Ian Bogost: Seeing Things

Seeing Things – OOOIII from Ian Bogost on Vimeo.

Videogame researcher and developer Ian Bogost posted this video he made on the photography of Garry Winogrand, looked at through the lens of object-oriented ontology–a philosophical approach he shares with Graham Harman, Levi Bryant, and Timothy Morton. While my own metaphysical orientation is closer to the process-relational metaphysics put forward by people like Steven Shaviro and Adrian Ivakhiv (and following people like Whitehead and Deleuze), I agree with Adrian Ivakhiv that a significant middle ground can be found between the two positions. This is something that has been debated time and again in the speculative realism blogosphere, and I don’t want to get into that debate here; above all, I don’t want to suggest that there is no difference between these “schools” of thought, only that for some purposes these differences may be less important than the commonalities–above all, the common opposition to what Quentin Meillassoux has identified as “correlationism,” or the view that subjects and objects, humans and things, phenomenal appearances and substratal reality are always and inextricably tied to one another, that there can be no access to a realm outside human thought, and that there is no interaction that would breach this correlation. One can certainly question the claim that all of post-Kantian Western philosophy up until the advent of speculative realism (itself a contentious term that collects positions so various as to be outright opposed to one another) was beholden to the spell of correlationism, but whatever one decides about that, Meillassoux’s identification of this tendency is surely not without heuristic value. And thus speculative realisms, object-oriented ontologies, and process-relational philosophies can be seen to make common cause with posthumanistic positions that aim to decenter human perspectives and anthropocentrisms of all sorts. In my own work, I have tried to triangulate such philosophical efforts with a theory of media as (in Mark Hansen’s words) “the environment for life” or, as I prefer, media as the environment for agency (both living and nonliving). Anyway, this is all just a long way of saying that I recommend watching Ian Bogost’s nicely made video, which offers a thought-provoking contribution to this effort to think media beyond the frame of human intentionality, instrumentality, and sentimentality.


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