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robertogreco : gastonbachelard   5

Topologies: Michel Serres and the Shapes of Thought
"In what follows, I try to estimate the novelty, the possibility and the limits of Serres’s intensely topological mode of thinking. In the first section, ‘Phases, States’, I distinguish three periods in Serres’s work, emphasising the increasing importance of topology in it. I suggest that Serres goes far beyond the flat topography, the impoverished views of space and territory to be found throughout the cultural and social sciences. Relating his uses of topology to the ‘material imagination’ of Gaston Bachelard, I suggest that Serres’s topologies are complexes of space and time, matter and process, rather than merely matricial forms. In the second section, ‘Histories’, I consider the kinds of historical poetics to which this topological view may give rise, considering in some detail Serres’s use of the metaphor of kneaded, or folded time. In the third section ‘Shape of Shapes’, I consider critically Serres’s attempts to use topology to provide an integrated view of the contingencies of history and space. Though I conclude the final section, ‘Ethics and Topology’ by affirming that Serres’s work represents a huge and still largely ignored resource for thinking historically about the relations between science, technology and culture, I also suggest that we need not, and probably should not, take it on its own account, particularly when it moves from description to ethics. Paradoxically, perhaps, what Serres increasingly makes of his own work need not be what can most valuably be made of it."

"The ethical claims for synthesis, a holistic grasping of the complete shape of things, which seem increasingly to complete and justify Serres’s rapprochement of science and humanities, fact and value, may in fact be the coarsest and least compelling aspects of his thought. The very power to integrate complex phenomena which the idea of topology offers may be its weakness, in a world in which the acceptance and management of discontinuity may be a better hope than the effort to see and entertain every possibility.

Serres’s topological mode of thinking offers huge possibilities of transformation and renewal for thinking and writing in the humanities and in science, as well as offering a model for how they might begin to include each other. His work makes it clear how crudely mechanical or frankly magical (the same thing perhaps) our conceptions of the nature and workings of social life and time can be. Characteristically, and superbly, he has done this, not through critique, but through the invention of new shapes of thought. Nick Bingham, for example, has argued that we may be able to rouse ourselves from dulling contemporary fantasies of the ‘technological sublime’ through Serres’s idea of the binding mobility of the quasi-object, which holds together complex societies as the movement of the ball may be said to focus and bind together the movements and purposes of two opposed teams (Bingham 1999). Serres’s work offers to contemporary thought the same kind of reinvigoration that the work of Bergson did a century ago, except that, where Bergson attempted to make a clean break between the fixative illusions of spatial thinking, in favour of a thought in motion, Serres offers ways of thinking time spatially and morphologically. For the historian of ideas, forms and feelings in particular, Serres’s versatile development of Bachelard’s insight into the material imagination – the imagining of the material world, and the materiality of the imagination – offers a thesaurus of shapes of thought and thoughts of shape that promise huge enrichment to historical thought. Bachelard’s explication of the poetics of matter and space could only take shape in a reserved space of dream and reverie, set aside from the forms of scientific knowledge that formed the subject of his earlier historical analyses. Serres’s topologies of space and time disclose and project new and more inclusive, less sequestered forms in which to hold together science and culture, and to incubate new forms of historical poetics. His greatest contribution will assuredly have been his restlessly inventive cultivation of the spatial and topological imagination, the ways in which we project how and where we live, as embodied beings who are nevertheless incapable of not being beside themselves, not living beyond the here-and-now of their bodies, not being taken up in the flamboyant dynamics of topology. Michel Serres has always spurned schools and disciples; and it may be that we can do most with his work, by effecting a partial break with it, by declining to accept as definitive the ethical and political shape within which he encloses it."
michelserres  2002  topologies  science  literature  stevenconnor  humanities  transdisciplinary  interdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  discontinuity  gastonbachelard  space  time  matter  process  technology  culture  ethics 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Whyfinding: what pervasive gaming has taught me about 3D videogame design | Christy's Corner of the Universe
"The thing I came back to was my experience with pervasive games. Those games set in the actual world — on websites, social media, newspaper, in your street. Is my frustration because I’m corrupted by my background designing and playing pervasive games? In pervasive games I could actually pick up a bow. I could actually be crawling through the cave. Is the problem that I want the seamlessness of mission play and can’t get it in some 3D games? So I played with that idea. What is the difference in how the missions would be designed and experienced in a pervasive game versus a 3D digital game?"

"Looking for Internally-Motivated Navigation

I looked at works that seem to be about this internally-driven navigation of space: Michel de Certeau’s ‘Walking in the City’ in The Practice of Everyday Life [PDF], Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space [PDF]; Walter Benjamin’s The Arcade Project [PDF], John Stilgoe’s Outside Lies Magic, and Rebecca Solnit’s Wanderlust: A History of Walking. I jumped from flâneurs to the larp movement to (with the help of Johanna MacDonald) Laban drives (link, link) — all in the hope of finding design techniques relating to internal motivation. I remembered my theatre experiences and thought maybe that relates to my type of play.

