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Three traps many

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Alberto Corsín

on 14 October 2015

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Transcript of Three traps many

non-representational epistemes
how they work
how they are organized internally
what the effects of rendering them describable might be
trompe l'oeil painting
experimental designs in science
urban hacking
Trompe l'oeil
Cornelius Gijsbrecht, The reverse side of a painting, c. 1670
If we follow our inclination to turn this canvas around in order to see what is represented on its front side, its shock effect would reside less in the deception, and more in the discovery that there is nothing there to see. Nothing, except for the same image, back as front.

Hanneke Grootenboer, The rhetoric of perspective, 59
Willem van Haecht, The gallery of Cornelis van de Geest, c. 1628
Environments that trap
R. E. Rapley's Experimental Hut with Shuttering, 1961
the provisional character of these experiments works to situate their claims. The huts’ aesthetic – their detachable traps, open eaves, wire baffles, automotive coils, sheets and meshes – interrupts the causal linearity of proof. Instead, these rooms provide a momentary resting place to observe and record the site-specific details of man–mosquito interaction. Their experimental framework allows for evidentiary expansion from model to home, but the wiggle room between the two suggests that these extensions are subject to revision and adjustment.

Ann Kelly, Entomological extensions: model huts and fieldworks, 78
‘spider’s web represents a meaning utilizer of the carrier of meaning “prey” in the spider’s environment.’

Jakob von Uexküull, A theory of meaning, 158
the spider’s web is configured in a fly-like way, because the spider is also fly-like. To be fly-like means that the spider has taken up certain elements of the fly in its constitution… the fly-likeness of the spider means that it has taken up certain motifs of the fly melody in its bodily composition… The theory of meaning culminates in the uncovering of this connection.

Uexkuüll, A theory of meaning, 190-191
The spider web is for Uexkull, then, the symbol of an onto-ecology.

It is the trap that entangles ecology in its self-determining vocation.

Nature is a trap and ecology is its infrastructure.
Lethal parodies: trapping Umwelts
is a model as well as an implement... The arrow trap is particularly clearly a model of its creator, because it has to substitute for him; a surrogate hunter, it does its owner’s hunting for him. It is, in fact, an automaton or robot, whose design epitomizes the design of its maker... It is equipped with a rudimentary sensory transducer (the cord, sensitive to the animal’s touch). This afferent nervous system brings information to the automaton’s central processor (the trigger mechanism, a switch, the basis of all information-processing devices) which activates the efferent system, releasing the energy stored in the bow, which propels the arrows, which produce action-at-a-distance (the victim’s death). This is not just a model of a person... but a ‘working’ model of a person.

Alfred Gell, Vogel's net, 200
Trompe l'oeil traps
Epistemic operator for describing:

de-centred worlds

worlds in-between

worlds captured in the turbulence of
double relations

worlds that (are vaguely intuited to) come with
Environmental / experimental designs
Aesthetics of trapping useful for making ecologies visible:

ecological thought has been "trapped-into-existence"

it has been bodied-forth as an
for making ecological entanglements visible

the figure of environment-as-trap seems to carry also (though vaguely intuited yet) the notion of
information as a trapping impulse itself
- as something that jumps ahead of itself
On mutual describability: spider architectures
In that “a subtle portrait of the fly” [citing Deleuze and Guattari’s synthesis of Uexkuüll] is drawn in the web of the spider, this is also a system that evinces proper medial qualities of integration and communication, whilst at the same time promising the dissolution of the domains previously internal to that which is drawn into communication. Sensual extension, capture and the precise delineation of space in a spontaneous, tirelessly reworked and cunningly arranged net is crucial to the medial trope of dispersal.

Matthew Fuller, Boxes towards bananas, 176
'Traps are lethal parodies of the animal's Umwelt', Alfred Gell
Firstly, one of the most urgent means of developing such an approach is by engendering a sensitivity to the urban in which multiple kinds of intelligence, including those of non-human species and their spatial practices in all their fundamental alienness to humans, have a significant place… Secondly, to recognize that in the generative development of spatialities that intensify intelligence, specialization takes place… Cities can be characterized as a concentrated process of the gathering, enfolding and dispersal of such spaces. In becoming strange themselves through such specialization and congruence, they create mutant fitness landscapes for forms of intelligence to interpret, cohabit, or to disperse from.

