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(ILR) Anurag Singraur


Case Study


The proposal talks about the complexities around interconnectedness between the human and the object. It sees abstraction and impossibility in the hard border division in technology, its mediation, to the body. It closely looks through the lens of the constitution of an object, its dismantling and its remaking to unpack the blurring nature of its components and their interchangeable roles within the sub-setting of its formation. The translation of a medium and its basic separation that causes a material's movement away from its componential form.


An object’s autonomy then becomes a contested idea. The seemingly absent object's ontological ‘definitivity’ claims its ability to transform with time. While it seizes to 'progress', it also, like the institutions of the ‘societies of control’, shows pseudo-reformistic characteristics in times of crisis. This capacity to perpetuate gives itself a false idea of autonomy. A claim that fails to shift the burden of its formulation, spatiotemporally. The aggregates are understood to follow the logic of preservation where they fall into the trap of defining/ hypothesizing it as an absolute entity. The components’ claim to autonomy gives it a false sense of absoluteness. In other words, the aggregates of these objects, even as individuals, often find it compelling to make it as definitive as possible. The inability to do so is seen as waste making it an unquenchable thirst. The object exercising its false autonomy gives itself unprecedented power over its aggregates, hence becoming ‘regimic’.

This constant tussle naturally blurs the boundary distinction between the technical element, technical individual and the technical object. Hence the object itself imitates the nature of the socio-economic force acting upon it. The capitalist mode of economy seeps into the typical understanding of an object as a resource, but anything beyond makes it lose its grip over the socio-economic fabric.


This blurring of boundaries takes a huge toll on the normative understanding of the object in its sheer physicality and tactility. The nuances keep it alive in the process rather than in its 'translation'. While it aims to learn from the placement of different working mechanisms and meaning making via cross placing them in different systems and input of data; and also, the slight twitch that can cause a ripple in the system of an apparatus; it aims at ‘using the tool to bring down master’s house’ while carrying a critique on capitalism and its close relation to time and space. In the quest to find ‘new’ objects, it wanders to locate stability to its shaky materiality, something of an anchor to its lost ship. The cross-placement of different data forms, that revolts and consummates with the ‘host’ to form a para-reading that produces outcomes and bi-products that add to the system in its intellectual bandwidth, giving it a oddly 'fresh' outlook.


Conceptual framework


Anthropocentrism sees everything around us as a resource. Any form of mediation then becomes an exploitative relationship. In other words, a transaction that benefits only the active body, the extractor. The extractee is a resource till it can be extracted from, later becomes waste, beyond its usage. This applies to a body that can live and breathe and further transcends the bounds of the ‘living’. The gaze lies not in the exploitation receiving capacity of the docile body, in this case, it being a living or a non-living, but rather the active body at work and its extracting capacity. This gaze gives unprecedented power to the active party in the transaction. Everything else is defined in the language of this dominating party. The docile body becomes speechless within this hegemony of active language. Labeling becomes easier. The concept of medium turning to waste after a certain use lies at the core of this anthropocentric gaze. Similarly, technology today has only limited and fixed purpose and use; beyond that, it becomes trash. The economic language that speaks for ‘growth’ today talks about the infrastructural progressive imagery that considers technology and media at their use value. Anything that falls off the grid or is short in providing becomes waste or faulty. In the systematic understanding of ‘continuous waste’, ‘decay’ finds its place as something that accurately defines reductive or non-progressive.


