photo HS, North Pacific Beach San Diego 2012 (he can see himself in it. he is stacking smaller rocks to protect it). 

  • n. A description of beings, their nature and essence.
  • n. That division of geography which is concerned with the responses of organic beings to their physiographic surroundings or environment.

“a term for composing works that help illuminate the existence and relationships between objects.” – Trevor Owens

“By word root “ontography” should presumably pertain to, as is fitting for a ghost tale, the attempt to formally describe being, not necessarily non-human, but perhaps as is suggested above, of the nature of things in themselves and to eachother, on their ‘own’ natural physical terms as it were; the noumenal, or the spirit body.” – Sam



Ideas of Savage Reason: Martin Holbraad x Eduardo Viveiros de Castro

another sketch to do with perspectivism HS 2012 or ’13

excerpts from http://www.glass-bead.org/article/ideas-of-savage-reason-glass-bead-in-conversation-with-martin-holbraad-and-eduardo-viveiros-de-castro/

Anthropology becomes a game with no superior arbiter or impartial umpire, a game whose rules change as the game goes on.

‘Ontology,’ as far as anthropology as an ontologically comparative endeavor is concerned, starts from, and with, the methodological principle according to which we do not know what being is without having first engaged in ethnographic (ontographic) fieldwork. ‘Ontology’ thus becomes an ‘outdoor science’ like field ecology or natural history.

One way to go beyond the Nature/Culture dualism that has been plaguing us since the dawn of Modernity is to thoroughly reconceptualize the notion ofSupernature along non-Western, non-scholastic, non-Christian lines.

Maniglier suggests that what physics has represented to all the other natural sciences and, more importantly, to philosophy as well (from metaphysics to political philosophy to ethics) since the Scientific Revolution of the seventeenth century—namely, the role of a Model, a sort of epistemic Ego-ideal—is bound to be played by anthropology in the present century.

That is simply the decision of refusing to decide, much less legislate, as to which ontological regime is better or truer, e.g., is it humanism or anti/trans/post-humanism? Our job as anthropologists, according to this image, is to find ways not to decide on these things, in order the better to be able to allow the materials we study—our ethnographic exposures –to decide, as it were, for themselves.

“the politics of ontography resides not only in the ways in which it may help promote certain futures, but also in the way that it ‘figurates’ the future in its very enactment.”

Flat Time Theory

Batammaliba body house.jpg

Last week I went to Flat Time House the once-home of artist John Latham (1921–2006) to meet with director Gareth Bell-Jones. The building now houses Latham’s archives and in many senses it embodies the cosmology the late artist proselytized and inhabited. Not unlike West African Batammaliba architecture, Flat Time House literally presents itself as a (social) body replete with ‘mouth’, ‘digestive system’, ‘brain’ and a ‘mind’ – the sunlit front room – choreographed to ensnare unsuspecting visitors in Latham’s dense philosophical dialogue. When he was alive the artist was known for his dynamic but often opaque and rambling mode of explaining the world through his work, and this tendency survives him in the concretized objects and diagrams that continue to populate the Mind and Brain of Flat Time House where Latham’s archives are kept.

Gareth had promised me ‘his version’ of a tour through these inner workings, and I went with a specific interest in learning more about Flat Time Theory, which I have come to understand as Latham’s proposition for a new conceptualization of reality, drafted with the utopian premise of shattering binary oppositions between subjects and objects by presenting All Things horizontally on a canvas of the artists own creation. The Flat Time Canvas, a sort of hyper-object, prioritizes the temporal dimension of things and – according to Latham – if one is able to experience all objects as durations in time, this lends them an equivalence without hierarchy, drawing them into undeniable relation with each another.

