AlterityAbjectIdentityPortraitEthicsVirtuality of Alterity
Historically the term artist has been applied to a person who displays a creative or innovative ability to expresses themselves through a variety of mediums, a person whom displays complete autonomy. The notion of the ‘Self’ has historically been presented as a prevalent characteristic of Western culture, and defined as the essential quality that makes a person distinct from all others, responsible for the thoughts and actions of an individual. Arguably the very notion of the ‘Self’ has been deemed as necessary for the mechanisms of advanced capitalism to function, employed as a technology that allows humans to create a false sense of self, which is ultimately harmful in that it has the potential to create racial, sexual and national divides. An alternative position is that the ‘Self’ is just a person and that a person is a physical system.
AlterityAs half of a signifying binary, the "Other" is a term with a rich and lengthy philosophical history dating at least from Plato’s Sophist, in which the Stranger participates in a dialogue on the ontological problems of being and non-being, of the One and the Other. Many contemporary theories of identity use the Other as half of a Self/Other dichotomy distinguishing one person from another. For instance, pointing out an oppositional racial distinction. The creation of binary opposition structures the way we view others. One of the oppositional terms is always privileged, controlling and dominating the other.
Reality itself is unrepresentable, and as a consequence the world can only be represented through that which it is not.Hal Foster. Return of the Real (1996)
A major trait of postmodernity is its emphasis on the relationship between self and otherPostmodernism privileges figures of negativity, figures defined under such terms as alterity, absence, uncertainty and the Other.Problem/Challenges us…How can we entice ourselves to widen our horizons to take into account the experiences of others, which challenge the fragile ideological structures of explanation we have built to cope with the world?
Postmodernism is characterized:by incredulity toward master systems of thought in which there’s a place for everything and everything has its place and by the affirmation of pluralism, the non-totalizing, creative search for whatever does not fit nicely into systematized knowledge. A search, in otherwords, for otherness or alterity
Adolescence can be viewed as a period when repressed selves return to the conscious mind, this series elaborates on the altered alterities that emerge as a result of this identity phase-shift.
The concept of alterity, from an art historical understanding, originated as a Western definition of otherness.COLONIALISM
THE CULTURAL CONSTRUCTION OF THE "OTHER" AS DIFFERENTIn anthropological terms alterity refers to the construction of cultural others. Anthropology – the science of alterityRadical alterity — a culturally constructed Other radically different from Us
Discourses of gendered selves parallel discourses of racialidentity in the tendency to humanize the Other.This appears in feminist discourses discussing woman as Other, particularly those discourses opposing patriarchyIn many different societies, women, like colonised subjects, have been relegated to the position of 'other', 'colonised' by various forms of patriarchal domination"
Jacques Lacan’s Mirror Stage, important here is the gaps between the imaginary, the symbolic, and the realThe unconscious is the discourse of the Other
Globalized cultural diversity and the consumption of alterityIn Postmodernism the binary oppositions by which Western thought had defined what is called real have become thoroughly polluted, contaminated, and untenable.
Postmodernity seeks to live alterity as its destiny and not to be the source of alterity in so far as postmodernity chooses not to produce the differentiated or disseminated other.
Postmodern philosophers like Jean Baudrillard and Jean-Francois Lyotard have dismissed the possibility of a foundational "grand narrative" that would permit a universal discourse. What is maintained, however, is the need to acknowledge and preserve the radical difference or alterity, which is constitutive of every individual. The question of the relation between unity and plurality, self and other, has occupied a preeminent place not only within the world of philosophy, but also within the world of politics, economics, and law. How do we meaningfully incorporate the individuality or radicality, which is self and other into the larger community of selves and others?
The theme of alterity is prominent in many works of art, in many modalities; in films, novels, and the visual arts, artists have addressed this complex domain.
Related to this tradition of art is the narrative of escape from the constricting self that involves encounters with that which is radically other, but a radical other that activates a fresh self.
