Blind Spots September 1, 2012

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Invisible Culture
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Blind Spots

InVisible Culture, Issue 19

To set up a critical conversation under the thematic framework of "blindness" runs the risk of holding one mode or locus of vision above others. In other words, by inviting our peers to carry out their thinking with the question of "blind spots" in mind, do we mean to encourage a purely negative criticality or counter-discourse aimed at new technologies of vision: of revealing their artifice and lamenting their hegemony? Such concerns might provisionally be put to rest when we consider blindness less as a metaphor for criticism and more as an actual phenomenon, even how blindness itself might ground a phenomenology. In considering such questions, we began by inquiring into the horizon of vision as it currently presents itself. It is as if everything increasingly makes itself available to sight. Google now not only seeks to "organize the data of the world" but evidently has in mind the visualization of that data as well–of turning seeing itself into a question of data, as evident in the company's various projects (or products?) such as Google maps and its latest Google glasses technology. In part because of this hyper-availability of information by way of (for instance) technologies of algorithmic vision, seeing has not only become de-centered from the eye: the eye is itself becoming an obsolete organ, at best a point of support for the manifold ways in which technology narrows the space between itself and bodies. And yet, how might the blindness of the eye—its "ability" to falter—assist us in thinking about these new and complex modes of vision? In what way can sensorial limits be understood as horizons of possibility? What fresh insights might a critical examination of past discourses on technological vision and blindness offer to our current understanding of contemporary technologies of augmented vision?

Another question we hope to address with this issue, then, concerns the relationship between blindness as a condition of the lived body and blindness as a condition attributable to certain media. In Derek Jarman's 1993 film Blue, film itself is taken up as a medium that might provide the basis for reflecting upon and even substituting for the AIDS-stricken artist's own faltering vision. Comprised entirely of a single, seamless blue image, Blue incorporates voice-over from a variety of sources (including Jarman himself) as a means of envisioning what is "technically" absent to sight. Both the eye and the film camera lens are, in the case of Blue, mediated by a larger "poetics" of blindness.

By mentioning the examples of emergent technologies of algorithmic/augmented vision as well as a film such as Jarman's, and by generally proceeding under this rubric of "blind spots," we at InVisible Culture wish to encourage a cross-disciplinary and vibrant conversation as well as creative/artistic expression concerning the rhetoric of vision and blindness from the perspective of our culturally, historically, and technologically unique moment.

Topics could include:

new media and sensorial "authenticity" * blindness as a critical-discursive symptom * blindness and affect * media decay/rejuvenation * glitches * how media reflect on their own blindness * gender and blindness * impairment and access * blind temporalities * blindness as form and content * histories and theories of technologies of visualization (i.e. stereoscope, 3D, IMAX) * race/ethnicity/nationality and technological blindness * code/algorithm and augmented vision technologies * blindness and the politics of (in)visibility

Please send completed papers (MLA style) of between 4,000 and 10,000 words to ivc[dot]rochester[at]gmail[dot]com by September 1st, 2012 at 11:59pm EST. Inquiries should be sent to the same address.