Mitra Azar

IMG 0008

Research Interests

Point of view
Philosophy of technology
Phenomenology and post-phenomenology
Process philosophy
Philosophy of biology
Philosophy of science
Visual art
Cinema and new media studies
Interface criticisms
Computational culture
Cosmological physics

Mitra Azar is a nomadic video-squatter, ARThropologist and philosopher. For the past fifteen years, Mitra has been investigating crisis areas around the globe, building an archive of site-specific works through the lens of visual art, filmmaking and performance. He’s currently a Ph.D. candidate at Aarhus University (DK), and visiting scholar at UC Berkeley. His work has been presented at Cambridge University, New York University, the Museum of the Moving Image NYC (MOMI), Spectacle Cinema NYC, Uniondocs NYC, the Hong Kong School of Creative Media, Goldsmiths University London, I.R.I Centre Pompidou Paris, the Havana Biennial, The Influencers (Barcelona), Fotomuseum Wintertur, The Venice Biennial (IT), Transmediale Festival (DE), Macba [Sonia] Podcast, Berlinale Film Festival, and more.


A meta-cinematic inquiry on the edge of philosophy and cybernetics

My Ph.D. investigates the role of the notions of orientation, disorientation and POV (Point of View) within the philosophy of Bernard Stiegler and Gilles Deleuze. This is developed by focusing especially on Stiegler’s concept of (originary) technicity, and its relevance in the understanding of algorithmic culture and new technologies of vision. This endeavor seems urgent because the notions of orientation, disorientation and POV appear rather implicit within both philosophical architectures, and yet function as hidden and powerful philosophical engines, practically unacknowledged in years of secondary literature. More precisely, the work attempts to find the traces of orientation and POV (Point of View) in Deleuze and Stiegler’s philosophy in relation to their takes on Kant and Plato’s philosophy, via the mediation of Husserl, Simondon, Bergson, and Leibniz, mainly.

Furthermore, both Stiegler and Deleuze conceptualize these notions in relation to an expanded understanding of cinema, conceived as a machine for projection and reflection that goes far beyond its technical instantiation and theorization as a modern form of mediation. This is why the overall inquiry is addressed as “meta-cinematic”, and takes the figure of cinema as a philosophical form capable to address orientation, disorientation, and POV at the limits of Western philosophy itself – limits that both Stiegler and Deleuze have tested and tried to reconfigure in their own way. In fact, the research claims that if these limits are marked by the emergence of cybernetics – understood as the completion of Western metaphysics and the end of philosophy -, one of the ways to reopen philosophy (and metaphysics) to its outsides might be to challenge cybernetics’ operationality (control and communication) via the implicit conceptual grounding of cybernetics itself. The research argues that this grounding can be rethought by means of the concepts of orientation, disorientation and POV. These concepts are either implied in the etymology of the word cybernetics (which means to steer, or navigate, but also to turn, or change orientation), invoked by the relevance of the notion of the observer (which is to say, of POV, especially when it comes to second order cybernetics), as well as addressed by the specific recursive form cybernetic orientation takes in terms of feedback loops. 

At its core, the overall project wants to build a notion of orientation capable of bridging the divide between the organic and the inorganic, while providing a material ontogenesis of the notion of orientation: from the emergence of orientation in the form of spins (an intrinsic property of elementary particles, rendered mathematically via vectors defined by magnitude and direction), in the realm of physics; to the formation of ecological niches (Umwelten) as oriented fragments of space-time in relation to the organism’s Point of View (POV), in the realm of the biological; to the intricate relation between human and (originary) technicity, triggered by bipedism and the changing of the horizon’s line as a result of upright orientation, in the realm of evolutionary anthropology; to technologies capable to bridle organic orientation and POVs, in the realm of technics, especially in cinema and computational technology. Thus, eventually, the notion of orientation and POV investigated in philosophical terms will be proposed as conceptual tools to understand computational media, on the basis of concepts such as POV-opticon, Algorithmic Facial image, Algorithmic POV.