These works are all about internally-driven movement, but specifically about a free-movement, where you walk (or run) where you please and with a particular way of seeing. This is related, but doesn’t explain exactly what I’m talking about. A common thread in these works, however, is that it is about being present in the moment…in the world…in the streets. I look around to the rise of digital exploration games, and see a similar trend. Indeed, I don’t think the growing attraction to open world games, experiential games, and thin play is  coincidental. These are parallel phenomena that speak of an urge for a different kind of experience: one of being present in the (digital) world. But these types of experiences are often couched in phrases such as agency or choice that an open world games affords, such as the “exploring freedom in World of Warcraft.

There are many reasons for the attraction to these types of experiences (both as designers and players), including having an alternative to the magical dad stories of first-person shooters, and the reflection a “walking simulator” affords. Indeed, there are more and more of these sorts of games, or “first person exploration games, ” “first person adventure,” “story exploration games,” “a game of audio-visual exploration,” “non-combative exploration games,” or “not games,” or whatever. There are well known ones such as Gone Home, Dear Esther, Proteus, Bientôt l’Été, as well as ones more recent or in development such as Ether One, Dream, Sunset, Firewatch, Virginia, and HomeMake, and Hohokum.

I believe that one of the attracting factors of these games is the desire for intrinsically-motivated movement. (This trait, however, certainly isn’t shared by all of the community-created “walking simulator” tags on Steam.)

It isn’t as if exploration is ignored in conventional videogame and theme park design though. For instance, Scott Rogers talks about enabling exploration by creating subpaths or alternate paths that people discover that get them to the main attractions. But this way of navigating space is different. It isn’t just about exploring space either. Most of the internally-driven movement I found though, was about exploring or viewing space differently. There is something else. Then I found it.”
videogames  situationist  worldofwarcraft  digital  sandboxgames  freedom  exploration  flaneur  derive  2014  johnstilgoe  larp  larping  gastonbachelard  micheldecerteau  walterbenjamin  rebeccasolnit  wandering  whyfinding  pervasivegames  gaming  games  play  maps  mapping  landscapes  landscape  gamedesign  motivation  visualattention  attention  christydena  experience  dérive 
august 2014 by robertogreco
The Craftsman, the Trickster, and the Poet, by Edith Ackermann [.pdf]
"I suggest that art as a way of knowing is about “re-souling” the rational mind. This, in turn,occurs as a consequence of being mindfully engaged, playful in spirit, and disposed to usection—or the powers of myth—as windows into our inner and outer realities. Here, I of-fer a few thoughts on how people make sense of their experience, envision alternatives intheir minds, and most importantly, how they bring forth what they envision in ways thatcan move and inspire others (those at the receiving end of a creator’s oerings)."

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"The craftsman, the trickster, and the poet are emblematic of the creative side in all of us: a deeply-felt reluctance to freeze the nuances of human experience into set categories, or representations, that rid themselves of the imaginal for the sake of proof or "reason". The artist sticks to the image. And that is why s/he captures our imagination. When art is "true", we know how to read between the lines! What the poet especially warns us against is to look at words as signs (instead of symbols, or indices),: “As we manipulate everyday words, we [shouldn’t] forget that they are fragments of ancient stories, that we are building our houses with broken pieces of sculptures and ruined statues of goad as the barbarians did” (Schultz, 1993. p. 88). The scientist instead is more of a Saussurian. He wants words to be signs, and he cringes when their meanings are “sticky” (fused to their contexts), “thick” (polysemic), or ambiguous (could be seen in more than one way). As for he rationalist in us: s/he wont seek to delight, amuse, or move us (spark insights). Instead, s/he’s here to reason, argue, and prove (provide evidence)!"

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[Edith Ackermann: ]
poetry  poets  crafts  craftmanship  trickster  editchackermann  mindfulness  2011  art  artists  creativity  science  stickiness  reason  imagination  beginnersmind  neoteny  play  playfulness  richardsennett  ellenlanger  georgsimmel  jesters  clowns  bricolage  gastonbachelard  making  piaget  ernstcassirer  mending  tinkering  jeanpiaget 
march 2014 by robertogreco
PLACE: The Poetics of Space « Teapot
“We comfort ourselves by reliving memories of protection. Something closed must retain our memories, while leaving them their original value as images. Memories of the outside world will never have the same tonality as those of home and, by recalling these memories, we add to our store of dreams; we are never real historians, but always near poets, and our emotion is perhaps nothing but an expression of a poetry that was lost.”

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"It is better to live in a state of impermanence than in one of finality."
storytelling  place  space  thepoeticsofspace  espression  poetry  poetics  memories  memory  1958  impermanence  gastonbachelard 
october 2012 by robertogreco

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