[-empyre-] grids, affect, (im)measurability and (in)visibility

davin heckman davinheckman at gmail.com
Tue Nov 17 02:47:40 EST 2009

1) This is a bit of a digression, but a couple months back I was
listening to a Radiolab segment on "innate numbers"
 On the segment, they referenced a study done by a research named
Karen Wynn  <http://pantheon.yale.edu/~kw77/McCrink&WynnPsychScience2007.pdf>
who was able to demonstrate that infants can grasp ratios.  The
program goes on to speculate about how and when people learn to move
from a notion of quantity that seems (to me, anyway) rooted in
difference versus one that is based on counting.  The upshot of the
segment was that at some point, children decide to abandon their
innate understanding of numbers and accept one that is cultural.

In a way, this seems to me to suggest the way that grids tend to
function.  They are imposed (but also acquiesced to) under the promise
of some utility.  The "grid" then, is not simply a social imposition,
but it really ought best fall under the category of technics, and as
such is open for competition.

2)  Another digression, but for a current research project I have been
reading a fair amount of conspiracy theory, from across the range of
the political spectrum.  And the most "successful" conspiracy theories
tend to function in the way that, if I understand your discussion, a
queer grid might function (although, instead of basing your theories
on things like Obama's birth certificate, you'd be looking at
demonstrable instances of inequality).  The successful conspiracy
theory creates a narrative for daily life that begins with an
alternative system of signification whose parts function
grammatically.  (For instance, someone can look at a dollar bill, a
map of Washington DC, and read a little bit on Masonic ritual....  and
suddenly they can find themselves "decoding" reality.  Once they enjoy
success with this initial experiment, the next step is to seek out
additional signs and see if they can be understood within the
alternative narrative.)  Perhaps the greatest example of such an
alternative "grid" might even be on the extreme opposite end....
homophobic conspiracism, the kind of virulent "speculation" which sees
homosexuality as conspiratorial, even supernaturally so (causing
hurricanes and corrupting children's television).  I would want to
compare your intentions to these people.  But given the metaphors that
you are using....  infections, viruses, etc....  it might seem that it
might be beneficial to look at these grids, how they are built, how
they function (and, of course, how you might engage with them).


