or television will never tell us the whole story. For while from one point of view new media is indeed another media, from another is simply a particular type of computer data, something which is stored in files and databases, retrieved and sorted, run through algorithms and written to the output device. That the data represents pixels and that this device happened to be an output screen is besides the point. The computer may perform perfectly the role of the Jacquard loom, but underneath it is fundamentally Babbage’s Analytical Engine – after all, this was its identity for one hundred and fifty years. New media may look like media, but this is only the surface.”
  • “With no differentiation between content and conveyance, we are bound to the implicit electrical agenda of our technology which is to be explored through its materiality.”
  • Digital media is too far from labour relaties – mining prior generations’ “unconditional” (?) bequeathment of technology on to us. Are these gifts really unconditional?
  • Gratefulness as a mode – “acknowledges the good with the bad in human relations over history which made possible the technology we use everyday”
  • Mimeology with Navigable Narrative is an “implementation of automation worthy of its power and of its promise” (it = digital media surface)
  • Intellectuals cannot solve the essential problems – the systems and social matrices subvert any radical alternatives through implication through propagation
  • Material engagement (implicating all the Sorge and human narratives) would bring tehcnological progress to a crawl
  • Antonioni’s Il Deserto Rosso:antonioni red desert.jpg
    • [Giuliana] …must confront her social environment. It’s too simplistic to say – as many people have done – that I am condemning the inhuman industrial world which oppresses the individuals and leads them to neurosis. My intention… was to translate the poetry of the world, in which even factories can be beautiful. The line and curves of factories and their chimneys can be more beautiful than the outline of trees, which we are already too accustomed to seeing. It is a rich world, alive and serviceable… The neurosis I sought to describe in Red Desert is above all a matter of adjusting. There are people who do adapt, and others who can’t manage, perhaps because they are too tied to ways of life that are by now out-of-date.”
    • Starts in the responsibility for making one’s own reason to live – but devolves according to Gottlieb into a materialistic (not materialist), individualist and commercial themes.
  • Mimeology with Navigable Narrative as a generative, ever shifting memorial, testament and celebration of the generation of labour around the world whose Sorge, made for any individual media message to appear, cultivates gratitude for technology in the person contemplating it. This gratitude will accompany and comfort our civilization through the discomforting revelations and awkward accommodations we will have to make to improve the human relationship inhere in every stage of technological production.


