Future Cinema

Course Site for Future Cinema 1 and Future Cinema 2: Applied Theory at York University, Canada

Jagoda Questions and Links to Coverage on Derren Brown

1. In chapter one, Jagoda cites Jean-François Lyotard (my Frankenstein dinner guest) in a passage citing his view that dominant notions of modern art seek to “present the fact that the unpresentable exists,” and also mentions Joseph Tabbi’s claim of a shift from a theological/artistic order to one dominated by increasingly unknowable technological and corporate networks that appear.  For Jagoda, a network sublime emerges directly from such postmodern antecedents and is most evident in those ubiquitous network visualizations that represent big-data outputs (using an Instagram visualization network as an example).

This is an interesting theoretical evolution, one that I am curious about others’ thoughts on.  It’s been about twenty years since Lyotard’s death, and there has been considerable evolution in numerous pathways since then.  As with his reference to Ranciere’s Dissensus, I was also hoping that Jagoda would return to further engage with Lyotard later in the book, but both figures are only mentioned in the introductory commentaries.

Without a detailed exploration here, do we agree that the network sublime which Jagoda articulates is a ‘direct antecedent,’ or has it taken a type of detour or conceptual leap here?  Despite the criticisms leveled at The Postmodern Condition (some even by Lyotard himself), I feel that certain aspects are relevant in our age of networks, but to what extent is a challenging proposition to articulate.

2. Jagoda states:

“The art critic Nicolas Bourriaud theorizes art beginning in the 1990s as taking on “relational aesthetics” that include interactive and networked components. Several decades before this moment, however, artists were already beginning to explore similar concepts. Members of the post– World War II avant- garde, including John Cage, Nam June Paik, and Wolf Vostell, as well as members of the Situationist International, were experimenting with “intermedia” production and network thought in the 1950s.”

This is an interesting point as some might place the divide here as essentially between the “high-tech” and the “low-tech.”  While figures such as Cage have exterted a wide net of influence, not all theorists would situate his work in this manner.  Does this distinction matter?  How much of a role does the technical aspect play when tracing such historical trajectories of networks?

3. Jagoda cites the film, The Game, and other forms of ARGs which reminded me of NetFlix’s recently streamed specials with Derren Brown (an illusionist and mentalist), who through an elaborate setup of actors, plotlines, and means of production, sets up unknowing participants to engage in a complex game without their knowledge (they are purposely misled to the actual premise of their involvement).  Notably, he uses actors working through elaborate plotlines to coherence the participants to push an actor off a roof (who secretly lands on a crash pad), or in another episode, Brown’s team convinces an anti-immigration Trump supporter to take a bullet for an undocumented man being harassed by a racist gang of bikers in the desert.

Obviously, many have questioned the ethics behind such deceptive forms of entertainment, but where do we draw the line in today’s age?  Is it possible to do so objectively?  In interactive roleplaying media and games, there will often be elements of surprise or twists in narrative, but many would contend that Brown has taken this beyond any normalized boundaries.

4. Jagoda’s emphasis on ambivalence is interesting, and is also an area that I think could have returned to some of Lyotard’s thought, notably his theory of the differend. While I understand his premise for articulating a move towards ambivalence, I also question if we have shifted to greater polarization, even since the recent publication of this book. Is ambivalence relevant in practice, or is such a conception more theoretical in natiue?

Also, for those interested, here are a couple articles which explore the controversial nature of Derren Brown’s work:

https://www.indiewire.com/2018/02/the-push-netflix-review-ending-derren-brown-twist-1201933412/

https://www.bustle.com/p/how-real-is-sacrifice-the-new-derren-brown-netflix-special-doesnt-play-it-safe-12256108



In the introduction. Jagoda draws on Raciere’s work as a pathway of illuminating network aesthetics.  Of particular interest to me was his invoking of the notion of dissensus, when he states:

This dissensus, which is an irreconcilable tension that defines aesthetics, emerges from “the rupture of a certain agreement between thought and the sensible” that we experience through a work of art that keeps readers or viewers at a distance while simultaneously drawing them in. Dissensus, moreover, captures the fundamental way in which the aesthetic is political— that is, dissensus generates “the suspension of power, the neither . . . nor . . . specific to the aesthetic state” that enables “a revolution that is no mere displacement of powers, but a neutralization of the very forms by which power is exercised.”  This state of suspension is closely related to the nonsovereignty that I am proposing as the starting point for an analysis of networks. It is this inherent contradiction of art and literature that makes it so well suited for grappling with the internal complexities, unforeseeable emergences, and relational intensities that make up a network imaginary. Networks need not merely be control structures, management systems, or scientific graphs but can also serve as figures for encountering contemporary forms of what Adorno calls “contradiction.” Networks, after all, suggest a culture that grows shallower even as it becomes increasingly interconnected. They instantiate new forms of centralization but also introduce decentralization or distribution. They simplify the world and yet, as Michel Serres observes of systems, seem simultaneously to imbue it with new dimensions of complexity. It is such tensions that constitute the analytical field of network aesthetics (26).

Having recently read some of Ranciere’s works recently, I thought that this is an interesting analysis.  I was hoping that Jagoda would engage more with Ranciere aa the book progressed.

In chapter one, Jagoda cites Jean-François Lyotard (my Frankenstein dinner guest), in a passage citing his view that dominant notions of modern art seek to “present the fact that the unpresentable exists,” and also mentions Joseph Tabbi’s claim of a shift from a theological/artistic order to one dominated by increasingly unknowable technological and corporate networks that appear.  For Jagoda, a network sublime emerges directly from such postmodern antecedents and is most evident in those ubiquitous network visualizations that represent big-data outputs, using an Instagram visualization network as an example.  This is an interesting theoretical evolution, one that I am curious about others’ thoughts on.  It’s been about twenty years since Lyotard’s death, and there has been considerable evolution since then.  As with his reference to Ranciere’s dissensus, I was also hoping that Jagoda would return to Lyotard later in the book, but both figures are only mentioned in the introductory chapters.

Without a detailed exploration here, do we agree that the network sublime which Jagoda articulates is a ‘direct antecedent,’ or has it taken a type of detour or conceptual leap here?  Despite the criticisms leveled at The Postmodern Condition (some even by Lyotard himself), I feel that certain aspects are relevant in our age of networks, but to what extent is a challenging proposition to articulate.

Jagoda states”

The art critic Nicolas Bourriaud theorizes art beginning in the 1990s as taking on “relational aesthetics” that include interactive and networked components. Several decades before this moment, however, artists were already beginning to explore similar concepts. Members of the post– World War II avant- garde, including John Cage, Nam June Paik, and Wolf Vostell, as well as members of the Situationist International, were experimenting with “intermedia” production and network thought in the 1950s.

This is an interesting point as some might place the divide here as essentially between the “high-tech” and the “low-tech.”  While figures such as Cage have exterted a wide net of influence, not all theorists would situate his work in this manner.  Does this distinction matter?  How much of a role does the technical aspect play when tracing such historical trajectories of networks?

Jagoda cites The Game and other forms of media.  Recently Netflix has streamef specials with Darren Brown, who through an elaborate setup of actors, plotlines, and production sets up unknowing participants to engage in a game without their knowledge.  Notably he uses actors to coherence the participants to push an actor off a roof, or in another episode, convinces a Trump supporter to take a bullet for an undocumented man being harassed by a racist motorcyle gang.

Obviously, many have questioned the ethics behind such deceptive forms of entertainment, but where do we draw the line in today’s age?  Is it possible to do so objectively?

Sat, November 17 2018 » Future Cinema

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