Posts Tagged ‘Kittler


Hansen’s Bodies in Code

Mark B.N. Hansen
Bodies in Code: Interfaces with Digital Media
Area: Digital Media

•    Bodies in code: a term designating embodiment as it is necessarily distributed beyond the skin in the context of contemporary technics
Ix: “My explicit aim is to show how Merleau-Ponty’s final ontology of the flesh, with its postulation of a fundamental indifference between body and world, requires a technics—a theory of the originary technicity of the human.  Because the human is essentially a being distributed into nonoverlapping sensory interfaces with the world, it is characterized by a certain ‘gap’ or ‘divide- by what Merleau-Ponty calls an ecart.  As I show, the most primordial form of this ecart is the transduction between embodiment and specularity, the transduction that informs the emergence of the visual from primordial tactility.  This transduction (a relations that is primary with respect to its terms) is an instance (indeed, it is the protoinstance) of the inherence of technics within embodied life.”
•    The virtual now denotes a space full of information that can be activated, revealed, reorganized, and recombined, added to and transformed as the user navigates ewal space
•    Motor activity—not representationalist verisimilitude—holds the key to flux and functional crossings between the virtual and physical realms
•    The first generational model of VR as a disembodied hyperspace free of all material constraints simply no longer has any purchase in our world
•    The priority (or the ‘superiority’) of the analog: always on arrival a transformative feeling of the outside, a feeling of thought (Massumi)
o    Outside coming in
o    The analog creates reality out of forms or mixing realms, out of transformations
•    All reality is mixed reality
•    Theory has become almost simply coextensive with the claim (Sedgwick and Frank)
•    What makes the passage from one realm to another so seamless, so unnoticeable, so believable?
•    Blindspot (the photo montage of the parts of the body the artist cannot see) recognizes the inescapability of a cofunctioning of ‘natural’ perception and technically extend perception
•    Across the virtual body our culture constructs its own body image
•    Rigid Waves: the ‘mirror’ art—movement creates distortion, proximity shatters the image
•    To think of the body as a body-in-code is to think of human existence as a prepersonal sensory being-with
3: “Natural three dimension” demotes a more immersive, data-rich visual simulation.  In contrast, for Krueger, ‘natural formation’ means information produced through an extension of our natural—that is, embodied, perceptuomotor—interface with the world.”
3: “The development of 3-D simulations puts us in touch with out most primative perceptual capacities: ‘the human interface is evolving toward more natural information.  3-D space is more, not less, intuitive then 2-D space…3-D space is what we evolved to understand.  It is more primitive, not more advanced 9than two-dimensional space].”
4: “First, the mixed reality paradigm radically reconfigures a trait that has characterized VR from its proto origin as the representationalist fantasy par excellence: namely, a desire for complete convergence with natural perception.  This trait serves to distinguish it from all discrete image media, including cinema, which as underscored by Gilles Deleuze’s correction of Bergson’s criticism of the ‘cinematic illusion,’ function by breaking with natural perception.”
4: “Atonion Damasio’s analogy for consciousness: if consciousness can be likened to a ‘movie-in-the-brain’ with no external spectator, then VR would comprise something like a move-outside-the-brain, again, importantly, with no external spectator.”
5:  “Rather than conceiving the virtual as a total technical simulacrum and as the opening of a fully immersive, self-contained fantasy world, the mixed reality paradigm treats it as simply one more realm among others that can be accessed through embodied perception or enaction (Varela).  In this way, emphasis falls less on the content of the virtual than on the means of access to it, less on what is perceived in the world than on how it comes to be perceived in the first place.”
8:  “Mixed reality specifies how ‘media determine our situation’ (following Kittler’s media-theoretical deepening of Foucault’s epistemo-transcendental historiography), it does so in a way that foregrounds, not, (as in Kittler) the autonomy of the technical, but precisely its opposite: the irreducible bodily or analog basis of experience which, we must add, has always been conditioned by a technical dimension and has always occurred as a cofunctioning of embodiment with technics.”
12:  “The social-technical-psychological condition of psychasthenia, meaning ‘a state in which the space defined by the coordinates of the organism’s body is confused with represented space’”
20:  “Such a technical mediation of the body schema (of the scope of body environment coupling) comprises what I propose to calls a body-in-code.  By this I do not mean a purely informational body or a digital disembodiment of the everyday body.  I mean a body submitted to and constituted by an unavoidable and empowering technical deterritorialization—a body whose embodiment is realized, and can only be realized in conjunction with technics.”


