[-empyre-] glitches vs filters / opaque movies vs transparent interfaces / simulation vs emulation

José Carlos Silvestre kasetaishuu at gmail.com
Sat Sep 5 02:22:36 EST 2009

On Fri, Sep 4, 2009 at 5:45 AM, Gabriel Menotti
<gabriel.menotti at gmail.com>wrote:

> >Maybe we should even look at your question the other around - not how the
> >relation of media with spatiality and temporality affect the experience of
> its >materiality, but how the materiality of media affect our experiences of
> both >space and time [José Carlos]
> I wonder if we aren't heading into an infinite loop here, and the best
> we could do is to choose the closer entry (or exit) point.
> Fundamentally, the very process of mediation seems to imply a
> multi-layered abstraction of time and space – in the end, all you have
> is this encounter between image and gaze.
> However, we can’t ignore that mediation is resolved in different ways,
> depending on the historical and cultural background of its agents – in
> simple terms, how much they know beforehand about the medium language
> and operation.
> If the audience didn’t understand montage, they couldn’t perceive
> movies as continuous. Moreover, they couldn’t see any relevancy in
> works such as that of Bruno and Rosa, which depend on a certain
> consciousness of the medium to be appreciated.
> Again, photography and mirrors: is it better to think of the image as
> a representation of the world (a simulation?) or its effect (a
> emulation?)? <http://www.subtle.net/empyre>

Well, your original question has a "what" and a "how" parts to it. I was
avoiding the "how" part, since it is such a difficult question.

In Ding und Raum, Husserl finally concludes that a being which had the gift
of vision, but no active powers, would not be able to discern things or
processes. Spatiality, from a phenomenological point of view, requires
potential for agency (what we today call "affordances"), especially
potential of motion, which in its turn implies position. It is only when
visual, tacticle, and kinesthetic sensory experiences are assembled together
than one has an experience of space.

I start with this example because "a being which had the gift of vision, but
no active powers" is a description of the archetypal cinema audience. That
we can interpret what happens on the screen as spatial, therefore, implies
not only a virtual space defined by the image, but also a doubly virtual
movement of the viewer in that space. This is where montage becomes an
issue. Deleuze's durée, an "absolute out-of-field" in cinema opposed to
relative out-of-fieldness, might come in useful here. If, say, a character
looks at a certain direction, but what he sees is outside the frame, we
experience in his gaze the need for this relative-out-of-field. If the
following shot then shows what the character would see, from what we may
presume is his standpoint, we successfully reinforce conventional spatiality
(at least by means of identification, the "active powers" are granted).
Otherwise, we experience durée - this frame of all frames, this
out-thereness that disturbs the experience of space. A film is made of
frames inside frames; reality isn't.

One problem with this question is that we need to settle a theory of space
as a starting point, otherwise our disagreements would have little to do
with media; another is that the possibilities here are so many that it is
even difficult to find a starting point to address your question. So, now
taking your original, non-inverted formulation (how spatiality influences
materiality): when the materiality of the medium becomes evident, the
virtual spaces of the screen are collided and flattened: the moment we are
forced to consider that what we actually see is a physical machine in
operation (and that everything else are abstractions piled on this machine),
any virtual affordance is lost, and enframing becomes itself an
impossibility. Some remannts of spatiality sometimes are still retained,
though, and this is where things become more interesting. In Rosa's Radio
Dada, 3D becomes 2D to become non-spatial to become 2D again, each time that
an error condition is introduced; in Bruno Vianna's work, every selection
that he makes is a destabilizing deviation of the normalized operation of
cinema, to the point that it can be considered a "soft" kind of error
condition. During his projections, I imagine, the audience is engaged with
two temporalities and spatialities: that of the screen, and that of the
theater. These are usually indepedent and, in a sense, mutually excludent;
seeing both interlaced, necessarily thought together, sounds like a
formidable experience.

I like the questions for Rosa, btw, I am looking forward to read her
answers. ^^
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