[-empyre-] introducing Greg Ulmer and Marco Deseriis

Gregory Ulmer glue at UFL.EDU
Wed Oct 28 01:17:23 EST 2009

Jim Andrews wrote:
> Dear Greg,
> I am interested to read about what you describe as "the turn against 
> representation". What do you mean by this interesting phrase?
This phrase alludes in general to the break with conventions of 
"representation" that happened across the disciplines and discourses 
associated with modernism.  The prototype is in the arts and letters 
practices, abandoning the conventions of realism or naturalism, for 
example linear perspective in painting, leading to "nonrepresentational" 
depicting.  The principle was that art is not "about" something else, 
but was itself something.  In letters it is the linguistic turn:  
literature is not knowledge of the world, but knowledge of language.   A 
perhaps unforeseen consequence philosophically was the realization that 
"everything is  language" (semiotics) so it turned out that arts being 
about themselves was in fact a new realism.  AV recording technology 
raises the stakes because we are now not just recording the sounds of 
spoken language (alphabetic writing), but the sounds sights motions of 
the live environment. German terminology is helpful in sorting out the 
question:  Vorstellung (representation) giving way to Darstellung 
(presentation).  The terms differentiate between seeing a portrait of X 
and meeting X on the street.  The power of film/video is said to be in 
the fact that its representations affect us as if they were 
presentations (and the movement of simulation augments this effect) 
[neuroaesthetics here]. The contribution of the vocabulary, especially 
in this context, is in Freud's description of dream work as Entstellung 
(distortion).  Electrate rhetoric assumes that the discourse 
institutions of orality and literacy are still functional but have 
passed through dream work.  That "hoax" is the norm of spectacle is a 
problem for an anelectrate society.  Hence a big job for education, if 
School wants to remain relevant.  The contribution of structuralism was 
the insight that dream work is precisely rhetoric (condensation, 
displacement, considerations of representability, secondary elaboration 
= metaphor & metonymy = the paradigmatic and syntagmatic axes of 
> Also, how is propositional logic "doing for contemporary datamining efforts 
> what Aristotle's animism did for physics leading up to the scientific 
> revolution (preventing the breakthrough)".
I would love for there to be a wiki devoted to this question (perhaps 
sponsored by Turbulence.org?).  I worked this past year with some 
computer scientists of various specializations on a textmining project, 
which motivated me to look further into Semantic Web Ontologies, with 
"ontology" being a boundary object (we were using the term, but with 
somewhat different meanings and referents).  I read up on RDF (Resource 
Description Framework) triples, and recognized them immediately as right 
out of Aristotle's topical logic:  subject predicate object.  Of course 
this structure is native to Indo-European language, and as Nietzsche 
said, God (or metaphysics) is in the Grammar. Maybe this can be fixed at 
the software level? (hardware switches, like truth tables, are on/off, 
but Wittgenstein abandoned truth tables for good reason). The textmining 
project responded to a grant opportunity calling for new departures in 
datamining.  The motivation is that current approaches, as powerful as 
they are, are not adequate to the scale of information overload 
confronting us. We have the cyberspace problem as Gibson dramatized it 
for us:  If our databases could give us total information in an instant, 
we would not be able to receive it (hence Gibson's metaphor:  Tell My 
Horse). The point of apparatus theory is that the solution to this 
problem will have been not only technical, but also philosophical, 
aesthetic and so forth.  There are multiple invention streams pouring 
into the vortex of our mobile moment. 

thanks for your questions

> Best wishes,
> ja
> http://vispo.com 
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre

*Gregory L. Ulmer*
 University of Florida

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