Kittler’s Discourse Networks 1800/1900

Friedrich Kittler
Discourse Networks: 1800/1900
Area: History of Rhetoric and Memory Studies
From Thomas Sebastian’s Review

•    The book is “‘thoroughly informed by post-structuralism’” but especially because it avoids a discussion of post-structuralist theory altogether, engaging instead in a radical application of its practice.
•    Post-hermeneutics: a criticism that “stops making sense”
•    “Discourse analysis, he argues, must be transformed into an ‘archaeology of the present’ by considering the material and technical conditions that permit discourse storage in the first place.”
•    “It follows that the status of literary texts is also determined by what one might calls this technicist perspective:
o    Discourse analyses…have to be materialistic.  An elementary datum is the fact that literature (whatever else it might mean to readers) processes, stores, and transmits data, and that such operations in the age-old medium of the alphabet have the same technical positivity as they do in computers.”
•    “As a result Kittler takes the fictive content of literary texts at face value as though the projections of a literary text are tantamount to eh historical reality from whci it emerges.”
•    “The epochally inopertune is thus excluded by the fable of two mutually exclusive historical orders.  Their relationship, determined by a categorical paradigm clearly recognizable as a construct, is based on a simple oppositional series: 1900 is to 1800 as signifier to signified, writing to speech, insanity to sanity, untranslatability to translatability, anarchy to state, outside to inside.  Kittler’s history describes the inversion of one order unto the other.”
•    “Kittler advances ‘woman’ somewhat crudely as a ‘presignifying talking machine’ in order to conceive of literature around 1800 as a recording system in the sense of technical medium.  ‘Woman,’ however, does not refer to ‘the women’ around 1800 as historical individuals, but rather those ‘mothers’ who Kittler believes to have discovered in the metaphoricity of literary, philosophical and pedagogical texts of that time as the instance which, according to Lacan, ‘causes speech but does not itself speak.’”
•    “A shift was made form learning complete words and phrases to the phonetic approach of oralizing the consonants and syllables of the alphabet. But the success of this ‘coercive act of alphabetizing’ was not merely initiated by a pedagogical shift to phonetics in High German orthography but rather, according to Kittler, because this measure was associated with the body of ‘biographical’ mothers.”
•    “’Man’—a word not simply problematic, but one that has become utterly devoid of content for Kittler—is a machine in a larger complex of machines […]  The principle governing this universe is energy consumption or ‘exhaustion.’ Just as machines ultimately break down and wear out, so, too, does Man as machine.”
•    “For Kittler, translating around 1900 is no longer the translating of signifieds (as he claims it was in 1800), but is instead simply based on relationships between signifiers.  Kittler calls these interlinear translations ‘transpositions of media’; he presumably uses this term in order to metaphorically rule out all doubt that this transposition of media is still a hermeneutical procedure.”
•    “Kittler thinks of technology merely as a technical apparatuses in their empirical facticity and not, like Foucault, as a function of knowledge.  And Kittler does not recognize that if he replaces language by technologies—conceived of as such empirical apparatuses—then everything that Foucault says about language holds true precisely for technology.”
•    “As Heidegger, for example, would argue, this is precisely an anthropological definition of technology, namely technology as man’s supplementing instrument, since man has been considered a zoon technocon since Aristotle at the latest.”


