Pedagogies of the image: economies of the gaze.
Richard Rorty (1980), Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, p. 11
Publicity is the life of this culture--in so far as without publicity capitalism could not survive--and at the same time publicity is its dream.
John Berger, Ways of Seeing
We now live in a world of 'visual cultures', in a world of remediation and cross-mediation in which experience of content both appears in multiple forms and migrates from one media form to another (Bolter, 2001). If reality is mediated so too must be social relations. The language of the new social media is easily programable given its algorithmic character and its numerical coding which allows for the automation of many of its functions including media creation. New media are variable and interactive and no longer tied to technologies of exact reproduction such as copying (Manovitch, 2000). They are part of a wider paradigm and system that Castells (2000) calls 'informational capitalism' which is a new technological paradigm and mode of development characterized by information generation, processing, and transmission that have become the fundamental sources of productivity and power. More and more of this information that is the raw material of knowledge capitalism is increasingly either image-based or comes to us in the form of images. We now live in a socially networked universe in which the material conditions for the formation, circulation, and utilization of knowledge and learning are rapidly changing from an industrial to information and media-based economy. Increasingly, the emphasis has fallen on knowledge, learning and media systems and networks that depend upon the acquisition of new skills of image manipulation and understanding as a central aspect of development considered in personal, community, regional, national and global contexts.
These mega-trends signal both changes in the production and consumption of symbolic visual goods and also associated changes in their contexts of use. The radical concordance of image, text and sound, and development of new information and knowledge infrastructures have encouraged the emergence of global media networks linked with telecommunications that signal the emergence of a Euro-American consumer culture based on the rise of edutainment media a set of information utility conglomerates. What new subjectivities are constituted through social media and what role does image control play in this process? What new possibilities do the new media afford students for educational autonomy? What distinctive forms of immaterial labor and affect do social and image-based media create? And what is the transformational potential of new image-based and social media that link education to its radical historical mission?
The ubiquity of the image in an age of film, video and digital multimedia emphasizes both the ocularcentrism of the twenty-first century and the hegemony of the image that drowns us in an overflow and repetition of images. Is this the 'society of the spectacle' (Debord, 1967) that prefers the sign than the thing itself? Is it a society dominated by 'the violence of the image' (Baudrillard, 1998), of simulcra and simulations that demonstrate a suspicion and hegemony of vision (Jay, 1993) and points to the ultimate collapse at the end of modernism based on the relation between image and reality? Remember Baudrillard's (1998: 27) four act drama: first, a simulacrum 'is the reflection of a profound reality', which corresponds to representation; second, 'it masks and denatures a profound reality' ; third, 'it masks the absence of a profound reality'; and, fourth 'it has no relation to any reality whatsoever; it is its own pure simulation.'
In The Future of the Image, Jacques Ranciere (2008) suggests that there are two prevailing views about image and reality: the first, exemplified by Baudrillard, maintains that nothing is real anymore, because all of reality has become virtual, a parade of simulacra and images without any true substance; the second believes that there are no more images, because an 'image' is a thing clearly distanced or separate from reality, and, as we have lost this distance, we are no longer able to discern between images and reality; and thus, the image, as a category, no longer exists.
With the increasing dominance of images over text can visual culture deliver on its promises of a pedagogy that exposes the deep bias of images and their inherently ambiguous nature? Can 'visual literacy'--a set of 'vision-competencies' (Debes, 1969)--really deliver on the promise of a critical approach equal to the moment? And, is visual literacy really co-present with linguistic literacy comprising a set interacting and interlacing modalities which complement one another in the meaning-making process?
The epistemology of the eye (as opposed to the ear) is central to the philosophical debate revolving around the primacy of vision in Occidental culture and the domination of the gaze that has interested French theory since Bataille and received extensive theoretical treatment by Sartre, Lacan and Foucault among many others. 'The look', 'the gaze', 'le regard', in the hands of these theorists becomes alternately a theory of subjectivity, a map of the existence of others, a form of development of consciousness, and a scientific means of governance and control.
