[-empyre-] July on empyre: Screens

Sean Cubitt sean.cubitt at unimelb.edu.au
Thu Jul 5 05:36:21 EST 2012

Hi Kriss, Brian, empyreans

Triangulation? Thrice Nay! But yes to the screen as a diagram of sorts,
whose ubiquity and evanescence alike demonstrate the importance of clawing
some kind of lesson - extract knowledge back from its alienated form as

Not but we will I hope turn our gaze towards the specificity of certain
kinds of screen, particularly LCD and plasma, LED, and the allied
technologies of DLP and LCOS, and to the silvered screen - there are
practicalities here that matter to makers and curators (and teachers).

As a first and obvious pass: screens hide as much as they provide apparent
(should that be virtual or potential or even fictive or in the best sense
of the word fantastic?) openings - magic as mirrors but of a wholly
different order (?). The screens on which we project; the screens through
which they project; and the screens behind which some other scene is
hidden, Rafael's screening (a verb which Brian's remark opens up to
exploration) onto buildings both supplants and reveals the building /
pubic space; or the screen of cards held up by crowds in Phil Collins'
Marxism Today (and differently in its subject, North Korea)

The photo-effect discovered by Barthes and Berger - that a photograph
re-presents an absence rather than a presence - refers us to the
represented: the screen refers us to the actual space of screening which
is obliterated (or in particular modes of screening revealed other-wise,
as in Wodiczko's projections on South Africa House) in order for the
absent to present itself. Is that truer of the old theatrical cinema than
of the foetal curl around the handheld screen? The doubled present-absence
of standing here but being elsewhere we observe so easily in others (but
with more difficulty, at least in my case, when I'm lost in iPhone land

The question is perhaps about whether there is something about the idea of
(smoke)screen that will always make us think back to theories of ideology;
where we also need to think through the producing-productivity of screens
("screen-ness") - or whether there is some other way to think through,
with and beyond them


On 04/07/2012 13:24, "Brian Holmes" <bhcontinentaldrift at gmail.com> wrote:

>Dear Simon, Kriss, everyone -
>Thanks for the openers, I'm really curious what will come of this
>discussion. It seems initially to be framed in a modernist way: it's
>about the screen as such, the medium hunted back to its essential
>characteristics. When one considers the bewildering quantity of
>referents for the word screen, that sounds like a good way to start! But
>the question is how to get something concrete, beyond the nice wrap-up
>of film and video theory.
>Kriss wrote:
>> Our mobile
>> screens do not offer us anonymity, they relay and record our movements
>> (via GPS); they can capture and convey our images as much as they can
>> record images. Or they can create another type of image (data, or
>> information about us).
>It seems to me that the passage reveals the need for some more
>circumspect way of conceiving these things. After all, screens _as such_
>neither track us, nor relay information about us, nor even capture our
>images. Networked and programmed interactive devices do that, usually in
>combination with databases and operators. Kriss, you get at that further
>on: "These interactive screens / machines respond to our voices, our
>touch, our gestures, but they are at the same time programmed."
>Maybe we would need to place the screen at the center of a larger
>discourse on self-consciousness, the sensorium, representation,
>communication, interaction, and programming. A discourse on contemporary
>social relations, in short.  With six terms involved, it's considerably
>more than a triangulation - but could anything less speak in a precise
>way about the most proteiform medium of our time, the screen?
>Looking forward to the rest,
>empyre forum
>empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au

More information about the empyre mailing list