Conceptual Cluster 11: Posthumanist Philosophies

by sepidehkarami


Cyborg and Amateurism

The “pleasure in the confusion of boundaries” and taking “responsibility in their construction” –that Donna Haraway in her cyborg manifesto argues for- is what only a ‘lover’, is capable to do. That is what is subtle in the meaning of becoming an “amateur” that originates from the Latin word “amator” meaning ‘Lover’. The transgression between human body and machine and the emergence of “cognisphere” have equipped us to act as amateurs in many different situations. Cyborg is based on amateur-ness, an amateur ‘man’, an amateur ‘woman’, an amateur ‘body’ or an amateur ‘mind’. It is actually what Haraway claims as partial identity. Amateurness is partial, and this partiality and unfinishedness opens the door for creativity, unmapping and becoming; an amateur is liberated from the labels and resultantly from “unity-though-domination” or “unity-through-incorporation”.  An amateur is able to break phallogocentrism. It creates politics of dissent or as Haraway defines cyborg politics, that “struggles for language and the struggle against perfect communication”.

We can act now beyond the predefined and established identities, professions and disciplines, and built up new hybrid identities in the constant condition of becoming, thanks to the existence of cyberspace. One is a photographer, writer, activist, journalist, etc. without being backed by any established institution and only through having access to cyberspace; we have become ‘chimera citizens’. Incredible numbers of variable blogs, thousands of documentary reports on political and social incidents, social networks, virtual identities and plenty of other experienced and emerging features in WWW proves the huge possibilities of claiming spaces of action, presentation and sharing information without any need of accreditation or institutional approval. Clay Shirky in his book “Here comes Everyone, The Power of Organizing Without Organizations” states that the possibility to publish news, photos and movies on the web has blurred the distinction between who is a journalist and who is not. In this sense it gives the agency to many more people to participate in (re)presenting and broadcasting stories from elsewhere and perhaps challenge the biased politics of dominant medias. In addition, gender, race, class etc. to a great extent could be disguised, played around, and redefined through anonymity and other possibilities cyberspace offers. One can imagine the cyberspace as world without gender, race, class, etc. Is that a utopian cyborg society? Although it should not be denied that the general access to cyberspace is yet not equal worldwide.

In this condition, amateur and professional cannot be separated as dichotomies, rather they could be perceived as hybrids, as cyborg actors. Although it is pretty hard to be a chimera of amateur-professional, but this chimera could be liberated from the constituted limitation of a profession through the constant becoming of amateur. It would be better to say one should become a professional amateur that constantly makes the profession anew; the professional amateur might be understood as ‘revolutionary becoming’; being revolutionary is the profession of an amateur. Could that also be the case of discussion and investigation in the profession of architecture? Is the famous term of ‘participation’ one aspect of amateur-ness and to what extent the terms such as transdisciplinarity and interdisciplinarity opens the door for amateur-ness? I would like to argue for a cyborg architect who is a professional amateur in architecture. Cyborg architect could be defined as an amateur architect, not a vernacular one but the one who renews her/his social and political role by “retelling stories” as Haraway puts it. A cyborg architect enjoys practicing “in the confusion of boundaries” but more important taking “responsibility in their construction”.