representation

ideal / real


"Reality is what one does not perceive when one perceives it." Niklas Luhmann.

"My dialectical method is, in its foundations, not only different from the Hegelian, but exactly opposite to it. For Hegel, the process of thinking, which he even transforms into an independent subject, under the name of 'the idea', is the creator of the real world, and the real world is only the external appearance of the idea. With me, the reverse is true: the ideal is nothing but the material world reflected in the mind of man, and translated into forms of thought." Karl Marx, Capital, vol. 1,Preface to the Second Edition. (p.102)

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image

Albert Einstein described the motives for scientific study as a need to construct a satisfactory image of the world: "Man seeks to form for himself, in whatever manner is suitable for him, a simplified and lucid image of our world, and so to overcome the world of experience by striving to replace it to some extent by this image. This is what the painter does, and the poet, the speculative philosopher, the natural scientist, each in his own way. Into this image and its formation he places the center of gravity of his emotional life, in order to attain the peace and serenity he cannot find within the narrow confines of swirling personal experience." (Quoted in Steven J. Heims, The Cybernetic Group.) 

The status of mental representation in general, and the mental image in particular, has been one of the main battlegrounds of modern theories of the mind. A mental image (one of the senses of the German Vorstellung , also translated as " representation") of an object in external reality is an inner, subjective semblance of the external object. Other figures for this relationship, developed through Aristotle, Hobbes, Locke, and Hume, are a mirror, a map, a camera obscura , or a surface for drawing or painting.

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kiesler

The latter part of the twentieth century is marked, above all, by the confrontation between the human and the machine, by the repeated redefinitions of each in terms of the other. In the age of biopower and biotechnologies, cyborgentities proliferate, spawning hybrid terms like artificial life, machinic phylum, virtual realities, computer agents, and desiring machines.
For the architectural avant-gardes of the earlier part of the century, this confrontation was developed and formalized through, on the one hand, the abstraction and materialilty of De Stijl and Constructivism respectively, and on the other hand, the biomorphic forms and psychic associations of Surrealism.

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mapping

mapping

A "map" takes points in one space (the source space) to certain points which the map identifies as the "corresponding points" in another space (the target space). Wittgenstein calls these "logical spaces." Symbolic structures which obey a system of rules for translation are isomorphisms, structural homologies. Thus the mapping amounts to a distorted image of the source space on the target space. Language maps thought on to sound. An input/output function can be understood as a mapping. Thus the toaster executes a function mapping from bread to toast, and the groove on a gramophone record maps to the sounds. The psycho-physiological problem in mechanistic psychology becomes a problem of point-to-point mapping of mental functions such as language and memory on to the brain. (see mind /brain )

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mirror

mirror

In the tenth book of the Republic, Socrates differentiates the maker of an object, such as a bed, made in accordance with the Idea of the thing (this is its eidos or form) , from the artist, proceeding in a quick and easy fashion, as if using a mirror. But "What should a painting be called," asked Alberti, "except the holding of a mirror up to the original as in art?"

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ruins of representation

ruins of representation

"Of Exactitude in Science" 
...In that Empire, the craft of Cartography attained such perfection that the Map of a Single province covered the space of an entire City, and the Map of the Empire itself an entire Province. In the course of Time, these Extensive maps were found somehow wanting, and so the College of Cartographers evolved a Map of the Empire that was of the same Scale as the Empire and that coincided with it point for point. Less attentive to the Study of Cartography, succeeding Generations came to judge a map of such Magnitude cumbersome, and, not without Irreverence, they abandoned it to the Rigors of sun and Rain. In the western Deserts, tattered Fragments of the Map are still to be found, Sheltering an occasional Beast or beggar; in the whole Nation, no other relic is left of the Discipline of Geography. 

From Travels of Praiseworthy Men (1958)
J. A. Suarez Miranda

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simulation

"Simulation of any system implies a mapping from observable aspects of the system to corresponding symbolic elements of the simulation." (H. H. Pattee, "Simulations, Realizations, and Theories of Life", in Artificial Life) For Pattee, realizations are functional replacements. They are judged primarily by how well they function as implementations of design specifications. (Thus a building would be the implementation of a blueprint) 

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vision

Any theory of vision must describe some relation between the eye and the brain. Humberto Maturana studied the visual cortex of the frog and summarized his research in an article entitled, "what the frog's eye tells the frog's brain." Maturana and his co-authors demonstrated that the frog's sensory receptors speak to the brain in a language that is highly processed and species specific. If every species constructs for itself a different world, which is the world? Thus Maturana's credo: There is no observation without an observer.(K. Hayles, "Simulated Nature and Natural Simulations," in Uncommon Ground.) Further research led Maturana to conclude that perception is not fundamentally representational, that the perceiver encounters the world through his own self-organizing processes, through autopoesis.

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