Kafka’s Metamorphosis (1915) can be seen as dealing with a radical otherness of the self and how, when this radical other-that-is-self is encountered by other-as-self, it is treated by them as an alien disgusting sub human – a cockroach.
Double selves, doppelgangers and multiplicities are often used as means of exploring alterities.
A doppelgänger is a tangible double of a living person in fiction, folklore, and popular culture that typically represents evil. In the vernacular, the word doppelgänger has come to refer to any double or look-alike of a person. The word also is used to describe the sensation of having glimpsed oneself in peripheral vision, in a position where there is no chance that it could have been a reflection.
Today’s society is based on a generalized ‘relationalism’, rather than on individualism. A kind of dispersed form of connectedness in the postmodern era. This highlights the idea that we may lose both connectedness and alterity, in other words, that the world is becoming homogenized, is a familiar one in our globalised era.
Marshall McLuhan’s works offer interesting connections between the experience of otherness and technology, especially technologies of communication. The medium of the television, he argues, is an intensely overwhelming participatory one. It breaks down barriers of space and time and recreates the sense of oneness one could imagine existing around a campfire tens of thousands of years ago. TV alters the whole sensorium of the viewer. So radical is this alteration that he argues that what is on the tv is not as important as the deep change that takes place in the sensorium of the viewer. It is a face-to-face encounter, where much information is taken in simultaneously and participation in and with the other is maximized. So technologies, such as tv, alters the sense of alterity, and in doing so alters all elements of society, including politics, ideas, ethics, economics and social structures.
In Herbert Marcuse’s One-Dimensional Man (1954) he argues that the one dimensionality of consciousness apparent in post-industrial society is indicative of an eradication of the sense of alterity.Alterity is undermined by the “advances” engendered by the development of modern industry and technological rationality.Whilst humans have freedom in their inner consciousness, Marcuse argues that we have become alienated from our individuality. His point is that the greater the mass culture, the less individuality is available. We don’t have the freedom to be critical of this system because we are so immersed in itValues, aspiration, ideals that don’t fit are repressed Robs humans of their individuality in order to make production more efficientWe think we are free, but only within the parameters imposed by technological rationality; for instance:We have economic choice in the marketplacebut we can’t not engage in economic competitionWe have political choice in electionsbut only between preordained optionsWe have freedom of thoughtbut only within the parameters of the mass culture in which we are indoctrinated
For Marcuse, commodities and consumption play a far greater role in contemporary capitalist society than that envisaged by MarxPerpetuate toil, aggression, misery, injustice by ensuring we are all concerned with relaxing, having fun, behaving, and, above all, consuming in accordance with mass ideals.Needs are created for usNot the needs of earlier generations (food, shelter, etc.)While we are not starving, we are not necessarily freeWhen you have more, you simply have more (false) needs
The cartoon marks a notable moment in the history of the Internet. Once the exclusive domain of government engineers and academics, the Internet was now a subject of discussion in general interest magazines like The New Yorker.The ability to self-represent from behind the computer screen may be part of the compulsion to go online. The phrase can be taken "to mean that cyberspace will be liberatory because gender, race, age, looks, or even 'dogness' are potentially absent or alternatively fabricated or exaggerated with unchecked creative license for a multitude of purposes both legal and illegal”. The phrase also suggests the ability to "computer crossdress" and represent oneself as a different gender, age, race, etc.On another level, "the freedom which the dog chooses to avail itself of, is the freedom to 'pass' as part of a privileged group; i.e. human computer users with access to the Internet."
Virtual Reality works by deceiving the senses of the user into thinking that what they are experiencing is something real.
Technologies have made thoroughly ambiguous the difference between natural and artificial, mind and body, self-developing and externally designed, and many other distinctions that used to apply to organisms and machines. As a result we are no longer, and perhaps never really were able to distinguish the human from its others.Virtuality and cybernetics: posthuman identity formed from an erosion of the boundaries that have characterised the human.Posthuman, like any other post (postmodernism, poststructuralism), is not a simple rejection of the human, but something like an outgrowth.