Davin Heckman

On Sun, Nov 15, 2009 at 3:11 PM, daniel p. lichtman <danielp73 at gmail.com> wrote:
> A few different questions:
> I'm particularly interested, Zach, in this quote:
> "a new viral logic of new queer biosocial formations, a new
> monstrosity of the homosexual flesh. Queer Technologies calls this
> flesh theSoftQueerBody--a social, artificial flesh, a materialism of
> everything, infected as queer." What exactly do you mean by social,
> artificial flesh, and how does it relate to the body / subject?
> I'm also interested in the idea of mapping out the interactions
> between your GRID and the GRID. What exactly do these interactions
> look like, and what happens at their meeting points? What role does
> the consumer/user play in this interaction?
> Also, I'd be very interested to here more about what you mean, Renate,
> by "phenomenological system of being."
> best,
> Dan
> On Sun, Nov 15, 2009 at 3:26 PM, Renate Ferro <rtf9 at cornell.edu> wrote:
>> the GRID as Zach describes it seems like a phenomenological system of
>> being....
>>> given that you are operating within an art context, I wonder how you
>>> are thinking your use of GRID in light of the modernist use of the
>>> grid, particularly in relation to krauss' deconstruction of the
>>> avant-garde vis a vis the grid?
>>> On Sat, Nov 14, 2009 at 4:56 PM, Zach Blas <zachblas at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>> following along the lines of my preview post on tactics of
>>>> nonexistence and the viral, i’d like to share Queer Technologies’
>>>> current work-in-progress called GRID. this project is a type of
>>>> diagramming that works with and against that which can be diagrammed
>>>> and that which cannot--in this instance, the diagrammed product and
>>>> unmappable. i saw a great talk last night by patricia clough at the
>>>> new school on affect, branding, immeasurability, incalculability, and
>>>> incomputability--it was amazing stuff! GRID, in a sense, is attempting
>>>> deal with these ideas and problems too.
>>>> here’s a general explication:
>>>> The design, fabrication, production, dissemination, and use of Queer
>>>> Technologies operates on / as a grid.
>>>>        Today, two grids can be identified that mutually form and
>>>> construct
>>>> the biosocialities of homosexuality:
>>>>        Importantly, these grids are not a static positioning structure
>>>> but
>>>> rather comprise an assemblage--unstable, in movement, of material.
>>>> They do not pin the homosexual by abstractness by actually constitute
>>>> it.
>>>>        Firstly, a history of viral contagion and disease interlocks with
>>>> and
>>>> generates conceptions, representations, and bodies of homosexuality.
>>>> G.R.I.D., or Gay-Related Immune Deficiency, the identifier given to
>>>> AIDS until 1982, is a locus of this infectious “rhetoric.” The term,
>>>> as words that explicitly order homosexuals into markers of sickness
>>>> from health, etymologically links homosexuality beyond its
>>>> all-too-real, continuing struggles with AIDS, to other modulating
>>>> constructions of “disease” and “sickness.”
>>>>        Secondly, contemporary grids of communication and capital virally
>>>> generate a dominant assemblage of the homosexual that is complicit
>>>> within flows of consumption and nationalism, a “sterility” of sorts.
>>>> As Jasbir Puar has suggested, homonationalism is the enfolding of
>>>> homosexuals into these machinations, visually projecting and
>>>> materially constructing a form of homosexuality as included within the
>>>> nation-state and mass culture, while simultaneously excluding
>>>> homosexuals who exist outside of these homonormative representations
>>>> and life formations.
>>>>        These two grids are collapsed into one another, interlocked in a
>>>> viral logic that frames the homosexual body from a diseased or
>>>> infected formation, while generating a dominant form of homosexuality
>>>> as anything but an other to heterosexuality and the nation.
>>>>        I would like to refer to this larger construction simply as GRID.
>>>> This assemblage called GRID--the relationalities and interactions that
>>>> come to form the homonormative homosexual of today, infects the
>>>> multiplicitous biosocialities of homosexuality.  Yet, I would like to
>>>> argue that through an exploitation of the viralities at work here,
>>>> another grid can be replicated--a queer grid that provides viral
>>>> tactics of infection and escape from the representations and
>>>> formations of GRID. Queer Technologies sees this grid developing
>>>> through the potential of product deployment and distribution.
>>>> The question is: How do we escape GRID? Can we escape GRID?
>>>> Queer Technologies proposes a queer grid. If the virus is life
>>>> exploiting life, Queer Technologies’ formation of a grid calls for an
>>>> exploitation of the queer self to manufacture difference, that is, to
>>>> combat the dominant viral GRID of homosexuality, a queer grid must
>>>> replicate and mutate the dominant never-being-the-sameness to produce
>>>> its own queer never-being-the sameness. Queer Technologies works with
>>>> Alan Liu’s notion of “destructive creativity”—a creativity that goes
>>>> “beyond the new picturesque of mutation and mixing to the ultimate
>>>> form of such mutation and mixing: what may be called the new sublime
>>>> of ‘destruction.’ [. . .] the critical inverse of the mainstream
>>>> ideology of creative destruction [. . . a] viral aesthetics.”1 This
>>>> aesthetics becomes like a repetitive stream of
>>>> disidentifications—disidentifying as queer cryptography, repetitively
>>>> infecting the infections of mainstream ideology at the risk of
>>>> obliterating one’s own “hygiene.” Queer Technologies locates the
>>>> potential of such an aesthetic viral infection in queer affect. Queer
>>>> affect as a type of cryptography--nonhygienic ways of being, living,
>>>> experiencing--generates a life-resistance that, in its contingencies,
>>>> mutations, and infections with global capital, produces another queer,
>>>> viral grid that is an “illegible and incalculable” artificial life to
>>>> GRID, as it is always forming its existence in relation/exploitation
>>>> to this dominant GRID.
>>>>        A queer GRID is mapped through the potential of relationalities
>>>> and
>>>> affects generated in a Queer Technologies’ event, situated within the
>>>> context of the encounter between the body in contact and the autonomy
>>>> of the technological product. The affective encounter holds the
>>>> potential to explode out into a queer collective force. To diagram
>>>> this reveals the topological possibilities for queer world-making on
>>>> and off GRID. Diagramming reveals what can be mapped and what cannot:
>>>> the queer grid is both visible and invisible.
>>>> Queer Technologies has commenced developing a set of maps and battle
>>>> plans that they refer to as GRID. QT uses the same name for its own
>>>> queer grids as well as the dominant GRID to virally bind them
>>>> linguistically and etymologically, in that Gay-Related Immune
>>>> Deficiency (G.R.I.D.) is always left as a trace (an infection) within
>>>> GRID. As Queer Technologies circulates within various cities and
>>>> geographical areas, QT diagrams and situates these products--gay
>>>> bombs--within a grided assemblage. These queer grids, once mapped out,
>>>> are distributed all over the areas they correlate to: on billboards,
>>>> sidewalks, signposts, websites, store fronts, etc. Akin to a
>>>> Situationist dérive, these queer grids attempt to reconstruct
>>>> replications of homosexuality virally produced by GRID.
>>>>        Queer Technologies’ grid fashions a new topology: their
>>>> circulated
>>>> diagrams and their situated products in various consumer outlets work
>>>> toward producing another type of virality that emerges from the fusion
>>>> of map and territory--viral in that it uses the same logic of viral
>>>> capitalism: the queer grid allows itself to constantly change and
>>>> mutate with the dominant GRID to continuously infect capital; it is
>>>> its own mutation engine that produces queer never-being-the-sameness.
>>>> The queer grid will crash, succeed, re-chart, change always, replicate
>>>> always. Its value lies within the fact that each node in the
>>>> topology--as a gay bomb--has the potential to explode into a queer
>>>> relationality, encrypted by another grid, that can generate a whole
>>>> new set of infections against GRID.
>>>>        Queer Technologies, through all its various tactics--broadly
>>>> defined
>>>> as viral aesthetics, infects GRID with another grid. Perhaps these
>>>> escapings from GRID are momentary, fleeting, but they continue
>>>> undoubtedly. Escaping the face, the representation, the image that
>>>> infects the biosocialities of homosexuality generates the potential
>>>> for a new viral logic of new queer biosocial formations, a new
>>>> monstrosity of the homosexual flesh. Queer Technologies calls this
>>>> flesh theSoftQueerBody--a social, artificial flesh, a materialism of
>>>> everything, infected as queer.
>>>> as this project is in development, i'd love to hear thoughts, in
>>>> general or around what has been discussed this month thus far.
>>>> zach
>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>> empyre forum
>>>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>>>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
>>> --
>>> Virginia Solomon
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> empyre forum
>>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
>> Renate Ferro
>> Visiting Assistant Professor
>> Department of Art
>> Cornell University, Tjaden Hall
>> Ithaca, NY  14853
>> Email:   <rtf9 at cornell.edu>
>> Website:  http://www.renateferro.net
>> Co-moderator of _empyre soft skinned space
>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empyre
>> Art Editor, diacritics
>> http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/dia/
>> _______________________________________________
>> empyre forum
>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
> _______________________________________________
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