Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Refrains for the body of GIS

Inspired by Derek P. McCormack's book Refrains for Moving Bodies, and unable to attend to reading group devoted to discussing it (led by Harriet Hawkins), I devote a blog post to an area of productive overlap between performance/dance study and GIS/geoweb.

GIS (let's just call it that, everybody does anyway) is a moving target.  What's more, it dances.  GIS performs, it is performed on the geoweb, in mashups, overlays, and various trans-disciplinary foldings.

At first I thought no GIS and dance have nothing in common (at the same time as I thought, almost intuited that they must in some way be related).  Then overlays kept repeating themselves, differently each time.  And then I knew.

That GIS and dance overlap, overlay, and perform difference in their intermingling might not surprise.  The non-rep, more-than-rep crowd able to espouse such theories more freely than I certainly have the upper hand here.

But it's not about that is it?  It's about staying on top of the unfolding of metaphor, of difference, of repetitious ways of being and doing GIS that involve bodies, rhythms, and blocks of spacetime.  Lefebvre and Guattari.  Deleuze and Tarde.  Dewey, Dawkins, and Pierce.

The names keep repeating, the foldings keep happening, diagrams keep mapping themselves into this bodily thinking about GIS that happens when I walk, when McCormack reminds me about Montreal, Massumi, and Manning.

A Laurel and Hardy movie, the soundtrack of which is played overtop of OK Go's Nike video. Assorted quotes.  Here are some of my favorites so far (underlined, and starting from the last), all to my mind applicable to GIS/geoweb practices:

"the wager here is that the affective refrain of one register of experience and experiment can fold into and inflect the other as part of an ecology of practices composed of multiple refrains, some of which work, some of which don't; some of which cross a threshold of consistency, some of which don't" ( page 161)

"allying Bergson with Spinoza does not lead thinking out of this world, nor does it precipitate a privileging of the virtual over the actual.  Instead, it requires us to think of how bodies are composed through the transformative actualizations of virtualities" (page 146)

"moving images have a nonrepresentational quality: that is, to grasp their participation in the generation of experience means understanding them as more than merely symbols whose effect registers primarily through and within processes of cognitive sense making" (page 143)

"the tendency to proceed by going out into the world, reporting back, and then analyzing events is inadequate to the task of apprehending the affective and processual logics of the spacetimes in which moving bodies are generative participants" (page 118)

I only hope to walk this talk, to talk it through as a locating, imitating, map-made thing.

Where is the body of GIS?  Thinking it through.

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