In an attempt to recreate machines that imitate humans, humans reciprocate in the language. Often seen under the lens of efficiency, organization, and productivity, humans are expected to perform and, if needed, be disciplined in the fashion that a machine does. This is not just within the capitalist economy of desensitization and alienation that has hampered the human capability to act in a ‘non-human’ way but also how the disciplinary society according to M. Foucault’s works. The human agency and the will to act freely are subject to the social self that is reflected in the institutions of discipline. In ‘Postscript to Societies of Control’ Gilles Deleuze (Deleuze, Winter 1992, 3-7) puts light on the human codification that various institutions of control do. For a bank, a human is its credit score, for a school, a student is its marks, for a factory, a worker is the number of hours worked. In Foucault’s disciplinary societies, the enclosure performs the duty of a cast that gives the human as an individual a mold, distinct castings. Here, the body of the individual is still its own. Whereas, in Deleuze’s societies of control, the controls are a modulation, a self-modulating and rearranging cast that changes according to the data of the individual that these institutions have. They are ever-changing and developing the system of control way before the individual ever gets to make a choice. Hence, Deleuze is a post-humanist. The fact that the contemporary control societies find human acknowledgment and its evidence in the language of the technical, pushes the human identity beyond its regular understanding. The human is then indexical to its being. It's continuous codification. This indexicality seems to push human particularities in ways that unshackle them from their existing exploitative potential. Rather the language of oppression seeps deep within this system of control. The three societies work in distinction to one another. The society of sovereignty works on the regulation of death. This was pre-18th century when the lord could kill the workers if they disobeyed the lord or did not pay taxes on time. In disciplinary societies, the workers are regulated by regulating spaces. In societies of control, the ‘access’ is regulated through technological automation. Such that the individual could not defy its machines and mechanism even if you wanted to.


Model


The existing technology and its hegemony claim the voice of numerous alternative narratives. These are, in disciplinary societies, molds that forcefully cast narratives into ever-repeating ones. Even though having numerous potentials, these molds are used as tools of subjugation. They become an apparatus in Agamben’s (Agamben & Petadella, 2009, 1-24) words. It becomes immensely critical to put this apparatus in light and understand how it operates. The knowledge around the creation and use of apparatus is significant to dismantle and disarm the oppressive capacity that they possess. Physically dismantling is one way to look at the tangible delicacy of the apparatus as an object. During which the inter-relationality of one part to the other is apprehended. The assemblage of these parts forms a complex mobility that puts in motion not just the tangible but the intangible at the same time. Tangible here could just be the output in its physicality, while the intangible could be its larger impact in the world. The value that the world derives from it surpasses the tangible value of the output. This relation between the two marks the uncontrollable distinction that at times drives the language of subjugation. The infrastructural apparatus keeps a check upon the accessibility further barring certain particularities and certain not. How to move away from using the apparatus as a tool of oppression is a challenge. Here are some interventions to rearrange the apparatus, I have taken:

● A through lens on the complexity of movement that creates meaning.

● An assemblage of multiple apparatus to generate newer meanings.

● Bringing a set of data into another to mobilize the apparatus.

● Calling out its repetition


A closer look would unpack the complexity of its mobility and the process of meaning-making. Perhaps a slight twitch would do the work? Imagine a constant electrical flow. All of this is only possible due to the placement of different material and immaterial components. A small change in the same would hamper the flow or even break the circuit. This is usually seen as disruption, be it internal or external. While this makes the circuit faulty, it can also open the scope for a newer reading of the apparatus and its complex working altogether, while also breaking the dominating use value objectivity.


An assemblage is something that takes multiple objects at the same time and brings them together to form an altogether different object. Here, the identity of the objects used initially is retained and not lost. Carefully moving away from fabrication, an assemblage deals with identity retention of the original elements. ‘Collage’ is a similar intervention that gained popularity in the mid-20th century. What is interesting about the process is the fact that there is a gap that seemingly appears and remains almost throughout. Yet none of the elements/components that come together, take the burden to fill the gap, avoiding the ‘savior complex’. Here is a more inclusive outcome that credits its components. One such example is around the similar use of an intervention that resulted in the movement: ‘Afro-Futurism’. This also de-hegemonizes the apparent tool of subversion in an attempt to neutralize it. Often this neutralization is interchangeably processed via newer meaning creation or creation of counter-narratives towards an effort to de-legitimize the dominant narrative or even as simple as to mark its existence.


Another intervening method brings a set of data from one tool to another. This not only generates a new meaning but also breaks open the apparatus, but also reconfigures it. This unshackles the restrictive performative structure of the components of the apparatus and exposes them to be mobile in a fresh manner.

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