"Rhetorical carpentry would construct objects (and conversations among objects) in order to demonstrate approximations of the strange, alien conversations happening around us" ("The Decorum of Objects").This attempt at rhetorical carpentry also works out of the methods I am currently developing for my Fall 2012 Problems in Rhetoric: Animal, Vegetable, Mineral course, which will explore nonhuman and nonsymbolic rhetorics. As I write on the course site, "we are not simply interested in what objects mean or represent; to this end, we must have ways of 'writing' objects that likewise resist this tendency. Such is the hope of this collection of methods."
The main goal of this experiment is to reveal nonhuman/nonhuman relationships as they take place alongside human/human and human/nonhuman relationships. Furthermore, I want to reveal that all such relations are always with aliens, so to speak. Each thing (what Bogost calls a unit and what others call an object) is more than the sum total of its relations. Objects remain withdrawn from all relations.
Here is my thinking behind the elements of this production (feel free to come back to this discussion after you have watched the video):
- Each image "captures" nonhuman relationships (there is more than just the vent in each picture)
- The Instagram filter (I took the pictures on my iPhone) blurs the edges allowing for focus on the vent and its relations
- Sound is of vents but it is disconnected/foregrounded as a sound effect separate from its normal status as background noise (think of Brown's "alien conversations")
- The text, one line from Devin Johnston's Creaturely and Other Essays is about a relationship with a house. Additionally, the relationship described is about more than control (i.e., reducing the house to its inhabitants) but is instead something reciprocal or on the same ontological level.
- Timing of the slides:
- compels viewer to attend to the whole scene.
- focuses on the words themselves, which certainly exist in relationship with other words but also remain disconnected and alienated from the sentence of which they are apart (this separation is made manifest, I hope, by the time delay between each word).
- allows for otherwise connected or related objects to become disconnected and thus become independent and alien objects
So, here you have it. Be gentle. I have spent my adult life being analytical, but I have recently discovered that this mode alone will not do. As Tim Morton argues in "Here Comes Everything: The Promise of Object-Oriented Ontology":
Longinian ekphrasis is not about the reaction of the (human) subject, but about rhetorical modes as affective-contemplative techniques for summoning the alien. (171)
"Alien Relationship" combines text from Devin Johnston's Creaturely and Other Essays, images taken using the Instagram App on my iPhone, and a sound effect ("white noise in the house" from klankbeeld at freesound.org).