The tour was particularly satisfying because Latham’s works – which otherwise camouflage themselves fairly well in a more anonymous gallery context as straightforward ‘sculptures’ and ‘paintings’ – took on the role of performers or integral narrative props that literalised what might otherwise have been an indigestibly dense burrow through the diverse realms of influence that contribute to Latham’s cosmology. The point here is I suppose that, true to form, ‘flat time’ cannot be encapsulated in any single object or static sketch—moreover the objects that inhabit this world are not compliant representations that can be ‘explained’ or made sense of in isolation or through simple definition and it is therefore only in time, and probably only through some form of dialogical performance, that Flat Time might begin to unfurl itself and (if only for a fleeting instant) become legible. Perhaps this legibility then corresponds to Latham’s ‘Least Event’, discovered by the experimental spray-painting of a neighbor’s fence, the smallest possible action or moment in time that might refer equally to a single atom or an atomic explosion on a global scale. The Least Event exists inside the Mind as a one-second drawing made with spray paint, and again as a blank white canvas, alongside the Zero Event (materialized as a corresponding plane of glass). These are but two reiterating characters in a glossary that bifurcates the closer you look.

I’ve been particularly curious to discover the degree to which Flat Time, and Latham’s approach to mapping this 4D diagrammatic system, might correlate with the way I’ve been dealing with animal traps as durational objects and systematic assemblages, made of tendencies and capacities that relate to the umwelt (the sensory environment) of an animal. Traps are compelling and useful, in that they shed light on environmental relations in the context where they’re set, and have a tendency to invert general and personal assumptions regarding perspective, geometry and time. These inversions are, I suppose, a large part of what an Anthropology of Other Animals might really be about, particularly through the extended challenge that they pose to our collective reliance upon thinking of ourselves as humans in opposition to animals, subjects in an objective world, sentient beings in the context of an un-sensing material landscape, etc.

Continue reading “Flat Time Theory”

Anthropological Traps

captura-de-pantalla-2016-01-07-a-las-12-25-26“The trap is the first and the ultimate anthropology of itself.”

Alberto Corsin Jimenez

Alberto Corsin Jimenez + Rane Willerslev are heading up a panel on ‘Anthropological Traps’ at the EASA conference in Milan this July. I’ll be joining the tangle to talk about a Mongolian lasso and non-Euclidean drawing tools, and to preview a new collaboration with Rebecca Empson, a sort of cross-species stereoscope that holds the split perspective of a pole-lasso at work as it negotiates between the worlds of herder and horse.

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The panel

“The ethnographic record is replete with accounts of trapping as a technology of hunting. Yet they failed to engage the attention of scholars as objects of theory in their own right. This panel aims to correct this omission by centering attention on ‘traps’ as spaces of ethnographic and theoretical productivity. We believe that traps offer new ground with which to rethink the comparative project of anthropology. On the one hand, traps work as interfaces between human and nonhuman forms and agencies. They blur classical distinctions between prey and predator, subject and object, nature and culture, epistemology and ontology. Secondly, traps work as ecological infrastructures. They artefactualize the density of human and nonhuman entanglements. Third, traps are space-time technologies in their own right. They are framing devices where acceleration, anticipation or waiting take hold over bodies and environments in various capacities.

Continue reading “Anthropological Traps”

How is such an entity which functions as the appearance of nothing to itself possible?


“one could say that a system can see only what it can see. It cannot see what it cannot. Moreover, it cannot see that it cannot see this. For the system this is something concealed ‘behind’ the horizon that, for it, has no ‘behind.’…

…Reality is what one does not perceive when one perceives it.” – Luhmann, Ecological Communication

Each substance of a grief hath twenty shadows,
Which shows like grief itself, but is not so;
For sorrow’s eye, glazed with blinding tears,
Divides one thing entire to many objects;
Like perspectives, which rightly gazed upon
Show nothing but confusion, eyed awry
Distinguish form: so your sweet majesty,
Looking awry upon your lord’s departure,
Find shapes of grief, more than himself, to wail;
Which, look’d on as it is, is nought but shadows
Of what it is not.

Richard II, Shakespeare

…the problem with subjectless objects is not that they are too objective, neglecting the role of subject, but that what they describe as subjectless world of objects is too subjective, already within an unproblematized transcendental horizon. We do not reach the In-itself by way of tearing away subjective appearances and trying to isolate “objective reality” as it is “out there,” independently of the subject; the In-itself inscribes itself precisely into the subjective excess, gap, inconsistency that opens up a hole in reality.”