[-empyre-] empyre Digest, Vol 111, Issue 5
mmcarden at usc.edu
Tue Feb 11 10:10:37 EST 2014
thanks for your detailed reply florian, so much to consider there!
also, yes, i am familiar with the environment in the transmediale seminar
since i was there, which is, like you said, informal and exploratory. but
good to share that with everyone else...
On Mon, Feb 10, 2014 at 11:54 AM, Florian Cramer <flrncrmr at gmail.com> wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Hello Micha, hello list,
> > I still hold that your configuration does not address the gendered and
> racialized forms of difference that underlie the logic of colonialism and
> which find their expression in western conceptions such as individuality
> and objectivity that lead to boolean logic and digital computing.
> In my view, it's not that simple. Boolean logic - which one can equally
> find in the reasoning of Chinese 4th century BC philosopher like Hui Shi
> (Hui Tzu) - and digital computation (literally=computing with your fingers)
> are by far not only Western conceptions. I agree with you that Western
> culture and science have pursued them to their extreme. But as you point
> out yourself, dualisms of, on the one hand
> Western/individualist/objectivist/boolean/digital vs.
> Non-Western/non-individualist/subjectivist/non-boolean/non-digital are in
> themselves romantic (and colonialist) Western stereotypes. On top of that,
> they're historically wrong. For example, the modern concept of the number
> zero, without which there would be no binary computing, was invented in 9th
> century AD India, with precursors in Egypt and Mesopotamia but not in
> Europe. Identifying digitality with Western colonization would
> unintentionally foster a Eurocentric view of cultural, scientific and
> technological history.
> > Your essay seems to eschew any political possibility for the
> post-digital in your concluding sentence. If I'm misreading it, I would
> appreciate your clarification.
> You mean the sentence 'It is not a crisis of one or the other system but a
> crisis of the very paradigm of "system" and its legacy from cybernetics.
> It's a legacy which (starting with their mere names) neither "digital", nor
> "post-digital" succeed to leave behind.'?
> I don't quite get how you read this as 'eschewing any political
> possibility'. All I am trying to say is that neither "digital" nor
> "post-digital" are the right concepts for criticizing and leaving behind
> cybernetic systems thinking, or in your words, boolean logic and digital
> computing. After all, if you call something "post-digital", you don't leave
> the digital paradigm behind but still keep it (dialectically) in place.
> > "Although the Aztecs, Mayas and Incas practiced writing before the
> Conquest- either in pictogram form, heiroglyphs, or knotting systems- it
> never replaced the performed utterance... What changed with the Conquest
> was not that writing displaced embodied practice (we need only remember
> that the friars brought their own embodied practices) but the degree of
> legitimization of writing over other epistemic and mnemonic systems.
> Writing now assured that Power, with a capital P, as Rama puts it, could be
> developed and enforced without the input of the great majority of the
> population, the indigenous and marginal populations of the colonial period
> without access to systematic writing."
> What is being described here is a pre-colonial and pre-digital vs. a
> colonial political system organized through alphanumeric (and hence
> digital) writing. The next question would be: Which post-colonial practices
> are also post-digital?
> Apart from that, one should not brush over the complex ambivalence even of
> formal systems, being tools of both control and of freedom to quote Wendy
> Chun. There are similar ideas in postcolonial theories like that of Homi
> Bhabha (for whom colonialism/postcolonialism ends up as a two-way process).
> Regarding the gendered form of difference, to use your words, inscribed
> into digitality and computing, I think that it might be historically
> interesting to reread Sadie Plant's "Zeros and Ones"; a work whose
> cyberfeminist optimism regarding digital networking has become perfectly
> counter-intuitive in the age of Google, Facebook and the NSA, but at least
> documents a different reading of the very technology that we now prefix
> with "post-".
> > I haven't read Eglash's work, thanks for recommending it, I'll check it
> One of his books has just been made available on Monoskop:
> By the way, it's rather unfortunate that the papers of the "research
> group" are linked and cited here as if they were anything canonical. As a
> matter of fact, these are preliminary, unedited papers/drafts written by a
> highly diverse workshop gathering of artists, media studies people and
> arts/media Ph.D. candidates at Aarhus Kunsthal. The definition of
> "post-digital" that Michael cited is partly tongue-in-cheek - it was based
> on a voluntary data mining of our drafts where we determined the most
> commonly used words and built a definition from them. We ultimately rewrote
> the drafts for transmediale.14's newspaper based on the same principles,
> with a high score for those texts that managed to squeeze in as much of
> that vocabulary as possible. That playful context becomes a bit clearer in
> the newspaper. It's unfortunate that these texts are online without
> referencing the context. Which ultimately says a lot about embodied and
> disembodied writing, no matter whether it's digital or not.
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
International Trans Women of Color Network Gathering
June 19, 2014, Detroit, Allied Media Conference
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