A comment – as promised

Francesca Recchia, London – My fascination for the idea of device – an thus even more for that of conceptual device – derives from its ambiguity and its inherent complicity, if you like, with the sphere of power.
Whether symbolic or material, power is deployed through strategies of communication and control. I would say that a (conceptual) device is the tool through which this strategy is given body. In this sense, as much as it creates social innovations and a different order of society – to use your words – a conceptual device also generates social conservation, preserving the status quo.
If we follow this line, I would probably think of what Althusser called RSA (Repressive State Apparatus) and ISA (Ideological State Apparatus), for they both also work as conceptual devices in the construction and reification of a codified and clearly identifiable power structure (i.e. the State).
As I said, though, the intriguing side of a device is its constitutive ambivalence. Being the tool to foster the reproduction of a system of power, it inevitably embodies its potential disruption as well. This very possibility is what is in fact more challenging to me. For its very nature, it can become a mighty subversive tool that could allow for a symbolic, semantic, political (revolutionary!?) inversion – or innovation, if you prefer.
Operating at this micro level of shades of meaning is like walking on thin ice. Perhaps this risky side of elaborating alternative cultural and political strategies through subversive conceptual devices is what might make transformation possible, as it operates by twisting unexpectedly what could be assumed as a taken-for-granted vocabulary of power.

1 Response to “A comment – as promised”

  1. 1 Antonio Scarponi May 9, 2007 at 7:26 pm

    thaks francesca. very nice. I agree. Mine are lazy notes a bit. I really have to include also your perspective. which is essential. I really have to post the hard time you gaved me with the interview we have made were we have discussed about this also. I will soon. promised.


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