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CHRONOTOPOS: THE BODY IN CAPITALISM
notes on personal extensibility modeling
From a talk given at Parsons School of Design on 5 December 2017.
For the paper this talk is based on, click here. Download a pdf of the slides here.

  1. CHRONOTOPOS: THE BODY IN CAPITALISM
    • CHRONO: time, TOPOS: place
      • easy one: referent to time-geography, inaugurated by Torsten Hagerstrand. Toward end of his life was calling this by various names, so I made my own too.
    • THE BODY IN CAPITALISM
      • Also a spatial identity and a situationallizing phrase. ‘The body’ strips individuality from the subject of the map, a conscious choice that I’ll explain later. ‘In capitalism’ could be replaced with ‘In modernity’/‘as participant-observer’/‘in dromocracy’ etc, etc. I’ll also explain this later
  2. Torsten’s time-space aquarium:
    • The way we map all of this is simple enough: instead of treating the map as the site of infinity, treat it y=0, with the y axis becoming the axis of time.
    • PC Adams’ diagram of Hagerstrand’s original diagram illustrates this well: people are represented as vectors, and their movements in space are abstracted into transitory movements from one point to another irrespective of geography
  3. EXTENSIBILITY DIAGRAM
    • Adams further develops the aquarium in his Reconsideration of Personal Boundaries in Space Time. The body is, following McLuhan, tentacular, dendritic, febrillous in space and time w/r/t media, and as I will argue, in a further economic register. Thus, the notion of solidity disappears; only the nucleus is left. My boundaries contract, expand, and envelop as necessary, just like an amoeba hunting
    • Adams shows this in a social sense: the person extends to the site of the person they are communicating with, while the body stays static. Like an amoeba and its nucleus
  4. Mei-Po Kwan’s GIS Aquaria
    • African-American women in Portland
    • The line represents what Kwan calls a body inscription: “material expressions of women’s corporeality and embodied subjectivities” … contra Grosz, “Bodies rein scribe and project themselves…so that this environment both produces and reflects the form and interests of the body”
    • Far from showing an “unlimited, abstract, spatial freedom”, the aquarium reveals path dependencies and spatial-qwernomic practices of racism. Why do bodies occupy some spaces and not others?
    • Lets break down what these precedents mean.
  5. SPACE & TIME
    • “Modernity is a world in motion, expressed in translations of strategic space into logistical time, and back again. It is a history of cities, partitions, trading circuits, satellites, and software; of a political landscape governed by competing technologies of surveillance, mobilization, fortification and their interdependent administrations. It begins as an archaelogy of naval routes, strategic techniques and urban distributions, and becomes an integrated world of events reduced to shapes and symbols, viewed and manipulated instantaneously on screens.” -Bratton, intro to Virilio’s Speed and Politics
    • First we’ll be working through some supposed binaries and uncovering a dialecticism. Space and time is probably the most common of these supposed irreconcilable opposites. Or is it? Sure, there’s the space time continuum, stuff like that, but that operates at a level much higher than the day to day. What does that have to do with anything? What good is time-geography? Isn’t that a little like ‘dancing about architecture’?
  6. v=d/t
    • Not really.
    • This equation - v equals d over t, is a mathematical collision of our dialectical pairs of space and time. According to this equation, which I’m sure we’ve all seen and hated at some point in our lives, dividing d distance by t time equals v velocity.
    • Velocity is a vector. It has both spatial and temporal information contained within it.
    • Probably the most well known use of simple vectors are ‘wind maps’ like the globe seen here. Get enough vectors together and you can start talking. One vector is essentially meaningless
  7. [metro map] (add ‘real map’ alongside)
    • So how would we elaborate on this and make it useful?
    • Draw me a map of your route to school. That is a chronotopic map if you draw it from your start to your end point. The units of the vector just aren’t defined, and our level of complexity is limited by the 2d laminated space of the map
    • However, if you take the train, I guarantee you won’t be able to draw me your exact path underground. So, yes, you get from A to B, but how? This is the inverse of what James C. Scott calls ‘frictional’ geography. Anti-frictional geography is the geography of mediated transit, of speed, of the disappearance of space (or territory) altogether from mapping. Adherence to geography is no longer required. Speed is what we map now.
