On Thursday, I responded to your previous post, but I can only assume
my response got moderated, for what reason I'm not sure. I am
copying you directly on this response as well as sending it to the
list. Below is that prior response:
I'm no expert on Kant either, but here Shaviro is revisiting Kant's
third critique and focusing on aesthetic judgment, which he claims
problematizes and threatens to undo all of Kant's categorizing thus
far. Aesthetic judgment isn't based on any prior conceptual criteria,
so it is not bound by ethics or reason. This is why aesthetic
judgment can't be universally subjective (there are no universal
categories or concepts upon which it could be based). Aesthetic
judgment is more like a lived, affective relationship between a human
and something in the world.
I brought this up not to talk about Kant per se, but to agree with
Latour (via Ryan Griffis) that there can be a fruitful space of
dialogue between objective science and subjective speculative
philosophy that is suggested as least as far back as Kant (and
incidentally, is suggested in the context of art).
When I say "we're back at Derrida," I don't mean we're back at
Derrida always talking about physics (although that would be
delirious to read). I mean we're back at Derrida's mojo of using
language and analogy to find creative points of slippage between
"objective" facts and where they lead via Grammatological play. What
might Derrida make, for instance, of the practice of speaking of the
analog analogically? I don't think there is anything wrong with
Derrida's mojo; I'm just pointing out that it moves us beyond
I don't mind (I grudgingly respect) Derrida, I just think he makes a
scatalogical art critic. He tends to use the art work as a launching
pad for word play, and his art critical essays wind up more concerned
with language than with the art itself. Hence, "a trap."
The difference between art making and art writing is that art itself
is able to engage with physics in ways that are not subject to
semiotic or linguistic "regimes" (to use Deleuze's term).
Furthermore (and this point has not really been addressed in our
dialogue here), what physics is doing at at sub-atomic levels may not
be directly relevant to scales and speeds of new media art production
and curating (except via metaphor and analogy). As an engineer
building a bridge, it may be intriguing (and even fruitful) to apply
Einsteinian physics (via analogy and metaphor) to bridge-building,
but in terms of actually engaging with the material as a maker,
perhaps Newtonian physics are more appropriate to my the scale and
speed of my media.
You write: "If a true exchange is to occur across disciplines then
the distinctive forms of technique and rhetoric in each must be posed
equally as objects of investigation and transformation." Yes, with
this I wholeheartedly agree.
>Isn't physics (or any natural science) both a craft and a
>discipline? The only way a non-physicist understands physics is
>through the metaphors established through the rhetorical writing
>practices (as Simon notes, full of metaphor) that hold the
>constative knowledge of the discipline. Physics is not understood by
>us through being skilled on the bench, which would be a much more
>real way of understanding what physics is. I find Curt's disavowal
>of the literary nature of any cross-disciplinary exchange in favour
>of a "direct" "enactment" ironic for that reason. The idea of
>physics presents itself to the non-physicist precisely through
>analogy. Those in the sciences usually know this, usually
>implicitly. As Thrift dryly notes,
>"In many of the books on complexity written by practising scientists
>there seems to be an obligatory final chapter which suggests the
>ways in which the metaphors of complexity will refigure science and
>will then go on to provide an explanation of the whole world by
>providing a new worldview. Then, it's off into every domain of
>current intellectual effort imaginable with every kind of false or
>tawdry analogy possible, as if to prove that these inheritors of
>systems theory can forget all about equifinality."
>One cannot locate rhetoricity only outside scientificity. If a true
>exchange is to occur across disciplines then the distinctive forms
>of technique and rhetoric in each must be posed equally as objects
>of investigation and transformation. While Curt again raises the
>spectre of Derrida's attention to language as some example of a
>"trap" that somehow displaces the possibility of art-science
>collaboration, my completely contrary experience is that it is only
>those practitioners, in the arts or the sciences, who, like Derrida,
>fully engage the implications of technical knowledge in their fields
>who are able to develop effective relationships with others. From my
>point of view, anyone in the arts who disavows the power of metaphor
>disavows a long-held pillar of our disciplinary contribution.
>Apologies for the long drift off topic this recent thread brings,
>but on the other hand it does seem another way of broaching a
>related question to "analogue/digital"
>+64 21 456 379
>On 27/03/2011, at 6:59 AM, Simon Biggs wrote:
>> I thought the Law of the Excluded Middle was something the Con-Dem
>> government had invented just for us in the UK ;)
>> But more seriously - or perhaps less so.
>> Physics can be a great metaphor in art. It can be a great metaphor in all
>> sorts of things. That's what physics is. So, when I propose that everything
>> is digital and that each digital unit is quantum, simultaneously zero and
>> one, I am proposing a metaphor.
>> In this respect physics is art. Sometimes it is great art!
>> On 26/03/2011 17:49, "Curt Cloninger" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>> Hi Jon,
>>> This Whitehead maxim seems applicable:
>>> "The true philosophical question is, how can concrete fact exhibit
>>> entities abstract from itself and yet participated in by its own
>>> If insights from physics are to be applied to art, some abstraction
>>> will necessarily have to occur (otherwise you're simply left talking
>>> about physics, or reducing art to physics -- an analytic philosophy
>>> trap). But how to fruitfully cross-apply these abstractions to art
>>> a) slipping into grammatological wordplay (Derrida interminably
>>> riffing on Adami, a post-structuralist trap),
>>> b) cross-applying these new abstractions using old school dialectical
>>> metaphysics (metaphysics which presume the existence of an
>>> analog/digital divide in the first place).
>>> And (beyond the philosophical), how to make art that engages with
>>> these analogDigital conundrums (Leibniz's monadism wrestling with
>>> Bergson's concrete duration) in ways that enact and foreground said
>>> conundrums rather than merely re-presenting them via analogy.
>>> Jon wrote:
>>>> I think this is precisely the problem: that the metaphysics many of
>>>> us take for granted is inherited from outdated science textbooks.
>>>> Physicists have known since the beginning of the last century that
>>>> nature's building blocks are assembled in messy states of
>>>> superposition rather than lined up in neat compartments. ("Is the
>>>> spin up or down? It's both!") Yet so many humanists I read,
>>>> especially among the poststructuralists, yammer on about binaries
>>>> and dichotomies as though the Law of the Excluded Middle were an
>>>> incontestable truth. Or, almost as bad, as though they are the first
>>>> to realize it isn't.
>>>> Nor are all scientists immune from this outmoded determinism. Most
>>>> biologists I speak to have heard of quantum mechanics, but
>>>> implicitly assume that atoms are minuscule billiard balls careening
>>>> predictably around, instead of some perverse foam that oozes
>>>> contradictory states of matter when you're not looking.
>>>> Even Newton didn't understand the metaphysical implications of his
>>>> theory. Though a heretic by contemporaneous standards, Newton was
>>>> still a devout Christian, and during his life wrote more about
>>>> religion than science. He is remembered among metaphysics scholars
>>>> for positing an absolute frame of reference for space and time, in
> >>> contrast to Einstein's later relativistic one. Except that Newton's
>>>> equations *are* relativistic for the scales he was considering--a
>>>> fact he obscured by giving lip service to an absolute frame in order
>>>> to reconcile his formulas with the dogma of his time.
>>>> The design of digital computers to date has only reinforced the lay
>>>> perception that everything around us can be boiled down to 1s and
>>>> 0s. The advent of quantum computers to which Simon alluded could
>>>> challenge that perception--and maybe even give nonphysicists their
>>>> first glimpse of nature with her hair down.
>> Simon Biggs
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