Just read a new post created by Adrian discussing the temporality of cinema. It has popped up several times in my reading throughout this semester. The New Materialist readings i have encountered in the Media Objects Lab by Jussi Parikka introduced me to the theory of “time-criticality.” Parikka discusses Wolfgang Ernst and Friedrich Kittler’s ideas around how media objects manifest and continue to exist in our world.
Ernst believed that objects can only exist within a ‘time-criticality…a materialism of processes, flows and signals instead of ‘just’ hardware and machines.’ (Parikka, 55) To understand an object of media one must engage with the ‘agency of the machine’ (Ernst, 2005: 591 quoted in Parikka, 55), a dialogue of pattered signals that exists only in any given duration of time.
‘As Wardrip-Fruin explains (2009: 13-14, 17), such ‘operational logics’ focus on the digital systems in terms of ‘doing’ rather than just being, which emphasises an active and dynamic sense of time-cirticality.’ (Parikka, 69) K-Films can only exist with a binary of actions between user and automated system. Without this interplay both user and K-Film would cease to exist. Volmar agrees, believing that ‘Media studies should be interested in the micro-temporal archives…those that are embedded in the time-critical processes of media, which means incorporating ‘intervals’, ’temporal architectures’, ‘real-time’, ‘algorythmics’ and other time-critical concepts at the heart of media studies.’ (Volmar quoted by Parikka, 67)
I have been reading Fluid Screens, Expanded Cinema (edited by Marchessault & Lord) which notes with the advent of new technologies our spatial existence has collapsed. We no longer operate within the same space, instead, we are fractured and multiplied, straddling different locations simultaneously with the help of technology. Whilst surfing the net I may be Skyping a family member and chatting with a friend on Facebook. The transference of myself across multiple mediums (all entwined within the one tool – telecommunications/internet – by convergence) is something we take for granted everyday. It is quite incredible when you actually stop and think about it. Our spatial being has multiplied. Space is no longer a problem for us, virtually speaking.
The main constraint is our temporal nature of being. As we experience the world diachronically we rely on what we have experienced in the past to inform how we respond to the present and plan for the future. Our interaction with the world is time-critical for we derive meaning from the associations we create between experiences. Similar to Pavlov’s Dogs we condition ourselves to certain signals or patterns of communication we encounter, reacting in an affected manner due to these past experiences.
I have been wondering about this in terms of Deleuze’s lines of flight theory. If we are affected by our past experiences, this could be thought of as a territorialised (major) process of action. We automatically default into the same actions we have previously enacted for it is a learned behaviour. However, if we were to deterritorialise (minor) our learned behaviour by doing the complete reverse or alternative action to what we would normally do this feels quite bizarre and unsettling. Any action moving against the grain is bound to be difficult, so we prefer to go with the norm. The sheep/pack mentality is the easy way out and acts as a positive reinforcer when applied to social situations.
To prompt a line of flight between these two actions would entail an intervention. Tapping into an impulse motivated by an intuitive reaction to both major and minor ways of thinking seems to create a new, creative pathway out of routine and reconditioning. Reminds me of a balancing act; Standing on firm ground (major) provides feelings of stability and security, whilst having the rug pulled out from underneath you creates feelings of anxiety, discomfort and excitement. Forming a path between these two is a balancing act that relies upon an engagement to deeper processes of being. A type of flow is experienced when in this state, a calm yet engrossing experience of being creatively connected to the activity you are engaged in. Josh is pursuing a similar research topic, interested in group flow practices in performance.
I feel this is all tied up with Anthroposophy. Perhaps it was a fault of mine to explore anthroposophy for my separate research assessment for i feel it has entered my bloodstream. The intuitive thinking Steiner discussed in his Philosophy of Freedom seems appropriate for this discussion. To create a line of flight I feel that one must be tuned into a deeper level of thinking that informs action and reaction. Or perhaps just reaction? A sense of responding to these patterns of signals Ernst speaks of in media objects. Indeed, in all objects.
I feel this discussion is toppling down the rabbit hole without a clear end in sight. I fear no conclusion can be rendered from such dense philosophical conundrums.
Trying to explain to myself what lines of flight are: (a basketball court representing a majoritarian; some of the players unique abilities representing a minoritarian; and a line of flight occurring between these elements as the team utilises both elements to score. Further below shows an individual creating a line of flight between peak hour commuting traffic.)