The field of operation always remains out of view. Even when apparently visible, operation withdraws. It withdraws by dutifully following and, in following, it charts a plane of performance that can be mapped but never encompassed. No matter how well I know the underlying mechanism, no matter that I built it by hand and shaped all its functions, once it runs it escapes me. It becomes something other. It obeys mutely. It carries my instructions off to another place. Operation is a species of blindness, and I too am bound to this blindness. It is what draws me to articulate systems and then, in the very moment that they gain their curious life, to recognise their disappearance, their transition away from any prospect of adequate comprehension.

[Certeau describes culture as the “oceanic night”1. This metaphor is apt for the field of operation as well.]

[I am very aware that I am conceiving operation in terms of the romantic language of blindness, otherness and aporia. Is this to devalue and fail to recognise the banality of operation?]

  1. Sherringham, M. 2009 Everyday Life: Theories and Practices from Surrealism to the Present, Oxford University Press, Oxford, p.218
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