Saturday, October 24, 2009

If a lion could talk . . .

This is how eco-horror enters the dialogue, by asserting that the exclusion of the green world from democratic politics destroys the claims of every democracy to universality. Asserting meanings which, in their non-human origins, appear as horrifying, they assert the broken nature of any claim to universality derived from an exclusion. While the Deep Ecology movement's use of direct action is alluring, in the same way that contemporary Hollywood is deeply tied up with narratives of revenge, revenge too has the feeling of a politics which has no part for dialogue, and to that extent is no politics at all. In later writings, Wittgenstein argued 'If a lion could talk, we would not understand him' (Wittgenstein 1968: II, xi, p. 223). The world not only speaks but roars in our ears, in a tempest of storms, collapsing glaciers, forest fires, mudslides . . . and yet we do not understand. Wittgenstein's point concerned the incommensurable nature of different modes of language. That this is integral to public life is clear from the example of politicians unwilling to engage in debate, and devoted instead to persuasion, to communicating a policy, to raising awareness: effectively to solipsism. While linguistic philosophy might hold this as a permanent and universal condition, political philosophy cannot. It must undertake to find ways to bring the human and the lion into dialogue.

From a chapter submitted to ECO-TRAUMA CINEMA: Technology, Nature, and the End of the World ed Neil Narine

Cultural Identity

On the one hand, indigenous and migrant cinemas point towards the significance of cultural identities, especially in settler nations like Aotearoa and Australia. On the other, it is in general cultural identity which must bear the brunt of the question as to why films from one culture are so frequentl;y difficult to export to people of another. Sadly, it appears that increasing levels of communication – in terms of both access and sheer numbers of images – enabled by the growth of internet communications and digital film equipment have not made our cultural diets more varied. On the contrary, the evidence is that self-reinforcing groups consisting of users who generate content for other users like themselves are producing homogeous but mutually discrete cells of lifestyle demographics which, while they pass for culture, more frequently act as the targets for marketers who can micro-target advertising for the in-group. While cultural identities survive beyond the communicative capitalism of the 21st century, within it, that is within the domains of digital film, they have been supplanted by IDs, the expression in a database economy of indioviduals and their groups as aggregations of data (age, postcode, gender, shopping and browsing preferences . . . ). The database economics of a fundamentally arithmetic recording of both media and audiences drives towards a mass market for hypercapitalist cultural goods, and micro-markets for specialised consumers. In such conditions, cultural identity is at once a spicy addition to the cultural mix, and a desperately needed addition of novelty from outside the self-reproducing system of a market capitalism no longer capable of generating its own invention.

From a piece submitted to the digital issue of Studies in Australasian Cinema

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Internet as Factory and Playground

Tthe draft of my paper for the Internet as Factory and Playground conference is onlie at Trebor Scholz's invitation. The slides are available, and so is the talk itself. (The version on Slideshare was an earlier draft version of the talk but I've left it there for the moment).

It is rather different from the abstract, but that is a result of the discussions on iDC list, which have been searching and challenging and all other good things

It now looks at the question of identity as human identity, arguing from ranci̬re's discussion of the origins of politics in the forced inclusion of excluded others, that human identity, as the universal principle governing both Cartesian subjectivity and group identification, is prey to non-identicality. This non--identicality can be understood as a contradiction driving towards a new polity in which the excluded nonhuman actors - critically technological and 'natural' Рhave the potential to rejuvenate a self-enclosed system of political economy.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


In the course of recording interviews for the Genealogies of Digital Light project, I got interviewed myself. Terry Flaxton included a two-part interview in his Verbatim History of High Definition Technology and Aesthetics. Seeing Terry's artworks in hi-def was a real highlight of the trip: see the Somerset Carnivals and Glastonbury Portraits documentation on his site, and check his blog, High Definition - No Mercy, listed on the right.