I think the web cam mediates time and refreshes mourning, keeping it in a constantly fresh state. The webcam at ground zero continuously refreshes the horrors of that day through designated camera angles and images. Unlike the cement markers, flowers, tombstones, etc prone to the deterioration that marks time and distance for mourning, the webcam keeps the mourner at day one, emphasizing the freshness of the wound no matter how old. Memorials that deteriorate show the effects of time on the mourning event—dead flowers, neglected markers, forgotten memorials—but also show the effects of change and add new perspectives to the mourning event.
Thank you for a very interesting and under-explored post. Women in comedy suffer from the same social ailment that plagues "ethnic" and female writers, performers and other artists. They are pidgeon-holed and labeled as being for that particular group. Often women comedians are relegated to discussing "women’s topics" such as boyfriends, weight, insecurities. In television and film, there is no neutral ground where female comedians who do not wish to do "female" comedy can reside. Like the African American writers who pen narratives with universal themes only to find their books caged under the banner of "Black Literature" or "Ethnic Literature," women who try to make comedy for the masses find themselves automatically labeled as feminine.
On a side note, the website http://www.textsfromlastnight.com/ displays some interesting forms of female oriented comedy. I found myself rollign on the floor to read jokes oriented to a female audience, but applicable to all.
This is not only very insightful, but quite beautifully written- I haven’t had a chance yet to watch the video (I’m sure it will be working soon), but I’d like to offer my own thoughts on these issues. I’m intrigued by the dichotomy you present between lived time and media time, especially in their convergence. As a West coaster, I’ve only experienced that day through media images and videos. But part of what is ingrained into my memory, beyond the content of the video—the planes, the buildings falling, the smoke rising over the cityscape—is the repetition of those images all day on the news. I can’t actually dissociate between the two—the mediated images and the lived time in which I repetitively experienced them and I think this has to do with the "alteration" in the possibilities for mourning.
It’s actually quite difficult to parse lived time from media time when so much of lived time is through media time. If this is true, then I think the webcam can be used quite effectively, especially when it is used to mediate the time it represents in the form of time-lapse. How can the trauma of that day, gauged by the compulsion to obsessively re-experience those images, be properly worked through and potentially buried? Perhaps by showing mediated images of the new towers rising out of the ashes? I’m thinking of this as a specific media response—one that would in no way do the work of individual, private trauma therapy, but rather work through the collective trauma that many of us "lived" through with those media images.
If part of the mourning process is formulating a narrative, or a marker that adequately memorializes our loss, perhaps its appropriate that this marker be mediated and, in a sense, virtual if it is a webcam. As opposed to a very solid, physical gravestone or outdoor memorial which speaks to the eternal quality we’d like to imbue in what was lost, perhaps the very ephemeral, passing, transitory nature of the webcam image is better equipped to the job of mourning in this case. In other words, rather than providing us with a way to repeatedly view those same images as we did that day, the webcam, by always changing, by refreshing, helps us let them go.
You’re absolutely right, Eric. Here’s a link to some user-generated fan art contemplating this idea:
What’s interesting to me about this is what "death" means for the computer, which is in fact merely programmatic. "Death" is a line of code written into the hack that says, in essence, "return to save state." In this case, at least for the computer this would be quite the opposite— a topia with no thanos. But I think you’re right that what this video helps imagine is what we might take for granted as gamers- not Mario’s complicity in the virtual deaths of an infinite number of goomba’s, but our own. In this case, perhaps this is a gesture towards a virtual theology?
Thanks, Christopher, for starting off the week with this interesting post. As I watched the compression of the Mario’s 134 attempts to make it through the level, it occurred to me that this recording tool also illustrates a common critique leveled at video game culture, one that, if I recall rightly, Bruce Willis or his equivalent spits out at a testosterone-challenged gamer in some action movie: "In real, life you only die once." The video makes excessively, gruesomely visible the extent to which Super Mario World is a Thanatopia. (133 deaths in 116 seconds for a rate of 1.146 Mario deaths per second.) I’m inclined to add "theological" to the intriguing sorts of time that you’ve shown the video helps us imagine.
