[-empyre-] Screens and films and airlines

Timothy Morton timothymorton303 at gmail.com
Sat Jul 7 00:41:05 EST 2012

Hi All,

I just finished an essay for the book Prismatic Ecologies on X-rays. (We
are all taking a different wavelength of light and of course rather
perversely I chose X-rays, some of which are gamma rays.)

X-rays don't just show up on a (blank, medical) screen, but of course they
use the body as a screen. The quanta are tiny enough to penetrate the
resistance wells in the body all the way through to the bones--which become
their screen, literally, as they bounce off.

The epigraph is from Empire of the Sun, the movie version, where Jim
describes Little Boy as "like God taking a photograph"--that moment known
as the Great Acceleration in geology where humans deepen their intervention
into geological time by depositing a layer of radioactive materials in
Earth's crust. The bomb becomes an all too physical parody of a god and the
entire Earth becomes a screen.

And I had this incidental thought:

It seems to me that OOO sees everything as a potential screen: stones,
houses, larvae and human skeletons. The thing is, for us, there is no
(blank) screen and "screen" is not simply something for humans.

Yours, Tim

On Fri, Jul 6, 2012 at 2:53 AM, Martin Rieser <martin.rieser at gmail.com>wrote:

> This is strange... writing asynchronously... and I think I am in danger of
> oversimplifying, because screens and screen languages dominate us still and
> their different meanings, modes of reception and influences all exist
> contemporaneously - as happens when one technology transmutes into another-
> and yes, Johannes, we use screens as much as notebooks, as extraordinary
> windows into the newly blended spaces of the pervasive world and like you
> my mental screens dominate and replay, but I think we have to look at the
> new technologies of augmentation differently and try to understand what
> this collapse of the virtual into the "real" might begin to mean.
> Martin
> On Thu, Jul 5, 2012 at 11:06 PM, Johannes Birringer <
> Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk> wrote:
>> dear all
>> interesting that a historical look back [Christian's fascinating
>> reference to O.Winter's "Ain't It Lifelike!", and the comments on the
>> cinematograph and X-ray machines, and  the "borderlands of cinema and other
>> screens"] can allow us to reflect, in several ways, on the phenomena of
>> screens and screening and reception (the "acts of viewership"), and whether
>> or not the "spectacle" succeeds (in doing what?)..... I immediately wanted
>> to ask Christian what exactly would be the advantage or success of the the
>> X-ray -- >
>> >>  The X-ray offered the far more humane element,
>> the opportunity to break down topics and people into component pairs, and
>> presumably that made it a potential heir to the higher arts. X-ray as
>> entertainment, cinema as medical marvel....[Christian]>>
>> and how would we understand the function of the x-ray [or medical
>> visualization, or other kinds of "visualization" or simulation or
>> experimentation, if you think for a moment of the Higgs-boson discovery at
>> CERN's Large Hadron Collider yesterday....]  in the context of the debate
>> that Martin proposes:  I feel that Martin wants us to look at the new
>> "screens" and a paradigm shift, and yet i believe this paradigm shift can
>> only be addressed if we sometimes go back to screens and the art of
>> projection (of light) in the not so long history of photography and cinema;
>>   and furthermore, when I read Charlie's  fine posting, on screens as
>> partitions (and the Bartleby story), I couldn;t help thinking of "sound"
>> and all the lovely stories i have read from sound artists/theorists on
>> Pythagoras and acousmatics, the way in which Pythagoras hid from view when
>> he was teaching so that his voice would reach the listeners (not the
>> "viewership', that is) unencumbered.
>> now, what paradigm then?
>> Martin schreibt:
>> >>
>> Given the growth of mobile and pervasive media forms, all dependent to
>> some degree on screens, this changed condition really forms a new paradigm,
>> variously described by  researchers who now tend to regard the screen as a
>> window into an extended  “Hertzian” space,  ‘hybrid space’, ‘augmented
>> reality’, ‘mixed reality’, ‘pervasive space’; or from the user behaviour
>> end as forming  ‘trajectories’ (Benford) , and even as ‘sculpture’ (
>> Calderwood) .
>> The primary role of the screen, as Simon points out, is now one that
>> mediates or remediates the world in a growing number of ways  (although the
>> internet of things and NFS promise to make direct -and
>> screenless-interaction more prevalent)  not as another space like cinema ,
>> where fantasy is experienced through a locked and dreamlike suspension, but
>> as a dynamic and changing condition of experience, where the user is
>> interactive or pro-active in creating their own personalised experience.
>> I am interested in the next week in  examining this changing condition of
>> reception as the key to the phenomenon [...]
>> >>
>> This raises some questions. Why is mobile communication dependent on
>> "screens" (what screens, one must ask, once again, like some of you already
>> did)?  Do we really bother to think of our cell phone or Ipads or whatever
>> as "screen media"? or remediation instruments"? i don't think so.  In my
>> mind they carry over, or transport information, such as messages, and
>> sometimes pictures, or sound, and i listen to them.  The sender is hidden,
>> like Pythagoras, or if i am on slype, i look at whoever is talking and
>> communicating, and i generally actually don't view as much as i am writing
>> (on the chat window at same time as talking, to add/expand references and
>> allow me to make notes, as i would with my notebook on  a train ride or
>> when I walk through an art exhibit.  I receive making notes, and later
>> exchange them or think about the experience, i re-play the experiences (in
>> my mind, my memory screens or whatever they are, the films running inside
>> me, not x-rays), like I did after watching the Euro championship matches.
>> I replayed these matches. In those instances I am not quite the kind of
>> interactive proactive person Martin envisions, but in other instances,
>> giving a certain amount of interactional interfaces that I encounter in my
>> daily life, i might "personalize" my experience or i am actually enslaved
>> by the programming of the interface operation, as i was the other day
>> trying to book a flight on Ryanair which took me hours and was as
>> frustrating as it can be.  The airline online browser thing was doing some
>> "screening" thing on me, that I detested rather thoroughly.
>> Remediating the world,  can you give examples please, Martin?
>> with regards
>> Johannnes Birringer
>> _______________________________________________
>> empyre forum
>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
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> --
> Martin Rieser
> Professor of Digital Creativity
> De Montfort University
> IOCT: Faculty of Art Design and Humanities
> The Gateway, Leicester LE1 9BH
> 44 +116 250 6578
> http://www.ioct.dmu.ac.uk
> http://www.mobileaudience.blogspot.com
> http://www.martinrieser.com
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre


Ecology without Nature <http://ecologywithoutnature.blogspot.com/>
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