Category: Reading

Wunderwaffe

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“Nature does not know extinction; all it knows is transformation.” – Wernher Von Braun.

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A combination of re-reading Thomas Pynchon’s ‘Gravity’s Rainbow, cargo cults and Platonic solids conspired against me to wash me up on the online shore of an Airfix kit page dedicated to secret WW2 aircraft, most notably the Horten Brothers, two WW2 era aviation inventors who pioneered the Horten 229 aka ‘the Flying Wing’.

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I have always been fascinated by the scientific leaps made in 1944-45 as the Nazi’s desperately tired to develop ‘Wunderwaffe’ or wonder weapons such as the V1 and V2 rockets to turn the tide of WW2. A recent BBC piece on the Horten 229.

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With current world events mirroring the 1930’s, and another extreme narcissist having just assumed power, I look at these ‘Wunderwaffe’ as a foreboding echo from history.

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“Causality does not take place ‘in’ a space that has been established already. Instead it radiates from objects…”. Timothy Morton: ‘Realist Magic objects, Ontology, Causality’.

Note to Self:

  • OOO: Even when they are isolated from all external influences, objects seem to breathe with a strange life…

Borges – On Exactitude in Science

. . . In that Empire, the Art of Cartography attained such Perfection that the map of a single Province occupied the entirety of a City, and the map of the Empire, the entirety of a Province. In time, those Unconscionable Maps no longer satisfied, and the Cartographers Guilds struck a Map of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, and which coincided point for point with it. The following Generations, who were not so fond of the Study of Cartography as their Forebears had been, saw that that vast Map was Useless, and not without some Pitilessness was it, that they delivered it up to the Inclemencies of Sun and Winters. In the Deserts of the West, still today, there are Tattered Ruins of that Map, inhabited by Animals and Beggars; in all the Land there is no other Relic of the Disciplines of Geography.

Suarez Miranda, Viajes de varones prudentes, Libro IV,Cap. XLV, Lerida, 1658.

Biblio

I have created a Bibliography for my research paper reading via RefME.

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Looking at it again there is far too much to read in the short time available, so will have to whittle it down, a few of these books I have, others will be accessed through the online library hopefully.

  • Baudrillard, J (1994) Simulacra and simulation. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press.
  • Baxandall, M (1995) Shadows and enlightenment. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • Bennett, J (2010) Vibrant matter: A political ecology of things. Durham: Duke University Press.
  • Bryant, L.R. (2011) The democracy of objects. Ann Arbor: Open Humanities Press.
  • Campbell, J. (2012) The hero with a thousand faces. 3rd edn. United States: New World Library.
  • Crowther, P. (2010) Phenomenology of the visual arts (even the frame). United States: Stanford University Press.
  • Cubitt, S. (2014) The practice of light: A genealogy of visual technologies from prints to pixels. United States: MIT Press.
  • Gombrich, E.H. (2014) Shadows: The depiction of cast shadows in western art. United States: Yale University Press.
  • Harman, G. (1999) ‘Tool-being: Elements in a theory of objects’ pp. 1–306.
  • Heidegger, M (2010) Being and time. Albany: State University of New York Press.
  • Johnson, R.A. (1993) Owning your own shadow: Understanding the dark side of the psyche. San Francisco: HarperCollins Publishers.
  • Jung, C.G.G. (1968) Man and his symbols. United States: Turtleback Books.
  • Jung, C.G.G. (2013) The undiscovered self. London: Routledge.
  • Jung, C.G.G.(1995) Memories, dreams, reflections. 4th edn. London: Fontana Press.
  • Lechte, J. (1994) Fifty key contemporary thinkers: From structuralism to postmodernity. New York: Routledge.
  • Merleau-Ponty (2013) Phenomenology of perception (classics series). London: Taylor & Francis.
  • Morton, T. (2013) Realist magic: Objects, ontology, causality. Ann Arbor, MI: Open Humanities Press.
  • Murdoch, I. (2001) The sovereignty of good. New York: Routledge.
  • Russell, B. (2013) The conquest of happiness. United States: Liveright Publishing.
  • Sartre, J.-P.(2003) Being and nothingness: An essay on phenomenological ontology. London: Routledge.
  • Tausig, (1993) Mimesis and Alterity: A particular history of the senses. Malden, MA: Taylor & Francis.

Note to Self:

  • Find some other suitable repository or app where I can dump quotes in as I go along, maybe Evernote?

OOO (Tutorial v4.0)

Tutor: Gareth Polmeer

I had an interesting tutorial today with Gareth Polmeer regarding the research paper I am writing. Whilst investigating reading Phenomenology and Speculative Realism I came across ‘Object-Oriented Ontology’ or OOO for short, I didn’t realise it was a ‘thing’ (excuse the pun) for years.

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“…Ask yourself: what does your toaster want? How about your dog? Or the bacteria in your gut? What about the pixels on the screen you’re reading off now, how is their day going?” [1]

Theres a correlation to IoT (Internet of things) but with OOO any ‘thing’ is an object, whether living, nonliving, artificial, or conceptual-an everything.

