Category Archives: philosophy

Boundary Objects and Beyond


Edited by Geoffrey C. Bowker (2016)

Susan Leigh Star (1954–2010) was one of the most influential science studies scholars of the last several decades. In her work, Star highlighted the messy practices of discovering science, asking hard questions about the marginalizing as well as the liberating powers of science and technology. In the landmark work Sorting Things Out, Star and Geoffrey Bowker revealed the social and ethical histories that are deeply embedded in classification systems. Star’s most celebrated concept was the notion of boundary objects: representational forms―things or theories―that can be shared between different communities, with each holding its own understanding of the representation. Unfortunately, Leigh was unable to complete a work on the poetics of infrastructure that further developed the full range of her work. This volume collects articles by Star that set out some of her thinking on boundary objects, marginality, and infrastructure, together with essays by friends and colleagues from a range of disciplines―from philosophy of science to organization science―that testify to the wide-ranging influence of Star’s work.

Posted in culture, language, philosophy, science, theory

Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds


By adrienne maree brown (2017)

Inspired by Octavia Butler’s explorations of our human relationship to change, Emergent Strategy is radical self-help, society-help, and planet-help designed to shape the futures we want to live. Change is constant. The world is in a continual state of flux. It is a stream of ever-mutating, emergent patterns. Rather than steel ourselves against such change, this book invites us to feel, map, assess, and learn from the swirling patterns around us in order to better understand and influence them as they happen. This is a resolutely materialist “spirituality” based equally on science and science fiction, a visionary incantation to transform that which ultimately transforms us.

Posted in culture, feminism, philosophy, politics

Chronophobia: On Time in the Art of the 1960s

By Pamela Lee (2004)
Despite its pervasiveness, the subject of time and 1960s art has gone largely unexamined in historical accounts of the period. Chronophobia is the first critical attempt to define this obsession and analyze it in relation to art and technology.Lee discusses the chronophobia of art relative to the emergence of the Information Age in postwar culture. The accompanying rapid technological transformations, including the advent of computers and automation processes, produced for many an acute sense of historical unknowing; the seemingly accelerated pace of life began to outstrip any attempts to make sense of the present. Lee sees the attitude of 1960s art to time as a historical prelude to our current fixation on time and speed within digital culture.

Posted in art, cinema, culture, history, media, philosophy, technology, theory

Critical Vehicles: Writings, Projects, Interviews

By Krzysztof Wodiczko (1999)
Krzysztof Wodiczko, one of the most original avant-garde artists of our time, is perhaps best known for the politically charged images he has projected onto buildings and monuments from New York to Warsaw–images of rockets projected onto triumphal arches, the image of handcuffed wrists projected onto a courthouse facade, images of homeless people in bandages and wheelchairs projected onto statues in a park from which they had been evicted. Critical Vehicles is the first book in English to collect Wodiczko’s own writings on his projects. Wodiczko has stated that his principal artistic concern is the displacement of traditional notions of community and identity in the face of rapidly expanding technologies and cultural miscommunication. In these writings he addresses such issues as urbanism, homelessness, immigration, alienation, and the plight of refugees. Fusing wit and sophisticated political insight, he offers the artistic means to help heal the damages of uprootedness and other contemporary troubles.

Posted in architecture, art, culture, design, interview, media, philosophy, politics, technology

Joseph Beuys in America: Energy Plan for the Western Man

By Joseph Beuys (1993)
Joseph Beuys, artist and scholar, was the most influential thinker among artists of the postwar generation. He inspired the avant-garde with his impassioned appeals for democratic anarchy, and actually founded a string of ‘free universities’ across Europe. His credo was “Every man is an artist.” In 1974, he accepted an invitation to visit the U.S. His travels too him to New York, Chicago, and Minneapolis, and he called the trip – fact an extended performance piece – “Energy Plan for the Western Man.” Beuys’ writings have never before been collected in any language, and most of the interviews and speeches in Joseph Beuys in America have never before appeared in book form.

Posted in art, education, history, interview, myth, philosophy, politics, science

The Poetics of Space

b>By Gaston Bachelard (1964)
The classic book on how we experience intimate spaces. A magical book. A prism through which all worlds from literary creation to housework to aesthetics to carpentry take on enhanced—and enchanted-significances. Every reader of it will never see ordinary spaces in ordinary ways. Instead the reader will see with the soul of the eye, the glint of Gaston Bachelard.

Posted in architecture, art, consciousness, language, phenomenology, philosophy

A Natural History of the Senses

By Diane Ackerman (1990)
An exciting multidiscipline book that crosses the lines of literature, history, anthropology, music, psychology, sociology, and philosophy and that flows with grace and reason. The theme is expressed in such a way as to draw readers into experiential thought and, therefore, impacts heavily upon the way one looks at the issue of sensing and its role for humanity. It is sure to raise readers’ consciousness level while providing researched and analyzed information on this topic. In addition, the language is clear and concise, which makes the book valuable to a large cross section of readers. The generous use of cultural and historical examples adds to the readability.

Posted in consciousness, history, language, music, philosophy, science

Illuminations


Studies on contemporary art and culture by one of the most original, critical and analytical minds of this century. Illuminations includes Benjamin’s views on Kafka, with whom he felt the closest personal affinity, his studies on Baudelaire and Proust (both of whom he translated), his essays on Leskov and on Brecht’s Epic Theater. Also included are his penetrating study on “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” an illuminating discussion of translation as a literary mode, and his thesis on the philosophy of history. Hannah Arendt selected the essays for this volume and prefaces them with a substantial, admirably informed introduction that presents Benjamin’s personality and intellectual development, as well as his work and his life in dark times.

Posted in art, culture, history, language, media, philosophy, photography

Digital Mantras: The Language of Abstract and Virtual Worlds

By Steven Holtzman (1995)
Holtzman, who holds a doctorate in computer science, provides a highly stimulating discussion of the integration of music, art, and language with recent trends in computer technology. He traces the evolution of formal abstract structures as they exist in the music of Schoenberg and Boulez, the art of Kandinsky, and the language grammars of Chomsky. Since computers have the capability to manipulate structures, the author contends that we have reached new frontiers of unexplored artistic creativity; he foresees new worlds of creative expression-that is, “virtual worlds.” This text wisely addresses the issues of dissonance in electronic music and human emotion and understanding in the creative process. Holtzman’s journey into “virtual reality,” sprinkled with a touch of Indian mysticism, is a totally intelligible, enjoyable venture.

Posted in art, history, language, media, music, philosophy, science, technology

Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet Of Wonder: Pronged Ants, Horned Humans, Mice on Toast, and Other Marvels of Jurassic Technology

By Lawrence Weschler (1995)
In the non-Aristotelian, non-Euclidean, non-Newtonian space between the walls of the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles exist bats that can fly through lead barriers, spore-ingesting pronged ants, elaborate theories of memory, and a host of other off-kilter scientific oddities that challenge the traditional notions of truth and fiction. Lawrence Weschler’s book, expanded from an article for Harper’s, is, at turns, a tour of the museum, a profile of its founder and curator, David Wilson, and a meditation on the role of imagination and authority in all museums, in science and in life. Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder is an exquisite piece of “magic realist nonfiction” that will prove utterly captivating.

Posted in art, biography, consciousness, exhibition, philosophy, science