MARE NOSTRUM, MARE ALIENUN: identidade, epistemologia e a imaginação flusseriana dos fluxos

Na próxima semana, o pesquisador Erick Felinto irá apresentar na Compós 2018.


O tema da identidade e seus desdobramentos na cultura digital tem emergido de forma relativamente marginal nos estudos de comunicação no Brasil. Este artigo propõe explorar determinados aspectos do pensamento de Vilém Flusser sobre identidade e alteridade na contemporaneidade. Ao mesmo tempo, propõe-se realizar uma leitura do imaginário dos fluxos e da liquidez que, segundo cremos, atravessa parte da obra flusseriana e encontra expressão máxima em Vampyroteuthis Infernalis. Na filosofia da ficção de Flusser, elabora-se uma ética da relação com a alteridade, que se funda no ato imaginativo de tomadas de ponto de vista e identificação com o outro. Tal ética encontra ressonância em proposições bem mais recentes nos campos da teoria cultural e da filosofia.

Quarta-feira, 6/6 | TARDE • 14h às 18h • Ed. PIC Cidade • sala 1203 (12º andar) – BH / MG

Eletrodoméstica e Reflexões de um Liquidificador: devires e afectos humano-maquínicos

Apresentaremos na Alcar Sudeste 2018, também em Belo Horizonte:

autores: Yuri GarciaPaula Gorini OliveiraThaís InácioJuracy Oliveira.

Articulando a fértil discussão do hibridismo humano/máquina, nos interessa explorar mais precisamente os termos dessa relação em dois exemplares do cinema brasileiro: o curta-metragem Eletrodoméstica (2005), de Kleber Mendonça Filho, e o longa-metragem Reflexões de um Liquidificador (2010), de André Klotzel.

Com abordagens distintas, os filmes apontam para a eletrificação do humano em consonância com a subjetivação da máquina, de modo que a nossa análise tensiona os devires e os afetos enredados nesses agenciamentos humano-eletrodomésticos, que comungam corpos, pensamentos, ações e paixões, formando um coletivo de (não)humanos sem hierarquias, posto que os objetos falam por si mesmos ao exibirem os rastros dos vínculos que produzem.

05/06 – 14h

“Like when a child talks for the first time”

Siri theatrical show was in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

“With a performer on stage and iPhone’s personal assistant, Siri, her only partner, director Maxime Carbonneau and performer Laurence Dauphinais invent a theatre where chance reigns. Dauphinais, one of the first people in Canada created by artificial insemination, quests for her origins using the most famous artificial intelligence as her guide. Through a precise game of question and answer, Dauphinais exposes the bizarre metaphysical dimension of the machine, while blurring the limitations that separate them. Siri is a terrifyingly clever pilgrimage into the mysteries of our own programming.” (on

Laurence presents herself as a “kind of artist specialized in new technologies”, if I remember correctly. Why did you choose Siri in face of today’s technological profusion?

An artistic director in Montreal challenged Maxime Carbonneau to make a show with Siri while they tested together the Apple utility for fun. It all started as a challenge.

Already in the beginning of the play there is a little of your story and an explanation on how Siri, interpersed with facts experienced by Laurence and her relationship with technology since birth due to an artificial insemination done by her mother. On Saturday 01/12/2017 at my side there was a coincidentally older audience. How has it been to offer this dialogue between Siri and Laurence to this audience?

It is true that people of different generations will receive the spectacle differently, depending on the use of technology or their reflection on the technological revolution, but I believe that the themes of the show remain universal to all.

Laurence Dauphinais in Siri (by Julie Artacho)

Paul Klee wrote “Now objects perceive me”. How does Siri perceive Laurence? What clues can we take to know this (if they exist)?

It’s a very interesting question. Siri has no biological meaning like humans, but its main meaning is the accumulation of data. A big date. It is through the accumulation of my behaviors that she understands me. In a way, we could call it intuition. Because intuition is this, it is unconscious accumulation of data facing people or events. Will we as humans and human-centrists accept the big date as a sense or as a kind of intuition?

About the availability of Siri to Laurence. Always prepared, if offering to help, Siri puts herself in readiness. We realize that the show deals with the different responses that Siri is able to give to the same questions that are repeated each night of presentation. How was there, and if there was, in a presentation or rehearsal, a “bug” (such as “Answer never given by Siri before” followed by the emoticon “\ 8 /”) on her part?

Laurence: I’m not sure I understand the question, but in the case of the spectacle in portuguese, we send this subtitle when Siri answers something for the first time and we do not have the proper cover of the subtitle.