This paper consists in a series of notes and suggestions toward a critical education. There are pedagogies of the image in the understandings of each aspect of these theoretical developments. This paper provides the conceptual basis for pedagogies of the image. First, it traces the history of gaze, briefly examining the work of Sartre, Lacan and Foucault. Second, and from a different angle it foregrounds John Berger's Ways of Seeing and its relation to the field of visual culture. Third, I focus on Guy Debord's Society of the Spectacle and Jean Baudrillard's 'simulacra'; and finally, I discuss Deleuze on the cinema. Each of these approaches, I suggest, provides the basis for pedagogies of the image--a sort of collective repertoire of tools for analysis.
Pedagogies of the Gaze and the Manufacture of Subjectivity: Sartre, Lacan, Foucault
'The look', as Sartre terms it, constitutes section four of Chapter 1 'The Existence of Others' in Part Three of Being and Nothingness that is devoted to 'Being-for-Others'. The Introduction is called 'The Pursuit of Being'. Part One deals with 'The Problem of Nothingness' and Part two is entitled 'Being-for-Itself. Part Four includes 'Having, Doing, and Being', which is followed by a Conclusion. 'The look' is part of the examination by Sartre of avoiding deep Cartesian problems of solipsism that originate from a standpoint devoted entirely to the cogito, or the thinking subject. Sartre argues that we need the Other in order to realize our own being, and in the chapter on the existence of others he starts with an account of 'the reef of solipsism' based on an exposition of Husserl, Hegel and Heidegger to arrive at the following conclusion:
We have learned that the Other's existence was experienced with evidence in and through the fact of my objectivity. We have seen also that my reaction to my own alienation for the Other was expressed in my grasping the Other as an object. In short, the Other can exist for us in two forms: if I experience him with evidence, I fail to know him; if I know him, if I act upon him, I only reach his being-as-object and his probable existence in the midst of the world (p. 400).
Sartre is led on through the force of his argument to consider the body, both my body and the body of the Other, and the relation of the body to consciousness. Then Sartre proceeds to unpack the three ontological dimensions of the body before discussing concrete relations with others: love, language and masochism; indifference, desire, hate and sadism; and the notion of 'being-with' and the 'we'.
Sartre's account of the look and the Other as someone who must be encountered is a highly influential theory of subjectivity and the emotions. It defines an ontology defining consciousness as a negation aimed fundamentally at freedom formed through the choices we make. I become aware of the Other as a subjectivity and being-for-itself under whose gaze I am transformed into an object. 'The look' in Sartre's philosophy brings into play an intersubjective world and, indeed, the realm of interpersonal relations. Although Sartre emphasises vision in his initial characterization of our being for-others--and in his continuing talk of 'The Look'--he is keen to point out that vision is by no means necessary. Sartre claims that conflict is the source of meaning of being-for-others, which means that 'the look' is objectifying and alienating, where the Other fails to recognize my freedom.
Jacques Lacan develops his view of 'the gaze' from a first encounter with Sartre's Being and Nothingness in the mid 1950s and then distinguishes his own view of 'the gaze' from Sartre's 'the look' in 1964: the Lacanian gaze is not the act of looking, but the object of the act of looking. The Lacanian theory of the gaze undermines Cartesian theories of optics that have always dominated modern theories of perception and made visual perception the paradigm of knowing. For Lacan, seeing is not believing. He develops his position on the Gaze in relation to the notion of the 'mirror stage' where the child achieves a sense of mastery by seeing himself as ideal ego. In this way, the child enters into culture and language establishing his own subjectivity narcissistically through mirror image. Later Lacan differentiates between the eye's look and the Gaze, an uncanny sense that the object of our eye's look is looking back at us. Thus, Lacan's writings on the Gaze and visuality theorize the importance of seeing in the formation of the child-subject through the mirror-self which is an ideal self. He defines the Gaze at one point as the presence of others and then focuses on the function of seeing per se which constitutes 'the manifestation of the symbolic within the field of vision' (Silverman, 168). Finally Lacan likens the gaze to the camera whose only function is to put us in the picture, so to speak. Lacan's views have been influential not only in psychoanalysis but also in the development of film theory (Mcgowan, 2008) and thus provide a preparatory critical pedagogy of the image.
