September 23 2010.
“A figure on a background, is the simplest sense-given available to us, it is the very definition of the phenomenon of perception” — Maurice Merleau-Ponty
The body is the Figure, or rather the material of the Figure. Above all the material of the Figure is not to be confused with the material structure in space, which is separate from this. The body is a Figure, not structure. — Gilles Deleuze
Figures of the Visceral seeks to address how biopolitical and informatic protocols are altering the substance of perception and with it our sense of embodied experience, but also how affective or visceral responses challenge structures of knowledge. It is designed as a dialog between art and science that examines how notions of embodiment and the articulations of the body as flesh are challenged by, and in turn challenge, emerging technologies.
The evolving and rapid deployment of biotechnologies and technopolitics have both augmented and diminished the body’s capacity to act or engage with others. Macro-economic processes that are based on mathematical speed leave behind human decision making; assisted reproduction, organ transplant, cloning, and even plastic surgery show their potential to affect entire segments of the global population; genetic screening changes the notion of personhood and biotechnology renders genetic material patentable, altering key legal concepts on property; while surveillance transforms the citizen/state relation and the experience of public space. The current structures of knowledge focus on networked, and systematic approaches to phenomena rendering human perception, and with it the human body, obsolete.
According to Paul Cézanne the logic of the senses is neither rational nor cerebral. Instead he argued that relations were not established through reason but “between sensation and rhythm, which places in each sensation the levels and domains through which it passes.” This complex relation between chaos, rhythm, figures, grounds, surfaces, responses and immanence was best described as intuitive and visceral. Far too often, however, new knowledge structures have failed to take into embodied perceptions, and and to recognize bodily reflexes, as well as affective responses to new technologies that are often volatile and difficult to control.
This article was published on Jun 22, 2010