Bruno Latour: Visualisation and Cognition – Drawing Things Together

The aim of this paper is to pursue two lines of argument at once. To say it in yet other words, we do not find all explanations in terms of inscription equally convincing, but only those that help us to understand how the mobilization and mustering of new resources is achieved. We do not find all explanations in terms of social groups, interests or economic trends, equally convincing but only those that offer a specific mechanism to sum up “groups”, “interests”, “money”and “trends”: mechanisms which, we believe, depend upon the manipulation of paper, print, images and so on. La Pérouse shows us the way since without new types of inscriptions nothing usable would have come back to Versailles from his long, costly and fateful voyage ; but without this strange mission that required him to go away and to come back so that others in France might be convinced, no modification in inscription would have made a bit of difference. The essential characteristics of inscriptions cannot be defined in terms of visualization, print, and  writing. In other words, it is not perception which is at stake in this problem of visualization and cognition. New inscriptions, and new ways of perceiving them, are the results of something deeper. If you wish to go out of your way and come back heavily equipped so as to force others to go out of their ways, the main problem to solve is that of mobilization. You have to go and to come back with the “things” if your moves are not to be wasted. But the “things” have to be able to withstand the return trip without withering away. Further requirements: the “things” you gathered and displaced have to be presentable all at once to those you want to convince and who did not go there. In sum, you have to invent objects which have the properties of being mobile but also immutable, presentable, readable and combinable with one another.


Read also: Bruno Latour: Visualization and Cognition – Thinking with Eyes and Hands


About Giorgio Bertini

Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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