Kittler’s Gramophone, Film, Typewriter

Friedrich Kittler
Gramophone, Film, Typewriter
Area: Digital Media
Translator’s Intro

•    Media determine our situation
•    Media of the present influence how we think about the media of the past or future
•    “Media Science” will remain mere “media history”
o    Study of media should concern itself primarily with mediality and not resort to the usual suspects (history, sociology, anthropology, lit and cultural studies) to explain how and why media so what they do
•    Media are not coefficients but effects of ideology (Baudrillard)
o    Media do no mediate; they are anti-mediatory and intransitive
•    Kittler: merger of Foucault, Lacan, McLuhan
o    Discourse analysis, structuralist psychoanalysis, and first generation media theory
o    “Media discourse analysis”
•    Lacan: human consciousness is a camera that captures and stores imagtes even when no one is around
•    Ulmer: grammatological works of Derrida “already reflect an internalization of the electronic media”
•    Hypertext and hypermedia : poststructuralism :: cybernetics : structuralism/semiotics
•    Hermeneutic “master plan” can only work if people are trained to work with language in standardized ways that downplay its changing materiality
•    People have been trained to disregard the change from handwriting to print
•    When a camera (Lacan) does all the registering, storing, and developing on its own, there is on need for an intervening subject and is celebrated consciousness
o    When the phonograph stores everything on might say there might be an unconscious, but no mediating Soul
•    Use of military combat illustrations
Xii: “Such framing, however, implies that the (re)discovery of a past orality will affect the perception of our present literacy, since every exploration of the dynamics of orality is a renegotiation of the limits and boundaries of literacy and its associated media networks.”
Xv: “technologies such as the transistor radio recognize no contradiction between transmitter and receiver.  Rather, these technical distinctions reflect the social division of labor into producers and consumers and therefore are ultimately predicated on the contradiction between the ruling and ruled classes.  If passive consumers were to become active citizens and producers, they would have to take charge of this untapped technological potential, install themselves as producers, and thereby ‘bring the communications media, which up to now have not deserved the name, into their own.”
Xx: “Step 1: We recognize that we are spoken by language.  Step 2: we understand that language is not some nebulous entity but appears in the shape of historically limited discursive practices.  Step 3: We finally perceived that these practices depend on media. In short, structuralism begot discourse analysis, and discourse analysis begot media theory.”
Xx: “Whereas Foucault’s archives are based on the hegemony of written language, on the silent assumption that print is the primary (if not the only) carrier of signification, Kittler’s archeology of the present seeks to include the technological storage and communication media of the post-print age(s).  ‘Even writing itself, before it ends up in libraries, is a communication medium, the technology of which the archeologist [Foucault] simply forgot.  It is for this reason that all his analyses end immediately before that point in time at which other media penetrated the library’s stacks. Discourse analysis cannot be applied to sound archives and towers of film rolls.’”
Xxv: “While the typewriter did away with either’s sex’s need for a writing stylus ( and in the process giving women control over a writing machine-qua-phallus), it reinscribed women’s subordination to men: women not only became writers but also became secretaries taking dictation on typewriters, frequently without comprehending what was being dictated.”
•    McLuhan: One media’s content is always other media
•    Media are always already beyond aesthetics
•    “If the film called history rewinds itself, it turns into an endless loop”
o    History if Foucault’s “wave like succession of words”
•    Writing merely stores the fact of its authorization
o    Writing celebrates the storage monopoly of the God who invented it
•    Hegel: the alphabetized individual had his ‘appearance and externality’ in this continuous flow of ink and letters
•    “Once memories and dreams, the dead and ghosts become technically reproducible, readers and writers no longer need the powers of hallucination”
•    Reproductions don’t simply resemble, but guarantee this resemblance by being a product of the object in question
•    Media are always flight apparatuses to the great beyond (specter)
•    Typewriters don’t store individuals
•    No computer has ever or will ever be built that can do more than the Turing machine
10: “Once storage media can accommodate optical and acoustic data, human memory capacity is bound to dwindle.  Its liberation is its end.  As long as the book was responsible for all serial data flows, words quivered with sensuality and memory.”
11: “If (according to Balzacz) the human body consists of many infinitely thin layers of ‘specters,’ and if the human spirit cannot be created from nothingness, then the daguerreotype must be a sinister trick: it fixes, that is steals, one layer after the other, until nothing remains of the specters and the photographed body.”
14: “The beginning of our age was marked by separation or differentation.  On the one hand, we have two technological media that, for the first time, fix unwritable data flows; on the other, an ‘intermediate’ thing between a tool and a machine, as Heidegger wrote so precisely about the typewriter.  On the one hand, we have the entertainment industry with its new sensualities; on the other, a writing that already separated paper and body during textual production, not first during reproduction (as Gutenberg’s movable types had done).”

July 2017
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