In The Birth of the Clinic: An Archaeology of Medical Perception (Naissance de la clinique: une archeologie du regard medical) Foucault focuses on the power of the clinical or medical gaze to explain the creation of a field of knowledge of the body and the way it leads to a radical separation of the body from the person. Foucault describes how he became interested in how the medical gaze was institutionalised, that is, how this new form of the hospital was at once the effect and the support of a new type of gaze. In the essay 'The eye of power' (146-165) from the collection Power/Knowledge Foucault (1980) famously writes of the Panopticum beginning with observations concerning certain architectural projects following the second fire at the Hotel-Dieu in 1772 and they ways in which they revolved around the principles of centralised surveillance designed to solve the 'problem of visibility of bodies'. This problem which was both global and individualizing in terms of the surveillance of space Foucault discovers was not specific to eighteenth-century medicine and its beliefs. He goes on to explain:
Then while studying the problems of the penal system, I noticed that all the great projects for re-organising the prisons (which date, incidently, from a slightly later period, the first half of the nineteenth century) take up this same theme, but accompanied this time by the almost invariable reference to Bentham. There was scarcely a text or a proposal about the prisons which didn't men tion Bentham's 'device'--the 'Panopticon'.
Later in the same essay he theorizes the relation between the gaze and interiorization:
We are talking about two things here: the gaze and interiorisation. And isn't it basically the problem of the cost of power? In reality power is only exercised at a cost. Obviously, there is an economic cost, and Bentham talks about this. How many overseers will the Panopticon need? How much will the machine then cost to run? But there is also a specifically political cost. If you are too violent, you risk provoking revolts...In contrast to that you have the system of surveillance, which on the contrary involves very little expense. There is no need for arms, physical violence, material constraints. Just a gaze. An inspecting gaze, a gaze which each individual under its weight will end by interiorisation to the point that he is his own overseer, each individual thus exercizing this surveillance over, and against, himself. A superb formula: power exercised continuously and for what turns out to be minimal cost.
The gaze becomes the central principle of a series of public architectures, an organization of the enclosed spaces of institutions and the basis not only for low cost, low maintenance infrastructure in clinics, prisons, factories and schools, but also the basis of the rise of disciplines and discourses based on systematic observation of the inmates of these institutions. With this development Foucault provides us with a critical pedagogy of educational disciplines ('architectures') that developed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries designed to govern the child, to enhance its autonomy (in the liberal subjects) and to study the dimensions of the child's stages of physical growth and cognitive development.
Pedagogies as Ways of Seeing: John Berger and Visual Culture
Ways of Seeing is the title of a 1972 BBC television series and later a book of the same name that questions the deep cultural bias in Western aesthetics based on the phenomenology of perception and the paradigm of seeing. Berger is interested in revealing the ideologies of the visual and, in particular, the ways in which art in capitalist society has become a commodity. To this extent Berger draws on the discussion of the history of art and art criticism utilizing Benjamin's seminal book The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. The medium is a complex system of rules that allows certain combination and permutations and prohibits others. In effect, it constitutes a language: 'The special qualities of oil painting lent themselves to a special system of conventions for representing the visible. The sum total of these conventions is the way of seeing invented by oil painting' (Berger, 1977:108).
The question of the image and ways of seeing is unquestionably tied up with the art philosophy and criticism and in particular the experience of the avant-garde whose best-known representatives--the poets Arthur Rimbaud, Paul Verlaine, Stephane Mallarme and Charles Baudelaire, as well as leading artists of the major art revolutionary movements--sought new kinds of art and new forms of artistic expression (i.e., new ways of seeing) that opposed the traditional (bourgeois) institution of art that had been largely captured by industrial capitalism. The industrial (and digital) reproduction of images has permanently changed the visual arts; images have become our deeply immersable cultural environment and can be owned, manipulated and manufactured. They define us and our identities and the struggle over their control serve to construct certain narratives, dramas, tableaux, scenarios and views at the expense of others.
