Re: [-empyre-] On the social construction of targeting

Dear all,

Regarding the militarization of society and particularly that of perspective
as a particular gaze, I think Caren Caplan and Raegan Kelly's project "Dead
Reckoning: On the Aerial Perception of Targeting" is a frightening reminder
of the epistemological implications of war technologies and viewpoints for
military targeting.  Horit's projects, and to a more understated degree
Brooke's, share much with Caplan's concepts of the extension of war and its
resulting gaze to everyday life and to human relations in general.  Horit's
and Caplan and Kelly's work help us see the embedding of targeting in the
internal and international politics of past and contemporary militarized
nation-states.  As Paul Virilio has repeatedly pointed out through his
concept of dromology (the increase of velocity afforded by technology
because of the search for an increased efficiency of war weapons).

Military capitalism seems to be back in full force.  May art continue to
subvert the naturalized gaze of war so we can continue to see its absurdity.
Thanks of those of you who do this kind of work.

For those of you who have not seen it, I have pasted here Caplan's
introduction to the project, which is housed at the Vectors website, at

PERSPECTIVE: Introduction

To answer the question of how subjects of war come into being, I am asking
the user to move through histories of sight and navigation to consider
geometries of perspective. The adoption of Ptolemaic perspective during the
European Renaissance resulted in studies of angles and points of view that
Denis Cosgrove has termed "Apollonian." Such a unified representation of the
world required new techniques to render the perception of distances between
objects in ways that appeared be realistic regardless of whether or not they
were actually demonstrably possible. That is, single-point perspective both
established and destabilized norms of viewing.  For example, if one looks
out on a vista, at what point does the horizon appear to disappear? What
forms of distortion operate as one's eyes move closer to the vanishing
point? Enlightenment era artists and scientists pondered such questions in
both abstract and pragmatic modes as exigencies of terrestrial and naval
navigation required increasingly specific answers. The maps and paintings of
Western culture produced the normalizing visual codes and symbolic practices
that make views intelligible to moderns.

Gabriela Vargas-Cetina, Fellow
Cornell University 
Society for the Humanities
A.D. White House 
27 East Avenue 
Ithaca, NY 14853-1101
Tel. (607) 255-9284

Gabriela Vargas-Cetina, Professor of Anthropology
Facultad de Ciencias Antropológicas
Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán
Carretera a Tiximín Km.1
Mérida, Yucatán, México
Tel (999) 930 0090 ext. 207

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