Some notes after reading Materiality by Lange-Berndt: According to Deleuze, objects/things are NODES that crystallize in the force-field of the activities around them. Materials are in a state of becoming entangled in a web of vibrations -an Evolutionary Materiality - E Grosz.
Materials become ‘matter-flow’ that can only be followed. ‘matter-flow’ = motion, flux & variation Traditional ‘material culture’ and Marxist approaches see material as dead….waiting for a human agency to activate it.
When I look at my bituminous images hanging in the forest outside, I perceive them as objects ‘hanging’ inside the physical ‘reality’ of a forest. When captured in a 3D video, they start to become ‘nodes’ (in a Deleuzian sense) as the other constituents - the other ‘agents’ - become active. The other agents seem to be the wind, moving branches, sounds of birds/animals changing.... but what about me?
These bituminous banners support representational images of the forest, which immediately makes me conceptually uncomfortable. When I think back to Pickering’s view that the performative idiom ‘opposes’ the representational idiom in both science and art, I wonder if this is in itself a dichotomous Cartesian approach? “Skip the detour, forget about representations, forget about science (or art?); recognize instead that our being in the world is at root performative, and act that out.” (Pickering, Andrew. Being in an environment: a performative perspective: 16) https://www.cairn.info/revue-natures-sciences-societes-2013-1-page-77.htm#
What it is for me, seems more similar to Deleuze’s idea that it is a both/and rather than an either/or scenario. This is in tune with his rhizomorphic thinking, where all parts of the network/rhizome become equally important. Pickering does not preclude this as he identifies ‘islands of stability’ where humans and the non-human interact; where knowledge and its representations of the world grow. But these islands of stability he sees as constantly emergent and transitory, which essentially require constant servicing and maintenance. He calls this constant backwards and forwards movement between human and material agency, the ‘dance of agency’. He also refers to this type of dance as 'posthuman' in The Mangle of Practice: Time, Agency, and Science (1996)- much like Barad does in 2003. (Barad. 2003 Posthumanist Performativity: Toward an Understanding of How Matter Comes to Matter)
I think it important that one recognizes both the human and also the posthuman importance of material agency in this model. It is not meant to be an anti-human position.
“Successful human action depends on latching onto the shi of whatever situation one finds oneself in, going with the flow, in the Taoist sense of the term.” (Pickering: 22)
The challenge for me is to get a shift from process - where the materials are the agents - to representation and back again. This ‘dance of agency’ (Pickering) should include me as well! My past as a Science and Biology teacher come together in this site/place.