In 1950 he devised the now famous ‘Turing Test’ for machine intelligence, posing the question ‘Can machines think?’ The question was discussed in the format of a game played by a man (A), a woman (B) and an interrogator (C) who puts questions to them in order to determine which is the man and which is the woman.Turing asked what would happen when a machine took the part of A. He suggested that if the responses from the computer are indistinguishable from those of a human, then the computer can be said to be thinking.
The Human in virtual worldsThe emoticon much more that a cute graphical addition to low-bandwidth communication. In cyberspace it is theartificial warrant and guarantee of the humanEmoticons are used when there is a lack of verbal or visual clues in text only forums.Emoticons invoke faces, all be it sideways, they are the referent of the human.The emoticon signifies the human face, but like all signifiers it betrays the fact that its referent is already absent from the scene.
Humans are defined in opposition to others, against the ‘non-human’ (the animal and the machine). The line that divides ‘us’ from ‘them’ and delimits the inside from the outside, keeps shifting. Traditionally, in Western thought, it has been ‘reason’ that delineates where one draws the line between human and animal and human and machine. It is because animal and machine share this negative position that they have been allied under one form of alterity. This is a privileging of the rational, human subject.
YinkaShoinbareexplores the conflicts of race and class by toying with taxidermy and fabricsIn social sciences alterity is linked to ideas of trauma, colonialism, deviance and social differenceInterior Alterity: where individuals explore their internal self or identity as a means of substituting for the lost experience of the other.
In addition to the readings that are posted for each week, before the next seminar in week 5 I want you to watch:All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace. It is a 2011 BBC documentary series by filmmaker Adam Curtis. A three part series argues that computers have failed to liberate humanity and instead have "distorted and simplified our view of the world around us” 1.1 Love and Power 1.2 The Use and Abuse of Vegetational Concepts 1.3 The Monkey In The Machine and the Machine in the Monkey
The Future of the Image week 3: Radical Alterity
The future of the image Week 3: Radical AlterityDeborah Jackson
Art and AlterityThe notion of the ‘Self’ hashistorically been presented asa prevalent characteristic ofWestern culture, and definedas the essential quality thatmakes a person distinct fromall others, responsible for thethoughts and actions of anindividualJean-Michel Basquiat in his studio (1985)
What is alterity?Cathy Wilkes. Non Verbal (2006)
Reality itself is unrepresentable, an d as a consequence the world can only be represented through that which it is not. Hal Foster. Return of theKeith Haring Real (1996)Pop Shop (1988)
REPRESENTATION IS NOT NEUTRAL; IT IS AN ACT OF POWER IN OUR CULTURE. Craig Owens (1992)
Intersubjectivity: self and other• A major trait of postmodernity is its emphasis on the relationship between self and other• Postmodernism privileges figures of negativity, figures defined under such terms as alterity, absence, uncertainty and the other
Postmodernism and AlterityAccording to Jean-François Lyotard,postmodernism is characterized:• by incredulity toward master systems of thought in which there’s a place for everything and everything has its place and• by the affirmation of pluralism, the non-totalizing, creative search for whatever does not fit nicely into systematized knowledge. A search, in other words, for Rineke Dijkstra otherness or alterity. Beach Portraits (1992-98)
Adolescence can beviewed as a periodwhen repressed selvesreturn to the consciousmind, this serieselaborates on thealtered alterities thatemerge as a result ofthis identity phase-shift.
