[-empyre-] July on empyre: Screens

Kriss Ravetto kravetto at ed.ac.uk
Sat Jul 7 03:22:18 EST 2012


Hi Christian,

Thank you for the reference.

I have read the piece and found a couple more points that might generate a bit of discussion give the recent discussion of Speculative Realism and Martin's point about the collapse of the virtual into the real (which to borrow from Brian could also be construed as aesthetic fetishization).


> 
> 
> Winter’s essay compares the two at their root; the capability to
> produce images that compose reality for their audience. The essay is
> pretty sagacious, describing the potential for the moving image to
> tend towards the violent and sexual as a completely natural mode of
> viewership,

I see less of this than the fact that s/he (we don't really know who O. Winter is, no?) argues:
"It is the favourite creed of the realists that truth is valuable for its own sake, that the description of a tiresome hat or an infamous pair of trousers has a merit of its own closely allied to accuracy. But  life in itself is seldom interesting — so much has been revealed by photography; life, until it be crystallised into an arbitrary mould, is a flat and fatuous as the passing bus."

This lack of focus  is equated to a lack of art, concentration and therefore truth.  This is what Brian is calling getting lost in historicism.  That is that the photograph or the cinema lacks focus it captures everything equally, and therefore "survey the irrelevant." 



> while ascribing a pre-medical understanding of the X-ray
> as a deeply personal machine, that can cut ‘right to the core of
> person’s being.’

S/he seems more interested in the X-ray because it offers a figure, while the cinematograph is considered non-figurative and therefore "inhuman."

But rather than speculate on the thinking of the machine, s/he argues that the realist (the one who cannot distinguish the figure from the background, "with his patient, unspeculative eye bent upon restless foreground, produces an ugly, tangled version of nature, so the disciple of Zola perplexes his indomitable industry by the compilation of contradictory facts."
> Winter’s thesis about the cinematograph – and watching the infamous
> Lumière film, Train Pulling Into A Station (1895), no less - is one of
> discombobulated distraction, generating a very different picture to
> that of shocked viewers stumbling out of the theatre scared to death.
This by the way, is still being debated.  It makes a nice image, but does it matter if it is true? Ironically, Winter, rather nicely describes cinema as a power of the false, but can't see that s/he is also producing some rather speculative (unrealities), which s/he argues are part of life.
> Rather, Winter notices a deep curiosity and dissatisfaction with the
> act of viewership, and one he is absolutely explicit to determine is
> not about the poor representative quality:
> 
> "In the moving image thrown upon the screen, the crowd is severally
> and unconsiously choosing or rejecting the objects of sight. But we
> find the task impossible. The grey photograph unfolds at an equal pace
> and with a sad deliberation. We cannot follow the shadows in their
> enthusiasm of recognition; the scene is forced to trickle upon our
> nerves with an equal effect; it is neither so quick nor so changeful
> as life. From the point of view of display, the spectacle fails,
> because its personages lack the one quality of entertainment:
> self-conciousness.  (Winter, 1896/1982)"

Here self-conciousness is related to concentration.  If this is the case with "contemporary visuality" or this "new paradigm" how can we claim self-consciousness, and would we even want to in Winter's terms.  Ian, Tim, is OOO interested in speculating on self-conscious objects / screens or is the notion of 'self' something all too human?
> "
> The images being ‘neither so quick nor so changeful as life’ are
> interesting, given how cinema would develop technologically and
> culturally. Describing an apparatus he saw as funereal and deliberate,
> he instead lauded the potential of the X-ray, which had the
> self-conciousness that the cinematograph lacked. The crowd ‘severally
> and unconsciously choosing or rejecting the objects of sight’,
> however, is a recognition given how over a century of cinema culture
> and technical mastery has shown up the same central problems. Images
> which unfurl with equal effect are for the crowd, are deigned to be
> ‘cinematic’ in nature; not real, not deliberate, not self-conscious.
> 
> 
> 
> And because like any historian,
 Is this a speculation? If so I would wager, art historian.

Funny how Winter's like the Lumières thought that cinema did not have a future. Winter's qualifies this as cinema does  not have a statistical future but not an artistic one. (very nice).

> he knew that focussing too much on the
> material would destroy the thesis, he offered this:
> 
> "He who insists on a minute and conscientious vision, is forthwith
> hampered by his own material, and is almost forced to see
> discordantly."  (Winter, 1896/1982)

And this:
"In science the penetration may be invaluable; in literature it destroys the impression, and substitutes pedantry for intelligence." 
> 
> Reference is - Winter, O. (1896/1982, Autumn). "Ain't It Lifelike!"
> Sight and Sound , pp. 294-296.
> 
> I'm also hoping to see some reference to the excellently lunatic
> manifesto The Death of Cinema by Paolo Cherchi Usai, as among many
> other fragments, offers a very lucid speculative materialist take on
> the screen.
> 
> -Christian McCrea
> 
> 
> On 5 July 2012 06:44, Ian Bogost <ian.bogost at lcc.gatech.edu> wrote:
>> On Jul 4, 2012, at 8:24 AM, Brian Holmes 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."
>> 
>> 
>> Thanks for saying this, Brian. I had similar questions but you summarized
>> well. What is it we are talking about when we talk about screens? Is there
>> such a thing as "the screen"? What do we gain when we look at specific kinds
>> of screens and understand screens separately
>> 
>> Just to throw one example out that I was just discussing with someone
>> yesterday: the cathode-ray tube is nearing the end of new production.
>> Innumerable CRTs will still exist for some time, but they will be impossible
>> or very costly to produce new. The CRT may seem undesirable and outmoded,
>> but it also has very specific properties that make its picture appear in a
>> particular fashion—a manner that invisibly imbued several media, most
>> obviously television, video games, and video art, for fifty years. Matters
>> of preservation and experience of these works, from Electronic Superhighway
>> to Dallas to Pac-Man, are bound up with the life and death of the CRT.
>> 
>> Ian
>> 
>> _______________________________________________
>> empyre forum
>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
> 

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