These artworks raise questions about how we perceive what surrounds us, and invoke a tentativeness that pervades not only their installations but also a person’s subsequent engagements with other environments. This raises questions about what potential can be found by placing a person in this situation of being disoriented through what Massumi calls ‘oversight’ in relation to duplicated surroundings. Beyond making apparent the limits of perception present in this action of overseeing, what might such an experience lead to? Is it possible to understand this disoriented situation of the body in relation to the environment as positive rather than one that needs to be quickly rectified? One possibility is put forward by Richard Shusterman, as he writes,
somatic self-examination provides a model of immanent critique where one’s critical perspective does not require being entirely outside the situation critically examined but merely requires a reflective perspective on it that is not wholly absorbed in the immediacy of what is experienced; a perspective better described as positionally eccentric (or decentred) rather than as external. Such perspectives can be achieved by efforts of disciplined wilful attention, but also often arise spontaneously through experiences of somatic dissonance where unreflective coordination is disrupted, which thus stimulates a decentred, reflective critical attention to what is going on.
What Shusterman calls an experience of “somatic dissonance” could be similar to an experience of disorientation, be it through uncoordinated sense dimensions or through the doubt of one's perceptual capacities. I agree with Shusterman that there is a possibility to use such instances to instigate a critical reflective attention, but where he says it is attention “to what is going on”, I would qualify this as what is going on in the relationship to our surroundings.
Shusterman’s idea of immanent critique allows for the development of self-understanding regarding our relationship to surroundings through an engagement with our mechanisms of sensation and perception. Within an event of disorientation, critically engaging with our sensations may reveal existing potentials. Massumi and Erin Manning propose as to what this kind of critique might do, as Massumi writes, “An immanent critique engages with new processes more than new products, from a constructivist angle. It seeks to energize new modes of activity, already in germ, that seem to offer a potential to escape or overspill ready-made channelings”. This idea of continuing what is “already in germ” is where I see a potential for such architectural coordinations to evoke new movements, behaviours, ideas, or understanding. The event of disorientation and the subsequent process of reorientation could be catalyzed by architectural gestures in order to afford an opportunity to reconsider and inflect subsequent engagements. This is also reflected in the concept of ‘immediation’ that Massumi and Manning have put forward. In a conversation with Christoph Brunner on the topic of the 'immediations project', Manning states that “in the new project […] we are interested in drawing attention to how the stakes of experience occur in the immediate interstices of its coming to be.” This idea of remaining within the immediacy of the event can lead to the development of new forms of relation, as forms of critique and creation are composed in the process of engagement. This begins to reiterate the original philosophical proposition of immanent critique, finding potentials within a system that allow for the development of transformations and renewed self-understanding.
In regards to what Shusterman proposed, this immanent critique would not require a decentered position “not wholly absorbed in the immediacy of what is experienced” to gain perspective, but rather focus on what speculations might be generated within the event, as a participant in that event. In this way, there is no need to establish a distance from what’s actually happening, but rather to acknowledge our implication in an event and take advantage of its potentials. Participating in the event, on equal footing with the other participants (for instance, an architectural surrounding), this somatic dissonance could make available certain potentials for new actions to be carried out, rather than simply an opportunity for critical reflection at a distance. Massumi writes, “Our freedom is how we play our implication in the field, what events we succeed in catalyzing in it that brings out the latent singularity of the situation, how we inflect for novel emergences.” It is these inflections that can lead to change, that can begin to transform what might come next, or what will be taken up from one event and carried forward into the next.
Remaining within the immediacy of such moments or events holds us back from rushing to a completely reoriented position, or to a brushing away of tentativeness; to withhold, at least momentarily, from closing down on the sense of disorientation or somatic dissonance, and to be attentive to what potentials might be present. Or perhaps to simply be attentive to what senses are being activated, what is really happening experientially in that instance before reaching a fully-formed state of perception in the coordination of the different sense dimensions into a coherent image of the world.