  8. CYBERNETIC DIAGRAMS
    • In addition to speed, we map systems. And not just systems, but systems of systems. Following the Macy conferences, first-order cybernetics, or the study of contained and controlled systems, was expanded contra the realization that no system is contained a priori and instead is slaved to feedbacks that exist within and without it
    • Part of 2nd order cybernetics are the realizations that a) observing a system is akin to participating in it, and the whole discipline, founded on ‘studying mechanical systems’, really was serving to plug the human back into a 2nd nature machine that had previously been thought separate
    • There is no dialectic between social and technical relations, but only a machinism that dissolves society into the machines whilst deterritorializing the machines across the ruins of society, whose 'general theory ... is a generalized theory of flux',
  9. BODY & SWARM
    • Here’s another irreconcilable pair.
    • PC Adams notes that the body is all that is left as a spatial quanta, and a person’s existence is extensible. It spreads, smears, swarms. Becomes a cyborg. Really extensibility is about the nature of the prosthetic. The map is also a prosthetic. A mirror-attachment.
    • So how do we make maps useful again? By disintegrating the individual subject, and along with that, populations (when viewed as simple agglomerations of subjects)
    • But this doesn’t lead to a flatlining of complexity - rather allows for an involuting complexity
    • Agency disappears into the machine
  10. SINGULARITY & AMOEBA
    • Our final pair
    • Of course this may be hard to take. You and I are still people
    • But what does that mean in a world without subjects? We must find the center of nowhere, reconvene a solidity in plasticity, plant a flag in a hurricane.
    • The amoeba-form, the cephalopod, picking up from Haraway’s conception of the anthropocene as chthuloscene. We must all recognize ourselves as chthonic. Inhuman. Mechanic. Amoebic. Diffuse. Cytoplasmic.
  11. NETWORKS
    • Do I retain a self when I go online? William Gibson in Neuromancer would argue no. ‘Jacking in’ is akin to dissociating. Sadie Plant writes that to enter the digital is to be invaded. The self disintegrates under the onslaught
    • To do anything online is to become an amoeba in space. Your body exists but your person is found on servers, in fiber optic cables, pinging off satellites
  12. PERSONAL EXTENSIBILITY MODELING
    • PEM takes traditional mapping away from spatial representation and towards a procedure of recording.
    • Differs from standard Hagerstrandian aquarium models for 2 reasons:
      • incorporation of economic modeling following Neil Smith’s description of “time-space compression” - participation of the person in networks massively distributed in space in time
      • identification of phenomenological quality of the map. The map is a design project, and as such a relocalization of the person with the body, however briefly - a mediated ‘qualitative psychogeography’
  13. PROJECT GOALS
    • To map both systems and my place within them
    • To demonstrate the fitful relation of the body to the person, and the person to global systems
    • Above all, to realize these relations, which are fitful, ephemeral, subterranean, synthetic, hallucinated, and transitory more often then not, by updating the form of the map, which by nature defends the primacy of the visible, quantifiable, and recordable.
  14. METHOD
    • the creation of a map that works in multiple modes: in 1, a modified, simplified version of the time-space aquarium for maximum visibility, 2: a world map that is then tethered to the first map. All of these are plotted along a temporal y axis. The relation between local and global is elaborated and interwoven
  15. QUESTIONS
    • How can we map becomings over beings?
    • How is the relationship between the personal approach and mediated situation met and dealt with? Basically, what does the map define, and how is it itself defined?
    • What is the reach of a single individual over the course of a single day?
  16. HOW
    • Irruption of path dependency
    • A ‘reverse agenda’ - keeping track of locations, durations, etc., but not according to a discrete plan
      • And even in some cases performing relatively rare spatial and social acts in order to better make the point
    • ‘reverse budget’, but actually making less purchases than necessary, knowing each purchase will necessitate extensive research to properly chase each to a meaningful telos
    • Case in point of second order participant-observer status (Hawthorne observation principle)