Seeing form somewhere
March 10, 2016 - Spaces and Practices
I’ve been on a couple of visits to the British Library to research a tour guide. It may sound like an obvious thing -that you might see things from somewhere. But in some texts (i.e. maps and science papers) the idea that there is a perspective is not so obvious, and it seems like they are seeing things from nowhere.
Tim Ingold writes a lot about maps and it is fascinating (and very beautifully written, from his perspective that is). I really like some of the things he says:
“There is a paradox in modern cartography. The more it aims to furnish a precise and comprehensive representation of reality, the less true to life this representation appears”
Ingold, T. (2000) The Perception of the Environment, Routledge: London/NY.
Rupert Sheldrake takes a different angle, but also questions the idea that science text is without perspective, and that perhaps embracing perspectivness we could find out something new.
And of course I should mention that Donna Harraway wrote about seeing from somewhere in the 80s essay, Situated Knowledges:
“I would like to insist on the embodied nature of all vision, and so reclaim the sensory system that has been used to signify a leap out of the marked body and into a conquering gaze from nowhere. This is the gaze that mythically inscribes all the marked bodies, that makes the unmarked category claim the power to and not be seen, to represent while escaping representation. This gaze signifies the unmarked positions of Man and White, one of the many nasty tones to the word “objectivity” to feminist ears in scientific and technological late-industrial, militarized, racist and male dominated societies that is, here, in the belly of the monster, in the United States in the late 1980s [BR: not so much has changed since then!]. I would like a doctrine of embodied objectivity that accommodates paradoxical and critical feminist science projects: Feminist objectivity means quite simply situated knowledges”
(Haraway. D (1988) Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective, in Feminist Studies, Vol. 14, No.3 (Autumn, 1988))