Production: We map out the possible answers to each question that Laurence asks. Some questions she answers almost always in the same way. There are other questions that have more than 20 mapped answers. Maxime, in the cabin, hears the answer she gives in French and chooses the translation (side by side) in portuguese that we have already done. When the subtitle “answer never before given” enters it’s because that has never been said before. We’ve included new responses from Siri almost every show day since we started the season.

by Julie Artacho

At some point Laurence states that “Siri knows more than she says”. It probably refers to the cloud database. Privacy is a matter of civil rights nowadays because of the potential for vigilance and personalization. In your opinion, considering the intimacy that Siri offers, what is the difference between the data generated by her and other systems that generate data from the mobile and also store in the cloud?

To me, all of this data is similar. The most valuable data is geo-location data. It is priceless for a company to know where we are and when at every hour of the day. The data from our cell phone and, of course, Siri have access to all of this. And eventually, what Dag Kittlaus wanted, that Siri be a tool of self-fulfilling prophecies (ultimate goal of capitalism) will come true.

“Siri always surprises us” and “You were not like that” are phrases that Laurence quotes. Considering the beginning of the experiences for the show, what changes in Siri have become more evident to you over the four years in which she is already available?

The differences are huge! It is very difficult for us to say why Siri has changed, but one thing is for sure, we are probably the people who most use Siri in her French Canadian version. So we hope we have participated in its evolution. Four years ago, she responded many more times that she could not answer certain questions. And all those flaws were sent repeatedly to Apple. So the engineers had to expand her response capacity. It’s true that four years ago she knew what a man was, but not a woman. And she finally answered what a woman was in the rehearsal. It was an extraordinary moment. Like when a child talks for the first time.

How do you see the speculations about the ability of the machinic learning? Did you feel it on this path with Siri?

Things are going fast but at the same time it is very complicated to make the machines more and more intelligent. It’s a long-term job. I do not think the machines will become so clever as to eliminate us all. But this is an area where ethical issues are big and we must form researchers with a strong knowledge of ethics and technology at the same time.

Laurence Dauphinais (by Julie Artacho)

This question is for Laurence: Siri is a good listener and tries, in her way, to be there when you need it. Would you say she’s close to you? Have you ever talked to her out of scene?

I do not talk to Siri in my personal life. It has been quite alienating to work on this project for four years! haha

In the end, you touch on the issue of “dematerialization” to join Siri. The processes and supports that she uses today for functioning passes through the Iphone 6S, the servers that support the data of the cloud, programming codes, recorded voice, the internet, among other actors in that process, in short… What materialities ( the cell phone, the connection, the solution to design the screen of the cell phone, etc.) evoked in this relationship with Siri, showed themselves more present for you in the creation of the show?

For us, it’s a combination of all these images. From this game of opacity and transparency, from the outstanding but comforting side of the image, from the fragility of experience and the problems that may arise, from Siri’s omniscience in various languages but from their marked cultural differences, the compartmentalized side of technology, etc., etc. I imagine that dematerialization can be seen in many ways. We can think of the goal of transhumanists to implant the lives of dead people into computers to make them eternal, but we can also think of our way of fictionalizing our materiality. We die, then, we invent eternal life, we have hormonal changes that are interpreted emotionally, we live dramas or joys to which guidelines are given. This is what makes interesting human beings, but also self-centered. I find it interesting to think about the idea of ​​dematerialization to learn how to live differently between us and in more harmony with our environments.

I hope it was clear. Your questions were perfect! Lau.

…this interview was conducted during the season held at OI Futuro, in Rio de Janeiro / BR, from 11/23 to 12/17 (2017).
…research: Group Technological Cultures: Medialities, Materialites and Temporalities
…coordinated: Professor Erick Felinto (UERJ)
…interview: Thais Inácio
…english translation: Yuri Garcia

A spectacle of: La Messe Basse
Production Brazil: da Gaveta Produções

Text: Maxime Carbonneau + Laurence Dauphinais + Siri
Direction: Maxime Carbonneau
Interpretation: Laurence Dauphinais + Siri
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director: Jérémie Boucher
Set Design and Costume Design: Geneviève Lizotte
Lighting: Julie Basse
Soundtrack: Olivier Girouard
Dramatic Council: Dany Boudreault + Tiphaine Raffier
Created in co-production with: TransAmériques Festival with the support of Le Phénix – scène nationale Valenciennes

Production Management: Leticia Tórgo
Executive Producer: Kamilla Barcellos
Financial Analyst: Alexandre Rocha

Flusser and Kafka: Bureaucratic Theology

Just finished reading Flusser’s essay on Kafka for a class I’ll teach next Thursday. I specially like Flusser’s idea of a God who not only loathes his creation, but also dislikes himself. How weird is the idea of a divine being who just sits impassive in his celestial office, lazily contemplating the daily tragedies of this sublunar world? Well, it’s not very different from the god of the gnostics (the so-called “theos agnostos”), with the particularity that Kafka’s deity is not only indifferent to mankind, but also despises it. If Lovecraft had a God it would certainly be like Kafka’s, like mighty Chtulhu sleeping through the ages while an unsuspecting humanity goes about its business. There are, however, those who eagerly wait for Chtulhu’s awakening and their impeding doom. Yes, there is something strangely attractive about the idea of a sudden apocalypse, about the end of our senseless suffering. Michel Houellebecq sees this very clearly when he states that, notwithstanding the absolute horror of Lovecraft’s universe and the abominations that awaits us behind every door, his literature exerts a strange and irresistible allure on us. For Flusser, we are still waiting for Kafka, because its readership is yet to be born. But – who knows? – it’s always possible that some of his authentic readers and interpreters are already walking around this earth. If that’s the case, then Kafka’s particular Stimmung can certainly be felt, even if only in minute doses…

