Write tilt-shift

Seeing this intersting tilt-shift video of a city, I was reminded that scale is a salient issues regarding infrastructure as infrastructural entities often exist in at such massive scale that it is difficult to “humanize” or make it “knowable” to people.



Regarding numbers, sometimes numbers are so large that their meaning (or reality) is somehow compromised by their sheer size/scale and they are somehow unknowable.

Regarding art, sometimes a painting or sculpture can be so large that it fails to relate to human viewers.

All of this reminds me of the first time I read de Certeau’s “The Practice of Everyday Life” and, in particular, the section on walking in cities. The experience of walking in a city is quite different as compared to maps of the city or arial views. Unlocking the scale issue for infrastructure is quite important, especially emphasis on the massiveness, but, as this video indicates, although only through implication and extension: as scholars, we may need to find a way to write tilt-shift about infrastructure.

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About Nicholas

Associate Professor of Sociology, Environmental Studies, and Science and Technology Studies at Penn State, Nicholas mainly writes about understanding the scientific study of states and, thus, it is namely about state theory. Given his training in sociology and STS, he takes a decidedly STS-oriented approach to state theory and issues of governance.

One thought on “Write tilt-shift

  1. Additionally, the shift to totally lateral views of existence, like Latour requires in 2005 might also make difficult anything other than the 2-D view of a flat world of connections where scale does not exist analytically. .The problem being, for me, that I do truly believe that when it comes to connections and associations, there is a valuable insight in demanding that "power" for example, not play an atheoretical role in explanations of socio-material outcomes. .Hendrik, you write: "One central aspect of the tilt-shift effect is the selective focus that turns movements which are out of the focus gradually into stochastic processes. Rather than making models more realistic, it is in this instance a way of making reality look like a model – an impression which may in turn be used in order to make a model appear more relevant.".I could not agree more; however, at first, when I thought about how tilt/shift makes real life look like a minaturized model of itself, I thought: "that is it!" It is an interesting twist on the performativity idea without the loss of representation and with some attention to scale. The idea of a super-HD camera creating crisp images, but at a considerable distance, which, in turn, provides both a distant (seemingly aggregate) view of in focus actors. Although, for a moment, I thought I might have just had too much coffee..Still, honestly, in this case, what makes good art, might also make good science. Things look different the further away we get from them. In fact, my old art professors used to tell me "it is variation amidst repetition that makes for the best art." I always thought you never tell anyone what makes good art … until I started to apply their general statement to my taste in art. I slowly realized that the variation amidst repetition matters especially in cases of shifting scale MEANING that if a painting, for example, provides the viewer with different types of variation amidst repetition as you move closer to the piece or get further away (and I mean scale to be not of the art piece but scale as a measure of distance from the viewer to the piece), then, for me, those professors were right. .Tilt/shift just might get us that edge in writing for infrastructure studies.


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