“Producing places” is a twofold topic. It can refer to places as sites that produce something, that are productive, that have operations unfold, or actions happen, or objects emerge. Likewise, it can refer to the fabrication of places as specific entities themselves. With the extended availability and practicability of digital positioning, locating and tracking systems, it has become most evident that places are not just there, but that they are generated, that they are subject to media technological operations and effects. And as such, they are fabricated themselves, they are not only active in production, but subject to production. So with the question of producing places, a media theoretical challenge has come up that needs to be tackled.
This special issue of the journal is entirely in English.
Editorial Lorenz Engell, Bernhard Siegert
Einstein’s Discourse Networks Jimena Canales
Myths of Labor: Elements of an Economical Zoology Iris Därmann
The Infinite Cinema: A Discussion with Mr. Xu Chi an “The Limit of Cinema” and The Limit of Art: A Second Discussion on the Infinite Cinema Li Lishui
Commentary Weihong Bao
The City-A Popular Assembly Ludger Schwarte
Places Proper and Attached or the Agency of the Ground and the Collectives of Domestication Michael Cuntz
Islands of Stability: Engaging Emergence from Cellular Automata to the Occupy Movement Andrew Pickering
Disassembling the ‘SAN DOMINICK’. Sovereignty, the Slave Ship, and Partisanship in Herman Melville’s Benito Cereno Ben Robinson
Jimena Canales Einstein’s Discourse Networks
This paper situates Einstein’s theory of relativity within broader networks of communication. The speed of light, explained Einstein, was an unsurpassable velocity if, and only if, it was considered in terms of “arbitrary” and “voluntary“ signals. Light signals in physics belong within a broader set of signs and symbols that include communication and military signals, understood by reference to Helmholtz, Saussure, media philosophies from WWII to ‘68 (Lavelle, Ong, McLuhan) and Derrida. Once light signals in physics are considered in relation to semaphore, print, telegraph, radio, computers and tape recorders, Kittler and Habermas provide us with conflicting ways for understanding science and technology, rationality and consensus. We conclude with a study of “flash and bang” in popular accounts of relativity theory to understand the role of theoretical science in the transmission of information and violence.
Iris Därmann Myths of Labor: Elements of an Economical Zoology
Labor is both punishment and curse. At least this is what the mythical scenes of division and exclusion in Hesiod and in the Old Testament dramatise. At the same time they can be regarded as symptoms of misogyny. Without doubt, those two mythical scenes and the divine power to curse and sentence have held their spell over the economic tractates from antiquity to the modern period. How do the ancient writings of economic theory-and specifically Aristotle’s Politics and Ethics-regulate female Pleonexia on the one hand, and the limitless penal labor imposed on men on the other? How in turn do the economic tractates of the modern period-and here specifically John Locke’s famous essays on the economy of labor-respond to the problem of female hybris on the one hand and the characteristical burden and suffering associated with labor on the other? What role does the differentiation and separation between free and unfree, productive and reproductive labor and, not least, the economic marginalisation of reproductive labor, play in this? And finally: In what way do »King Bee« and Queen Bee, Nurse Bee and Drone appear in this context as figures of an at once mythical and economic zoology, whose emblematic efficacy extends up to Bernard Mandeville’s Fable of the Bees?
Ludger Schwarte The City-A Popular Assembly
The architecture of cities provides infrastructures for thousands of people. Yet if it seems that the primary task of this architecture is to make the administration of many people, their living together, their work, their leisure, possible on a rational and dense basis, we ought not oversee that the fulfillment of these functions is not a sufficient condition of what makes a city. Important characteristics of urbanity rather enable the meeting of a multitude of people. Cities count among the conditions for social events insofar as they assemble. In my paper, I propose to analyze this architectural condition as the decisive difference between »Being With« in contrast to just »Being next to«.
Laura Frahm The Rules of Attraction: Urban Design, City Films, and Movement Studies
William H. Whyte’s instructional film The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces (1979), which chronicles the findings of his decade-long study of people’s behavior in small urban spaces in New York City in the 1970s, offers a precise analysis of the rules of attraction that draw people into places and that keep them attached. By combining direct observation with complex technical arrangements and new forms of movement studies, Whyte’s study advocates a quintessentially process-oriented understanding of ‘placemaking’ that shaped a new bottom-up approach to urban design in the 1970s.
Michael Cuntz Places Proper and Attached or the Agency of the Ground and the Collectives of Domestication
The paper deals with different spatiotemporal relations within different collectives and the attitudes towards places and the ground arising from them. Drawing resources from Latour, Serres and ethnologists/anthropologists Viveiros de Castro and Descola, it follows up Haudricourt’s opposition between direct positive and indirect negative action towards domesticated species and the further consequences that might derive from these different modes of operation. It concludes with an outlook on affinities between the security-mode of power as described by Foucault and the Eastern distribution of agency as described by Haudricourt and Jullien.
Andrew Pickering Islands of Stability: Engaging Emergence from Cellular Automata to the Occupy Movement
Instead of considering »being with« in terms of non-problematic, machine-like places, where reliable entities assemble in stable relationships, STS conjures up a world where the achievement of chancy stabilisations and synchronisations is local. We have to analyse how and where a certain regularity and predictability in the intersection of scientists and their instruments, say, or of human individuals and groups, is produced. The paper reviews models of emergence drawn from the history of cybernetics-the canonical »black box,« homeostats, and cellular automata-to enrich our imagination of the stabilisation process, and discusses the concept of »variety« as a way of clarifying its difficulty, with the antiuniversities of the 1960s and the Occupy movement as examples. Failures of »being with« are expectable. In conclusion, the paper reviews approaches to collective decision-making that reduce variety without imposing a neoliberal hierarchy.Download
Ben Robinson Disassembling the ‘SAN DOMINICK’. Sovereignty, the Slave Ship, and Partisanship in Herman Melville’s Benito Cereno
Melville’s Benito Cereno (1855) concentrates a historico-political problematic in the figure of a ship named ›SAN DOMINICK‹. This paper focuses on the distinctive political character of the slave ship in revolt. The partisan uprising produces an interrogation of the concept of sovereignty and the operations of exclusion on which it is premised. Superimposing the sovereign ship of state and the slave ship, Melville’s novella presents a relation constitutive of the Atlantic world.
Ulrich Meurer Composite Congress. On Dispersal Patterns in Mathew Brady’s Political Imagery
Based on the ›patchwork‹ as a concept of (political) heterarchy, the paper explores the formal and medial space of M. Brady’s collaged group portrait of the 36th US-Senate and House of Representatives (1859). Poised between unity and decomposition, the image constitutes a congenial map of American politics, its specific relationism and ›proximal distances.‹ However, Brady’s subsequent work sees this lose patchwork disintegrate during the Civil War and then solidify under Lincoln’s paternal rule.