Out Now: TOD#37 From Opinions to Images by Ulus Baker

Screenshot from “What is Opinion?”, an interview/lecture from Ulus Baker, recorded, edited and produced by Aras Özgün in August 2001, audio cleaning and mastering by Ufuk Önen in Ocotber 2020.

Baker’s first extensive translation to English provides us with a much-needed intervention for re-imagining social thought and visual media, at a time when sociology tends to be reduced to an analysis of ‘big data’, and the pedagogical powers of the image are reduced to data visualization and infographics.” From the book’s back cover.

Ulus Baker (1960 – 2007) was a Turkish-Cypriot sociologist, philosopher, and public intellectual. Born in Ankara, Turkey in 1960, he studied Sociology at Middle East Technical University in Ankara, where he taught as a lecturer until 2004. Baker wrote prolifically in influential Turkish journals and produced some of the first Turkish translations of various works of Gilles Deleuze, Antonio Negri, and other contemporary political philosophers, and in 1994 founded körotonomedya, an Ankara-based, Autonomist and experimental political/artistic collective. Baker’s work is considered pioneering in the fields of new media and video art. He died in 2007 in Istanbul.

From Opinions to Images is composed of essays and notes Ulus Baker wrote between 1995 and 2002, edited together by media artist and scholar Aras Özgün and filmmaker, editor, and author Andreas Treske, both Baker’s collaborators and friends. Parts of the following text have already been published in Turkish, in a number of publications or the archives of körotonomedya, were shared as lecture notes in discussion groups, or were parts of his doctoral thesis at the Sociology Department of Middle East Technical University.

Aras Özgun and Andreas Treske write: “In these essays, Baker criticizes the transformation of sociological research into an analysis of people’s opinions. He explores with an exciting clarity the notion of ‘opinion’ as a specific form of apprehension between knowledge and point of view, then looks into ‘social types’ as an analytical device deployed by early sociologists. He associates the form of  ‘comprehension’ the ‘social types’ postulate with Spinoza’s notion of ‘affections’ (as a dynamic, non-linguistic form of the relation between entities). He finally discusses the possibilities of reintroducing this device for understanding our contemporary world through cinema and documentary filmmaking, by reinstating images in general as ‘affective thought processes’”. Also included in this volume is an interview Aras Özgün gave after Baker’s death: “On Cinema and Ulus Baker”.

Concurrently with the publication From Opinions to Images, a nearly 20-year-old lecture by Baker has been released online, titled ‘What is Opinion?’, which also forms the basis for the second chapter of this book and which you can view below:


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