Dividuation

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Description

By William Bogard [1]:

"There is a complex relation between haptic control and what Deleuze calls "dividuation," the logic of control societies.[15] Individuation, the logic of disciplinary societies, is external division of a mass into distinct, numbered (or signed) entities. Dividuation, on the other hand, is the internal division of entities into measurable and adjustable parameters, in the way, for instance, a digital sound sample is divided into separate parameters of tone, pitch, or velocity.[16] For audio engineers, these parameters, or "modules," can be independently adjusted (some fixed while others are varied) and modified in real time to flow within certain limits (e.g., if the velocity setting is too high or low, the sound breaks up or becomes inaudible, etc.). Each sound, in turn, can be divided into smaller samples that are also subject to parametric control, and so on. Think of your body composed of samples of vibrational information like these sounds, whose parameters can be measured and used to generate tactile feedback (e.g., the pressure you exert in grasping a virtual object fed back to you as the felt hardness of the object). Haptic controls adjust this information to vary within pre-set thresholds.

Deleuze writes that dividuals in control societies are not shaped by molds, which produce distinct individuals, but consist of modulations of coded information. That is, dividuation involves something like a "moving form" of coding (continuous decoding and recoding). A mold, Deleuze writes, is a distinct casting, whereas a modulation is like a "self-deforming cast that will continuously change from one moment to the other, or like a sieve whose mesh will transmute from point to point." If individuation produces units that have a distinct casting, dividuation produces the flexible modules of control (the parameters) through which they pass. As an economic process, dividuation serves the demands of postmodern global Capital for flexible modes of production and consumption . When Amazon.com recommends books for customers to buy based on information stored in its database, or when global corporations abandon Taylorist forms of control based on the individuation of confined bodies in favor of outsourcing and informated production strategies, they use the tools of dividuation, i.e., parametric controls, internal adjustments of sampled information, continuous modulation.

Capital is a decoding machine.A code is simply the form of repetition of some process (e.g., the translation of words in a language, the conversion of money into goods, the sorting of statuses into ranks, bodies into categories, etc.). Decoding unlocks the economic value of repetitive processes, and it is the basis of capitalist control of accumulation. Baudrillard writes, for example, how the code of fashion in capitalist societies is simply the repetition of the newest model. As soon as one model emerges on the market, it is decoded and replaced by a newer one. Foucault describes prisons as assemblages that decode delinquency, and biopower as a system that decodes life. We are all familiar today with genetic science as a decoding machine linked to global capitalism that promises to accomplish for the body what advertising does for fashion. Here we have one of the best examples of the abandonment of strategies of individuation in favor of continuous modulation. Having broken the molecular code of human individuation, genetic science proceeds to experiment on its parameters. Dividuals are like the newest fashions, the "latest" individuals, recycled hybrid forms with recombinable parts, easily reconfigured, hot items today, obsolete tomorrow.

The program of dividuation is flexibility. Dividuals are not the products of fixed training in closed environments, but artifacts of data mining searches and computer profiles. They are the continuously morphing targets of advertising schemes, insurance scams, and opinion polls. A dividual is a data double passed through a moving screen, stripped down to whatever modular information is required for a particular intervention, task or transaction. Increasingly, postmodern subjectivity is defined by interaction with information meshes and the modular dividuals they produce. When you use an ATM machine, you are interacting with your dividuated self, or when you access your work environment via your home computer. Likewise, when a database is mined for information on your buying habits, leisure habits, reading habits, communication habits, etc., you are transformed into a dividual." (http://www.ctheory.net/articles.aspx?id=581)


Discussion

How dividuation differs from 'difference':

"Dividuation is tied to control and parametric modulation. It is the logic of capitalist accumulation that breaks down life into measures of information, and populations into databases. We distinguish dividuation from internal differenciation, which, according to Deleuze, is not a process of modulation but a becoming different. We should understand information networks and haptic controls as dividuating technologies that block the number of connections a body can make and decrease its capacity to be affected. The new flexible forms of labor and consumption demanded by global Capital are ample evidence that dividuation serves to further artificialize life and impoverish the social connections that matter to us. Haptic space, on the other hand, is internal becoming. Each move through haptic space is a change of nature, not a controlled modulation. Reach out and touch someone in control societies is an imperative to connect, an order to accumulate information, to multi-task, to stay accessible and in the grip of a haptic control. In haptic space, however, it is an invitation for intimacy and the exhilaration of becoming too close." (http://www.ctheory.net/articles.aspx?id=581)


More Information

  1. Haptic Control
  2. Society of Control
  3. Protocollary Power