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 >>> The Demand of Visibility within Knowledge Production > > >


>> introduction
       short overview

>> seeing things/

>> PCM/
       'Visibility is a trap'

>> Latour - Pasteur/
       the scientific image

>> Abstraction/
       the paradox status
        of the visual abstract

>> Conclusion/
       outlining along two         strings


>>    Print entire text

        (4 pages)
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During the 20th century western societies, especially at the level of their constitution of social communities, shifted from mechanic towards a dominating scientific approach of interpretation. Simultaneously the development of the evolving role of communication media established a mainly visual-based set of codes, forcing radical transformations in the methods of establishing evidence. The further change towards a digital society brought the idea of manipulation into focus. The occuring shift from authentic artifacts as documents to compiled electronic codes as signs established through information educed a new sense of subtle insecurity concerning the visual. The systemic ontological insecurity lead to different kinds of societal responses – in creating an ambivalent reading, which allowed to recognize formerly unseen/invisible aspects. At the same instant it endangered the defining normative implying that there was no verifiable reflection of the logic underlying the existing social order. One set of responses to this condition of insecurity (in the media as well as in the relations to society that it represents) was to place even more belief and emphasis on the concrete rationalisation of scientific methodology as a means of concretely ascertaining ‘reality’ – proved through visuals. Thus the characteristics of scientific approach became attached even to the visualisation of everyday experience and environment, as shown in mass media. Yet the methods used for establishing evidence are themselves in a constant state of transformation, and so as well what is authentically certifiable as ‘solid’ truthful characteristics of visualisations.

The tenuity of all these constructions is especially evident in moments of crisis, like now in this period after Sept.11/01, which thus allows to focus more clearly on major strategies of the constitution of social/cultural representation. These constructions work to decrease any form of ambivalence and emerging uncertainty by introducing a variety of different strategies of perception, which form a steady-state equilibrium of agreement that validates as if concrete fact.

In respect of this I refer to the example of Latour’s analysis of Pasteur’s scientific testing methods of ‘visualisation’, which he refuses to accept as a pure evidential proof.
Instead he renders the evolving knowledge production into a social paranoid neurosis referring to a predetermined reading of a thereby established ‘truth’. Considering paranoia like in the analysis of Lacan as a ‘radical uncertainty that compels the subject to search for the 'objectifying souvenirs' that will verify experience as real or delusional’, I outline a correspondence to the western predefined view onto the world. In regard of the established set-up the changing possibilities and increasing ambivalence of sight and vision are almost totally ignored or trapped into the idea of an intermingling concept of reality and virtuality. The steady re-establishment of predefined cultural frames of vision, which uses preferred reading methods for the consolidation of itself, ignores the more flexible possibilities of the full sight, which information/technologies are able to develop.

>>> click into the images to enlarge   


satellite image of Euphrat Delta

satellite image of Basra / Iraq

Meloidogyne parasitized by Pasteuria penetrans

impressum         > > > for the conference 'seeing things' at the University of Western Ontario, Canada; May 2nd - 4th/2003