Thanks for the post Mel! I was struck too by the erotic overtones of the video, especially in the reference to the "vibrating wand." There seems something queer to me about rejecting a more sanitized vibration and instead inhabiting it in the body, and putting it on display, at such close range, for such a long time.
It occurred to me that femme, at least in some femme performances, could be read as making public those acts that are supposed to be private in an idealized version of femininity. Vibrating one’s face on camera is one way. As is, I think, a vibrant queer fat femme movement in which femme performances buck the broader cultural directive to make those bodies as inconspicuous as possible (at least, this chubby femme tries to make the body’s interaction with the clothing that covers it- something that’s supposed to be unnoticeable - the main thrust of her femme-ness).
And ideally (and I think this video does this), femme can point out the ways that privacy is not allowed equally to all bodies. Some bodies, because of norms of race, gender, class and ability will never be allowed to keep the process of putting on femininity entirely private. And that fact is entirely tied up in the more "serious" questions of neoliberalism and violence and that have been in play this week thus far.
Hi Elizabeth, Heidi and Randy. I just wanted to let you know that I just put up a comment on a recent post that works to connect this post to the current theme week. Would love to know your thoughts!
Looking back over the last few weeks of content on In Media Res, I’m wondering about the kinds of connections that can drawn between what has been presented above as a queer critique of the privatization of higher education in California and beyond (and the week’s theme of Queer Privates) and what Elizabeth Heffelfinger discussed on April 20th regarding the resurgence of the Free Enterprise System (as part of the theme week on Economic Education). Both posts seem particularly concerned with the function of education as a formative space that also delimits the realm of what is possible to think/discuss/imagine. As Heffelfinger suggests, "The recent decision by the Texas Board of Education to rewrite the state social studies curriculum to promote a conservative agenda includes replacing “capitalism” with the “free enterprise system” throughout the texts" is a tactic to limit the terms through which economic systems can be discussed. This could perhaps be read as an effort to naturalize capitalism and linguistically implement an "end of history," per Francis Fukuyama’s 1989 thesis, and a foreclosure on ways of critiquing the present and imagining a different future.
It is important to expand the grid of this conversation to encompass the appalling ongoing events in Arizona. As the demands made by the current student hunger strike at UC Berkeley assert, there is a clear connection between the discriminatory immigration policy recently signed into law by Gov. Brewer and the politics of the university. (We can, and should, also draw explicit links between the surge of racial and homophobic violence on university campuses and beyond and the wave of anti-immigrant violence coming to popular attention on the East coast). The connections between the AZ immigration law and shifts in UC policy have been made all the more clear in recent days given moves made the Arizona Department of Education to "remove from classrooms teachers who speak English with a very heavy accent or whose speech is ungrammatical," and the passage of legislation by the State lawmakers that effectively prohibits ethnic studies classes. In that provisions of this law prohibit courses that could "advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals," I wonder how the impact of this provision on any course, ethnic, queer or otherwise, that strays from an economic education grounded solely in individual enterprise of the self.
Thanks for the great reply Jussi! Two things in particular strike me about your comment: the notion of virtuosity in relation to contemporary capitalism, and that of how movement-objects (or ideas) always ‘return’ as sounds, visions, actions.
As for the virtuosity of the dancing body, I think it is important to note how, in the system of ‘marketable’ movement, what emerges is the emerging of skill from relationality, rather than from mere individual capacity (virtuosity as a matter of intensity, rather than intention). The more you relate, and the more you creatively repeat the relation, the better you perform. In terms of the return to the actual, the reason I use a term such as ‘movement-objects’ is because this concept suggests me a double possibility: to avoid mere ‘relationality’ (the ‘reduction’ of objects, things etc., simply to their relations), and on the other hand to take the abstraction of ideas beyond essentialist intepretations, and show how they are always appearing in relation to their actualizations. Ideas, or movement-objects, in other words, are not only relations, but cannot be conceived beyond relations.
