[-empyre-] stepping out of the frame to play around

Sean Cubitt sean.cubitt at unimelb.edu.au
Sat Jul 21 06:57:01 EST 2012

I've been holding back on the idea of the aesthetic as a technical issue,
but steal permission from two comments from Johannes and Scott:

On 20/07/2012 20:55, "Johannes Birringer"
<Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk> wrote:

> we were talking here about (screen and
>after-screen) interfaces and participatory imperatives in
>driven modalities).
>Scott Mcquire schreibt:
>I think we ignore the affective, sensory dimension of play -- which is the
>aesthetic ‹ to our own loss.

There are two threads to this. One is the idea of compulsory participation
which Jodi Dean has made a central platform of her critique of
communicative capitalism; and the other about the materiality of screens.

To sketch the history: half-tone photo-lithography took off in the news
industry in the late 19th century, but was hampered by the time it took to
get images from the event to the printing press. The solution was
drum-scanned photographs transmitted telegraphically. This scan is the
principe behind the Dzworykin tube; it is made more rigid with the
Trinitron shadow mask, which minimised overflow of phosphorescence between
molecules on the CRT; and was bound into the move to progressive scanning.
More specifically, the RGGB bayer masked pixel/sub-pixel structure used in
LED, LCD and plasma screens built the structure into the graphics cards of
computers, including features of WYSIWYG text displays and printer
drivers. Matched to the locked structure of amplification of CCD and CMOS
chips, the diagram is now unavoidable. As  Alvy Ray Smith argued in
Melbourne last year, you  can make geometric images (vector) any day, but
you just can't display them any other way than arithmetically (bitmap)

Now, this permits play, fantastic works of art and popular culture: and
you can't criticise a piano for not being a violin. But it does mean that
quite apart form the frame the constitution of the image as a (p or I)
scan is the invisible (unconscious, ideological) a priori structure on
which play or affect is laid out - which means that we have to recognise
that play and affect have histories (along with order and power and the
commodity form). Play and affect are not "good": they are instincts like
sex and hunger, which can be good, indifferent or violent and
(self)destructive. Played out on the grid of a now universal and
increasingly immutable formal platform, play becomes play-on-a-grid, and
affect affect-on-a-grid, and these are not the same as older, or
culturally different modes of affect or play

Working with the very specific temporality of the scan (like Daniel Crooks
for example, opr Cory Archangel's Colours), or its framing, or on the
blockiness (something Robert Cahen is especially good at exploiting) is
one of the strategies; I rather think that some of Jeffrey Shaw's expanded
cinema moves also work on this formal level, to release unwanted,
repressed affordanaces locked into the internal contradictions of the
unstable presentation/ present tense of screen displays.

In the scanned screen, completion is permanently held out as presence, and
permanently denied -- a dialectic of the unstable attept to construct a
permanent present.

What is missing so far is a screen design that is open-ended, whose
orientation is not about her/now but future . . .

>empyre forum
>empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au

More information about the empyre mailing list