  • Database
  • Manovich again: The painting was refuge for the modern, the film for the post-modern, the navigation of data space for the “subject of the information society”
  • Processing and calculation is at the heart of any computer – mathematics determines the character of all media, and is required to make media consumable by a person
  • Manovich “Soft Cinema” & Chantonsky “Fiction Variable”
    • Problems of narrative in database drive systems – “variable chronology tends to flatten out its dramatic curve and tends to make the experience infomational”
    • Strategies – 3rd person narrative, heavily rhthmic repetitions of still images and soundtrack
    • Still emotionally flat
    • Invoking effort? “Coherence or nonsense take the same amount of effort for the CPU – and the audience can sense this.” (Liveness – Auslander?)
  • Data Visualization – art through design, narrative conventions for data modelling
  • Montage as global scale correlation – between personal data and global data. The interface becomes radical to the individual user
  • Varying points of view are important – multiplicity of potential angles
  • “… the strife and struggle and striving of the wolrd may be seen to become a lava lamp. The interconnected lives involved in the hard systems of production which are responsible for the luminous screen, effortlessly recomposited in every shifting constellation of whispers and sighs, songs and scream and grunts and groan and cries.” Yeowch.
  • Frames and Screens
  • The nature of text on the screen, the data nature of it, is as image (i.e.: as rendered image). To protect from a burning fire…
  • Synthesized versus sampled media
  • Screens with higher refresh rates make people look younger? “After optimized computer graphics, no worldly phenomena looks better on a screen than a young athlete at the peak of their abilit.”
  • We ‘frame’ arguments – window, screen, frame
  • Monitor/screen – the screen is protecting us from the events going on in the box – monitoring various processes (admonish, warn, advise)
  • The 1025th pixel
  • Augmented architecture
  • “Round or square, a frame of digital media still frames a screen, and encloses the digital media discourse with it immanent factual materiality.”
  • Digital Narrativity
  • All things are memory
  • Matrices of human experience
  • Only computers can tell stories like this – “It has come to the point where the material itself must tell us what it means for us to understand its presence in our life”
  • Speed of light contours of narrative matriceshypercube.gif
  • Navigable database – the design/art going into the “powerful” algorithms used for modelling the amoung of a “story element” perceivable from a position in the narrative structure. Spontaneous correlation of these “story elements” into narrative will be produced.
  • GUI
  • Narratives were once hypertext based – text prompts leading to story elements
  • Video and audio interfaces allow more intuitive navigation through narrative (Is this true/consistent? I.e.: If text makes historical thought, of a certain kind – narrative? – possible, then what is more ‘intuitive’ than text? What does intuitive mean in this context?)
  • The graphical user inteface can have physical interface – but the importance here is that the control surface is an image
  • More Manovich: “Instead of staying on its surface, we expect to go into the image… “
  • New media design is about balancing/combining the dual role of an interface as image and as a tool for computer control. Is the image not also the expansion of data? i.e.: A particular representation of a state within the computer, as discussed?
  • “Image informations begin to merge with text information which is accessed intuitively” (understand or work out by instinct)
  • Mimeolographic Navigable Narrative – fairly concrete description here – “the database of human gesture will be cross-referenced and recombined depending on user-side sensor data, or by generative algorithms” (Generative algorithms? this is new…)
  • Weird thing at end about celebrity and facebok being the result of GUIs ‘working’
  • Story as Atom
  • Jacques RanciereThe Politics of Aesthetics
    • In the aesthetic age – fact and fiction have the same ‘effect’ in the wolrd
    • This is possible because the arrangements and conditions described in fiction the same as those in the world
  • “Media sculpture of the massively human phenomena responsible for it”
  • Poetic in the Aristotelian sense of being creative, productive and having real effects in the world.
  • No decapitation through close ups – a deeper psychology of human-natural science
  • Technology is so complex – no one person understands very much – we are fearful of it’s possibilities, tend to limit it in case it will crash of malfunction
  • Overloading linear circuits – Navigable Narrative remains “a solemn precipitate of techno-industrial culture”
  • Deep Human of the Media
  • Serres’ L’incandesence – chronopedia (chronophysics?) – All that we have learnt as a species comes from the measurement of time (The computer is just a fancy clock)
  • Ellipses and compressions of time are expendable, now that there is a computation grid of time to which we are all subject
  • Radical Transparency – give everyone everything at once and let the audience judge for themselves (See-Through CEO – wired)
  • Flusser (Thinking about Nomadism – 2003) – we have grossly compressed the period of history (for example) between the big bang and the dawn of man. What if we look at all history with equal attention?
  • Stephen Jay Gould (Planet of Bacteria – 1996) – decompressing a drop of crude oil to condense the proto-narrative from the bacteria that decomposed the carboniferous substance to the machine that created this book…
  • Siegfried Zielinski (Deep Time of Media – 2006) –
    • Greek Gods of time – Chronos, Aion and Kairos
    • Chronos is the rhythm of the earth
    • Aion is long term – geological time, multiple lifetimes,
    • Kairos is immediate time – sports and self-help, instant gratification and opportunism
  • Criticism of posthumanism as still depending on the material reality of the computer – production of the technology
  • Lava lamp, oracle, touchstone, totem – a reckoning of human endeavour intrisic to the state of the art
  • Toaster Project – Thomas Thwaites – £1000 self-made toaster. (Image credit to D. Alexander)theToasterProject_image1_highRes_PhotoCredit-Daniel_Alexander-763641.png
  • Coda
  • Sean Cubbitt: Marx – machines are ‘dead labour’. Maori – machines/tools are media through which our ancestors are teaching us something
  • Contradiction – technologies liberate, but they also (materially) enslave
  • Leisure class advances come at the cost of “problematically deep” symbiosis between them and the underpaid, forced, slave labour
  • Technology is contradictory – tools and tool maker, record and record makek
  • The panapoly of Sorge contibutors may be criticized as ‘noise’ – but it is sensational noise, touch noise, emotional noise (hence should be conceived of differently?)
  • On the universality of human rights:
    • Navigable Narrative through Mimeology is resistance in a digital circuit, a turbine made of flesh and bone
    • Artwork as parasite – saps energy from the prevaling hierarchies of production and creates an all embracing model of human value
    • Wealthy nations hlive with daily conflict – “material conflict in the very material surfaces of our modenity”
    • Digital creatives – paradoxically – creating socially conscious products and ideas via state of the art tech. Imaginary emancipation.
    • Tin replaces led in electronic parts and North Kivu in Congo errupts in civil war over cassiterite
    • UDHR Universal Declaration of Human Rights – is there self detemination for all? Does universal humanity exist? (Zizek would say this is in place so we can continue to oppress people, as in enumerating these rights we can then suspend them. Laws which are made to be broken/suspended, in times of terror/crisis)
    • Levinas – care for all humans beings equally, living or dead – requires a rethinking of historic time, leadership, celebrity, nations…
  • Toward a Political Economy of the Smallest Things
    • We want to compile all the necessary information and act ethically upon it – but this impossibility produces a crisis
    • Jorge Luis BorgesOn Exactitude in Science (map territory relation) could be levied as a criticism. In trying to locate this narratives, would be trying to represent territory with a map of exact scale? I.e.: What’s the point? The stories are all there?
    • “In this case, the topology is exponentially larger than the territory to be described”
    • “The smallest things have the highest concentration of narrative per surface area” – leptons and the millions of lives that went into the Large Hardron Collider
    • Sub-atomic particles are not things – they are Deleuzian subjects existing in vibration – they are Flusserian projects
  • If We Imagine Our Identities
    • Japanese claim each grain of rice in their bowls is a god – to be honored in the eating – merging energies with the rice (buddhism)
    • Digital flattening points to a flattening of the self – a universality, which is “suspiciously European” (International courts – UDHR / ICC / Crime against Humanity also Eurocentric)
    • Names make “people” in the conventional sense (independent, subject to laws, etc.)
    • “Every work in the language refers to our ordinary perception” (1928) Niels Bohr
    • Language fails, we use images – which signals a return to the “mythically immanent auditory populations” (Flusser / McLuhan)
    • Now we have techno-images, where text and image are the same, which we worship/adore
    • The masses are historically literate, but the elite are mathematically/programmatically literate
    • Techno-images are projections, the are not the world (as preliterate images were)
    • The materiality of the project is a database of Sorge narratives
    • “The techno-images is as much apparatus as image”

