[-empyre-] mediation & videogames / the screen as a place of activity in the battlefield

Sean Cubitt scubitt at unimelb.edu.au
Tue Sep 8 21:55:12 EST 2009

The thick description of screens shold really look at the raw materials,
manufacture, energy use and recycling. So9me examples: LCD screens require
lanthanides, rare earths mined in China (c. 60 per cent of global reserves),
Australia (20%, a substantial proportion owned by China) and the USA (20%
but the least economically viable). Other uses include Li-ion batteries and
superconductors. They are called rare earths because . . .  Other vital
minerals are extracted from less pleasant places, eg lithium from Bolivian
salt lakes, gold from the infamous Brazilian mines etc. Most screens are
builr and assembled in offshore plants: human and environmental costs rarely
factored into the clean image of screen cultures. LED backlights for LCD
reduce energy consumption of screens remarkably, but plasma screens use as
much energy as CRTs, and that is a lot. CRTs are now known recycling
hazards, but no-one knows what happens to the new long-life plasma screens
when broken up . . . Screens are not just thick, they're heavy.


On 7/09/09 9:19 AM, "Gabriel Menotti" <gabriel.menotti at gmail.com> wrote:

> Dear all:
> Since we are approaching the end of this first week, we should start
> pondering about the thickness of the screen from the other
> perspective: as referring not to the technical space that produces the
> image, but to the real space contained within it. In what measure the
> process of mediation is an abstraction of the world, as much as an
> abstraction of technologies?
> Of course, it is precisely in the balance between both aspects that
> the thickness of the screen shows its highest political implications.
> It seems to me that Jonathon Kirk illustrates this very well in his
> video 'I've Got a Guy Running',[1] using graphic filters to create
> (further) distance from surveillance images (originally intended to
> get things closer - literally under scope).
> A recent article in salon.com also brings about the suble cultural
> dimension involved in  adopting screens as places of activity /in the
> world/. In an (expected?) reversal of the old "videogames makes people
> violent" polemics, the military forces are using the apparently
> non-violent interface of hi-tech weaponry as an appeal to convince
> people to enlist. "Join the armed forces, the ads suggest, and you
> don't have to experience the blood-and-guts consequences of combat.
> Instead, you get to hang out stateside, entertaining yourself with a
> glorified PlayStation." [1]
> Baudrillard aside, what is exactly being abstracted (i.e. supressed)
> in all these situations?
> Best!
> Menotti
> [1] http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2009/08/29/military_marketing/
> [2] http://www.ux1.eiu.edu/~jjkirk/running_excerpt2.mov
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Prof Sean Cubitt
scubitt at unimelb.edu.au
Media and Communications Program
Faculty of Arts
Room 127 John Medley East
The University of Melbourne
Parkville VIC 3010

Tel: + 61 3 8344 3667
Fax:+ 61 3 8344 5494
M: 0448 304 004
Skype: seancubitt

Editor-in-Chief Leonardo Book Series

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