Matthew Fuller, Boxes towards bananas, 181
Epistemic meubles
Hand made urbanism
"at the same time as it is a replication of architecture, furniture is also that object that is directly connected to our bodies... furniture supplies the immediate physical environment in which our bodies act and react; for us, urban animals, furniture is thus our primary territory"

Bernard Cache, Terre Meuble, 29
"We employ a dualism of models only in order to arrive at a process that challenges all models. Dualisms are an entirely necessary enemy, the furniture we are forever rearranging."

Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A thousand plateaus, p. 23
National Environmental Conference
@ La Mesa
Trapping icons

...or what theory might look like if it were a prototype itself

The urban cultivation table
'a predator that learned to stalk its own image... Like the false nonpresence that the cat pounces out of.'

Roy Wagner, An anthropology of the subject, 63
Description: a prototype
the Hidatsa hunt eagles by hiding in pits. The eagle is attracted by a bait placed on top and the hunter catches it with his bare hands as it perches to take the bait. And so the technique presents a kind of paradox. Man is the trap but to play this part he has to go down in the pit, that is, to adopt the position of a trapped animal. He is both hunter and hunted at the same time. (Levi-Strauss, The savege mind, 50)
The way in which a metaphoric “link” or analogy “controls” the action of a metaphor is best demonstrated… in a spell that accompanies the setting of a cassowary-snare. The snare itself consists of a sapling that is bent down and tied with a rope to a trigger-stick, loosely caught on the ground. Another rope with a noose on it hangs from the sapling. A small fence is made, enclosing the area into which “bait” is put in such a way that the cassowary must slip its head through the noose in order to reach the bait, so that its neck is caught when the trigger is tripped. As the snare is set, a pobi [spell] is recited, stating that “All the men have gone away carrying cargo for the Europeans, therefore Pesquet’s parrots, black cockatoos, you come to this road, there is a man here, he will not hurt you, he will tie a pearl shell around your neck.” Daribi say that they address the black cockatoo and Pesquet’s parrot so as to conceal their true interest in the cassowary, and the latter will overhear, or the black cockatoo will let it know. Actually both Pesquet’s parrot and the black cockatoo resemble the cassowary in coloring, and a legend relates how the black cockatoo became the “cross-cousin” of the cassowary by knocking tree fruit down to it while feeding, and thus “sharing food” with it. This resemblance or relationships serves as a metaphoric link directing the spell at the cassowary, who will “know” or “overhear” as a result. […] The effect of the spell, which is to draw the cassowary to the snare, is achieved through the very kind of deception by which the snare itself operates; through the use of bait the snare is presented as something desirable, and its actual intent is hidden, and the spell, similarly, conceals the nature of the snare by misrepresenting its action metaphorically. The metaphoric link aligns the technological efficacy of the snare itself with a somewhat anthropomorphic area of motivation, augmenting its dissembling effect. Other Daribi snare-pobi metaphorize the action of the bait itself. (Wagner, Habu, 63-66)
It begins with a hero on top of his roof patching it. When a man-eating jaguar approaches, the hero calls out to him, “Son-in-law, help me find holes in the thatch by poking a stick through them.” From the vantage point of someone inside a house it is quite easy to spot leaks in the thatch because of the sunlight that shines through them. However, because roofs are so high, it is impossible, from this position, to patch these. A person on the roof, on the other hand, can easily patch the holes but cannot see them. For this reason, when a man is patching his roof he will ask someone inside to poke a stick through the holes. This has the effect of aligning inside and outside perspectives in a special way; what can only be seen from the inside suddenly becomes visible to the person on the outside who, seeing these two perspectives as part of something greater, can now do something. Because the hero addresses and “sees” the jaguar as son-in-law, the jaguar thus hailed feels obligated to fulfill the functions incumbent on this role. Once the jaguar is inside, the hero slams the door shut and the structure suddenly turns into a stone cage that traps him. (Kohn, How forests think, 97)
The specific “strategies” of mimetic defence employed by the caterpillar refer to the “cognitive” abilities of the bird that threatens it, but it seems that for the bird the caterpillar is just one kind of prey among others. The definition of the parasite includes a “knowledge” of the means to invade its prey, but this prey appears to simply endure the parasite’s attack. (Stengers, Cosmopolitics I, 36)
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