Thursday, May 6, 2010

Hansen Critique Part 2: The Virtual (a no-man’s land)

Having established the argument that Hansen is moving towards a specifically human centered embodiment I would like to take a closer look at how he thinks that someone like Jeffrey Shaw is able to exemplify precisely what he finds to be missing from Deleuze’s analysis of Bergson. To do this I would first like to look at how Hansen understands “the virtual.” He explains that, “the virtual must be understood as that capacity, so fundamental to human existence, to be in excess of one’s actual state.” (51) The virtual, thus signifying “that capacity” (or more precisely “capacity” itself) which is beyond the “actual state” of our embodied selves.

Hansen explains that it is because Shaw’s work is able to “deploy technology as a means to elicit or trigger the virtual” (51) that it is in step with Bergsonian philosophy. In the case of new media arts, and more specifically with Shaw’s work, Hansen understands the technologies as that which will help to expand and extend “the capacity” of the embodied human subject. In other words, he understands new media technologies and practices to be that which can open up our human and embodied “capacity” to be in the world (to become with the world?).

The problem that I see here is that, where Hansen thinks that “Deleuze disembodies the Bergsonist conception of the center of indetermination in order to equate it with the function of the cinematic frame” (52), I think that Deleuze does not “disembody” the center of indetermination, but instead favors (and to an extent tries to embody) the zone/interval of indetermination which, for him, exist in time and movement and can be explored and perhaps even exploded through the potential of the cinematic frame. What I mean by this is that, whereas Hansen reinvests the “center of indetermination” (or the human body) with control and mastery over the frame (and ultimately over framing “the virtual”), Deleuze attempts to reinvest in the “in-between” (in the gap, interval, zone of indetermination), which ultimately renders the human body into a deeper immanent relationship with the virtual. On the one hand, this does somehow “disembody” the individual, but that seems like it is the whole point. For Deleuze, it is about going “beyond individual” (super-human), and not instead about trying to re-power “the human individual” with control over framing the virtual.

I think perhaps I may have bitten off more than I can chew here, but ultimately I get a feeling that with the Hansen, there is less of a focus on the fluidity of the relationship between the body and the new media technologies and more of an attempt at restoring the human body as master in the struggle between increasingly amorphous information and our desire to control it.

Vanessa Meyer

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