Other Notes:

  • The inherent challenge of books that seem to be based on practice (i.e.: the making of the ‘database’, the ‘gui’)… you can’t experience these “works” being alluded to.
    (Even if you do experience it, all works are, of course, of a time – a man cannot step in the same river twice, as it’s never the same river and never the same man. Reminds me of Nietzche’s going on about Wagner)
  • For an english edition, why keep quotes in their native tongues, when the endnotes are so inaccessible?


  • June 13, 2010 - 1:33 am | Permalink

    very much enjoying reading this resumé 🙂

  • June 13, 2010 - 9:20 am | Permalink

    hey B – thanks! i’m doing little review on your G for T – making my way through it now… more to come today! glad for your comments here. (i’m starting at EGS this summer, August.)

    was actually wondering if you had a reference for that objet philosophique idea (the romantic/victorian notion of an in-home contemplation object) specific to electricity/electric power? i’m imagining some Tesla-designed orb, but would love to hear about specific designs, uses, etc… the whole notion is very ‘up my alley’. 😉

  • June 13, 2010 - 2:16 pm | Permalink

    ah! I had wondered why someone had suddenly taken to my book with such assiduity 🙂

    quickly, regarding objets philosophiques, there are many, mini tesla balls included, here are some examples (scroll down a bit)
    in my taxonomy “manifestation” usually refers to a performance, or media display, something to allow the phenomena in question to be manifestly publicly available

    re: virtuous purpose of Navigable Narrative: Computers, we are promised, will solve every intractable problem which humanity experiences. I advocate that the most ethical use of massive computer resources available today will be to calculate the body history of it’s (the computer’s) own genesis; allowing us to parse the constellation the myriad nameless participants who’s Sorge culminates in the luminous surface of an active computer display.

    re: Flusser Digital image is not an object , it is a pro-ject!


  • June 13, 2010 - 9:26 pm | Permalink

    thanks again! might shoot you an email at some point soon – get some inside scoops…

  • June 15, 2010 - 11:13 am | Permalink

    sure anytime.

    btw the Toaster Project was by Thomas Thwaites (only the image credit to D. Alexander should be preserved).

    also, I think” the machine is indifferent to the task it is made to do”, is a bit unfortunately expressed… the machine is indifferent to what it is made to do, it implements the Sorge in its genesis unselectively to whatever it is applied.

    As I am currently preparing the 2nd edition of this book, I would be very grateful to confer with you briefly about your critical experience of reading it.

    Finally, do you mind if I link to this page in order to give people a compressed overview of some of the issues in the book?

  • June 15, 2010 - 4:56 pm | Permalink

    thanks B – corrected attributions. this blog is really just notes-to-self… but you’re welcome to link if that doesn’t seem like a bad thing.

    i’ve marked up a copy of the book which i think grabs a lot of the spelling mistakes and such – so i can send you those notes at some point if you’d like. happy to help as time allows…

    speaking of which – are you in Korea?

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