Technology and Culture Reading Group

TCRG – School of Culture and Communication – University of Melbourne

Month: October, 2013

TCRG x AIME 4: “Situating the Beings of Fiction”

by lukevanryn


This week we detour from our planned route though AIME to look at chapter 9, where Latour addresses The Bifurcation: ‘reality’ vs. ‘representation’.

Inevitably, we risk falling back on the idea that there is, on one side, that which exists, and, on the other, “representations” of that which exists. (p.234)

Bringing into play the mode of fiction, Latour ambitiously uses beings of fiction to explain an art-network that sustains the beings of fiction, and from this, briefly develops an aesthetic theory, and how it colonises other modes of existence. He also presents a alternative understanding of signifier and signified, and most paradoxically, how understanding beings of fiction will allow us to finally be true materialists.

Importantly, he sets up an interesting mode of veridiction for beings of fiction, which addresses arguments concerning the value and judgement of art and the relationship with an audience.

[PDF] Latour, B. (2013) “Situating the Beings of Fiction” An Inquiry into the Modes of Existence: An Anthropology of the Moderns (C. Porter, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, ch. 9.

We will meet to discuss the chapter at 5pm, Tuesday October 22nd in the Pierre Gorman Room, 1888 Building, University of Melbourne.

TCRG x AIME 3: “Making the Beings of Technology Visible”

by lukevanryn

travel_hammock_plusWe enter our third week of reading Bruno Latour’s An Inquiry into Modes of Existence with the eighth chapter from his new book: “Making the Beings of Technology Visible”. In this chapter, Latour develops the mode of being peculiar to technology. In doing so, he also argues that technological beings must be dealt with in a mode that departs from reproduction (discussed last week):

“by assimilating the beings of technology with the beings of reproduction, we would be making a diagnostic error as surely if we confused them with networks” (215).

Latour develops this argument in dialogue with the work of the philosopher of technology Gilbert Simondon, who Latour names (alongside Étienne Souriau) as one of the precursors to the notion of “modes of existence”. We can anticipate getting to grips with technological beings by following Latour in the pursuit of their “dazzling zigzags[s]” – from the most common to the rarest of experience, in response to Simondon and beyond.

The chapter is available here [PDF]. For those interested, he introduction and Chapter One of Simondon’s On the Mode of Existence of Technical Objects is available here [PDF].
We meet at 5pm on Tuesday October 8th in the Pierre Gorman Room, 1888 Building, University of Melbourne. All welcome.

TCRG x AIME 2: “Learning to Make Room”

by lukevanryn

Hi all,

TCRG continues its engagment with Bruno Latour’s An Inquiry into the Modes of Existence this week with Chapter Four from his new text: “Learning to Make Room”.

In this chapter Latour extends his notion of modes of existence through a discussion of matter and form – and by proposing that enagements with reality require an “exit from matter”.

The chapter can be downloaded here [PDF]. A possibly relevant secondary reading – a short text by Latour from 2007 called “Can We Get Our Materialism Back, Please?”, can also be found here [PDF].
We meet at 5pm on Tuesday October 8th in the Pierre Gorman Room, 1888 Building, University of Melbourne. All welcome.