Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Bullet Time and the Problem of Mediation

I have two relatively unrelated topics of interest this week, and I hope folks can help me tie them together.

First of all, we find in Jameson a tension around the idea of mediation. He first characterizes the postmodern experience as "a perceptual barrage of immediacy from which all sheltering layers and intervening mediations have been removed" (351), but then goes on to discuss the constant "process of becoming an image and spectacle" (354). I would argue that perhaps these layers of mediation become less and less apparent, but also become more and more totalizing. When Jameson speaks of "the relentless saturation of any remaining voids and empty places," we could perhaps argue that it is the media of the spectacle that does the saturating (351).

Secondly, I would like to touch briefly upon the idea of "bullet time," as we noted in the Matrix today. In a Pembroke seminar lecture ast fall, Brian Rotman brought up the figure of "atemporal change" as a way to counter the influence of the "ghosts" that remain of a certain type of theological logocentrism (i.e., God, the alphabet, and infinity, if I remember correctly). I couldn't imagine any form of atemporal change, and I begged Professor Doane for an explanation, but couldn't really get anything out of her. I think bullet time could be some sort of visualization of this figure; as it may double as a form of cognitive mapping, it is interesting to note a tactic that could simultaneously combat postmodern disorientation and logocentrism (although I have some issues with the effectiveness of Jameson's idea of mapping).

Now, for a weak attempt to bring these two ideas back together, I want to raise the twin concepts of specularity and the spectacle. Can mediation (i.e., in the sense of "mediatizing" live action through bullet time) itself act as a form of atemporal change? Could distortion through a cybernetic phenomenological (and hence only technically subjective) lens be considered a process that changes its object without the intervention of time? Or is this just a skewed temporality? The object must be spectacular for this to work, in that it must be a media event to begin with. It must also be, somehow, a reflection-distortion (via some figuration of the mirror) in order to carry any weight as a technique of cognitive mapping. Or something?

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