Berger, critically aware of these movements and debates, and operating from a position that is informed by a critique of capitalism and antagonistic to mainstream culture, defines looking as a practice, 'much like speaking, writing or signing. Looking involves learning to interpret and, like other practices, looking involves relationships of power' (Berger, 1977: 10). As Berger argues: 'Perspective makes the single eye the centre of the visible world. Everything converges on to the eye as to the vanishing point of infinity' (p. 16). Modern technologies like photography and the motion picture change the perspectival centrality of the image 'What you saw was relative to your position in time and space. It was no longer possible to imagine everything converging on the human eye as on the vanishing point of infinity' (p. 18). As Berger explains, the meaning of a photographic image as compared to a prior painted image becomes both decentered and diffuse and it also develops allusion to other images in systems of images. Berger focuses on the distortions in capitalist consumer culture that are systematically generated through publicity as a particular system of image and image exploitation closely related to freedom of choice and of enterprise that conditions social relations through the glamour of the image. Publicity and advertising creates a society that depends upon an uncritical 'average spectator-buyer.'
The fact is that we are not born knowing how to see either physiologically or culturally. The great biologist J.Z. Young taught us that the human infant learns to see, to focus, to hold perspective, and to master the basics of seeing in a biological sense. But seeing is not acultural, asocial, or ahistorical. Seeing and looking (learning to look) is also learned socially and culturally as part of the production of differences (semiotically speaking) and through various representational technologies that reinforce the repertoire and banks of images that comprise visual culture. In this sense, vision and its physiosocial technologies of seeing and looking are less a mirror of truth than 'instruments of power'--less faithful and accurate depictions of the world than actual constituent analytical schemas of visual intelligibility. On the basis of this model the ways we picture ourselves ('self-image') and see others are part of our history of seeing and learning to see just as much as is the way we understand and picture the world. These stable traditions of seeing that involve interpreting the meaning of images and the relations between seeing and being seen also are constituted through perspectives of power that emphasize certain received, 'natural' and acceptable visual discriminations of body, sex, age, gender, class and culture over others. These traditions overlap and are reinforced by the complex relations between image, word, and sound (Sturken & Cartwright, 2001; Schirato & Webb, 2004; Mirozoeff, 2000). Berger provides the now-standard example: 'according to usage and conventions which are at last being questioned but have by no means been overcome--men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at' (Berger 1972, 45, 47). Berger argues that in European art from the Renaissance onwards women were depicted as being 'aware of being seen by a [male] spectator' (ibid., 49).
Others, influenced by Sartre, Foucault, and a line of criticism dating back to Baudelaire and Benjamin, have sought to make the historical connections between vision and modernity evident. Jonathan Crary (1990), for example, has examined Techniques of the Observer and the complex relations between vision and modernity in the nineteenth century. He emphasizes the ways in which vision is located in history and links nineteenth century interest in the physiology of vision to demands of industrialization (pp. 81, 85), linking vision and visuality to the changing perceptions of human subjectivity and identity. Like others before him Crary finds that the observer is changed by technological developments, becoming 'the site of certain practices, techniques, institutions, and procedures of subjectification' (p. 5). Each technological device creates a different kind of observer: stereoscopic vision is replaced by photography and its 'illusion of reference' (p. 133). The stereoscope creates a fragmented observer whereas the camera creates an assumed unity in the viewer. The nineteenth century inaugurates 'the visual culture of modernity' which coincides with new 'techniques of the observer' (p. 96) first alluded to by Baudelaire's 'flaneur' a new urban observer/subject who is the 'mobile consumer of a ceaseless succession of illusory commodity-like images' (p. 21).
