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Cosmic Open Sourcery: Anxious Thoughts on Artifacts of False Witness and the Hypermediacy Effect

Lecture by Debbora Battaglia

April 10, 2014 | 6:00 PM
239 Greene Street, Floor 8
New York University
Open to the Public

A central tenet of accelerationist aesthetics is that mediaworks that deliver and bear witness to the “intensity effect” of everyday life “help and train us to endure – and perhaps also to negotiate – the ‘unthinkable complexity’ of cyberspace,” and also the unrepresentable immensity and intensity of ‘the world space of multinational capital’ (Shaviro quoting Gibson and Jameson, respectively). The present paper turns for deeper inquiry to commercial ad spots featuring foreign objects falling Earthwards from the sky – “space junk” centrally, and also things like destructive alien robots – arguing that their scenarios draw unduly charged attention to foreign threats to domestic security, all the while displacing the greater threat of multinational technologies of militarism: sources of social senses and narratives of insecurity in the accelerated networks of global capitalist practice. In short, they are artifacts of false witness. To the extent that visual ethnography productively engages with, rather than despairing of perspectival instability, and attenuates encounters with alien modalities of relating, it holds out the possibility of a countervailing force to the implicit resignation of accelerationist aesthetic regimes.