But lets talk about this ‘ecological’ logic again soon!
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Thanks Stamatia, I really enjoyed reading this, and it got me thinking especially about the ecologies of movement, software and global brand capitalism, of how movement-objects are good in terms of methodology as well – good “tools” to follow connections across scales of bodies.
Why is global capitalism so interested in dance? Why is it so interested in flexible, able, creative bodies that show virtuosity and skill? It seems that the emblematic body of contemporary network(ed) capitalism of creative industries and digital economy is that of the dancer, the performer, what Virno referred to as virtuosity; not solely the individual performer however, but indeed a collective quite often. Its flash mobs on train stations, not the worker at the conveyer belt; indeed, train stations instead of factories. What is being produced is movement, or perhaps, from a moving, creative, related set of bodies something emerges; what is that what interests capitalism in that sense? Of course, football is the great art of relationality (think of Douglas Gordon’s Zidane-film!) but as much a condensation of creative capitalism; a condensation of not only flows of skill, but flows of capital and profit. In South-Africa, at the moment, with the World Cup approaching, new territories of security are being created where wrong bodies (street kids, and other not-wanted-disturbances) are being cleaned out from the streets in preparation for the celebration of global society under the banner of football.
In a forthcoming article we write with Milla Tiainen:
“Indeed, the dancing and moving body can be seen in historical terms as a specific form of knowledge production with an increasing economic importance. Dance is the perfect interface for cultural theories of movement (bodies in variation) to understand the complexity of interaction, an ethology of forces/bodies and the object of cultural industries of affect and experiences. Nigel Thrift writes: ‘[…] dance can sensitize us to the bodily sensorium of a culture, to touch, force, tension, weight, shape, tempo, phrasing, intervalation, even coalescence, to the serial mimesis of not quite a copy through which we are reconstituted moment by moment’ (2008: 140).”
“Not quite a copy” seems to be the contagious element of propagation.
You start with viruses, with bacteria, which is apt in terms of thinking the contagious nature of gesturality/movement (despite a post-fordist emphasis on flexible bodies, actually the mapping of the gestural, flexible body was part of the earlier phase of capitalism, the cinematic one already since he 19th century) and movement-objects as you call them. It seems to convey the idea of such objects themselves as condensations of intensities that can spread across levels, in this case from the thickness of the event/bodies performing in relation to e.g. algorithmic environments, digital techniques/milieus of creation. Indeed, its not only an abstraction of lived relations of organic kinds, but another scale of relations that is being superposed, or ties in with bodies, and that intertwining of scales and techniques interests me a lot. The digital object is far from static but incorporates too an intensity that stems from its relational status. We can also approach digital objects through the notion of affect whether on the level of design where e.g. object-orientated-design deals with such relations, or then more widely through the assemblage nature of digital nature. Digital objects, software and such, are, for me, characterised by their translational capacities. Not only that through algorithmic measures we are able to abstract etc. things into datasets, but that such abstractions return to organic bodies and their actions; they return as sounds and visions, as actions or frameworks for action (operating systems, bank cash dispensers, and such). This generative circuit that software participates in between a variety of bodies, this relationality, is how I would read also “movement-objects” circulating AND distributing certain relations and gesturality even.
I think this multiplicity of ecologies is one thing that strikes me about your movement-objects; they always creatively “mediate” between scales; whether digital objects-organics, or then the idea about beats, where the beat-object is formed through combination of grains, as you put it following Alanna, and where on another scale of bodies’ beats create combinations; bodies pulsating together at a disco! Or again, at the train station as with flash mobs harnessed as part of mobile operator adverts! Its contagious, indeed, and again ties in these contemporary themes together with crowds, social imitation as creativity of bodies in concert, all symptomatic of modernity already in the sense Gabriel Tarde talked about (and more recently Tony Sampson has been interested in!).