[-empyre-] Erkki's texts on Screenology: screens

Timothy Conway Murray tcm1 at cornell.edu
Mon Jul 9 06:38:47 EST 2012

Thanks so much, Erkki, for bringing these important texts to everyone's attention.  Also of interest might be the special issue of the journal Parachute on digital screens 113 (2004) where many theorists, from me and to Ross and LaMontaigne, reflect on screenic shifts in the digital age.  In my piece on Chris Marker (revised in Digital Baroque), I note how Marker recounts within his CD-Rom how he himself was caught off-guard by the interactive surprises of his own piece, Immemory, as experienced on the intimacy of the small interactive screen.

Kriss's interesting reflections on the seeming immateriality of data sans figuration dialogues in interesting ways with how I have discussed, in the Digital Baroque version of the Immemory piece, the data internalizations of digital art as surprisingly analogous to postLacanian discussions of sublimation through which internalized data reads differently and energetically via the figurations of the screen.

I recognize that the more enthusiastic proponents of what they call OOO seem to dismiss as antiquated any discussion of the screen within the field of desire or even affect (and I guess ideology as well, at least from either polar approaches of Althusser or Negt/Kluge).  But I agree with Richard that we can know objects, even within their specificities, only within the mediating contexts of psycho-philosophical touch, sound, or vision.  It's kind of interesting that object ontologists seem indifferent to the mutual anchorings of the screenings of beings-in-the-world and the world-in-beings.  What's with the new embrace of an undeconstructed ontology of the screen as object?

Thanks for your many provocative posts on screens.



Co-managing Moderator
From: empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au [empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au] on behalf of erhuhta at ucla.edu [erhuhta at ucla.edu]
Sent: Sunday, July 08, 2012 1:17 PM
To: empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
Subject: [-empyre-] Erkki's texts on Screenology:  screens


as a comment to Christiane's remark, it does not look like anyone
taking place in this discussion is familiar with my research on

The basic study is the one I published in ICONICS nearly a decade ago.
Recently I wrote the lead to a special section on screen studies in
Cinema Journal (ed. by Haidee Wasson).

Hoping these could by useful, and maybe even give focus to the
somewhat rambling discussion, I have attached them here.

All the best,
Erkki Huhtamo

Quoting Christiane_Paul at whitney.org:

> 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.
> Christiane
> ________________________________________
> 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
> rgrusin at gmail.com
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