New Philosophy for New Media (MIT Press)
Mark B. N. Hansen
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In New Philosophy for New Media, Mark Hansen defines the image in digital art in terms that go beyond the merely visual. Arguing that the "digital image" encompasses the entire process by which information is made perceivable, he places the body in a privileged position -- as the agent that filters information in order to create images. By doing so, he counters prevailing notions of technological transcendence and argues for the indispensability of the human in the digital era.Hansen examines new media art and theory in light of Henri Bergson's argument that affection and memory render perception impure -- that we select only those images precisely relevant to our singular form of embodiment. Hansen updates this argument for the digital age, arguing that we filter the information we receive to create images rather than simply receiving images as preexisting technical forms. This framing function yields what Hansen calls the "digital image." He argues that this new "embodied" status of the frame corresponds directly to the digital revolution: a digitized image is not a fixed representation of reality, but is defined by its complete flexibility and accessibility. It is not just that the interactivity of new media turns viewers into users; the image itself has become the body's process of perceiving it. To illustrate his account of how the body filters information in order to create images, Hansen focuses on new media artists who follow a "Bergsonist vocation"; through concrete engagement with the work of artists like Jeffrey Shaw, Douglas Gordon, and Bill Viola, Hansen explores the contemporary aesthetic investment in the affective, bodily basis of vision. The book includes over 70 illustrations (in both black and white and color) from the works of these and many other new media artists.
forming a quasi-autonomous technical frame that strictly regulates bodily response, the image has now been revealed to be a delimited product of a complex bodily process. The three chapters comprising Part II, “The Aﬀect-Body,” focus on the aesthetic consequences of this disjunction of body from image and the ensuing reembodiment of the latter. Each forms a concrete stage in the philosophical redemption of Bergson’s embodied theory of perception from Deleuze’s transformative appropriation.
criticism of the cinematic heritage of new media, and beyond that, for exploration of unheeded or unprecedented alternatives. This brings me to the second limitation of Manovich’s position: the inadequacy of the cinematic metaphor (even in the broad sense) as a means to theorize the digital image. Recalling our above discussion of the digital image—and specifically Edmond Couchot’s definition of it as an aggregate of quasi-autonomous, independently addressable, numerical fragments—we can now see
and “mechanical” machines.47 Not only does Ruyer’s philosophical critique of cybernetics aﬃrm MacKay’s insistence on the priority of embodied meaning, but it explains why meaning can be introduced into information theory only by beings endowed with a transpatial dimension, that is, a capacity to participate in a nonempirical domain of themes and values. Ruyer’s perspective can thus help us tease out the profound implications of MacKay’s work as a theory of framing. Specifically, it establishes
involves a certain fusion between actual and virtual image space, it foregrounds the body–brain’s capacity to suture incompossible worlds in a higher transpatial synthesis. In sum, the digital environments of Rogala, Waliczky, and Shaw foreground three crucial “problems” posed by the digitization of the technical The Automation of Sight and the Bodily Basis of Vision (photographic) image: the problems, respectively, of processural perspective, of virtual infinitude, and of the indiscernible
displacing an abstracted sense of vision as the primary sense in favor of the internal bodily senses of touch and self-movement. Vision becomes “haptic” in Hansen’s eﬀort to relocate visual sense-making in the body. Hansen argues for the primacy of aﬀective and interoceptive sensory processes that generate a “haptic spatiality,” an internally grounded image of the body prior to and independent of external geometrical space. This view has a range of interesting consequences for the xxii xxiii