The eyes have been used to signify a perverse capacity-honed to perfection in the history of science tied to militarism, capitalism, colonialism, and male supremacy to distance the knowing subject from everybody and everything in the interests of unfettered power. The instruments of visualization in multinationalist, postmodernist culture have compounded these meanings of disembodiment. The visualizing technologies are without apparent limit. The eye of any ordinary primatelike us can be endlessly enhanced by sonography systems, magnetic reasonance imaging, artificial intelligence-linked graphic manipulation systems, scanning electron microscopes, computed tomography scanners, color-enhancement techniques, satellite surveillance systems, home and office video display terminals,cameras for every
purpose from filming the mucous membrane lining the gut cavity of a marine worm living in the vent gases on a faultbetween continental plates to mapping a planetary hemisphere elsewhere in the solar system. Vision in this technological feast becomes unregulated gluttony; all seems not just mythically about the god trick of seeing everything from nowhere, but to have put the myth into ordinary practice. And like the god trick, this eye fucks the world to make techno-monsters.
The moral is simple: only partial perspective promises objective vision. All Western cultural narratives about objectivity are allegories of the ideologies governing the relations of what we call mind and body, distance and responsibility. Feminist objectivity is about limited location and situated knowledge,not about transcendence and splitting of subject and object. It allows us to become answerable for what we learn how to see.
Donna Haraway, Situated Knowledge
this eye fucks the world
objects that had betrayed the line
“Paths represent the geometry of the outline of an object.” He read the sentence over and over again but could not grasp what exactly bothered him. The document itself was clear and crisp as ever, and the standard it represented could still change the future of the World Wide Web. They had developed a lightweight, scalable vector format, a language for describing twodimensional graphics. It opened up the kind of applications he had been dreaming of since the early nineties and he sometimes felt frustrated that their work wasn’t embraced with more enthusiasm. But he had also been around long enough to know that a good standard did not necessarily mean it was going to be implemented just like that. “Paths represent the outline of a shape which can be filled, stroked, used as a clipping path, or any combination of the three.” His pencil drifted over the paper. It all came down to objects in the end. It was as if they had betrayed the line.”
Femke Snelting, Scenes of Pleasure and Relief
With the stakes so high, we need to keep asking critical questions about how machines conceptualize and operationalize space. How do they render our world measurable, navigable, usable, conservable? We must also ask how those artificial intelligences, with their digital sensors and deep learning models, intersect with cartographic intelligences and subjectivities beyond the computational “Other.” I’m using “intelligence” broadly here, to encompass the various ways that knowing has been conceived across disciplines and cultures. There are a lot of other Others — including marginalized and indigenous populations and non-human environmental actors — who belong on the map, too, and not merely as cartographic subjects. They are active mapping agents with distinct spatial intelligences, and they have stakes in the environments we all share.
Shannon Mattern, Mapping’s Intelligent Agents
By the eighteenth century, a subtle transposition of values had begun to take place, as technics itself began to occupy a larger place. If the goal of technics was to improve the condition of man, the goal of man was to become ever more narrowly confined to the improvement of technology. Mechanical progress and human progress came to be regarded as one; and both were theoretically limitless. – Lewis Mumford