Lovecraft: la disyunción en el Ser

Another magnificent book by Argentinian philosopher Fabián Ludueña. Lovecraft is once again claimed by philosophy – what is rapidly becoming a trend – as the writer who poses the most cogent questions for contemporary thought. Ludueña’s erudition and depth are impressive. He suggests that Lovecraft’s contribution rests on his construction of myth, but a myth devoid of any commitment to the human species, a sort of non-anthropic concept of the myth. The multiverse engendered by Lovecraft is ruled by a disjunctive principle located in the very core of Being. The writer of Providence develops a notion of subjectivity that prescinds embodiment in any determined physical substance and creates a thinking of radical outsideness. A brilliant work of philosophy and literary criticism.

An archaeology of theoretical thought

Siegfried Zielinski urges us to seek the new in the old. I wonder if that theoretical principle could be applied to theory itself. What if we were to read past authors and ideas always under a new and different light? We could go even further and promote a continuous refashioning of the past by means of different imaginative exercises. An archive is not necessarily a repository of dead words and deeds. The archaeologist possesses the mystical power to resuscitate what was thought to be lifeless. Therein lies perhaps one of the main reasons for my interested in the past. Also, I have to admit that I’m usually much more interested in stories about failures and flops than tales of success. A monumental flop within the sphere of theoretical thought may indicate that an idea was prematurely born or shaped within an intellectual context that didn’t do it justice. I believe that’s the case with many of the obscure characters that draw my attention. Not coincidentally, I tend to evaluate their ideas under a framework that is never solely epistemological, but also aesthetic. Take, for instance, the obscure Fritz Mauthner. Reading the excellent work by Elizabeth Bredeck (Metaphors of Knowledge: Language and Thought in Mauthner’s Critique), I speculate wether Mauthner’s notion of Zufallsgeschichte (history of contingencies) can shed interesting light on some (media)archaeological principles. This history of contingencies teaches us that “what history lacks is as important as what it yields” (p. 42). The fact that the Zufallsgeschichte is not grounded on any divine or natural predetermination prevents the establishment of any generalization. History always “remains limited to particulars” (43) and also bound to human interest. Instead of being “true”, it must be useful. In Mauthner’s view, our knowledge of the world has a “metaphoric” dimension, since it is always mediated by language and its categories. One could say that knowledge is always, in a way, “aesthetic”. In a time when anthropocentric perspectives of the universe were still quite current, Mauthner endeavored a critique of the anthropocentric character of words such as “law”, “purpose” or “necessity”, which should be dismissed as linguistic illusions altogether. After writing this very brief and incomplete report, I read again a fortuitous passage in Bredeck’s book – which I had of course already forgotten – and smile: “Mauthner serves as a lens through which we can get a new perspective on issues in contemporary theory, while contemporary theory helps shed new light on the complexities of Mauthner’s own thought” (p. 29).

Some small repercussions of our Symposium

Graham posted this in his blog. He is in São Paulo and we’ll meet him tomorrow. Glad he liked the restaurant I recommended.  Also, Steven posted the abstract for his talk in Rio here. Today we took Siegfried Zielinski to the Moreira Salles Institute. He is quite taken by the beautiful natural landscapes of Rio. Adalberto, Siegfried and I had a nice conversation on Flusser and his book “A History of the Devil”.  A delightful Sunday, indeed.

Work in Progress (from my paper for the international Symposium “The Secret Life of Objects”)

“the question is not wether the presentation of a ‘Stimmung’ is truthful or not, but rather wether it touches (berührt) the observer or not”. We’re no longer dealing with clearly verifiable determinations of truth or falsehood. With his typically circular, enigmatic and inconclusive style, Flusser never delivers a theory for the interpretation of gestures, but rather a reading procedure that is not quantifiable or translatable in the order of discourse (at least in terms of scientific discourse). “The ‘Gestimmtheit’ liberates the ‘Stimmungen’ from their original contexts and turns them into aesthetic phenomena. They become ‘artificial'” (V.F.). That’s why we can say that the ‘Gestimmtheit’ isn’t an epistemological or ethical issue, but rather an aesthetic one. What one needs in order to be able to ‘read’ it is an inclination, a subjective attitude that has less to do with the determination of a clear meaning than with a certain disposition for experiencing sensations…