communication +1, 3(1): Afterlives of Systems (2014)

8 April 2015, dusan

“Under the impression of today’s global crisis and the rise of ecological thinking, confronted with smart, ubiquitous technosystems and the impression of interconnectedness, there appears a new urge to excavate the remnants of the past. The articles of this issue suggest that in order to understand present technologies, we need to account the systems thinking that fostered their emergence, and that we cannot gain insight into the afterlives of systems without exploring their technologies.

The nine contributions ask how these debates and affective states survive and live on in today’s discussions of media ecologies, environmentalism, object-oriented philosophies, computer simulations, performative art, and communication technologies. In this sense, they take the renaissance of systems thinking in the late 20th and early 21st Century as an effect of various system crisis and explore new media technologies as stabilizing ‘cures’ against the dystopian future scenarios that emerged after World War II. The articles of this issue suggest that in order to understand present technologies, we need to account the systems thinking that fostered their emergence, and that we cannot gain insight into the afterlives of systems without exploring their technologies.”

With contributions by Etienne Benson, Rafico Ruiz, Katja Rothe, Niklas Schrape, Christoph Neubert and Serjoscha Wiemer, Sebastian Vehlken, Bruce Clarke, Jan Mueggenburg, and You Nakai.

Edited by Christina Vagt and Florian Sprenger
Publisher University of Massachusetts Amherst, September 2014
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License
c231 pages

PDF articles
single PDF (4 MB)

Vilém Flusser, Louis Bec: Vampyroteuthis Infernalis: A Treatise, with a Report by the Institut Scientifique de Recherche Paranaturaliste (1987–)

15 March 2015, dusan

“How far apart are humans from animals—even the “vampire squid from hell”? Playing the scientist/philosopher/provocateur, Vilém Flusser uses this question as a springboard to dive into a literal and a philosophical ocean. “The abyss that separates us” from the vampire squid (or vampire octopus, perhaps, since Vampyroteuthis infernalis inhabits its own phylogenetic order somewhere between the two) “is incomparably smaller than that which separates us from extraterrestrial life, as imagined in science fiction and sought by astrobiologists,” Flusser notes at the outset of the expedition.

Part scientific treatise, part spoof, part philosophical discourse, part fable, Vampyroteuthis Infernalis gives its author ample room to ruminate on human—and nonhuman—life. Considering the human condition along with the vampire squid/octopus condition seems appropriate because “we are both products of an absurd coincidence . . . we are poorly programmed beings full of defects,” Flusser writes. Among other things, “we are both banished from much of life’s domain: it into the abyss, we onto the surfaces of the continents. We have both lost our original home, the beach, and we both live in constrained conditions.”

Thinking afresh about the life of an “other”—as different from ourselves as the vampire squid/octopus—complicates the linkages between animality and embodiment. Odd and strangely compelling, Vampyroteuthis Infernalis offers a unique posthumanist philosophical understanding of phenomenology and opens the way for a nonphilosophy of life.”

First published as Vampyroteuthis infernalis. Eine Abhandlung samt Befund des Institut Scientifique de Recherche Paranaturaliste, Immatrix Publications, Göttingen, 1987.

English edition
Translated by Valentine A. Pakis
Publisher University of Minnesota Press, 2012
Posthumanities series
ISBN 9780816678211
104 pages

Another English translation, from the original, unpublished and extended Brazilian-Portuguese version of the manuscript found at the Vilém Flusser Archive at UDK, Berlin
Edited and Translated by Rodrigo Maltez Novaes
With a Foreword by Abraham A. Moles
Publisher Atropos, New York and Dresden, 2011
Interventions series
ISBN 9780983173410
158 pages

Reviews: Colin Dickey (Los Angeles Review of Books, 2012), Lidia Zuin (n.d.).

Publisher: Minnesota UP, Atropos
WorldCat: Minnesota UP, Atropos

PDF (trans. Valentine A. Pakis from DE book, 2012, 10 MB, no OCR)
PDF, ARG (trans. Rodrigo Maltez Novaes from BR-PT manuscript, 2011)

Alexander R. Galloway, Eugene Thacker, McKenzie Wark: Excommunication: Three Inquiries in Media and Mediation (2013)

21 February 2015, dusan

“Always connect—that is the imperative of today’s media. But what about those moments when media cease to function properly, when messages go beyond the sender and receiver to become excluded from the world of communication itself—those messages that state: “There will be no more messages”? In this book, Alexander R. Galloway, Eugene Thacker, and McKenzie Wark argue that these moments reveal the ways the impossibility of communication is integral to communication itself—instances they call excommunication.

In three linked essays, Excommunication pursues this elusive topic by looking at mediation in the face of banishment, exclusion, and heresy, and by contemplating the possibilities of communication with the great beyond. First, Galloway proposes an original theory of mediation based on classical literature and philosophy, using Hermes, Iris, and the Furies to map out three of the most prevalent modes of mediation today—mediation as exchange, as illumination, and as network. Then, Thacker goes beyond Galloway’s classification scheme by examining the concept of excommunication through the secret link between the modern horror genre and medieval mysticism. Charting a trajectory of examples from H. P. Lovecraft to Meister Eckhart, Thacker explores those instances when one communicates or connects with the inaccessible, dubbing such modes of mediation “haunted” or “weird” to underscore their inaccessibility. Finally, Wark evokes the poetics of the infuriated swarm as a queer politics of heresy that deviates from both media theory and the traditional left. He posits a critical theory that celebrates heresy and that is distinct from those that now venerate Saint Paul.

Reexamining commonplace definitions of media, mediation, and communication, Excommunication offers a glimpse into the realm of the nonhuman to find a theory of mediation adequate to our present condition.”

Publisher University of Chicago Press, 2013
TRIOS series
ISBN 0226925226, 9780226925226
210 pages

Reviews: Barber (Parrhesia, 2014), Murphy (Afterimage, 2014), Lovink (e-flux, 2014, Wark’s response), Kaminska (Reviews in Cultural Theory, 2015).