Posts Tagged ‘Haraway


Burnett’s How Images Think

Ron Burnett

How Images Think

Area: Digital Media


·                  MRIs and image quality: many issues arise in the relationship between images and diagnosis

·                  Middle space: combines the virtual and the real into an environment of visualization that has the potential to displace conventional notions of subjectivity

Xiv: “How Images Think explores the rich intersections of image creation, production, and communication within this context of debate about the mind and human consciousness.  In addition, the book examines cultural discourses about images and the impact of the digital revolution on the use of images in the communications process.”

Xviii: “However, a great deal of intelligence is being programmed into technologies and devices that use images as their main form of interaction and communications.  The screens that mediate the relationships humans have to the technologies that surround them have become increasingly sophisticated both in texture and detail as well as in content and what can and cannot be done with them.  I use the term image to refer to the complex set of interactions that constitute everyday life within image-worlds.”

Chapter 6: Humans—–Machines

·                  Rather than thinking about human and machine as a collapse, think of it as a convergence

·                  Computers have the capacity to talk to each other

·                  What do “listen” and “talk” mean with computer-computer communication?

·                  Humans transform machines into surrogates

125: “Communications networks to some degree are about autonomous relationships developed and maintained by machines with connections that are generally sustained without too much human intervention.  Of course, machines do not literally speak to each other.  They do communicate although the assumption is that humans mediate the interchange.  However, a great deal takes place that is not governed by humans even if they may have been the progenitors of the interaction.”

126: Can a machine feel pain? “On the one hand, computers are related to as if they have no bodies. On the other hand, when a hard disk crashes and wipes out its ‘memories,’ it also takes something from the humans who may have used it.”

Chapter 8: Computer Games and the Aesthetics of Human and Nonhuman Interaction

·                  There is intelligence in the game, but the question is does the game know?

·                  Technology has always been mapped into and onto human bodies

·                              And…human bodies have always been mapped into and onto technology

·                  Customization is the game

·                  Even though open source may be messy, writing code appears to be the most concrete of activities

·                  When playing video games, there are actually very few choices.  The “trick” to winning is to figure out the limitations

170: “The computer is a trope, a part-for-whole-figure, for a world of actors and actants and not a Thing Acting Alone.  Computers cause nothing, but the human and nonhuman hybrids troped by the figure of the information machine remake worlds.” (Haraway)

171: “Latour suggests that machines and humans form a collective and are continuously acting together in an associative chain of relationships that is only interrupted as people move to different levels of complexity in the process.”

175:  “Current frameworks for developing technological products reflect a limited conception of their role.  In designing such a product, the emphasis is placed on what can be preconceived about its use, as expressed in its functional specification, its optimization to meet specific functional needs, and the evaluation of its performance by predetermined metrics.  This perspective on design is not sufficient to address the agenda of cognitive technology; it takes too little account of the interaction between a technology, its users, and its environment.” (Beynon)

177: “When an individual says something to a friend and he or she responds, there is not direct way to fully comprehend all the intentions that governed the communication.  Instead, both parties agree by convention, habit, and the desire to understand each other that, to a certain degree, the gaps between them will not affect the content f the exchange.  Although the gaps are present, they are part of the process.  Awareness of the gaps, however, pulls the process of communications into a netacommunication, where individuals must develop an awareness of what works and what doesn’t.  They also have to be aware of the constraints that the gaps introduce into every part of the exchange.  It is the combination of exchange, awareness, and communications that produces additional spaces of interaction and conversation—these are third spaces that can only be examined by looking at all parts of the exchange.” (Bateson)


