Flower/Power

2010

flowerpower

Flower/Power

“There are moments in life when the question of knowing if one can think differently than one thinks or perceive differently than one sees is indispensable in order to continue considering or reflecting.” Foucault, Usage de Plaisirs. p 14.

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Ed Cohen (who teaches with me at Rutgers University in the Women and Gender Studies Dept.) tells us in everyday language why Michel Foucault is his favorite thinker, as he plants and cultivates his tulips. He talks about Foucault’s ideas and questions in the context of his (Foucault’s) predecessors and contemporaries.

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How did Foucault intervene in the history of Western thinking about what it means to be a person, the ways we live together, the possibilities that we have for changing our shared worlds? Why did Freud’s idioms, Sartre’s beliefs or Marx’s theories not satisfy Foucault? What is it that most compels Cohen to favor Foucault’s approach to asking questions, and can this be communicated through video?

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Video here is the delivery system of two separate but related forms and bodies of knowledge being clearly communicated. Their juxtaposition frames a new question of the power that flowers from each of these very different modes of engagement with the world.

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Via a purely visual language, we see what is required to plant and maintain a garden. The care and attention that growing things require and call forth is revealed by means of detailed footage from different seasons in the garden.

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The cinematographic use of temporality and seasonal change in the garden offers an evocative horizon within which thinking takes place–i.e. literally becomes implanted in us, in the world. The links between perceiving, seeing, considering (regarder) and reflecting (reflechir) allow me to talk about the use of video as a means of reanimating the conditions of possibility of thought; and Foucault as a thinker whose thought touches on the conditions of possibility of seeing.

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Technology, like teaching, is a form of mediation. My work interrogates how different bodies of knowledge are transmitted through media and mediation; how we process the questions that engage us, affect us, transform us; how we learn to make sense and thereby make the worlds that we sense.

Learn more about Ed Cohen