The concept of alterity, from an art historicalunderstanding, originated as a Western definition of otherness. Yinka Shonibare. Diary of a Victorian Dandy (1998)
The Cultural Construction of the ‘other’ as different• In anthropological terms alterity refers to the construction of cultural others• Anthropology – the science of alterity• Radical alterity — a culturally constructed Other radically different from Us Tracey Moffat Adventure Series (2003)
Gendered Selves• Discourses of gendered selves parallel discourses of racial identity• This appears in feminist discourses discussing woman as Other, particularly those discourses opposing patriarchy• Women, like colonised subjects, have been relegated to the position of other, colonised by various forms of patriarchal domination" Cindy Sherman Untitled #122 (1983)
Mirror Stage • The gaps between the imaginary, the symbolic, and the real • The unconscious is the discourse of the OtherRobert De Niro as Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver (1976)
The Fetishization of Alterity • Globalized cultural diversity and the consumption of alterity • The binary oppositions by which Western thought had defined what is called real have become thoroughly polluted, contaminated, an d untenable
Postmodernity seeks tolive alterity as its destinyand not to be the source ofalterity in so far aspostmodernity choosesnot to produce thedifferentiated ordisseminated other. Douglas Gordon Divided Self
The need to acknowledge and preserve the radical difference or alterity, which is constitutive of every individualDouglas GordonSelf-portrait as Kurt Cobain, as AndyWarhol, as Myra Hindley, as MarilynMonroe (1996)
Ontology and Alterity The theme of alterity is prominent in many works of art, in many modalities; in films, novels, and the visual arts, artists have addressed this complex domain. Fight Club (1999)
Avatar (2009)Related to this tradition of art is the narrative ofescape from the constricting self that involvesencounters with that which is radically other, but aradical other that activates a fresh self.
Kafka’s Metamorphosis (1915) can be seen as dealing with a radical othernessof the self and how, when this radical other-that-is-self is encountered byother-as-self, it is treated by them as an alien disgusting sub human – acockroach.
Double selves, doppelgan gers and multiplicities are often used as means of exploring alteritiesJeff Koons, Triple Hulk Elvis I (2007)
A doppelgänger is a tangible double of a living person infiction, folklore, and popular culture that typically represents evil. In thevernacular, the word doppelgänger has come to refer to any double orlook-alike of a person. The word also is used to describe the sensation ofhaving glimpsed oneself in peripheral vision, in a position where there isno chance that it could have been a reflection.http://mubi.com/lists/doppelganger
Identity and AlterityThe monster, a figure ofradical alterity or difference Marcus Harvey Myra (1995)
Fiction of the otherToday’s society is basedon a generalized‘relationalism’, ratherthan on individualism. Akind of dispersed form ofconnectedness in thepostmodern era. Rirkrit Tiravanija
Otherness and technology Technologies, such as tv, alters the sense of alterity, and in doing so alters all elements of society, including politics, ideas, ethics, ec onomics and social structuresNam June Piak TV Buddha (1974)Closed Circuit video installation with bronze sculpture
In Herbert Marcuse’s One-Dimensional Man (1954) heargues that the one dimensionality of consciousnessapparent in post-industrial society is indicative of aneradication of the sense of alterity.
Is cyberspace liberatory? This suggests the ability to "computer crossdress" and represent oneself as a different gender, age, race, etc.Peter SteinerOn the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog”The New Yorker (1993)
Virtual Reality works by deceiving the senses of the user into thinking that what they are experiencing is something real. “The question is not: is it true? But: does it work? What does it enable? What new thought does it make possible to think? What new emotions does it make it possible to feel?” Brian Massumi (Introduction to Deleuze and Guattarri’s A Thousand Plateus)
Virtuality and cybernetics: Posthuman identityTechnologies have madethoroughly ambiguous thedifference between natural andartificial, mind and body, self-developing and externallydesigned, and many otherdistinctions that used to apply toorganisms and machines. A Dutch TV program had a brilliant idea: have men put on devices that simulate childbirth contractions and film the results.
The Human in Virtual Worlds• The emoticon is the artificial warrant and guarantee of the human• Emoticons are used when there is a lack of verbal or visual clues, in text only forums• They invoke faces, they are the referent of the
Privileging of therational, h uman subjectMarcusCoates Journey toa Lower World(2004) Performance still
Interior Alterity• where individuals explore their internal self or identity as a means of substituting for the lost experience of the other.Yinka ShonibareRevolution Kid (Fox) (2012)
ALL WATCHED OVER BY MACHINES OF LOVE AND GRACE