Thursday, 4 November 2010

OOF in Indiana

After hearing of the Object Oriented Feminism panels at the 24th Annual Conference of the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts in Indianapolis, I just had to track down the abstracts. I suspect I will soon be pestering one or two of the speakers for copies of their papers. It would be interesting to know what Ian, or indeed anyone in attendance, made of the papers.

Object-Oriented Feminism 1: "Programs"
Chair:
Katherine Behar
Object-Oriented Feminism 1: Programs" seeks to sketch priorities and parameters for Object-Oriented Feminism. What would a program for Object-Oriented Feminism (OOF) entail? We begin from commonplace object experiences like the sociological and economic continuities Veblen noted between women and commodities, the subsequent exploitation of tools in Harman's reading of Heidegger, and our own everyday objectification as women and men–which is to say as humans–dancing cheek to cheek with Bogost's "Latour Litany" of consumables. In Haraway's term, objects are starting to look a lot like feminists' "companion species." From these coordinates, OOF undertakes to account for contemporary object practices. First, beginning with an invented etymology, we look to digital practices. By questioning the seeming thing-less-ness of software, is it possible to reverse-engineer a feminist connection to object-oriented programming? Does the model of software set the program for Object-Oriented Ontologies? Moving next to language, we ask what becomes of the subject in the turn toward object-oriented practices? What orientation describes this now evacuated point of view? Lastly, we approach the issue of relations to question both the ethics and tenor of inter- and intra-object relationships. Can deadening and objectification from within, as in the practice of Botox injections, inspire an inert object camaraderie among objectified feminists? Can OOF recuperate love?

Wendy Hui Kyong Chun.
Programmed Visions: Software and Memory
Recent legal and theoretical debates over the status of software focus on whether or not software really exists. This paper argues that these debates miss what is most interesting and important about software: its status as a “thing,” as something both concrete and ambiguous that refigures relations between subjects and objects. It traces software’s historical emergence as an invisibly visible (or visibly invisible) object, linking it to gendered (among other) hierarchies embedded in its vapory structure. Lastly, it situates the recent rise of “thing theory” and “object oriented philosophy” as themselves responses to—not simply theoretical tools necessary to examine—new media.

Patricia Ticineto Clough.
Let us Stipulate that What is Left in a Point of View is a Subject: Language and Object-Oriented Ontology
Taking up the move from the linguistic turn to the speculative turn of an object-oriented ontology, I want to revisit those psychoanalytically informed descriptions of infant-child and mother that have been a starting point in discourses about the constitution of the human as a (speaking) subject. In the move to an object-oriented ontology, how is a subject to be understood? What is the relationship of language to a subject where a subject is not only human but rather a point of view left as a virtual residue in what Graham Harmon calls “the interior of some intentional whole?” As point of view is placed outside the ocular-centric tradition and intentionality is no longer restricted to the human, rethinking the relationship of language and a subject also raises questions about bodies, desires, phantasms. Drawing on Deleuzian philosophy both to elaborate the use to which I am putting “virtual residue” and to take up the idea of series, I will suggest a different way to think of language and a subject that insists on the poetic and the vast role that Harman imagines aesthetics deserves to play in ontology.

Katherine Behar.
Facing Necrophilia, or "Botox Ethics"
Just as Object-Oriented Feminism incorporates human and nonhuman objects, it must extend between living objects and dead ones. This paper explores how self-objectifying practitioners of body art and plastic surgery incorporate inertness and deadness within the living self. First we discuss body art and plastic surgery through Catherine Malabou's concept of brain plasticity, the constitution of oneself through passive reception and active annihilation of form. Malabou associates plasticity's destructive aspect with plastic explosives and its malleable aspect with sculpture and plastic surgery. Yet seen from under the knife, plastic surgery and body art seem to make plastic objects in Malabou's full sense of the term. The plastic art object of surgery kills off its old self to sculpt a new one. This brings us to Botox, the snicker-worthy subject at the heart of this paper. In Botox use, optional injections of Botulinum toxin temporarily deaden the face, Emmanuel Levinas' primary site of living encounter. With Botox, living objects elect to become a little less lively. Botox represents an important ethical gesture: a face-first plunge for living objects to meet dead objects halfway, to locate and enhance what is inert in the living, and extend toward inaccessible deadness with necrophiliac love and compassion. "Botox ethics" hints at how Object-Oriented Feminism might subtly shift object-oriented terms. Resistance to being known twists into resistance to alienation. Concern with qualities of things reconstitutes as concern for qualities of relations. And, speculation on the real becomes performance of the real. Botox ethics experientially transforms empathy for dead counterparts into comingled sympathy. Setting aside aesthetic allure, Botox ethics shoots up.

