Saturday, August 19, 2006

"The Impossibility Box: An Emotional Computation"

In the closing keynote, Daniel Canty spoke to us about technology and metaphor, or the relationship between language and materiality, and popular scientific texts as books of wonders. He started with the phrase "smart dust" and spoke of the tendency of technology to be preceded by metaphor, which compels us to talk about things that don't exist as if they did. Computers as the dream of pure logic, blackboxed. The emotional vectors of technology. (Daniel speaks like Matt Webb, so follow along as you can! My comments in parentheses.) The death of God, machines - if built properly - can do anything. Cybernetics. Social control. Neo-liberalism. Objectivity of systems. How to construe technologies as something other than technology? Wittgenstein says: "The world is always the case." (Yes.) Language is not purely linguistic. "I love tautology!" says Daniel. Words are things other than the things they name. Wittgenstein again. Material semiotics. Words do things. Words are materials. Words are translations of the truth, the "thingness of things"? The world "outside" of us, mathematical, quantifiable. But there are no things as such, things are in constant translation and some translations are better than others. Language is the most pliant of all interfaces. Language as form of life. Metaphor as language, thought and action. Understanding can not be separated from culture and embodiment. Lakoff and Johnson's metaphors we live by. Vision is not a field. Metaphor is always partial. Metaphors displace. Yet, metaphors are still "true." Social and personal. There is interaction before there is interactivity, both subjective and objective. "Metaphor is imaginative reality." All experience is cultural. Logic is a metaphor we chose to live by. (Sigh.) AI as "as if." (The virtual is also "as if.") Metaphor. The list of what no longer belongs to us. Trying to make dust smart is kind of sad. We want to find logic everywhere. To pretend that computers will become emotional on their own. To instrumentalise the absence of God. But god is in the details. Not pervasive computing, pervasive metaphor. Language as illogical. To undo matter. Smart dust is neither smart nor dust - it is a metaphor for what we expect of technology. (Sweet.) Art is the metaphorical pursuit of truth. Playing hide-and-seek with walkie-talkies. Pleasure in being better than logic. Never never land. The memory of what we were.

(Oh, this was very very nice. Stream of consciousness.)


Blogger institute.of.zombie.studies said...

The most poetic metaphor I've ever heard in terms of consumption was on "C'est La Vie" on CBC Radio 1. The english equivalent is "drink to the last drop" or "paying through the nose". The french saying is "Boire la ruby sur l'ongle" or "Payez la ruby sur l'ongle" which means to drink red wine to the last drop so that it can fit on a fingernail.

Is that even a metaphor? I mean it contains a metaphor...

Blogger jaceee said...

Hi Anne:

isn't this "memory of what we were" an articulation of the alienation that technology brings with its use as a mediator in human relation?



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