(no)-bodily “presence”

I’ve been doing some reading, and once again I took a look at this text by Vivian Sobchack, The Scene of the Screen, in which she analyzes the photographic, cinematic and electronic “presence” in terms of existential phenomenology. Quite interesting to see how this connects to my work and thoughts lately.

“It is obvious that cinematic and electronic technologies of representation have had enormous impact upon our means of signification during the past century. Less obvious, however, is the similar impact these technologies have had upon the historical particular significance or “sense” we have and make of those temporal and spatial coordinates that radically inform and orient our social, individual, and bodily existences.
(…) Indeed, it is not an exaggeration to claim that none of us can escape daily encounters with the objective phenomena of motion picture, televisual and computer technologies and the networks of communication and texts they produce. Nor is it an extravagance to suggest that, in the most profound, socially pervasive, and yet personal way, these objective encounters transform us as subjects. That is, although relatively novel as “materialities” of human communication, cinematic and electronic media have not only historically symbolized but also historically constituted a radical alteration of the forms of our culture’s previous temporal and spatial consciousness and of our bodily sense of existential “presence” to the world, to ourselves, and to others.”

existential phenomenology

“A philosophical style that emphasizes a certain interpretation of human experience and that, in particular, concerns perception and bodily activity. It attempts to describe, thematize, and interpret the existential and perceptual field in which human being play out a particular and meaningful structure of spatial, temporal, and bodily existence.”

electronic “euphoric” presence

“The electronic, whose materiality and various forms and contents engage its spectators and “users” in a phenomenological structure of sensual and psychological experience that seems to belong to no-body.
Electronic presence randomly dispersed its being across a network, its kinetic gestures describing and lighting on the surface of the screen rather than inscribing it with bodily dimension.”

material and technological crisis of the flesh

“Unlike cinematic representation. electronic representation by its very structure phenomenologically denies the human body its fleshly presence and the world its dimension. However significant and positive its values in some regards, the electronic trivializes the human body. At this historical moment in our particular society and culture, the lived-body is in crisis. Its struggle to assert its gravity, its differential existence and situation, its vulnerability and mortality, its vital and social investment in a concrete life-world inhabited by others is now marked in hysterical and hyperbolic responses to the disembodying effects of electronic presence.”


text from:

The Scene of the Screen: Envisioning Cinematic and Electronic “Presence” by Vivian Sobchack


Friends or Shadows by Nikos Kessanlis


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