N. Katherine Hayles.
Respondent

Object-Oriented Feminism 2: "Parts"
Chair:
Katherine Behar
"Object-Oriented Feminism 2: Parts" takes an Object-Oriented Feminist view of bodies and body parts. As objects, bodies provide a case study of how Object-Oriented Philosophy introduces an unusual, nearly topological, imperviousness to scale: objects are composed of objects. Body parts are objects, having the same value and integrity as the body objects they are arranged to comprise. This regressive modularity leads to questions about when a body object is considered a living object or a dead one, and about how body parts can be differently systematized. In Object-Oriented Feminism, bodies are programmed objects par excellence. How are bodies programmed differently when practices like cardiology construe hearts as different kinds of objects (as electrical systems or as hydraulic systems)? How do transgenic art practices challenge quid pro quo bioethics in the "art object" of a living (or dead) organism? In transgene infection, what determines how art objects and objects of science attain legal standing or ritual value? As a specific, historical, cultural object for segmenting the body, can a corset provide anamorphic insight into objects in general? And how does this complex mereology (the theory of relations between parts and wholes) intersect with practices of the self that employ the corset, like fetishism?

Anne Pollock.
Heart Feminism
When feminists theorizations of the body have foregrounded particular body parts, whether breasts or uteruses (too many to cite) or more recently brains (Wilson) and bones (Fausto-Sterling), they have rendered feminism and the body in distinct ways. What might starting analysis from the heart offer for feminism? The heart’s mechanical and hydraulic aspects have been important in articulating implicitly male bodies since early modern medicine, and the organ’s electrical aspect is also evocative. Spurred by the etymology of “articulation” – from ancient Greek, both dividing the body into parts and segmenting speech into intelligible language (Kuriyama) – this paper grapples with a heart-centered feminist articulation of the body.

Adam Zaretsky.
Object-Oriented Bioethics: gene application technology, trans-normative bioethics and posthuman(e) sacrifice of Transgenic Devices
We look at hereditary alterity as a technologically gendered art of forming bodies and as a way towards actuating beings born under the aegis of authored morphological predeterminism. Transgene infection is achieved by engineering gene cassettes/constructs considered inert until they are reincorporated into a nuclear genome beginning a hereditary cascade. Actual transgene infection involves human application of gene insertion machines targeted towards the nuclei of germ cells (vertebrate, fly, worm, plant, etc.) The apparatii include standard viral vector design as well as the microinjectors, biolistic devices, electroporators and coprecipitation transformations. Once parented by these symbolically gendered tools, the pressed gonads belong to the living world, the machinic predecessors and to the artists who drive/test/keep/display them. Unfortunately, most modified beings must be contained and some must be humanely sacrificed to protect the environment from foreign species invasion, to defend programs of society from their-selves and to reduce the suffering of living sculpture. Aesthetic cathexis towards other-body expressions point to the applicator’s desire and intention: objectified dominance (scope and poke), lust for reproductive signature (living fame) as well as the standard libidinal taboos – incest, pedophilia, necrophilia, coprophilia, zoophilia and ritual murder. In Object-Oriented Bioethics the questions pertain to the living or quashed remainders of anti-anthropocentric contact relations. Object Oriented Ontological Feminism critiques through a mix of object oriented code aesthetics, psychoanalytic object relations and contemporary feminist readings of the potential for use value in working resistance from the POV of objectification.

Frenchy Lunning.
OOF! The Corset: An Anamorphosis of Ambiguous Objects
Represented on ancient wall paintings, historical advertisements, political cartoons, famous paintings and histories of fashion, fads and femininity, the corset stands as a particular object in a closely circulating assemblage of objects that condense around the feminine and the fetish. I submit that the corset reflects and represents the same distortions, slant progressions and “miss-shaping” as does the object in the same anamorphic entangled fields of the feminine and the fetish. This paper will attempt to describe the assemblage or field of these objects and trace their circulations, progressions, and constructions through their histories, linkages, conflicts and alliances to discover or uncover the potential of a Feminist reading of object-oriented philosophy.

Ian Bogost.
Respondent

1 comment:

ibogost said...

I will be writing up a summary soon.