[-empyre-] affect, low theory, and capture

Clough, Patricia PClough at gc.cuny.edu
Wed Jun 20 11:45:23 EST 2012

Hi all    I want first to say  I have seen Jennifer Montgomery's video   Its very affective. Thanks Lauren  and Jack  for the comment    I want to move on to Zach's good questions    but before I do  I also had a thought  about affect and digital and object oriented/SR.  I do think that what was so great about the video  besides making me feel sick as Lauren also noted--  or finding myself shuttering-- was that it made me think again that we are at this moment when the technology is changing throwing us back to the threatening space where the transitional object may not be transitioning us   leaving us with confusion and hate and anger  and loss. LB: We see that the making of a new medium is a gathering up of previous events of newness, all violent to the sensorium.  And while   I don't want to be too pushy with this analogy,  I think that object oriented and SR  whatever else they may be belong to this technological moment (not clearly stated yet)  and so are producing a reaction that is alluded to in the video --  While objected oriented and SR  haven't made links to queer, they are  queer in this way. 

Just for starters with  Zach's questions.  I think digital has made us think much more or much more again  about technology  and the body (less about intelligence)  and has made us think the body in terms of affect  and emotion that are not cognitive or conscious and maybe not even unconscious   so the body is not merely the organism    Or the organism is no longer the best figure of life.   We have been pushed beyond the cyborg -- two entities joined to  each other--  to an ontology of matter and capacities of objects.   Whatever we might want to make of subjectivity it no longer is simply human subjectivity or simply joined to the function of the organism---or autopoeisis.   That is some kind of queer.   Only some kind of queer. 

As for high and low theory.  Well while I seem to be a high theorist  (probably over correction for low level education),  I am working more now in terms of writing and writing style   which undoes every move  with in it  without losing any of the moves    So I am writing a piece right now on  exorcisms and rosary beads and my crazy mother---mixed with some psychoanalysis and some philosophy , some art history and some very low level devotional writings.  And the dark mysticisms that have been connected with SR    Thacker and others.  I am trying to keep it from getting too high  

More soon.   P

From: empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au [empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au] On Behalf Of Zach Blas [zachblas at gmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, June 19, 2012 8:44 PM
To: soft_skinned_space
Subject: [-empyre-] affect, low theory, and capture

hi all--

i’m finally jumping in here again after some great posts from
patricia, lauren, jordan, and jack again!

i’d really like to pull in some empyre subscribers to this discussion,
so i wonder if we can try to tackle some more general questions about
the stakes and stances around affect and its relations to queerness,
digital technology/media, and political art.

patricia and lauren, you have already somewhat laid this out, but i
think it would be great to hear more about how you parse affect and
feelings and what those frameworks / structures of thinking permit,
enhance, delimit, enclose. in my experience, discussions around affect
always run up against conflicting approaches to defining it as well as
how it relates to feelings or emotions.

patricia, it seems that many theorists and writers who focus on
technology, the nonhuman, and the new materialisms you have already
mentioned engage affect through a deleuzian / spinozan approach. and
they do so because it affords them a particular way to think technical
/ nonhuman materials. it seems like one of the critiques we could
think about here is the one that jack has already brought up, which is
on the use of high theory and a politics of citations. do you think
its possible to explore this strand of affect through low theory? do
you know of anyone who is doing this? in this area of deleuze, affect,
queerness, and feminism, luciana parisi has talked about a fundamental
queerness through her notion of abstract sex and claire colebrook has
also considered how doing theory could be fundamentally queer. i’m
just really curious how the feminist new materialisms, which engage
affect and queerness, could align/overlap with jack halberstam’s
investments in a low theory and what that might look like--or what it
already looks like if someone is doing this....and for this week, how
low theory and high theory differently impact and shape our
understandings and experiences of affect.

lauren, thanks for bringing in the transitional objects video! i
wonder if was can all take a look at a recent work by jordan crandall
called “hotel.” http://vimeo.com/7091631 maybe we can think about the
relations and (dis)alignments between these two videos and how they
convey affect. notably, jordan’s piece does not use language, while
the other piece has consistent speaking.

maybe another way to think about affect, queerness, and technology is
around capture, withdrawal, and escape. i’m pretty taken by recent
theories of escape, invisibility, refusals of recognition, tactics of
nonexistence, becoming imperceptible. personally, i’ve been really
interested in how alex galloway and eugene thacker have framed this
around what they identify as the coming era of “universal standards of
identification,” which of course are already here with devices like
biometrics. “henceforth,” they write, “the lived environment will be
divided into identifiable zones and nonidentifiable zones, and
nonidentifiables will be the shadowy new ‘criminal’ classes–those that
do not identify.” this is something phil agre has also written about,
what he calls the capture model and grammars of action. different from
surveillance, capture is specific to our information age and grammars
of action are what capture produces. arge writes that “the capture
model describes the situation that results when grammars of action are
imposed upon human activities and when the newly reorganized
activities are represented by computers in real time.”

i bring this all up because i’m generally interested in affect,
capture, and measurability. since i recently read a lot of hardt &
negri for my prelim exams this spring, immeasurability and beyond
measure surfaced a lot. this is a pretty open-ended question at this
point, but i’m just wondering if anyone has thoughts on affect’s
relation to (im)measurability and capture--and how that might weigh on
queerness and feminism...


zach blas
artist & phd candidate
literature, information science + information studies, visual studies
duke university
empyre forum
empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au

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