Monday, April 6, 2009


I very much appreciate Eugenio Tisselli's unpacking of the mobile phone --
the mobile phone as a collection of various components, which are connected
to other networks too (and which have political dimensions, as Ricardo
outlines too) -- and the way that thinking in terms of actor-networks
(Latour) and assemblings can offset distinctions between things like global
and local. To think in terms of 1) network topologies, and 2) dynamical
systems, is to begin to envision the world in terms of emergent systems
where distinctions like local and global (or living and the non-living,
subject and object, nature and culture, or tool and art form [as Teresa
Wagner asked]) are not made a priori but rather, are understood as emergent

Lately I have been working on a development of asssemblage theory (based in
Manuel De Landa's development of Deleuze's original concept). At its basis,
an assemblage is a moving population of symbiotic, co-functioning actors
that has stabilized through shared, variably recurrent processes.
Assemblages are dynamic process-entities that are continually stabilizing
and destabilizing -- absorbing and releasing, integrating and disintegrating
-- as they move above or below levels of organizational complexity, scale,
intensity, and materialization. Since they work at multiple scales, from
the sub-personal to the environmental, they can connect subjective, social,
and urban processes. They provide useful ways of envisioning emergent
systems, modeling complex biological, social, and urban processes -- and in
this sense, they can be useful for social simulations, along the lines that
Roger Malina put forth in his message. I too would like to know about work
that is engaged in modeling complex social systems (whether or not using
assemblage rubric).

Ricardo asks,

>But here again we need to know what is local? Nodes as countries, nations,
communities, couples, individuals, etcŠ?

With assemblages there are not just nodes, but clusterings, in various
degrees of complexity, stability, scale, and intensity. All things are not
equal. Some assemblages (nations) are higher-order entities than others
(social groups). Distinctions like local would arise from the mix (a
subjective here-and-now perspective; a felt connection stabilized; etc.)

The discussion is very interesting!



Jordan Crandall

Associate Professor
Media, Computing, and Public Culture
Department of Visual Arts
University of California, San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive, #0084
La Jolla, CA 92093-0084

studio: (858) 822-2512
mobile: (310) 467-7062

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