Alan Clinton reconstruction.submissions at gmail.com
Mon Jul 2 21:02:14 EDT 2007

Some interesting stuff here Jordan.  And it's worth considering in what ways
this "cultural" landscape has changed the dynamics you speak of.  It seems
like a lot of the recent discussion on the list, however, with the question
of who owns and profits off of our labor/information etc. would suggest
that, far from diminishing or reversing the panoptic regime, our digital
existences make a panoptic/police state control more and more easily
achieved.  As far as the new culture of exhibitionism goes, there is
definitely the sense among many that if you don't have an online existence
that you don't really exist.  This too has been exploited not only
economically, but by universities and other institutions to make "moral"
judgments about individuals or to curtail their freedoms of speech.

It would also be worth recollecting the many ways the sorts of
"solicitation" etc. you discuss have always been a part of cultural
interaction.  Hollywood never wanted a "passive viewer," but one who would
participate in more ways than mere voyeurism.  One thinks of fashion and
Hollywood as a prime example, where people purchased knock-offs in order to
put themselves on "display" as their favorite stars.  Sporting events, as
Benjamin/Brecht remind us, have always thrived off of the participation and
social interaction of its "passive viewers."  With respect to internet
exhibitionism, how is it similarly or differently inflected from the culture
of confession which Foucault identifies in so many different guises in
Western history, or from the "debuts" and artful encounters in a Jane Austen

Finally, it's an interesting (and useful, heuristically speaking) symptom,
how you bring psychoanalytic terminology to discuss so much of what is going
on, because psychoanalysis has always had such a dialectical (if not
downright parasitical) relationship with information technology.

In the most material of senses, we are definitely witnessing radical breaks,
but it remains to be further explored how these fractures act as inflections
of other "ongoing" epistemes.

Alan Clinton

On 6/29/07, Jordan Crandall <jcrandall at ucsd.edu> wrote:
> In our cultural landscape of blogs, webcams, profiles, live journals, and
> videosharing sites, the intimate lives of everyday people are on parade
> for all to see.  One could say that a new culture of erotic exposure and
> display is on the ascendance, fueled by the impulse to reveal the self,
> and streamlined by DIY media technologies.  In many ways this culture
> would seem to be less a representational than a presentational one, where
> we are compelled to solicit the attention of others, act for unseen eyes,
> and develop new forms of connective intensity -- as if this were somehow
> the very condition of our continued existence, the marker of our worth.
> Within this new culture of self-exposure, one could say that the dream of
> panoptic power has vanished, or reversed course.  Does the drive to
> willingly display the self constitute a surrender to the controlling gaze,
> or simply a shift in the dynamic of the game?  For within these
> presentational environments, performance and role-playing reign supreme,
> and new forms of subjectivity and identity emerge.
> These new cultures of self-display challenge us to rethink foundational
> concepts in film and media theory and, consequently, to rethink the very
> conditions of our approach.  For clearly these cultures are not
> necessarily those of mastery and visual pleasure.  They do not resolve
> easily to questions of perception, power, and language.  They are cultures
> of showing as much as those of watching.  Instead of a reliance on
> questions of spectatorship, representation, and scopic power, we are
> challenged to foreground issues of performance, affect, and display.
> Instead of a privileging of reception, we are challenged to incorporate
> authorial intent or originary motivation.  For these new media phenomena
> are not only texts to be read:  they are solicitations, conductive
> excitations, embedded within networks of erotic exchange.  There are
> pleasures and affective stimulations that motivate these new acts of
> connection, sharing, and erotic display, for all players on the circuits
> of production and reception, including both displayer and watcher.  Their
> texts must not only be decoded but their circuits traversed, in implicated
> ways that destabilize any one-way analysis and its deflections of
> libidinous investment.
> There is much to be gained in rethinking the dynamic between voyeurism and
> exhibitionism, compensating for the under-theorization of the latter.  In
> film theory, concepts of "attraction" have provided useful tools in
> thinking forms of exhibitionistic address that counter the voyeuristic
> orientation of film analysis.  In contrast to the mechanisms of
> maintaining a coherent narrative world, transporting the viewer into
> another time and space, attractions are those phenomena that directly
> solicit the viewer's attention in the here-and-now.  They can take the
> form of narrative asides, spoken in confidence to the viewer outside of
> the diegetic space; as spectacles for their own sake; or as shots which
> exist purely to titillate the viewer, having no function in the furthering
> of the narrative.  They prompt modes of apprehension that rely less on
> discursive flow than on direct transmissions that arouse or tease the
> viewer, engaging the immediacy of the bodily sensorium.  In this way they
> are similar to the way that affects can counter meanings.
> In the case of new media of self-exposure, sharing, and erotic display,
> one could suggest that the emblematic "pose" functions as such an
> attractor.  The pose is a form of exhibitionistic spectacle -- direct
> address, performative display, or bodily stimulus -- that stands in
> contrast to the narrative or conversational flow of a social world,
> whether real or imaginary.  It bypasses demands for narrative coherency
> and instead conducts transversal operations at the level of both the
> semiotic and the sensational, the reflective and the transmissive.  It
> solicits attention while at the same time functions as portal or conduit
> for a reciprocal flow:  a conductive excitation geared to develop a degree
> of connective intensity.
> Since the pose feeds on reciprocality, it can prompt the changing of roles
> and positions.  In this way it can be seen as a catalyst for
> identity-formations.  Especially as witnessed in the database-driven
> format of the online profile within which the pose is often embedded,
> identity is performed through the adoption of specific codes (whether
> gender or otherwise).  One is called upon to play roles in order to assume
> symbolic mandates, to the extent that "impersonation" becomes a core act
> of self-identification.  Yet the pose does not only operate extensively
> but intensively, and such "impersonations" arise equally through the
> internalized transmission of affects.  Emergent forms of identity arise
> through flows of affective resonance that are themselves a powerful social
> and subjectifying force.
> Such impersonations and internalizations can be understood to be driven by
> lack or by abundance.  As a performative player, we are driven by a
> primary lack at the core of the psychic apparatus.  It compels us to seek
> fulfillment through the gaze of the other:  the elementary fantasmatic
> scene of being looked at (validated) by an unseen presence.  The imagined
> gaze observing us becomes a kind of ontological guarantee of our being.
> It serves to put us in our place -- to subject us.  In this way, erotic
> cultures of exposure and display can be seen as driven by the need to
> perform for the gaze -- the Big Other, the symbolic order -- and therefore
> to write themselves into existence.  Yet at the same time, these
> insertions of the self into the symbolic order can be regarded as a way of
> channeling or dissipating surplus energy.  From such a viewpoint, the
> connective intensities that drive these new forms of self-exposure and
> display are those of expending excess, and the allure of showing could
> parallel that of sacrificing.  The pose, as event-portal, becomes a
> double-edged solicitor.
> Jordan Crandall
> _______________________________________________
> iDC -- mailing list of the Institute for Distributed Creativity (
> distributedcreativity.org)
> iDC at mailman.thing.net
> http://mailman.thing.net/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/idc
> List Archive:
> http://mailman.thing.net/pipermail/idc/
> iDC Photo Stream:
> http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/idcnetwork/
> RSS feed:
> http://rss.gmane.org/gmane.culture.media.idc
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: http://mailman.thing.net/pipermail/idc/attachments/20070702/86cdba93/attachment-0001.html

More information about the iDC mailing list