issue

abstracts

 


15 (1/2)


Our Split Screens

Sherry Turkle

These days, we are actors in a wide variety of computational landscapes - for example, we put ourselves in the virtual spaces of simulation games and create representations of ourselves in virtual communities on the Internet. Such involvements have complex 'identity effects'. At the same time that our 'lives on the screen' facilitate an increased fluidity of identity play, we are immersed in simulations whose underlying mechanisms we do not understand and which may encourage us to see the world in simpler rather than more complex terms. (back)

 


'Haptic Screens' and Our 'Corporeal
Eye'
Jojada Verrips

This essay is about what happens to 'us' when 'seeing' or 'watching' 'real, fictive or virtual worlds' on or through screens. A significant number of scholars, for example McLuhan, has already paid attention to this topic and tried to sketch the nature of the interaction between these 'shining' and 'enlightening' and human subjects. Usually screens are immediately associated with the eyes, with vision, with the supremacy of the visual. This, however, is a culturally biased, superficial and confined association, as not only McLuhan, but also a series of other scholars, film theorists and artists have attempted to demonstrate. The main goal of this article is to show that there is a lot more involved than sheer vision when watching screens or that is not only our eyes which are touched by what we seen on film, TV and PC screens, but our whole body. (back)


Cyberculture or Material Culture?
Computers and the Social Space of Work
Anna McCarthy

This essay offers a polemical exploration of spatiality in new media culture, one based on a materialist, as opposed to a 'virtualist' paradigm. lts goal is to intervene in the thought processes of liberal-phenomenological cybertheory. The latter tends to see computer users as consumers, rather than producers, within national and global economies. Because of this leisure-consumption orien­tation, theories of new media are easily appropriated within ideologies of postindustrial capitalism. This has led to some oversimplified models of spatiality in cybertheory, many of which proceed from the premise that the material world is fast disappearing under the pressures and seductions of the virtual. The article uses methods of visual anthropology to communicate the problems with such as­sumptions, and to demonstrate the benefits of materialist analysis.1t traces the techniques information and knowledge workers use in fashioning decorative office media displays, known in cyber jargon as 'geekospheres'. These techniques situate the computer within the labour process, not only as a toy but also as a physical object through which people make statements about work and find ways to define and transgress boundaries between the personal and the institutional, between work and leisure. (back)


Not Being There
Meg McLagan

The attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001 reshaped mediascapes around the world as people deployed and engaged with various media forms to communicate information and views about what had happened. Written from the (somewhat anguished) perspective of a New Yorker living abroad for a year, this essay analyzes the limitations of the mass mediation of 9/11. (back)


Displays and Displacements:
Some Thoughts on the Uses of Interactive Screens and How They Affect Mental Maps of Space and Self
Vincent A. de Rooij

Users/viewers of interactive screens hooked onto digital communication devices develop new notions of self and space. Future developments in wearable communication technology will produce cyborgs whose selves will become less and less autonomous and individual, and more and more transparent and permeable to other members of their social networks. (back)


The Internet as an Interface for Japanese Religious Life
Matjon Jekel

In Japan religious institutions increasingly offer a range of services on the Internet, including mizuko kuyö, a ritual to appease the souls of aborted children. This raises the question why people choose to conduct this ritual with a strong emotional impact through an impersonal medium like the Internet. This article will also deal with the paradox of the performance of apparently traditional rituals through the modem medium of Internet. (back)


The Confessional Ethic and the Spirits of the Screen.
Reflections on the Modern Fear of Alienation
Peter Pels

Modem confessions expect a moment of de-alienating authenticity, of revealing one's true self. Yet, in distinguishing an imperfect, existing self from the mature ideal towards which it should grow, modem confession also divides the self, raising the question whether its main delineating presupposition - that there is such a thing as an authentic self - can be upheld. This essay aims to trace the career of this typically modem paradox. It argues that the combination of an undertow of modem occultism and the development of the 'society of the spectacle' through commodification and screen technology has increasingly shifted confession towards a multiplicity of spiritual ideals of self-reform. Thus, it undermines the individual autonomy on which humanist modernity based its fears of alienation. (back)


On Screens
Electronic Media and the Embodied Subject
Sudeep Dasgupta

The contemporary media culture is increasingly marked by the presence of, and our interaction with computer screens, The complexity of the technology of the Internet, and the concomitant consequences for theorising subjectivity have been receiving increasing attention in academic literature. Some arguments about the baneful effects of computer technology and users assert the dissolution of the subject, and its loss within the complexity of a technology-driven medium. The temporal and spatial dimensions of interaction with computers supposedly threatens the very notions of identity, belonging and community. In contradistinction to such assertions, this essay argues for a historically-specific analysis of the concrete interaction of computer users with the Internet. Through an analysis of the particular uses which the Internet is put to, and the social relations within which such use is embedded, the essay explores the complex ways in which questions of identity are mediated by the 'screen culture' of the Internet. By steering away from a rigid technological determinism, the argument highlights a dialectical interplay between a contingent and situated subject and the growing presence of screens that refract our sense of the everyday. (back)


Insanity as Looking Glass
Alexandra Schüssler

Considering the immense popularity the Artists from Gugging, all of whom are long-term patients of a mental institute near Vienna , have achieved, the question arises of what people see in psychotics' imagery. In my essay I deal with paintings and drawings as projection screens for the spectator. I present a selection of works from Gugging and the spectators' verbal renderings of mental images that arise when contemplating these paintings and drawings. Instead as a part of the paintings and drawings I suggest viewing the screen that bears the mental images as a large and divers, but ultimately finite cultural image-repertoire, which inhabits the spectator. Referential co-ordinates for a phenomenon like insanity are hardly defined on our culture specific screens. Therefore, we are free to frame the imagery according to our desires and fears and the screen becomes a consummate surface for idiosyncratic projections. (back)


