week 9 – summary

This week has seen a move away from blog activity to readings: Haraway, Hayles, Pickering, Pedersen and Sheller & Urry, looking at cyborgs, posthuman activity and mobility.

I reflected offline what posthuman activity means to me and made an attempt at continuing with the lovesick story which I see as an online narrative, directed by the temporal and digital spaciality, but linked to an offline mood and momentary status.

My story has now reached a point where it enters another platform (Vuvox) with a forced linearity in Twitter and this blog, looping the sequence. It is a story that is ‘becoming’, a performance (meaning unfixed).

The readings and further investigations on Haraway (in her 2003 lecture) brought an ethical perspective.  An experiment with my own cat, saw it interacting with an immaterial world. This playful activity is in contrast with the technological invasion of species and natural resources brought on by the cognisphere.

Finally, in my attempt at narrowing down a focus for my dissertation on aesthetic spaces I see a mobility paradigm as a useful start for considering online aesthetic spaces. The notion of boundaries which Haraway and Hayles discussed will need to be further investigated.


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aesthetics and the new mobilities paradigm – Sheller and Urry

Is it possible to move away from a ‘sedentarist’ aesthetics (based on fixed artworks, such as on walls in galleries, or projected, displayed, staged in theaters  cinemas, musea)  to a mobility (liquid? nomadic? fluid? )  aesthetics, which reflects situated space, place and in networks? An aesthetics beyond boundaries and disciplines with meanings and narratives assembled and reassembled? The exchange of material and immaterial cultures.

In this paper, there are some suggestions that link to the above

(p. 7) the new mobilities paradigm posits that activities occur while on the move, that being on the move can involve sets of `occasioned’ activities (Lyons and Urry, 2005).

and thus moving applies to both networked and physical moves:

(p. 8) Not only does a mobilities perspective lead us to discard our usual notions of spatiality and scale, but it also undermines existing linear assumptions about temporality and timing, which often assume that actors are able to do only one thing at a time, and that events follow each other in a linear order [see Callon et al (2004) on how the apparently absent can yet in effect be present].

(p. 8) The new mobility paradigm argues against this ontology of distinct `places’ and `people’. Rather, there is a complex relationality of places and persons connected through performances. (…) Places are indeed dynamic  - `places of movement’ (…)   Places are about relationships, about the placing of peoples, materials, images, and the systems of difference that they perform

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Do cats play with electric ants?

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Last night my daughter and I decided to test out a computer game on a willing subject: our cat. It made me think that perhaps we will not enter the next stage (beyond posthuman) until somehow animals join in our digitally interconnected world. Can cats really play with electric ants? Why would my cat play with these ants anyway? there is no food (for the cat)  involved, but it does resemble analogue offerings…

On the other hand, human exploitation of animals is aided by technology. What sort of philosophical and ethical implications are there? The materiality of our biological needs (taking the flesh i.e. meat) is still primary. The loss of body (information) is in support of material sustenance, of both meat and non-meat eaters.

And then I read the Hayles article  ’From ‘Cyborgs to Cognisphere’ ‘ in which she is reflecting on Haraway’s recent work

‘Understanding that humans and animals have co-evolved together is entirely consistent with the contemporary but nevertheless potent phenomenon of humans and machines co-evolving together. Indeed, given the technologies of genetic engineering, implants and bio-silicon hybrids created from a variety of life forms ranging from cockroaches to lampreys, it is clear that humans, animals and intelligent machines are more tightly bound together than ever in their cultural, social, biological and technological evolutions.


Haraway’s insistence that the world is ‘relationality all the way down’ applies as much to technology as to companion species. In the contemporary period, computation emerges as a crucial aspect of the entwined dynamical hierarchies that structure and energize relational dynamics. As inhabitants of globally interconnected networks, we are joined in a dynamic co-evolutionary spiral with intelligent machines as well as with the other biological species with whom we share the planet.

[will need to give this further thought...]

Haraway more recently looked at the dogworld, this lecture offering further insights below and reviewed here.


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by the way: it took my cat many attempts at grasping what was going on: he was not keen to act, but purring all the time… !

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love sick – dis/connect

I was unable to add a sound to the vuvox artifact, will need to investigate, but the one above is a found one I greatly enjoyed and thought fitted neatly.

Click on sound above and then click/visit vuvox below, get my drift….?











‘Making visible that interdependence—in general, rather than in this single instance—is, I think, the primary pay-off of the posthumanist shift in the unit of analysis.’

‘…the reciprocal production of subjects and objects, the coupled becoming of the human and the nonhuman.’

Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari (1987) -a heterogeneous assemblage  with a certain kind of inner unity… zones of intersection and interference

from the Pickering readings


There seems a vast potential in connecting, disconnecting a heterogenous assemblage of multi-modality, that creates meaning, temporal meaning which is pushing forward a narrative.

Here I let the image seek connection, the underlying intuitive story, the internet tools of things, opens up:

tracking through spaces of performativity and agency, always becoming (Deleuze)

‘the smallest unit of analysis is the relation’ (Haraway, quoted by Hayles), in ‘Unfinished Work: From Cyborg to Cognisphere’

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Material-semiotic assemblages of sociotechnical relations embedded and performed by shifting connections and interactions among a variety of organic, technical, natural and textual materials
Gough (2004), on posthuman pedagogy

This is such an ingenious definition. The ‘material-semiotic assemblages’ seems the most durable element in getting this off the ground.

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Harraway on boundary

I have just started to re-read the Haraway article, and only now realised she also discusses boundary breakdowns. She mentions that cyborgs represents a transgression.There are 3 boundaries: boundaries of humans-animals, animal-human and machine, boundary between the physical and non-physical.

Harraway suggests:

We are dealing with polymorphous information systems (the informatics of domination) , with the cyborg a kind of disassembled and assembled,postmodern,collective and personal self. Communications technologies and biotechnoogies are the crucial tools re-crafting our bodies. These tools embody and enforce new social relations for women worldwide.

I thought Chantelle’s IVF blog was a great illustration of this, although it is perhaps a bold statement to say that blogs can be seen as conceptual (immaterial) cyborgs…  And there will no doubt be other blogs and fora on similar topics appearing rhizomatically . The associated tags of these blogs support a computer-manipulated, machine-enhanced search, stretching enforced boundaries (html, web 2.0) which are always changing. Forum members and bloggers exist through the computer, through internet flows, yet as humans operate individually, the flow of ideas and electricity blended.

The Cyborg as a blog…. a cyblog?


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I thought the Katherine Hayles article was pretty captivating. What struck me in this article is the concept of ‘boundary’.

As she gives a definition on posthuman – the posthuman subject is an amalgam, a collection of heterogeneous components, a material-informational entity whose boundaries undergo continuous construction and reconstruction – I think key is our interaction with these boundaries. Boundaries shift, mutate, engage, can be sharp and fuzzy. Embodiment itself implies a boundary and ‘erasure of embodiment’ similarly implies to me a distinction of where embodiment is defined, and where it might dissolve.

Boundaries indicate an environment in which there is a manifestation of boundary. This environment can be material (matter) and immaterial (information) and again considering a separation of these, as Hayles is discussing, involves the idea of boundary. The idea of abstraction to multiplicy seems impossible, unless there is a boundary.

All this is pretty complex, I get lost in the reflexivity!

[ I find it takes a lot of re-readings to digest, hope to do more on this]

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But the constructed revolutionary subject must give late-twentieth century pause as well. In the fraying of identities and in the reflexive strategies for constructing them, the possibilities open up for weaving something other than a shroud for the day after the apocalypse that so prophetically ends salvation history.
Donna Haraway



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