Pedagogies of visual culture would seek to understand both the meaning of images, the way in which they comprise a language and help us to analyse vision as a social, cultural and historical process. It would examine the history of changing technologies that are involved in the production, circulation and reception of images as well as the exploration of theories of seeing and looking as social and cultural practices. (1)
Guy Debord's Society of the Spectacle & Jean Baudrillard's Simulacra
La Societe du Spectacle was first published in 1967 with the first English translation in 1970, revised in 1977. The work is a series of two hundred and twenty-one short theses (about a paragraph each), divided into nine chapters. It is a path-breaking text that provides a Marxian interpretation of contemporary mass media with a focus on commodity fetishism before the notion of globalization was used extensively. Guy Debord, for instance, writes:
1) In societies where modern conditions of production prevail, all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has moved away into a representation 4) The spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images. 6) The spectacle grasped in its totality is both the result and the project of the existing mode of production. It is not a supplement to the real world, an additional decoration. It is the heart of the unrealism of the real society. 147) The time of production, commodity-time, is an infinite accumulation of equivalent intervals. It is the abstraction of irreversible time, all of whose segments must prove on the chronometer their merely quantitative equality. This time is in reality exactly what it is in its exchangeable character. In this social domination by commodity-time, 'time is everything, man is nothing; he is at most the carcass of time' (Poverty of Philosophy). This is time devalued, the complete inversion of time as 'the field of human development'. (2)
Commenting on The Society of the Spectacle in 1988 Guy Debord said that he had tried to show that the modern spectacle was already 'the autocratic reign of the market economy' that had acceded to an 'irresponsible sovereignty' based on 'the totality of new techniques of government that accompanied this reign'. (3) Debord suggests that he distinguished two rival forms of spectacular power, the concentrated and the diffuse--the former a dictatorial ideology characteristic of Nazi and Stalinist regimes, the latter Americanization of the world dedicated to maintaining traditional forms of bourgeois democracy. The combination of the two (the integrated spectacular) had since imposed itself globally. He also explains how the notion of the spectacular had originated with the Situationists that was influenced by the avant-garde movements Dada, Surrealism and Lettrism which sought to transform art into everyday life in order to overcome the ways that creativity of the people had become crippled and stifled under modern capitalism.
Baudrillard argues that a simulacrum is not a copy of the real, but becomes truth in its own right: the hyperreal. Where Plato saw two steps of reproduction two aspects, the genuine thing and its copy (simulacrum), Baudrillard sees four: (1) basic reflection of reality, (2) perversion of reality; (3) pretence of reality (where there is no model); and (4) simulacrum, which bears no relation to any reality whatsoever. He argues that ours is a postmodern society that has become so reliant on models and maps that we have lost all contact with the real world that preceded the map.
He argues that we have lost all ability to make sense of the distinction between nature and artifice. Baudrillard postulates three 'orders of simulacra': in the first order of simulacra associated with the pre-modern period, the image is a counterfeit of the real; in the second order of simulacra that Baudrillard associates with the industrial revolution, the distinctions between the image and the representation begin to blur because of the mass production and the proliferation of copies; in the third order of simulacra, that Baudrillard associates with the postmodern age, we are confronted with a precession of simulacra where the representation precedes and determines the real and the distinction between reality and its representation disappears entirely. As he reformulates in an essay called 'Simulacra and Science Fiction' (4)
There are three orders of simulacra:
(1) natural, naturalistic simulacra: based on image, imitation, and counterfeiting. They are harmonious, optimistic, and aim at the reconstitution, or the ideal institution, of a nature in God's image.
(2) productive, productionist simulacra: based on energy and force, materialized by the machine and the entire system of production. Their aim is Promethean: worldwide application, continuous expansion, liberation of indeterminate energy (desire is part of the utopias belonging to this order of simulacra).
(3) simulation simulacra: based on information, the model, cybernetic play. Their aim is maximum operationality, hyperreality, total control.
He goes on to state:
There is no real and no imaginary except at a certain distance. What happens when this distance, even the one separating the real from the imaginary, begins to disappear and to be absorbed by the model alone? Currently, from one order of simulacra to the next, we are witnessing the reduction and absorption of this distance, of this separation which permits a space for ideal or critical projection.
