Latent Worlds: On Low Resolution in High Dimensions

4 Mar. 2022

Discussion with vinit agarwal, with respondant Ute Holl for the Decolonising Socialism: Entangled Internationalism study group session. 4 March, 2022 @16:30 CET. Registration is free! Prepared talk on “Spatialising Entanglement”, in relation to computation, data modelling.

What I’d like to focus on with regards to the transformation of space inherent to this emergent planetary entanglement, is the concurrent representational history that corresponds to Wynter’s genealogical account. I think here we can start to see the influence of not only developing philosophical concepts of the human, but how they are either integrated into ways of seeing (which Massimo Scolari theory of Anti-perspective reminds us, are also ways of thinking), or are co-emergent with inventing world models. That is to note, the origins of the monohumanism referent “we” of humanity – that rationally masterful creature, wholly separated from Nature, coincides with the birth of classical perspective, a way to represent Reality in a so-called ‘naturalistic’ way that proliferated during the Renaissance. Crucially this mode of representing reality is not just indexed by a couple of works, but is a METHOD, meaning it lent itself to mimesis, and takes on qualities of a template. So what we have is the co-emergence of an abstract philosophical concept (at the time), alongside a template that offerred up the spatialisation of such a concept. In the logic of a wholly human-determined world, it follows that the so-called ‘accurate’, pictorial depiction of reality has no problem in distorting reality in order to conform to the human bio-ocular system. The relation between the concept and the spatialising framework of the concept participates in making of a world optimised purely by and for this particular genre of being human. Clearly this ‘us’ of a generic, humanist human was always partial in practice, including its representational tropes, meaning we’ve never been ‘generic’ or that ‘humanity’ has never been realised, despite the rhetorical or idealised proliferation of the term. As Scolari’s has documented in his account of the utter failure of Jesuit missionaries in China (in the 16th and 17th centuries), while there may have been a technical appreciation of the European mimicking of human vision in China, the premise of a single, proper vantage-point was conceptually rejected and even more condescendingly, Sou Che is quoted as saying: ‘He who judges a painting according to the concept of resemblance shows the understanding of a child’. The dismissal of this form of representation in China, according to Scolari, boiled down to a rejection of narrating and positioning the human as the comparative measure for all things.