The Vision in Flash Mobs and Mike Posner

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In "Situated Knowledges", Donna Harraway describes her desire to unite and practice concurrently "an account of radical historical contingency for all knowledge claims and knowing subjects, a critical practice for recognizing our own 'semiotic technologies for making meanings, and a no-nonsense commitment to faithful accounts of a 'real' world" (187). This "paradoxical and dangerous" ambition leads her to call for a shift in metaphors. She challenges one to no longer adhere to the dichotomy between traditional science and social constructionism, but to instead to create a picture of the whole " 'real' world" by connecting 'situated knowledges'. Thus one is no longer claiming that his or her perspective is objective coming from nowhere or better because of his or her subjugated standpoint. Everyone brings vital portals to the picture and in working together and being open to seeing through different lenses one is closer to seeing the whole picture.

This metaphor of vision has a trace in flash mob dances. Specifically, the T-mobile commercial demonstrates a unison, which crosses ethnic, gender, age, sex, class, etc. distinctions. Not only are the dancers diverse, but their entrance into the dance is different and even the music changes genres.

Another representation of vision can be seen in Mike Posner's video "Cooler than Me". He goes around a party, literately trying on different lens and perspectives. Each perspective shows a different aspect of the "reality" that is taking place. Interestingly, he has to take off his glasses to be able to see through other's perspectives. Thus one has to be willing to put aside parts of their subjectivity to see differently.

Neither are perfect, both limit their subjects to either dancers or glasses wearers. In the flash mob, no one is technically presenting a different view, all are dancing the same dance. In Posner's video, no one is working together to make a better picture. In fact he is met with hostility for using their lens.

Which "vision" portrayal is more accurate of Haraway's metaphor?

1 Comment

I LOVE how you brought these videos into the discussion. They are an excellent representation of diversity within unity as well as varying perspectives based on who the 'seer' is. I think both videos portray different parts of Haraway's metaphor better than the other. For example, in the flash mob video we see many different kinds of people coming together at various points in time for one goal: to dance! Of course in science this is a little more complicated, but I feel like the immense diversity working together in that video far better represents Haraway's "desire to unite and practice concurrently" (in your words). However, Mike Posner's video more accurately shows the variation between perspectives that Haraway talks about: no one is completely removed, no opinion comes from nowhere. Everyone sees something, and what one person sees another person may be completely blind to. This is shown by Posner's trying on of various people's lenses far better than it is shown by the flash mob. I actually thought that was the most interesting part of Haraway's article, how she explained that it objectivity shouldn't be the goal because it the Wizard with opinions and biases hidden behind a curtain, a completely false "truth." As humans, anything we say cannot possibly come from nowhere. Any psychologist will tell you that past experiences and knowledge affect how we think, act, and talk in the present. Which, in conclusion, I feel is slightly better represented in Posner's video.

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This page contains a single entry by engw0006 published on October 15, 2010 11:43 AM.

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