Baudrillard's twin concepts of 'hyperreality' and 'simulation' refer to the virtual or unreal nature of contemporary culture in an age of mass communication and mass consumption, world dominated by simulated experience and feelings, which has robbed us of the capacity to comprehend reality as it really exists. As he indicates simulation begins from the radical negation of the sign as value, and envelops 'the edifice of representation as itself a simulacrum. This would be the successive phases of the image:
* it is the reflection of a basic reality.
* it masks and perverts a basic reality.
* it masks the absence of a basic reality.
* it bears no relation to any reality whatever: it is its own pure simulacrum (Baudrillard, 1993: 194).
Doug Kellner (1995) suggests that we can read Baudrillard's post-1970s work as science fiction that anticipates the future by exaggerating present tendencies that provide early warnings about what might happen if present trends continue. In an assessment of Baudrillard, Kellner (2007) writes:
In retrospect, Baudrillard's early critical explorations of the system of objects and consumer society contain some of his most important contributions to contemporary social theory. His mid-1970s analysis of a dramatic mutation occurring within contemporary societies and rise of a new mode of simulation, which sketched out the effects of media and information on society as a whole, is also original and important. But at this stage of his work, Baudrillard falls prey to a technological determinism and semiological idealism which posits an autonomous technology and play of signs generating a society of simulation which creates a postmodern break and the proliferation of signs, spectacles, and simulacra. Baudrillard erases autonomous and differentiated spheres of the economy, polity, society, and culture posited by classical social theory in favor of an implosive theory that also crosses disciplinary boundaries, thus mixing philosophy and social theory into a broader form of social diagnosis and philosophical play. (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/baudrillard/.)
Deleuze on Cinema (5)
Deleuze makes a classification of three specific kinds of power: sovereign power, disciplinary power and 'control' of communication and views the third kind of power as becoming hegemonic, a form of domination that, paradoxically, is both more total than any previous form, extending even to speech and imagination. Deleuze suggests that it was William Burroughs who first used the term control to describe a new form of power and he mentions the way modern institutions of confinement and their principles of enclosure are breaking down. New open spatial forms--open systems rather than closed systems--interconnected, flexible and networked 'architectures' are supplanting the older enclosures. New open institutional forms of punishment, education and health are being introduced without a critical understanding what is happening. As he writes in 'Postscript on Societies of Control':
We're definitely moving toward 'control' societies that are no longer disciplinary. Foucault's often taken as the theorist of disciplinary societies and of their principal technology, confinement (not just in hospitals and schools but in schools, factories, and barracks). We're moving toward control societies that no longer operate by confining people but through continuous control and instant communication.
And he provides the following education example:
One can envisage education becoming less and less a closed site differentiated from the workplace as another closed site, but both disappearing and giving way to frightful continual training, to continual monitoring of worker-schoolkids or bureaucrat-students (Deleuze, 1995a: 174-175).
Forms of 'lifelong education', 'distance education' and 'continuous training' have been conceived as part of a new educational 'architecture' designed to support the global 'knowledge economy'. Deleuze warns of what he calls 'ceaseless control in open sites' and the quest for 'universals of communication. Yet he argues that even before control societies have been established, already forms of delinquency and resistance--computer piracy and viruses--have appeared and instead of resistance to control societies he suggests 'creating has always been something different from communicating' (p. 175). The notion of 'control' as a political term Deleuze borrows from William Burroughs which is best illustrated in relation to Deleuze's discussion and history of cinema.