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“…over the past ten years, people in all manner of disciplines have turned to things: to matter, stuff, obdurate objects. Often loosely grouped under the rubric ‘new materialisms’ – Andrew Cole [2]

The crucial point here is that, in contrast to the dominant strains of 20th-century phenomenology that claim things are only real insofar as they are sensible to a human subject, OOO asserts a radical and imaginative realism that not only claims that things do exist beyond the purview of human conception, but that this existence is almost entirely inaccessible to our understanding.

Note to Self:

Double Walker

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“Doppelganger” is German for “double walker”, a shadow self that is thought to accompany every person.

“Of all the prostheses that mark the history of the body, the double is doubtless the oldest. But the double is precisely not a prosthesis: it is an imaginary figure, which just like the soul, the shadow, the mirror image, haunts the subject like his other, which makes it so that the subject is simultaneously itself and never resembles itself again…”

Jean Baudrillard: “Simulacra and Simulation (1981)”

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Alternatively in psychotherapy terms.

“The shadow only becomes hostile when he is ignored or misunderstood.”

Carl Jung: ‘Man & His Symbols’.

Digital Scrying

I have always been fascinated by the 16th century tale of Dr. John Dee and the Alchemist Edward Kelly (not to be confused with the Camberwell tutor of the same name!) and their seven year obsession with ‘conversing with Angels’ in an ancient Enochian language that both lead them through dark portals and ultimately their own downfall. Channel 4 featured a program on it in 2002 [1]. and in a recent online lecture on this course the Dean of Camberwell touched on it when mentioning a failed project and seeing John Dee’s obsidian scrying mirror in the British museum.

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Obsidian is a naturally occurring black glass and has been used throughout the ages by many cultures, John Dee used it in his translucent ‘scrying mirror’ in conjuncture with his ‘crystal gazers’ to attempt to foretell the future. Many black surfaces can be used for scrying, even dark water.

Charlie Brooker created the TV series ‘Black Mirror’ [2]. which is set in the very near future. It examines through speculative fiction, contemporary society and the unanticapted consquences of new technologies. The term Black Mirror refers to the shiny black screen of our tablet and mobile devices.

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I see a parallel in Dee’s 16th century scrying interfaces and present day Virtual reality (VR). Imagine Dee the ‘intelligencer’ or seeker of knowledge with his dubious sidekick Kelly donning Oculus Rift Headsets and immersing themselves in the ‘magic of presence’. Conceptually, both are considered parallel worlds to ours. One is created visually within the mind, the other digitally created and immersive.

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Maybe I am reaching here…VR used as some means of digital prophecy? the headset surplanting the crystal gazer of old? but both Dee’s journeys into other realms and the Rift’s advanced display technology combined with its precise, low-latency constellation tracking system enables the sensation of presence – the feeling as though you’re actually there. Both the scrying Mirror and the Rift headsets have as objects/divine interfaces an otherworldly ritualistic quality to them.

As Oculus say on their own website….”The magic of presence changes everything” [3].

Jennifer in Paradise

A few weeks ago an article was mentioned on the course called ‘Situating Post Internet’ by Domenicio Quaranta. One time Rhizome editor Marisa Olson coined the term ‘Post internet’ in 2006, which in a nutshell she defines as;

“A new generation of artists who, while spending a lot of time online, were developing most of their work offline: work that was nonetheless ‘infused with the digital visual language, network aesthetics, and the social politics of online transmission and reception.”[1]

It also mentioned or linked to a jolly faced Dutch man with a great moniker ‘Constant Dullaart’, the second letter ‘a’ almost making it sound like a proper Dutch surname.

I have been reading a lot the last few weeks about the image….Walter Benjamin, Roland Barthes, Jean Baudrillard, Jacques Ranciere…almost to the point of cerebral overload 🙂 so Dullaart’s take on things brings almost light relief, but with some very interesting concepts and themes bubbling below the surface. His piece from 2014 ‘Jennifer in Paradise’ grabbed my attention.

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‘Jennifer in Paradise’, is the first ever photoshopped image.

“…Jennifer was the last person to sit on solid ground, gazing out into an infinitely fluid sea of zeros and ones, the last woman to inhabit a world where the camera never lied.” [2]

The image was taken in 1987 by John Knoll who worked at Industrial Light and Magic, it was of his wife Jennifer. It became the first colour image used to demonstrate the software they had started to call Photoshop.

In Dullaart’s view this photo is of extreme importance in the modern visual vernacular and should be in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC as a key 20th century artefact;

“just from an anthropological point of view I thought it would be interesting to examine what values the image contains. The fact that it’s a white lady, topless, anonymous, facing away from the camera. And that it was his wife. He offers her, objectifying her, in his creation for the reproduction of reality.” [3]

He even asked the Knoll’s to go back to the beach in Bora Bora to recreate the shot, which they politely declined!

“For him Jennifer in Paradise is a key artefact, the original Photoshop meme. As such, he believes, it belongs in the public domain. His misappropriation of it is a protest.”[4]