[-empyre-] Week 2 - Computation and the Nonhuman

Zach Blas zachblas at gmail.com
Tue Jun 12 06:01:44 EST 2012

jacob, thanks for this really thoughtful and exciting post. like alex
juhasz mentioned earlier, you point out that queerness can now be
accommodated by global capital and because of that, queerness itself
must shift, fluctuate, and change to remain resistant. i think this is
really worth thinking through carefully because i feel like much queer
theory today kind of ignores how queer is commodified now. i like how
you bring up soft control and protocol from galloway because it really
gets to thinking technically about being subversive or resistant
within dominant systems that can consume or capture you. i find
galloway’s protocol and exploit really useful for thinking about a
queer logic in technics. typically, “queer logic” is commonly liked to
the body and identity through a critique of heteronormativity, as you
point out, but if we want to locate or create a queer logic in
technical systems, then this must be expanded. Resistance in protocol
leads us to things like the exploit, the hack, being external to the
system yet somehow still within the system (which gets to all the
invisibility stuff). I like that you’re linking failure here as one
way to think queer logic technically. It brings us to different ways
of thinking technical functionality, which is something i have been
super interested in for quite some time. for me, it seems also crucial
to point out that failure as a queer logic in technical systems might
mean total non-functionality or some kind of hacked
functionality--that failure here does not simply/only mean absolute
non-functionality. how does the “uncomputable” figure here?

are there any particular technical objects or systems that really
strike you as queer in this sense? also, what do you think of the
temporality of these queer technical logics? are they always there?
must they always be created and re-created? do they have down time?

this is such a great question, jacob: “How we might investigate that
which is external to the technical and cultural logic of new media
while remaining critically engaged with it?” how are people doing this
now? amanda, margaret, and micha, it would be great to hear your
thoughts on this. jacob’s comment here makes me think of a quote
ricardo dominguez takes from the zapatistas--working with technologies
at the speed of dreams, not at the speed of technologies. that seems
really crucial to me, to be focused at a political or creative level
that does not simply align with the temporal, spatial dynamics of
digital media and technology. it makes me think of a quote i like from
wendy chun about how there can never be a purely technological
solution to a political problem.

once we’re found or made these queer technical logics, what do they
do? how do they intervene? how do they align with larger social
movements? these questions most likely have to be answered on a case
by case basis.

homay, thanks for your comments on the face. it’s a really exciting
project for me, and i’m working through it quite similarly to how
jacob has outlined his thoughts on queerness and technology. i’m
interested in how the face is uncomputable and computable as well as
the political and ethical claims behind arguments that the face should
or should not be computable. what are the ways the face hold some kind
of external place in relation to neoliberal calculation?

homay and jacob, how important is it for you to go back to turing to
think queerness and technology? what is important for you about
connecting turing to our technological present through queerness?

michael, it would be great to hear your responses to the posts this
week. also, perhaps you can offer your own take on queerness, the
nonhuman, and object-oriented ontology and speculative realism so we
can see how this aligns or dis-aligns with technics and turing.

On Sun, Jun 10, 2012 at 10:05 AM, Homay King <hking at brynmawr.edu> wrote:
> Hello all,
> 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.
> Cheers,
> Homay
> --
> Homay King
> Associate Professor, Dept of History of Art
> Director, Program in Film Studies and Center for Visual Culture
> Bryn Mawr College
> Editorial Collective, Camera Obscura
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre

zach blas
artist & phd candidate
literature, information science + information studies, visual studies
duke university

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