[-empyre-] Week 2 - Computation and the Nonhuman
hking at brynmawr.edu
Mon Jun 11 03:05:16 EST 2012
I’m new to empyre, but I’ve been following the discussion since last week and have really enjoyed everyone’s posts. Thanks so much to Zach and Micha for inviting me to this week’s conversation.
I’ll start off by chiming in about an item from last week, Zach and Amanda’s conversation about facial recognition and faciality in general. Zach, this is a such a fascinating project, and I’m eager to see how it develops. It seems to me that facial recognition technology seeks to pinpoint the face as the marker of a unique identity that is stable over time. And yet the face can also be strangely impersonal and communal: a receptive plate that is shaped by what it perceives in the external world, constantly changing and collecting these changes on its surface, and therefore impossible to fix in a singular, static form. These mobile aspects of the face, it seems to me, are what might escape the logic of facial recognition systems and “fag face” radars, etc. They also relate to Jacob’s point about the “uncomputible,” which I agree, is an abiding concern for Turing. Perhaps they also suggest an aspect of the human face that is queer, transitional, collective, and/or impersonal. I’ve written about the face in different context, that of Cassavetes’ Faces , Pasolini on free indirect cinema, and Deleuze on the affection-image in Cinema 1 , the last of which inspires some of the above thinking: http://cameraobscura.dukejournals.org/content/19/2_56.toc
Next, following Zach’s prompt, I’ll mention a project of mine that’s closely related to this week’s topic, an essay/book chapter in progress called “Keys to Turing,” in which I connect up aspects of Alan Turing’s work to dynamics of secrecy and revealing, encoded signalling, and indeterminate desire. I see these dynamics as operative throughout Turing’s research, not only in the code-breaking, where they are explicitly in play, but also in the early studies in mathematics and logic and up through the studies in AI. These dynamics strike me as somehow queer, especially given Turing’s historical coordinates—and as getting at some very interesting intertwinings of intelligence, desire, and (non)humanness, some of which are smartly illuminated by Jack Halberstam in “ Automating Gender: Postmodern Feminism in the Age of the Intelligent Machine”: http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/3178281?uid=3739864&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=56248674953
I look forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts and will be checking back throughout the week.
Associate Professor, Dept of History of Art
Director, Program in Film Studies and Center for Visual Culture
Bryn Mawr College
Editorial Collective, Camera Obscura
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