kac reading: shift in image

According to Kac:

The role of the image, Virilio says, is “to be everywhere, to be reality (19).”
He distinguishes three kinds of logic of images, according to a clear historical development. For Virilio, the formal logic of the image is the one achieved in the eighteenth century with painting, engraving and architecture. In traditional pictorial representation it is the composition of the figure that has primary importance and the flow of time is relatively irrelevant. Time is absolute. The age of the dialectical logic is that of the photograph and of cinematography in the nineteenth century, when the image corresponds to an event in the past, to a differentiated time. At last, the end of the twentieth century with video, computer and satellites is the age of the paradoxical logic, when images are created in real time. This new kind of image gives priority to speed over space, to the virtual over the real, and therefore transforms our notion of reality from something given to a construct. Virilio says that to some extent the lesson of the new technologies is that reality has never been given, it has always been acquired or generated. Our images never really duplicated reality, they always gave it shape. The difference is that previously a functional distinction could still be made on more solid grounds.

How does such a transition in time change the notion of documentary? I noticed some of you mentionning i your manifestos that documentary refers to a past event…. How does that apply to the new image Kac refers to?

One thought on “kac reading: shift in image

  1. Hi Alex,

    These are interesting questions. Transforming our notion of reality from something given to a construct, particularly as it relates to time, is something that I have thought quite a bit about. I think that reality is always a construct, though we may generally agree on the physical parameters of it.

    Reality is from the inside out. You can walk on burning coals without getting burned, or not. It’s a fabulous day, or a miserable one.

    Things are what we THINK or BELIEVE they are, though we certainly have mutual frames of reference to the physical world that help us navigate within it, and language to interact with each other.

    Whether fixed or constructed, our notions of reality usually still presume the commonly experienced notion of time as linear. Speed may take precedence over space as computers and satellites generate images and information in real-time, but it is still based on a sequential notion of time.

    While I can’t follow Einstein’s thinking, I have wondered for a long time about the possibility of time being simultaneous, and that in fact it is only the limitations of human perception and our physical embodiment that constrain us to the notion of linearity. Or physical bodies require it, so we cannot see beyond it.

    I was watching a speaker on the TED talks. She is a neuro-scientist who suffered a stroke on the left side of her brain. Though she didn’t realize for some time what was happening to her, she was able to observe it as a professional scientist.

    She said that when the left, or linear/language-based brain was out of commission, she experienced incredible, euphoric joy and saw the connectedness of everything clearly and profoundly from her right/intuitive/non-linear brain.

    As the stroke affected her, her consciousness kept toggling between these 2 realms. Whenever she switched sides of the brain, the alternative perception of reality completely disappeared. When the right brain took over, she couldn’t speak or read. When the left side kicked back in, she returned to “normal” perceptions and language.

    After a recovery period of several years, she is now fine, and tours, talking about her experience. However, she can now intentionally switch her brain to either mode of perception, right or left brain, at will.

    If this is true, then certainly time might be other than we perceive it, infinitely connected in all “directions”.

    While documentary media attempts to capture and record what is transitional and fleeting, it need not be considered as the past until after the shutter has been pressed. Pressing it faster, or even remotely, doesn’t change that notion of reality and linear time a whole lot. But what if the shutter can be pressed always, infinitely, during the same moment? whoah!

    Would we still even need to press the shutter at all?

    Just a thought . . .

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