What do we mean when we say ‘we can’t see the wood for the trees’? The expression marks the fact there are always different levels of potential awareness when we look at what is in front of us. For Polanyi, who coined the expression ‘tacit knowing’ or ‘tacit knowledge’ in his seminal work ‘The Tacit Dimension’ (1966), these multiple levels are a form of tacit knowing, a comprehensive entity. Knowledge for Polanyi is above all personal: an embodied act, and always mediated.
Recent developments in image-making techniques have resulted in a drastic blurring of the threshold between the world of the image and the real world. Immersive and interactive virtual environments (VEs) have enabled the production of pictures that elicit an unprecedented reality effect, creating in the perceiver a strong feeling of ‘being there’, namely of being incorporated into a quasi-real world. In doing so, they conceal their material mediateness (by simulating immediateness), their separateness (by aiming at unframedness), and their referentiality (by emphasizing presentness), paradoxically challenging their status as images, i.e. as icons: they are veritable ‘an-icons’.
As any student of semiotics knows, speaking in code is what we do — when we communicate. It’s normal. To speak directly is the exception rather than the rule. In the kind of work I’m involved in getting others to do what you think you want them to do is primarily an exercise in subtle influence, persuasion and suggestion, perhaps delivered as a “nudge” rather than an order. It’s the same in advertising. Only crude advertisers direct you to buy Weetabix — obviously, overtly, as a command.
Factum Arte’s prodigious industry since the mid-nineties means we will have to rethink what we mean by original, copy, and authenticity. Technologies developed under its aegis mean it is now possible to capture and record data about an artwork to an accuracy of 100 microns (100 million measured spatial points per square meter) – and for the first time, this year, these works can now be rematerialized to an accuracy of 20 microns. This is, as Simon Schaffer says, marks a ‘complete revolution in the last two decades’
What’s in a prefix? How to read a prefix as short as ‘re-’? Does ‘re-’ really signify? Can it point into a specific direction? Can it reverse? Can it become the shibboleth of a ‘postcritical’ reboot? At first glance transparent and directional, ‘re-’ complicates the linear and teleological models commonly accepted as structuring the relations between past, present, and future, opening onto errant temporalities.