Empyre Discussion Articles: The Humanist versus Post-Human Perspectives

1)Disembodied Eye

http://lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au/pipermail/empyre/2016-July/009218.html

I found this reading especially interesting because of the way it argued that conceptualizing vision as a mechanical process has the potential to veer us away from the humanist perspective, and reduce divisions between human beings on the basis of race, gender, class, etc. The writer of this post stipulates that the best way to mend divisions is not by simply taking a feminist approach, or even by taking other approaches of exclusion including race, class, etc. Rather, the author here argues that the best perspective to take is a non-human approach in an effort to overcome oppression.

For the writer, the embodied eye reproduces humanism and reconstructs us, ascribing everything it sees with meaning and reinforcing divisions between people. Reproduction and representation do not empower because there is always a bias inherent in the process of reproducing something. However, when something is merely made visible, it is empowered through its simple visibility devoid of the biases of reproduction.

While the embodied eye is compared to the humanist perspective, the disembodied eye is equivalent to the post-human perspective which the author argues is best suited for the working out of divisions between people. The disembodied, or “machine eye,” has the power to deconstruct divisions because it sees without the judgment or distortion of the humanist perspective.

2)Camera Obscura

http://lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au/pipermail/empyre/2016-July/009226.html

This post in many ways is very similar to the Disembodied Eye post which I discussed above. Here, the author speaks about “achieving a vision that deconstructs the normalizing transformation of images into objects or concepts embedded within Western reason.” In other words, the author hopes to employ the camera in a way that merely objectively captures the world rather than framing it in such a way that reproduces Western ideologies and divides through biased representation. For this author, capturing the world in motion instead or through still imagery allows to make all differences visible in a unifying rather than in a divisive, qualified, and meaning-infused way.

3)Visualization between robotics and baked good

http://lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au/pipermail/empyre/2016-July/009179.html

Finally, in this post, the author speaks about using a physical pie in order to represent gender statistics in the workplace. Using a literal pie is a very powerful way to tangibly show the disparities and gaps between the genders represented in different fields and industries. Representing an abstract statistic in the form of a pie makes the disparity seem more real and visible (increasing visibility seems to repeatedly be an important and powerful tool in propelling people towards action), exposing how few women work in the tech industry by showing how little of the pie women can claim for themselves while the majority belongs to men.

It is also interesting to think about the fact that baking has typically and traditionally been a feminine labor, which makes this choice of representation especially interesting. The “pie chart” has ironically been adopted by different industries (often male dominated) for the sake of representing data. In a sense, a feminine technology and labor has been exploited for commercial purposes and is now being reclaimed to expose workplace inequalities.

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