PHIL 6320: 220-507-1-PB

To summarize succinctly Shaviro’s argument in this week’s reading: Modern digital video is different from historical analog cinematography.

This analysis might be an over-simplification of the argument, but at a basic level it holds. The issue is what that difference means for the ability of video (general term to catch “film”, cinema and related time-spanning visual media) to be an accurate representation of the artist’s intent. There seems to also be a struggle between the agency of the subject and the liberty of the artist to “create” with the image of the subject.  The move to digital manipulation gives the artist god-like power to do whatever it can imagine with the image of the subject (and at a symbolic level, to the subject itself).

The Grace Jones video displays a subject in flux, almost fluid in lack of conformance to a single state. No context is given to suggest whether the subject consented to the fluid state or if the fluid state is an adaption to some type of need (or force) to conform. The images could be read as calm transition between states, escaping a monolithic form, to seek a fluid existence between concrete spaces or as a subject forced to be fluid and unable to retain a desired or true form. Through the use of digital manipulation like is used in this video, it is impossible to determine as the form is so distorted that the image is helpless to represent itself in any way resembling a full embodiment. It is as though the body/subject is a puppet being pulled with digital strings wherever it is directed. At first I wanted to construct the fluidity of the form to something resembling the queer idea of fluidity, but it is unclear as to the willingness of the form to accept the various distortions that are placed upon it. How can the agency of the body be determined? Shaviro implies that it is a willful dissociation from identity, but I do not feel compelled to agree so easily. If the video was recorded in one form and the changed to something else, then at what point is the consent of the body considered?

I have a lot of questions, but not many answers.


Shaviro, Steven. Post-Cinematic Affect: On Grace Jones, Boarding Gate and Southland Tales.