Deleuze (1995b) provides an analysis of the cinematic image according to a threefold periodization: What is there to see behind the image? What is there to see on the surface of the image? And, what can we see at all when the background of any image is always another image? (See also Deleuze 1989a,b). Corresponding to each question is a stage of cinema based upon the changing function of the image. The first period characterized by the art of montage ascribes a depth to the image in a universal scenography, where filmmakers in the critical tradition, still buoyed by a metaphysical optimism of the new medium, sought to forge a link between the new Art and a new Thought that was capable of providing an encyclopedia of the world. In the second age, characterized by the 'sequence shot' and new forms of composition, the new function of the image was a pedagogy of perception, taking the place of an encyclopedia of the world that had fallen apart (p. 70). As Deleuze notes 'Depth was condemned as 'deceptive,' and the image took on the flatness of a "surface without depth"' (pp. 60-70); and:
Images were no longer linked in an unambiguous order of cuts and continuities but became subject to relinkings, constantly revised and reworked across cuts and false continuities (p. 70).
The emergence of the third period reflects a change in the function of the image and a third set of relations where
it is no longer what is there to see behind the image, nor how we can see the image itself--it's how we can find a way into it, how we can slip in, because each image now slips across other images, 'the background in any image is always another image,' and the vacant gaze is a contact lens (p. 71).
Deleuze mentions two different factors in the new relation between images. The internal development of cinema which seeks new audiovisual combinations and pedagogies, and; the internal development of television which takes on a social function and, therefore, operates on a different level. Just as the critical impulse of the first great age of cinema was manipulated by the authoritarian power of fascism, so too 'the new social power of the postwar period, one of surveillance or control, threatened to kill the second form of cinema' (p. 71). The threat this time comes from 'the way that all images present the single image of my vacant gaze contacting a non-nature, a privileged spectator allowed into the wings, in contact with the image, entering into the image' (p. 72).
Thus, the studio audience is one of the most highly rated forms of entertainment and the zoom has become television's standard technique. As Deleuze argues:
The encyclopedia of the world and the pedagogy of perception collapse to make room for a professional training of the eye, a world of controllers and controlled communing in their admiration for technology, mere technology. The contact lens everywhere. This is where your critical optimism turns into critical pessimism (p. 72).
Television threatens the second death of critical cinema because it is 'the form in which the new powers of 'control' become immediate and direct' (p. 75). Deleuze continues:
To get to the heart of the confrontation you'd almost have to ask whether this control might be reversed, harnessed by the supplementary function opposed to power; whether one could develop an art of control that would be a kind of new form of resistance. Taking the battle to the heart of cinema, making cinema see it as its problem instead of coming upon it from the outside; that's what Burroughs did in literature, by substituting the viewpoint of control and controllers for that of authors and authority (p. 75).
There is not space here for a full account of Deleuze on the development of cinema or the set of concepts he works up from Pierce's semiology and Bergson to describe the shift to time and movement. According to Deleuze, we now live in a universe that could be described as metacinematic and his classification of images implies a new kind of camera consciousness that determines our subjectivities and perceptions selves. We live in a visual culture that is always moving and changing and each image is always connected to an assemblage of affects and forces. There are three types of cinematic movement-images: perception images (that focus on what is seen), affection images (that focus on expressions of feeling) and action images (that focus on the duration of action), each type associated with long shots, close-ups and medium shots. Deleuze's work on cinema is not a history of cinema but rather a taxonomy, an attempt at the classifications of images and signs by means of Bergson and Peirce.
The Cinematic Mode of Production
To be sure, as Jonathan Beller (2003) has argued cinema marks a profound shift in the relation between image and text--'the watershed of the subjugation of language by image'. Inspired by Deleuze and early Critical Theory Beller theorizes 'cinema as an innovative shift in both industrial capitalism and cultural practice marks, therefore, the restructuring of language function in accord with the changing protocols of techno-capitalism'. He summarizes his argument
As a precursor for TV and computing and Internet, cinema transacts value transfer across the image utilising a production process that can be grasped as founded under the rubric of what I call 'the attention theory of value'. The deterritorialised factory that is the contemporary image is an essential component of globalisation, neo-imperialism, and militarisation, organising, as it were, the consent (ignorance of) and indeed desire for these latter processes. Thus 'cinema', as a paradigm for image-mediated social production, implies a cultural turn for political economics. It also implies that it is the interstitial, informal activities that transpire across the entire surface of the socius as well as in the vicissitudes of the psyche and experience that are the new (untheorised) production sites for global capital--and therefore among the significant sites for the waging of the next revolution (p. 91).
