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

Julian Oliver julian at julianoliver.com
Wed Sep 9 03:10:20 EST 2009

..on Mon, Sep 07, 2009 at 09:19:36AM +0100, Gabriel Menotti 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).

I'll check it out. Sounds interesting..

> 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?

Hmm, not sure I understand the precise relation you draw between abstraction and
suppression here but yes, deploying video games as both training context and
remote interface for unmanned aircraft or other navigable weaponry is indeed

If there is any suppression by way of abstraction here, it is of the subject
realities of puncturing, poisoning and burning people, disabling or killing them
in process, something which Virilio talked about at length in his 'The Vision
Machine' [0]. It is this technological dilution of empathy upon which military
expansion depends, already stage-play on the so-called 'Military Theatre'.. 

Here the screen is used to visually assist arrangement of bodies and metal into
lethal combinations. This technological abstraction provides for an economic and
infrastructural optimisation of intent (death by left-mouse-click), reducing
overhead per kill.

(It is precisely this line of work we've seen under the 'Future Combat Systems'
project, renamed by Obama to sound a little more.. humanocentric. [1].
Conversely, Obama saw it fit to reduce manned craft investment, giving priority
to unmanned, remote controlled and autonomous vehicles.)

Moreso, conventional screens on computers are entirely concerned with output;
they are always late. No input event /requires/ the screen display an image to
the user. As such nothing passes into screens, yet that is what is felt. [2] In
this way a screen contains all dimensions and all depths. It's everything but
itself when in use. 

There has never been a place or a world inside a screen: any experience of depth
expresses only depth of belief. 

Not unlike shrines. 

[0] http://www.greylodge.org/occultreview/glor_018/Paul-Virilio-The-Vision-Machine.pdf
[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Future_Combat_Systems
[2] http://ljudmila.org/~julian/share/text/Buffering-Bergson_Oliver_2006-07-24.pdf


Julian Oliver
home: New Zealand
based: Madrid, Spain
currently: Madrid, Spain 
about: http://julianoliver.com

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