Kember 2016

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Kember, Sarah. iMedia: The Gendering of Objects, Environments and Smart Materials. New York: Palgrave Pivot, 2016.


Critique of the "flattened ontology" of lists (Bogost 2012) and Object Oriented Ontology

"The fetishization of objects serves to align markets and metaphysics. It makes imedia OOPs theory compatible, if not necessarily complicit with, industry goals oriented to novelty and innovation -- iPhones -- rather than invention and intervention. Intervention is precluded in the shift from knowledge to things, and environments of things-in-themselves." (24)

Derangements of scale -- not opposed to imedia environmentalism per se, but requres "boundary cuts between co-constituting processes and the instrumentalisation, and potential re-instrumentalisation of forms" (24)

"It is is in boundary work -- as critical-creative decision-making -- that a politics and ethics of imedia are enacted. Te absence of boundary work allows politics to default to the mainstream, to what is {(or is soon, inevitably, to be) and produces derangements of scale in imedia theories that are very small and/or very big. Scales slide in the absence of epistemological structures, the boundary cuts of particles nad people, black and white, wood and trees that are too easily and conveniently conceded to, uncontested, made uncontestable and consigned to the philosophical past so that we can move on to better things-in-themselves." (24-5)

Bennett 2010 -- vibrant materialism compatible with OOO because it is "reactionary and foundationalist", establishing the grounds for a more positive/affirmative politics by substituting cynicism/paranoia/critique for more creative and generous outlook (28) -- this is a "dialectical feminism" that abandons critique; dangerous and limited critical strategy

Haraway's work as an alternative that reinvents nature through deconstructive figures (cyborg, modest witness, companion species) and provisional concepts (natureculture, FemaleMan) -- "It goes beyond strategies of substitution in order to break down dialectical structures and its principal mode is writing. Writing, for Haraway, is un-aligned and undecidable with respect to binaries. It is not critique any more than it is creativity. It is not humanistic any more than it is animalistic, or reducible to words any more than it is a means of presencing worlds. Writing is a mode of reinventing the world without having to affirm or deny it. It is, I would suggest, writing more than critique that is abandoned in dialectical feminism and with it goes the strategy of reinvwention that Haraway currently figures in terms of sf" (29)

Diffraction -- way of scaling; not just Harman/OOO reflecting the world but "engaging with a world that includes other worlders, other storytellers" (30)

iMedia Manifesto Part 1: Remember Cinderlla: Glass as a Fantasy Figure of Feminine and Feminized Labor

Ubiquitous Women

critique of Braidotti 2010 -- affirmative politics "fails to move beyond dialecticism in as far as it restores rather than abandons oppositional thinking" (61)

iMedia Manifesto Part II: Tell a Her Story: On Writing as Queer Feminist Praxis


"Rather than positing a then and now of the manifesto, transformed from an attitude of violence to one of humour, polemic to playfulness or even anti- to pro-feminism, I would argue that it continues to evolve into, and as an antagonistic form by means of writing about and writing out of social and historical contexts that remain structured by gendered hierarchical dualisms." (85)

"Feminist writing, as both a continuation and trasnformation of feminine writing is both destructive and co-creative of imedia worlds. Its (though there is of course no 'its' here, no singular notion of feminist writing notwithstanding shared strategies of reinvention) extended subject-object is post-human only in the sense of not being after the human and, as well as being re-differentiated isalso conflicted, contingent, in my account, on the contradictory time zones of potential and potentia, productivity and becoming. She is the tension between homo oeconomicus and its constitutive outside. At once singular and multiple, she has a given name and narrative that through writing might be reclaimed and retold. The manifesto is one among other old and ever new provisional forms of writing that combine and recombine rightness and writerliness, generating ironic and parodic openings to the political -- more or less." (94)

Conclusion: iMedia otherwise

In this book, "I have questioned the conceptual turn from structure to scale, epistemology to ontology and from subjects and objects to environments of procedssual and imperceptible things-in-themselves. By asking who sees at the scale of imperceptibility ... I have suggested that the old and unfashionable problem of masculine disembodied knowledge practices does not go away because we no longer deign to speak of it -- because we do not do epistemology anymore. Indeed this problem resurfaces with a vengeance, propelled, as I've suggested it is, by some familiar allies. Allied to the new masculinism -- one that is by no means exclusive to imedia theory but that certainly charcterizes it -- is a renewed recourse to scientism and to immediacy manifested as unmediacy." (107)

Masculine tendency to rightness vs feminist trend to writerliness

"As the principal mechanism of deconstruction, writing destroys order and creates openings to the political, albeit more or less. The instability and uncertainty of this opening is what is foregrounded in the use of parody and irony both of which can miss the mark, fail to create tension, reinforce as much as subvert sexism and misogyny. I advocate the use of these queer feminist writing strategies despite or because of their instability. My somewhat perverse position is that they might uncloak the cloak of humor and render absurd the new theatres of the absurd constituted by mishearing communication devices, networked mirrors, toasters and toilets, vibrating pants, exploding bras and the like. For me, what is yet to be mimed from the laugh of the Medusa is an antagonism in action, in the space and time of the laugh. This does not amount to a final ground for politics but might militate against its total, smart, systematized enclosure. Writing, including especially ironic and parodic writing, addresses the question that continues to arise in political theory, namely, what is to be done, and what should we or what could we do? One answer has already been written: "Write!"" (111)