Tag Archives: discipline

Virile-Reality: From Armageddon to Viagra

As you will no doubt see when my grand project is revealed, Armageddon and Viagra go hand in hand with viral video collage.  This article, however, turned out to be more about gendered digitality than apocalyptic fear. 

Quinby is quick to cut in the meme of internet Utopianism, anonymity of users and the optimistic empowerment supposedly inherent in the digital age.  In this sense, Quinby reminded me of Nakamura, especially with respects to Neoliberal notions of race and gender as related to the network (ie technology erases these problems.  Like Nakamura, Quinby argues that these problems are maintained by technology – and furthered by the surface assumption that these problems are erased.  Or:  “it is not the Internet per se that [Quinby is] criticizing but rather the ideological feature that currently pervades it” in 1999 (1082).  

Quinby outlines three power formations of technoculture: a patriarchal structure that utilizes seizure and punishment to control; one predicated on disciplinary control and surveillance compliance; “one that functions through virile-reality’s production of information, which, in keeping with millennialist impulse, tends to be legitimated through appeals to bio-perfection” (1083).  I’m interested in the latter two.  In my project I seek to create an multi-level environment of control (with a built-in disciplinary mechanism), as well as address these concepts through narrative.  As for the latter, I’m remixing the millennialism into a more abstract take on armageddon – fear – and attempting to dialogue with the viewer and participants/collaborators about the production of fact.


Points of interest:

= the divide between the interface and the machinations of technology. I am preoccupied with ideas of artifice and representations. The idea of windows/desktops/folders (hyperreal models of metaphors?) or point-and-click OS is an interesting instance of my preoccupations. I understand, to some degree, the nature of how the personal computer functions (code, circuitry, data, etc) yet have largely avoided considering my usage of OS as a type of artifice. This “reading” of the user experience questions other “hidden” aspects of my usage, such as the packet-sniffing Chun brings up in her introduction, the fact “that your computer constantly wander without you” (3). Again, these are consequences that I’ve known to be true for some time, to an increasing extent, but have dismissed (or perhaps accepted) out of hand, as I didn’t consider myself to be an individual target of surveillance. This is the result of a panoptic reasoning and of believing that those who might be surveilling are not perfect observers, nor are they able to decipher the unimaginable glut of information to be sifted. Thus, my choice (necessity?) to use was part of

= the utility of paradoxes, which Chun refers to through the fiber optics (26). In my specific case as participant in technology, I think I accept the possibility of surveillance as a matter of practicality – it can make my life more convenient sometimes, while admittedly more complex at others; still, the attraction is there. And, I know I’m talking a lot about surveillance and that is supposedly the hallmark of a discipline society. I’m still looking for a better definition of control – or maybe a more complete one that has an analog for surveillance. Chun’s articulation of the difference does make some sense to me, in that I gather that control incorporates the manipulation of freedom (and liberty, I s’pose) in order for the institutional power structures to achieve an ends that they desire (such as undermining labor unions, in Chun’s example). 

Back to paradoxes: one thing that excites me about Chun’s notion of “the theoretical necessity of using, rather than resolving, paradoxes” is the discarding of Enlightenment notions of objectivity (26). Is it ironic or paradoxical that Chun employs technology, the fruit of science’s labor, to destabilize the foundations of science? It is appropriate, given her clearly stated goal of considering technology and all its imperfections, rather than eliding technology as the pure product of an ideology. Chun’s fiber optics example reminded me of Foucault’s essay “Of Other Spaces” and his discussion of heterotopias. (I felt pleasantly justified by the later usage of heterotopia, as well as an indirect shout out to Foucault’s “What is Enlightenment?” by way of flâneur. Which is also a tidy connection to my statement on objectivity.) 

Another possible avenue I could enjoy exploring, wrt paradoxes and Chun, is Authorship. My entry point is a briefer comment within a brief comment on Benjamin: the computer’s “reading [of the user] as writing elsewhere” on the network (4). My question in response to this is to what degree is the user an “author”, if she doesn’t know what “writing” is being recorded and if the recorder does not know what might be being read and by what audience?

Onwards; maybe backwards and sideways later.