Eye Contact.
Fine Moving Hands and the Flesh and Blood of Image Fabrication in the Operating Theatres of Interventional Radiology
Christina Lammer

In my essay I analyze radiological practices of how the blood flow is being rendered visible and treated. For this I use material of my ethnographic research, which I conducted in the operating theatres of interventional radiology. I will argue that continual inventions of new technologies in this particular area lead necessarily to a decomposing of how the body's inside is imagined and experienced on the side of patients and clinical personnel. (back)


Re-enchanted Enchantment
Watching Movies in the Movies
Rachel O. Moore

Mimicking reifying structures of modern of life, television, for Adorno could be nothing other than 'disenchanted enchantment'. Following Benjamin's impulse to create dialectical images, this paper argues that the reuse of television and film screens within films is, at times, a form of re-enchantment. Calling on technology's magical transformative power, these scenes have powerful effects both within the digenesis of the films and for the spectator who watches the screen within the screen. They do so, I argue, not so much because of their narrative utility, but because they highlight cinema at its most technological. The visceral quality of these moments is one of the compelling reasons to begin to think that cinema has an important affinity with magical practices. (back)


Real and Imagined Audiences:
Lagaan
and the Hindi Film after the 1990s

Rachel Dwyer

The Hindi film of the 1990s marked the dominance of the musical romance: a heightened folly of glamour and consumption, where 'Indian values' were tested across the transnational Indian family. However, two of 2001's biggest hits were not romances but historical films about subalterns, which few expected to find audiences. Indian film producers frequently talk about adjusting their films for box office success, adding elements intended to please their audiences, imagined without audience ethnography and extensive market research. This paper focuses on Lagaan, which seemed to break with all norms of an imagined audience, yet was a great hit in India and overseas, acc1aimed critically in India and nominated for an 'Oscar' in 2002. It looks at how the film was produced, its marketing and its reception, raising issues of the relationship between the producers and the audiences in India , the diaspora and the west, in the context of genre. (back)


Television and Its Viewers in Post-Feminist Dialogue.
Internet-mediated Response to Ally McBeal and Sex and the City
Joke Hermes

Cultural studies has put forward the view that television publics are active rather than passive. The television screen can never dictate identity construction even if surely it plays a role in who we feel we are. Internet response to television is used in this article to reconstruct how post-feminist television series such as Ally McBeal and Sex and the City have meaning for audiences and how identity construction is involved in the pleasures and meanings of these series. Entries (called 'posts') at an Internet site called wwwjumptheshark.com are analysed. Recurring themes (realism, gender and television) all involved constructions of gender identity and sexuality. This new television genre can be said then to contribute to ongoing dialogue rather than dictate new identities. (back)


Occult Forces on Screen:
Representation and the Danger of Mimesis in Popular Ghanaian Films
Birgit Meyer

This essay focuses on the popular video-film industry in Ghana . Thriving at a time when the state is no longer able to control what is shown on public screens, Ghanaian popular cinema violates expectations of intellectuals and state officials as to what African cinema should be about. It is argued that this industry does not develop in a separate sphere of art, but deliberately locates itself in the midst of everyday life and is entangled with the Pentecostal-charismatic movement, which is extremely popular in Southern Ghana . Posing as revelations, films claim to show on screen how otherwise spiritual forces operate to mess up people's Jives. At the same time, the work of representation is found to be tricky on the part of actors who fear the forces they set out to depict. (back)


Accra 's Charismatic Screens
Marleen de Witte

In this essay I will look at and listen to a charismatic TV screen in Ghana , showing a sermon by the popular charismatic pastor Mensa Otabil in Accra . While watching the programme Living Wor1d I will address the relation between charisma and screens and examine the place of screens in the construction of charisma by looking not only at the screen but also behind the screen, in the editing studio, and in front of the screen, in the living room. (back)


Looking at Love.
Hollywood Romance and Shifting Notions of Gender and Relating in Nairobi
Rachel Spronk

The popularity of Hollywood movies among young professionals in Nairobi is in correspondence with social developments related to 'the emergence of the intimate' and changing perceptions of love and sexual relating. This essay deals with the emerging middle class discourse on love. Notions of love are actively discussed, tried and reflected upon. Within this context Hollywood movies provide an alternative frame of reference for young women and men. (back)


On Charisma, Mediation and Broken Screens
Ze d’Abreu

This article examines the main processes involved in redefining the concept of religious mediation by the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. It specifically focuses on changing perceptions of sanctity and traditional forms of representation of saints. In order to do so it considers the postulate of a new spirituality in the Church, which stresses the downpour of charismatic gifts from the moment one goes through the experience of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. At the same time that the Charismatic Renewal started using mass media, the idea of a direct and unmediated channel of spiritual communication became a fundamental part of its message. But while the media channelled the pursuits of grace and Charisma, it also jeopardized the idea of unmediated inspiration. The popularity of the Movement gradually re-entrenches the conception of a hierarchical distancing between humans and God, as Charismatics turn out to substitute the role saints have traditionally played in Popular Catholicism. In order for Charismatics to continue shaping their image in the 'likeness of Jesus', they need to recall the values of pride as well as saintly humility. This means a withdrawal from the world of fame to safeguard the boundaries of religiosity threatened by media popularity. (back)


Big Brother Brasil and the Evangelical Response
Martijn Oosterbaan

This article describes the ambivalent reception of the reality soap Big Brother Brasil among evangelicals in a favela in Rio de Janeiro . Big Brother Brasil can be united with a Protestant - Pentecostal ethic because the possibility to morally judge the players is built into the format of the game show. Yet evangelicals also fear they might be tempted by these images, disobey the will of God and loose their connection with the Holy Ghost. (back)