With models, we extend metaphors, assemble them together into collections of entities and account for temporal processes. Cast as networks or systems, these models depend on collections of people (or creatures), ideas, and things. We also trace the movements between and among entities when models are put into motion. Linked through stabilizing circuits of action, we find entities and processes together in coemergent clusters or autopoietic systems.1

Performance flows through both metaphors and models. With metaphors we find performance in the mediations between things and ideas; like birds (or bee pollen magnified 1000 times in a microscope), words move from our ears and eyes to our thoughts, intuitions forming like petals in the process. And performance flows through models of knowledge and culture. We see in actor-network theory performance in the figuring of mediations among entities as travel, in treating emergences in a network as vehicles, modes of transportation.2

And we find that models rely on metaphors of circulation. Latour's models of culture suggest that the social "may circulate everywhere" (107). In metaphors and models we find "the resource [that] can bring . . . the solid objects of today into the fluid states, where their connections with humans may make sense" (82). Even buses and wheelbarrows get wet when "links have to be traced by the circulation of different vehicles" (36).3

  1. Autopoietic systems were first described as living systems with the qualities of machines by Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela. The concept has been refined by Niklas Luhman, who explains that these machine-like systems are both open and closed and coemerge with larger environmental systems. Such systems "have properties such as dynamic stability and operational closure (770). And autopoeitic systems rely on time and performance, as Luhman explains when responding to the paradoxes that arise when constructing world models: "Only time can help. Time can teach us that there is no end, everything goes on and systems continue to operate as long as they are not destroyed" (770). back

  2. For network models in motion we can learn from Pickering who posits performance as an idiom though which "the world is filled not . . . with facts and observations, but with agency. The world . . . is continually doing things, things that bear upon us not as observation statements upon disembodied intellects but as forces upon material beings" (6). For more on performance, see Anderson (2009) and Fishmen et al. (2005). back

  3. Circulation (and liquid vehicles) transfigure boundaries when models deploy fluid metaphors:

    [T]here are social objects which exist in, draw upon and recursively form fluid spaces that are defined by liquid continuity. Sometimes fluid spaces perform sharp boundaries. But sometimes they do not—though one object gives way to another. So there are mixtures and gradients. And inside these mixtures everything informs everything else—the world doesn't collapse if some things suddenly fail to appear. (Mol and Law 659)  back