Very nice post. Thanks Martijn!
Yeah, conceptual devices… I have tried to give a definition that you can find on my website, here it is: conceptual devices are the result of interdisciplinary research projects, involving design, architecture and visual culture, with the aim to engage practises and social behaviour in everyday life. A conceptual device transforms information into a visual knowledge that produce and shift symbolic values.
I am not quite satisfied with this. The key issue is to define what a device is. Wikipedia says “category: disambiguation“, very true, it belongs to many disciplines, in different ways.
Let’s try, instead, to start an initiation rather than making a definition.
I’d say I am referring to the use of the word device that Faucault makes. All thought he never gave a definition. Which is why it is an interesting term. Reading Deleuze‘s essay on Foucault, it seems that there is a similarity between the use of the word “device” and the use of the word “diagram” in Foucault discourse, but I do not want to go that far without a compass.
I think that a conceptual device is a tool that represent a differed kind of social order. An order established under different symbolic values I mean. A device itself (in the sense of Foucault) produces a different order of society, since is the product of power. A law, for example, or a very successful gadget, like, say, a mobile phone, the type machine, electricity, a computer, a map. Different kind of powers. A Device is as tool for social reproduction (Marxist definition of infrastructure, sight!).
Here maybe I could come to a conclusion. If, say an invention like a mobile phone, alone as prototype is a conceptual device – in the sense that it produces a representation of a different society, a society that uses mobile phones, or a society that has the need to produce and use them; If such device is used then it creates a social innovation (product for the elites). When the device is widely used like today it creates a revolution, a society organized differently than ever before. It produces a different order of society.
So back to us. A conceptual device, makes an assumption (what if …..) so in this sense it produces an “hypothetical revolution”, or in other words produces an image of a different social order. I guess it produces a shift of perspective, a different point-of-view.
I am not sure for how long I’ll be satisfied with this statement, however I have made an effort to be clear. Comments on it are very welcome so that we can go somewhere together.