[-empyre-] screens

Christiane_Paul at whitney.org Christiane_Paul at whitney.org
Sun Jul 8 22:56:06 EST 2012

Thanks! I agree that medium / material specificity and agency, affect, and the relationships between living beings and objects are deeply interrelated (while neither side of the equation is reducible to the other).

I haven't read all the posts in this very interesting discussion but assume someone has brought up Erkii Huhtamo's understanding of Screenology (http://wro01.wrocenter.pl/erkki/html/erkki_en.html) as a history of the screen that "should comprise not only the evolution of different kinds of screens and the interconnections between them, but also account for their uses as part of different media apparata and within changing cultural, social and economic settings." The current constellations of big screen (urban screens, imax) and small screens (mobile devices) seem particularly rich territory for exploring economic and social relations.


From: empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au [empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au] on behalf of Richard Grusin [rgrusin at gmail.com]
Sent: Sunday, July 08, 2012 1:44 AM
To: soft_skinned_space
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] screens

As a recent lurker on Empyre and "first-time caller," I've appreciated the discussion on screens, particularly the claims by many on the list about the importance of taking account of the material specificity of screens. I especially admire Ian Bogost's dogged insistence about keeping this material specificity at the forefront of the discussion.

But in addition to taking up the materiality of mediation, my work (like the work of others) also takes up questions of agency and affect and the way in which objects like screens and sandwiches and orchids and humans act and affect other objects.  I believe that this agency and affectivity operate in ways that are directly related to (but I would say not reducible to) their material specificity.  I think we need to move more cautiously and think more carefully about the interaction among agency, affectivity, and materiality, resisting the urge to reduce screens (or whatever) to any one of those concerns.  To call attention to the ontology of agency or affect is not necessarily to eliminate all material difference, just as insisting on the ontology of objects should not be to eliminate considerations of agency, affectivity, or other forms of what I understand as mediation (although this kind of "reductionism" can happen all too easily, especially in discussion lists like empyre).  For those like me (and I think others on this list) who agree with Ian about material specificity and about the ontological continuity among all "objects," but who are also interested in affective and agential specificity and the affective and agential continuity among humans and nonhumans, it is crucial to find a way to talk about the complex interrelations among agency, affectivity, materiality, temporality, mediation, and so forth.

My two cents.

On Jul 7, 2012, at 1:47 PM, Ian Bogost wrote:

> On Jul 7, 2012, at 2:10 PM, Rob Myers wrote:
>> Computers are significantly correlated with screens at present. Televisions are now computers (or their thralls) following the death of analog broadcast and recording. Even cinemas are transitioning to digital projection with increasing speed.
> All the more reason to distinguish between different material objects. The digital cinema is not the computational system in my Denon receiver that upsamples signals for HDMI transmission to my television, is not the input/output apparatus in my iPad.
>>> Many of which have screens of particular
>>> kinds. If we're ready to simply call all those things "screens" then
>>> I'm not sure why we wouldn't also call them automobiles or
>>> architecture or sandwiches.
>> I'm currently watching "Raiders Of The Lost Ark" on a baguette so I see your point.
> Here, let me connect the dots: Even sandwich shops order supplies and take and manage orders by computer.  Sandwiches are implicated in the logic of computers, c'est à dire screens. Therefore sandwiches are screens.
> I'm not being coy. This is how this conversation feels to me.
>> Screens serve to conceal as well as present. Think of hospital screens (or the back wall of the cinema). In Simon's comment, the screens have served to conceal the computers. What the computers conceal probably has something to do with agency.
> Yikes, there's the sound of the world melting again. All is one. Agency, or affect, or screens, or whatever. I can't get behind it, sorry.
> Ian
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Richard Grusin
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empyre forum
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