And Beller (2003: 105) concludes:
When appearance itself is production, the ostensible immediacy of the world always already passes through the production-system. Cinema is a deterritorialised factory which extends the working day in space and time while introjecting the systems language of capital into the sensorium. Cinema means a fully-mediated mise-en-scene which, like the magician's forced deal, structures human choice by providing the contexts and options for responses that are productive for capital. Yet we must remember that it is humanity who made the cinema, despite the masters of global appearance's claims to the contrary. The star is not out there, but s/he is of ourselves. Cinema is the secularisation of a world historical revolution in human interaction that contains in potentia the material realisation of a universal disaffection with capitalist domination and oppression.
Beller (2006) argues that cinema and other media formations, including the Internet as media platform, are deterritorialized factories in which spectators work or perform value-productive labor. The cinematic mode of production (CMP) is an exploitation of the sociality that characterizes a spectator economy. The question is whether we have already moved beyond spectatorship and the spectator economy to one now centered on new social media and a social mode of production that requires collaboration and co-creation as a matter of participation and entry.
Social media are different from industrial media in that they are designed to be disseminated through social interaction using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Using Internet and web-based technologies to transform broadcast media monologues (one-to-many) into interactive and participatory dialogues (many-to-many), which results in the democratization of knowledge and information and transforms participants from spectator-consumers into content producers. There is reason to think that the CMP is closely tied to the principles of industrial media and industrial capital while social media operates on different principles reflecting the logic of free software. As Christopher M. Kelty (2008: 2) argues:
Free Software is a set of practices for the distributed collaborative creation of software source code that is then made openly and freely available through a clever, unconventional use of copyright law. But it is much more: Free Software exemplifies a considerable reorientation of knowledge and power in contemporary society--a reorientation of power with respect to the creation, dissemination, and authorization of knowledge in the era of the Internet.
When he writes of the cultural significance of Free Software, he means
an ongoing experimental system, a space of modification and modulation, of figuring out and testing; culture is an experiment that is hard to keep an eye on, one that changes quickly and sometimes starkly. Culture as an experimental system crosses economies and governments, networked social spheres, and the infrastructure of knowledge and power within which our world functions today--or fails to.
The logic of free software as it underwrites social media has breathed new life into new facets of culture from music to politics, engendering what Kelty calls a recursive public--one that is 'vitally concerned with the material and practical maintenance and modification of the technical, legal, practical, and conceptual means of its own existence as a public (p. 3). In this new social media culture, the individual imagination is harnessed in forms of hypertextual forms of multi-creation that ties the expressive to politics and to democratic action, transforming and reshaping the deterritorialized community as one a global polis with shifting and temporary alliances mobilized for particular causes and social movements and political events. In this way, social media becomes a re-imagination machine, and education based upon it, in both public and personalized forms, moves from pedagogies of the image and economies of the gaze to pedagogies of creative P2P collaboration and economies of the imagination.
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(1.) This description is based on various visual pedagogy website including Viz. Visual Culture: Rhetoric: Pedagogy at http://viz.cwrl.utexas.edu/, Visual Studies Initiative at Duke University at http://visualstudies.duke.edu/, Visual Culture Collective at http://visualculturecollective.googlepages.com/ home, Visual Studies program at the University of Houston at http://www. visualstudies.uh.edu/, and Visual Studies at the University of California at Irvine at http://www.humanities.uci.edu/visualstudies/.
(2.) These selections are based on The Society of the Spectacle at http:// library.nothingness.org/articles/SI/en/pub_contents/4.
(3.) This commentary appears at http://www.notbored.org/commentaires.html.
(4.) See http://www.depauw.edu/sfs/backissues/55/baudrillard55art.htm.
(5.) Part of this section on Deleuze is based on material taken from Peters (2009).
MICHAEL A. PETERS
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology
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|Author:||Peters, Michael A.|
|Publication:||Analysis and Metaphysics|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2010|
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