Archive for the ‘grusin’ Category

Richard Grusin on affect, premediation and security — Anglia Ruskin ArcDigital talk

January 16, 2010 3 comments

Talking of anticipation — It’s always wonderful to meet in person people whose texts you have read for years — and admired. Richard Grusin’s visit at Anglia Ruskin finally took place, and was as every bit interesting as I was expecting it to be. His and Jay David Bolter’s Remediation-book and thesis had a huge impact in combining my new media interests with my background and training in history, and now his new stuff on premediation promises to combine such theoretisations of temporality with the very current debates concerning affect, security and media culture.

Grusin’s talk was very much contextualised in his soon forthcoming book Premediation: Affect and Mediation after 9/11 (Palgrave). The book promises to be a mapping of the non-representational and non-cognitive forces of the securetized social media culture where affects (in the sense of also positive “good vibes” as well) and security are complementary states or atmospheres of bodies in relation. This includes not also human bodies (“having feelings”) but relations between humans, nonhumans and in general heterogeneous assemblages. This is the regime of affective flows between such objects/subjects.

The talk had four parts, or sections, that mapped out the various contexts of such flows:

1) premediation and security
2) anticipatory gestures
3) media theoria
4) premediation and politics

The richness of the talk is hard to convey through any summaries so my notes remain fragmented. The easiest would be to say: read the book!

For me, certain key points stood out. The point about our media culture based on the atmospheric affect of “anticipation” instead of e.g. distraction (Benjamin and Kracauer) is certainly one such; and applies in Grusin’s reading both to bodies in social media culture of expected, anticipated, potential social interaction through software-mediated platforms as well as to the inbuilt modes of anticipation in software. This “mediaphilia of anticipation” is a nice way to frame the software promoted anticipatory gestures that often are approached through medicalised conditions (ADD etc), but are in fact generalised modes of subjectification.

Grusin’s critique of Agamben and notions of “state of exception” were important as well, and resonate with recent Hardt and Negri points in Commonwealth. Instead of approaching contemporary constellations of power through such notions that hint of transcendent powers and sovereignty (state of exception and being able to rule such), immanent ways of how power operates take into account the much more “business-as-usual” type of handling events, establishing patterns, managing repetitions, actions and relations in everyday life. That’s software culture.

Affect is a way for Grusin (as for many others) a way to approach the non-cognitive and non-representational ways how media do not (just) signify but do things to us and with us. I think Grusin could have elaborated a bit more on this more virtual and somatic sphere of the affect when talking about gesturality in media culture — and how it is as I have used the word more “atmospheric” preparadness as a potentiality of the body as a tension, attention, than just actual gestures (which are important and through which the atmosphere of virtuality of such anticipation gets articulated). In any case, his critique of some nostalgic accounts of online activities that lie on politics of authenticity were to me spot on) as was Grusin’s discussion of the necessary preformatted modes of living; the patterns of repetition that are necessary for everyday realities. Any kind of resistance has to work immanently within such formations, not neglecting the reality of for example us needing habits. This opens a completely different political horizon.

In terms of how this position relies on rethinking some of the temporal ties — and temporality as a crucial feature of the affect-embedded security regimes — premediation-thesis comes close to for example Greg Elmer’s and Andy Opel’s notions concerning pre-emptive measures of control. Security measures happen pre-emptively, shooting before asking questions, making sure that the state of things is always such that any potential events that are undesirable do not take place. No wonder that Minority Report is here the key film for such social theory. I know that discussing such positions in relation to for example Erin Manning’s “preacceleration” would be fruitful as well (thanks to Andrew Murphie for flagging this potential connection), but I have to admit I have not anything that special to say (and that Manning’s book is at the office shelf at the moment). Her way of discussing movement and dance and bodies-in-movement through preacceleration refers to the primacy of the forthcoming-transformation that the body attunes to continuously. For Manning, bodies are not present but moving, prehending and in this sense ahead of their time a bit paradoxically — a realisation that comes through clearest in dance. Bodies catch wind, and move as part of such attractors that dance is filled with (whether “stable” objects, or dance partners). The anticipatory nature of such preaccelerated bodies is something that ties in with Grusin’s points that I would have to read more about as the mechanisms of anticipation as a way of orienting towards certain intensities and attractors (e.g. again social media culture features as banal as the commenting function and its potentiality to attract comments) is one way of thinking “bodies in speed” (Mackenzie).

Its clear that an increasing amount of accounts that want to articulate a material politics of software culture have to deal with temporality. This is a curious phenomenon and attempts for “solution” come from different directions, sharing a lot with each other. Of course, I could add that to my “things to write” list, but one has to be realistic…

>A guest talk by professor Richard Grusin, the co-author of Remediation, and the author of Premediation

January 10, 2010 Leave a comment

>Thursday 14 January, at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge (East Road)
Organized by ArcDigital and sponsored by CoDE — the Cultures of the Digital Economy-institute
4 pm, room: Hel 251

Premediation, Affect and the Anticipation of Security

In this talk professor Grusin will explore how in our current biopolitical regime of securitization, socially networked media transactions are fostered and encouraged by mobilizing or intensifying pleasurable affects in the production of multiple, overlapping feedback loops among people (individually and collectively) and their media. Grusin outlines how, at the end of the first decade of the 21st century, social media, like cell phones, instant messaging, Facebook, or YouTube, encourage different historical formations of mediated affect. This distribution of affectivity across heterogeneous social networks or assemblages is coupled to the framework of securitization, which helps to explain why these particular socially networked media formations have emerged at this particular historical moment. The talk concludes with a discussion of the political implications of this security regime—what it means for the explosive growth of socially networked media after 9/11 to have as one of its many consequences the proliferation of media transactions or interactions, which help to “vitalize” the political formation of securitization. If mediality today employs the strategies of premediation to mobilize individual and collective affect in a society of security and control, then we need to look at the ways in which premediation deploys an affectivity of anticipation that functions to vitalize the regime of securitization that has replaced surveillance as the predominant disciplinary formation of our control society. Our everyday transactions of mediation, transportation, and communication are encouraged for security purposes not only by making them easy and readily available but also by making them affectively pleasurable—or at least not unpleasurable, by maintaining low levels of affective intensity that provide a kind of buffer or safe space, a form of security, in relation to an increasingly threatening global media environment.

Richard Grusin is Professor of English at Wayne State University. His more recent work concerns historical, cultural, and aesthetic aspects of technologies of visual representation. With Jay David Bolter he is the author of Remediation: Understanding New Media (MIT, 1999), which sketches out a genealogy of new media, beginning with the contradictory visual logics underlying contemporary digital media. Grusin’s Culture, Technology, and the Creation of America’s National Parks (Cambridge, 2004), focuses on the problematics of visual representation involved in the founding of America’s national parks. He has just completed his new book Premediation: Affect and Mediality after 9/11. (forthcoming 2010)