[iDC] IPF09 Conference thoughts

Kevin Hamilton kham at uiuc.edu
Thu Dec 10 05:28:40 UTC 2009

Saul, The story you relate through Bell's work is told in multiple  
ways in the films of Adam Curtis, where the liberal (white) self,  
following the "dream of freedom," falls into the trap of a game-theory  
driven economic system.

On Dec 9, 2009, at 1:14 PM, Saul Ostrow wrote:

> Personally, I believe that this is what is replicated in most cases  
> both here and in the class room when we seek to engage in theorizing  
> cultural critique and its practices without the benefit of self- 
> reflexivity, which leaves them vulnerable to their subjectivities  
> and good  intentions.

The hardest challenge here is that many of us are apt to mistake the  
self-referential for the self-reflexive. "It's just my perspective,"  
the student says, and the conversation is supposed to be closed.

This is built in at the visual level through the ways in which gestalt  
theory is taught to freshmen in art school. In the traditional  
applications of Bauhaus design education, it's enough to recognize the  
multi-stable nature of figure/ground - but one doesn't have to  
actually acknowledge all the possible perspectives. As Ihde points  
out, many of the traditional visual illusions used to demonstrate  
visual subjectivity don't ask the viewer to consider her own body in  
space. He finds other, overlooked and simultaneous reads in some of  
the more well-known multi-stable images and diagrams, ones dependent  
on imagining one's feet on the same ground with the diagram.

Toward the end of acknowledging the need for reflexivity in these  
critiques, I should add that where I perceive my students as locked  
into a cybernetic sensorium, I don't see a way out that doesn't also  
require a great deal from me. Instructors will have to perform/adopt  
new views as well, and risk living by different rituals than those  
which write the limited subjectivities we fight. In the current  
economic climate, where more is already expected of those of us with  
jobs, and less jobs are available for those of us without, risk sounds  
like a tall order, I must admit.

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