Haraway’s Cyborg Manifesto

Donna Haraway, “A Cyborg Manifesto”
Area: Digital Media

•    Blasphemy has always required taking things very seriously
o    Irony is about humor and serious play.  It’s also a rhetorical strategy
o    At the center of my ironic faith, my blasphemy, is the image of the cyborg
•    Boundary between science fiction and social reality is an optical illusion
•    We are all chimeras—theorized and fabricated hybrids of machine organisms
o    This is our cyborg ontology
•    Pleasure of the confusion of the boundaries
•    The cyborg is a creature in a post-gender world
o    It skips the step of identification in the traditional Western sense
•    Forming wholes from parts—doesn’t expect completion in a finished whole
o    Or, through a heterosexual mate
•    Pre-cybernetic machines always had the spectre of the ghost in the machine
o    They couldn’t achieve man’s dream, only mock it: they were caricatures of that masculinist reproductive dream
•    The boundary between the physical and the non-physical is very imprecise
•    Cyborgs are about consciousness—or its simulation
•    None of “us” have any longer the symbolic or mental capability of dictating the shape of reality to any of “them”
•    Ironically, MacKinnon’s ontology constructs a non-subject, a non-being
o    Another’s desire, not the self’s labor, is the “origin” of woman
•    It’s not just that god is dead; so is the goddess
•    Translation of the world into a problem of coding, a search for a common language in which all resistance to instrumental control disappears
•    We’re not dealing with technological determinism, but with a historical system depending upon structured relations among people
•    The task is to survive diaspora
•    Perhaps, ironically, we can learn from our fusions with animals and machines how not to be Man, the embodiment of Western logos
Critical moments in the text (pagination not aligned with original)
1: “A cyborg is a cybernetic organism, a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social reality as well as a creature of fiction.”
1: “The cyborg is a matter of fiction and lived experiences that changes what counts as women’s experience in the late twentieth century.”
2: “Nature and culture are reworked; the one can no longer be the resource for appropriation or incorporation by the other.”
2: “The main trouble with cyborgs, of course, is that they are the illegitimate offspring of militarism and patriarchcal capitalism, not to mention state socialism.”
2: “Biology an evolutionary theory over the last two centuries have simultaneously produced modern organisms as objects of knowledge and reduced the line between humans and animals to a faint trace re-etched in ideological struggle or professional disputes between life and social science.  Within this framework, teaching modern Christian creationism should be fought as a form of child abuse.”
2: “Our machines are disturbingly lively, and we ourselves frighteningly inert.”
3: “So my cyborg myth is about transgressed boundaries, potent fusions, and dangerous possibilities which progressive people might explore as one part of needed political work.  One of my premises is that most American socialists and feminists see deepened dualisms of mind and body, animal and machine, idealism and materialism in the social practices, symbolic formulations, and physical artifacts associated with ‘high technology’ and scientific culture.”
3: “There is nothing about being ‘female’ that naturally binds women.  There is not even such a state as ‘being’ female, itself a highly complex category constructed in contested sexual scientific discourses and other social practices.  Gender, race, or class-consciousness is an achievement forced on us by the terrible historical experience of the contradictory social realities of patriarchy, colonialism, and capitalism.  And who counts as ‘us’ in my own rhetoric?”
4: “The main achievement of moth Marxist feminists and socialist feminists was to expand the category of labor to accommodate what (some) women did, even when the wage relation was subordinated to a more comprehensive view of labor under capitalist patriarchy.  In particular, women’s labor in the household and women’s activity as mothers generally (that is, reproduction in the socialist-feminist sense), entered theory on the authority of analogy to the Marxian concept of labor.  The unity of women here rests on an epistemology based on the ontological structure of ‘labor.’”
6: “Reproduction had different tones of meanings for the two tendencies, one rooted in labor, one in sex, both calling the consequences of domination and ignorance of social and persona reality ‘false consciousness.’”
8: “The actual situation of women is their integration/exploitation into a world system of production/reproduction and communication called the informatics of domination.  The home, workplace, market, public arena, the body itself all can be dispersed and interfaced in nearly infinite, polymorphous ways, with large consequences for women and others—consequences that themselves are very different for different people and which make potent oppositional international movements difficult to imagine and essential for survival. […[  The cyborg is a kind of disassembled and reassembled, postmodern collective and personal self.  This is the self feminists must code.
8: “Communications technologies and biotechnologies are the crucial tools recrafting our bodies”
8: “The translation of the world into a problem of coding, a search for a common language in which all resistance to instrumental control disappears and all heterogeneity can be submitted to disassembly, reassembly, investment, and exchange.”
11: “I want to suggest the impact of the social relations mediated and enforced by the new technologies in order to help formulate needed analysis and practical work.  However, there is no ‘place’ for women in these networks, only geometries of difference and contradiction crucial to women’s cyborg identities.”
14: “’We’ did not originally choose to be cyborgs, but choice grounds a liberal politics and epistemology that imagines the reproduction of individuals before the wider replications of ‘texts.’”
15: “The self is the One who is not dominated, who knows that by the service of the other, the other is the one who holds the future, who knows that by the experience of domination, which gives the lie to the autonomy of the self.  To be One is to be autonomous, to be powerful, to be God; bur to be One is to be an illusion, and so to be involved in a dialectic of apocalypse with the other.  Yet to be other is to be multiple, without clear boundary, frayed, insubstantial.  One is too few, but two are too many.”
15: “High-tech culture challenges these dualisms in intriguing ways.  It is not clear who makes and who is made in the relation between human and machine.”
15: “Why should out bodies end at the skin, or include at best other beings encapsulated by skin?”
16: “Our bodies, ourselves; bodies are maps of power and identity.  Cyborgs are no exception.  A cyborg body is not innocent; it was not born in a garden; it does not seek unitary identity and so generate antagonistic dualisms without end (or until the world ends); it takes irony for granted.”
16: Two crucial arguments in the essay: “the production of universal, totalizing theory is a major mistake that misses most of reality, probably always, but not certainly now; and second, taking responsibility for the social relations of science and technology means refusing an anti-science metaphysics, a demonology of technology, and so means embracing the skillful task of reconstructing the boundaries of daily life, in partial connection with others, in communication with all of our parts.”
16: “I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess.”

December 2018
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