“Cameras are now so advanced that the way we look at our image is now under the threat of becoming unrecognizable with its intense dedication to the state of high definition-pores counted, we recognize a hyper version of our once-future self absconded just far enough to promote simulation and techno-progress, but still close enough to give us doubt about our reflection.”
Approximation commits itself to a certain anxiety. Images cannot be regulated at distance. To do so would only ensure that their mode of operation is limited to separation and not intimacy. Intimacy functions on a certain type of anxiety that is enabled by the business of proximity and intensity. The weight that images carry in metaphor, theory and the senseless guile that is quantified as “empathy” in the present is but a sliding scale of compression and projection. It is compression for the very means in which two bodies, the operator and the intended subject are given a scale in which proximity may be guessed at-the closer, the more compression/anxiety, the further away, and at the odds of being challenged as a voyeur, less compressed, less anxious.
Projection is the means in which the audience or viewer of images, manufactured by the operator and the subject (with or without intent or permission) are allowed to gravitate towards a representation of sorts. It is a third-party position that weaves a narrative in a one to one subjective embrace, first by proxy of operator/interlocutor of image and the image-object itself. Second, the position of audience to representation of the image-object which is created by manufacturing or projecting meaning based on his or her experience- a position in which image acquisition and potential meaning are spun into relative measure based on said experience. The new subject/audience’s third position, if given text or no text is still responsible for interpreting the image in front of him or her based on their experience and their projection of it onto the image-object. This sounds so basic in its explanation as to sound, with a frequency of urgency, idiotic in measure. This being said, the relative position when viewing images is often overlooked as what artist Max Pinckers has described as the “Agreed Upon Frame”, a position in which sharing meaning with others, generally on a larger/more distributed scale is how we interpret and give value to images in their persuadable hierarchy of “real” or truthful document. It is of course this very notion that must be destroyed when contextualized in the larger scope of the credence we manufacture to the economy of these image-objects. The image-object cannot hold the mass consensus of meaning, just as the audience cannot have the same experiences from which to project an identifiable and agreeable meaning of its representation. It is impossible in its relativity if we are to claim human experience as singular-a position that I firmly believe suits the drives and pursuits of an increasingly technocratic continuum.
We live in a time in which the narrative of cinematic discourse invades all image space in the west. Americans in particular observe a certain role of slavery to the image and medium of cinema with their terrible shrugs, catch words and fraternal understanding gleaned from the Hollywood dream machine. You can watch the over-motivated expressions manifest themselves in physical form from what they have been sub-consciously told is the delivery mechanism or short cut to using gesture from cinema as understanding, a shortcut noticeable and damning. This is often given over as a believed earnest form of communication, a relativization of body language in which the reciprocal pre-manufactured measures are expected. It can range from a certain type of head wobble that shows direct and forthright distribution of idea to the sloughing shoulders and inwardly recoiled gloom and goth ardour of a teen in a big sweater exhibiting fragility. These gestures do exist in real life/time, but have been developed from a long infatuation with cinema and television in particular and have now become ingrained in the cultural “characters” of the West. It is part of how my culture and Anderson’s culture were told the “new” functioned. We are indebted to an addendum of body language and speech patterns to communicate from the goal posts of the Hollywood industrial complex and it has now metastasized into a global empire.
“We are in a techno-transitional time and we live in a high definition society. We live in a celluloid dream turned into a high definition digital bath in which our character(ship) is not only a façade of or former selves, but is actively engaged as a third party new skin between image-object functionality and the projection of coordinated self into the realm of this new frontier in which we exist only as digital fodder, our countenance due for a co-opted screen self manufactured by Boston Dynamics for their newest prototype, thus de-materializing our physicality or at the very least erasing the boundaries of human to that of simulation acknowledgement.”
The future is now a thing of the past. The forecasted simulation now given over to a technological dystopia in which the hover boards and jet packs promised have been replaced by social media and code building and cultural credit scoring. We are a high definition society defined by the clarity and precision of our image due to technological progress. Cameras are now so advanced that the way we look at our image is now under the threat of becoming unrecognizable with its intense dedication to the state of high definition-pores counted, we recognize a hyper version of our once-future self absconded just far enough to promote simulation and techno-progress, but still close enough to give us doubt about our reflection. This veneer of reality is what the new image-object’s intention is to portray for your considered projection based on the cinematic expressions that define your body and emotional state. It is a new you. It is a more perfect film still of the you from the cinema of the near future looking back at you in the present tense and its all so defined.
We are in a techno-transitional time and we live in a high definition society. We live in a celluloid dream turned into a high definition digital bath in which our character(ship) is not only a façade of or former selves, but is actively engaged as a third party new skin between image-object functionality and the projection of coordinated self into the realm of this new frontier in which we exist only as digital fodder, our countenance due for a co-opted screen self manufactured by Boston Dynamics for their newest prototype, thus de-materializing our physicality or at the very least erasing the boundaries of human to that of simulation acknowledgement in a highly definable order within the newly simulated empire-our selves left to act out with precision what is expected from us based on our projections which we have based on countless cinematic moments. We are the hybrids of the future terrorized by the technologies of today.
In his book New Dark Age, James Bridle speculates about our relationship to high definition images and that pesky future they may inhabit for us.
“As digital culture becomes faster, higher bandwidth, and more image-based, it also becomes more costly and destructive-both literally and figuratively. It requires more input and energy, and affirms the supremacy of the image-the visual representation of data-as the representation of the world. But these images are no longer true, and none less so than our image of the future”.
What Bridle is suggesting and what can be found in Approximate Joy, Christopher Anderson’s superb book with publisher Stanley/Barker is that in effect, the high definition image- the future of our image is constrictive and diminishing to our physical presence. Its over-definition, a corollary technicality that seeks to erase and sublimate our human image for a non-corporal cinematic condition-our images are in effect breeding anxiety and are compressed, filled with high definition that has become unsustainable and in effect seeks to slowly kill us or to at the very least image-snatch (formerly body snatch) our presence for a future unintended or imagined by algorithm.
The death threat of manufactured passivity comes in the form of big data storage in image societies when the work of the word is overtaken by a humanity that relates language to the more powerful pictograph/photograph/YouTube clip image-object. We stand on the precipice with climate change, global energy abuse and the end of images-OUR images and we are confronted with what our screen selves will become. Anderson’s book is perhaps not intrinsically weighted upon the dystopian suggestions mentioned above, but as I look at it, with its Blade Runner-esque patina of color, its hyper-definition of character development and gesture, a movie-a very claustrophobic movie plays out in my mind and I find myself manufacturing a language for those subjects within. It is a stifling affair, one that pushes the boundaries of comfort with the sublimation of self in advance of incredibly beautiful come hither images. The book is deceptive in the manner in which it sets a stage and the way in which Anderson, employs his gift of the tight crop as a way to disturb the formality of portraiture. It reads as a very cool post-vapewave kind of musical video set in China, but becomes increasingly anxious on its second read. The characters do not look real, they look very much imagined and imagined from a movie/simulation in which the humanity of their physical beings are challenged by the weight of their definition. You may not agree with my outlook on technology or images, but I hope you will agree that this is one of the best of 2018’s offerings. Highest Recommendation.
Bridle, James. New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future. Verso. London, 2018. Pg. 64-65.
(All Rights Reserved. text @ Brad Feuerhelm. Images @ Christopher Anderson.)