Interfaces of resistance in the image-machine of control

Greig, Alan (2017) Interfaces of resistance in the image-machine of control. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

My creative practice addresses two research questions: how does ubiquitous computation affect the visual operations of the contemporary control society and what does this mean for the use of visual media in contesting such control? Through photographic and video work in digital formats, I explore the movements and arrests of informatic flows that constitute the operation of control, and the potential for resistance that may be felt in the turbulence of the interface, as a dynamic threshold where such flows meet.
In this turn to the interface, I theorise the impacts of computationality on the loss of the image as a stable site of representational resistance, with the unsettling of perspectival representation in the topology of informational space and the ambiguity of a digital visuality whose software hides as it shows. When brought together with recent work on the de-materialisation wrought by informational Capital, the digital image comes to be seen as an instantiation of anxiety about the abstracted nature of power that increasingly operates as control. It is less to the digital image itself, but rather to the circulations and patternings of data expressed as light on the screen, that we must attend if we are to confront the digital visuality of control.
The ‘image-machine of control’ is the infrastructure that modulates these data circulations and patternings through inciting the making, sharing and watching of images. Drawing on affect theory, I emphasise the role that affects of insecurity, at the level of the dividuated subject and the abstracted socius, play in inciting an interactivity with the screen on which the State and Corporation alike rely for their accumulation and circulation of data. The digital-visual interface, being the encounter with the screen, becomes a sitemoment to explore its dynamic boundary condition, whose turbulence of data flows may open up ‘lines of flight’ from the striated grid of control. These lines of flight help us see beyond the workings of the faciality system, and the subject-object relations of the gaze. Specificity of positioning in scopic regimes of control still matters, but posthumanist theorising suggests that such positioning be understood as vector and not point, whose movements we need to stay in touch with.
Using digital photography to open up the everyday practice of image-making to its potential to disrupt the informatic flows of control, my first photographic work, medium specific, makes use of photomontage to look at the topology of informational space through its ‘folds’, as a first experiment in disrupting the tempo of the image-machine’s visual incitements through a ‘pleating’ of its data. I use haptic photography in the pieces figure ground, surface gaze and touch light to stay in touch with the smooth space of the interface as a time-space of contingency, potentially resistant to the gridded striations of control.
My exploration of the contingency of the interface continues with two video works, look screen and moving still, which address its vibrational ontology. I put the concept of the vibrational interface to use in confronting the rhythms of control deployed by the image-machine. Being a rhythm of not only circulation but also capture, not merely movement but also arrest, I suggest that understanding the ontology of the interface in terms of its vibrational forces is useful for disrupting, through its moving stillness, the rhythm of flow and stasis on which control depends. Both videos use visual and sonic vibrations to set up counter-rhythms and oscillations, whose trembling may release energies for change.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Film and Music > Media and Film
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology > HM0661 Social control
T Technology > TK Electrical engineering. Electronics Nuclear engineering > TK6680.5 Digital video. General works
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 04 Oct 2017 09:54
Last Modified: 04 Oct 2017 09:54
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/70406

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