Dickensian links_ Passage from Interface culture

‘As the word suggests a link is a way of drawing connections between things, a way of forging semantic relationships. In the terminology of linguistics, the link plays a conjunctive role, binding together disparate ideas in digital prose. This seems self-evident enough, and yet for some reason the critical response to hypertext prose has always fixated on the dissociative powers of the link. In the world of hypertext fiction, the emphasis on fragmentation has its merits. But as a general interface convention, the link should be usually understood as a synthetic device, a tool that brings multifarious elements together into some kind or orderly unit. In this respect, the most compelling cultural analogy for the hypertext webs of today’s interfaces turns out to be not the splintered universe of channel surfing, but rather the damp fog-shrouded streets of Victorian London, and the mysterious resemblances of Charles Dickens. “Links of association” was actually a favourite phrase of Dickens. It plays a major role in the narrative of ‘Great Expectations – arguably his most intricately plotted work, and the most widely read of his ‘mature’ novels. For Dickens the link usually takes the form of a passing resemblance, half glimpsed and then forgotten. Throughout his oeuvre, the characters stumble across the faces of strangers and perceive some stray likeness, something felt but impossible to place. These moments are scattered through the novels like hauntings, like half memories, and it’s the ethereal quality that brings them very close to the subjective haze of modernism and the stream of consciousness.’ Interface Culture, Steven Johnson _ pg 111-112

Consuming images of the self

front-cover10‘Photographic images provide us with the proof of our existence without which we would find it difficult even to reconstruct a personal history, Bourguse families in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Sontag points out, posed for portraits in order to proclaim the families status, where as today the family album of photographs verifies the individuals existence; it’s documentary record of his record development from infancy onwards provides him with the only evidence of his life that he recognizes as altogether valid. Among the ‘many narcissistic uses’ that Sontag attributes to the camera ‘self servalence’ ranks among the most important, not only because it provides the technical means of ceaseless self scrutiny, but because it renders the sense of self hood dependant upon the consumption of images of the self, at the same time calling into question the reality of the external world’

Pg 48
The Culture of Narcissism
Christopher Lasch

W W Norton & Co Ltd; New edition edition (15 Jan 1979)

La Jette – Chris Marker

This is one of my favourite short films, it seems to get better each time I watch it.
Anyway one of the things that impresses me about La Jette, is that I find  new ways to interpret the film every time I watch it.
This makes for a quick and easy blog entry, since I don’t have to spend ages writing up a long winded de -construction, because if I did so I would just want to change almost everything later on.
The thing that is interesting about this work in relation to my previous entry about Martin Arnold is the notion of consciousness folding in upon itself, the narrative tells the story of a consciousness that implodes, leaving just images, not images but a mechanical residue of past moments and distant places, questions about perception and questions about history and questions about mechanical devices regulating experience and experience regulating consciousness and consciousness being a mechanical device and thus a loop of sorts, (not sure whos regulating the mechanical devices) in which a boy can witness his own death and someone can live and die in the past and in the future simulatanously. (this film will make you wish you were stoned even if you’re not). Anyway Don’t want to write to much about La-Jette, because I enjoy the enigmatic feel of it and don’t want to challenge this. Chris Marker is a very interesting charechter also, and equally if not more enigmatic than this film, (it has been remarked that he is a time traveller from the future perhaps) anyway doing some research on him at the moment (or trying to, doesn’t seem to be many sources). If anyone reads this and can direct me towards anything about or by Chris Marker I would be grateful, I have one book on him called ‘Remembering the Future’ and the only other work of his I can find is Sans Solei, which is also fantastic, though very different, maybe another blog later about this later.

Martin Arnold

Martin Arnold uses repetition as a device to convey multiple ideas and meanings across his work.Some of his pieces are driven by a desire to interrogate the construct and to challenge the grammar and mechanics of Hollywood film making. Others (such as the example here) seem to function as a means of bringing the subtext and the unconscious driving forces behind the situations and narratives in to the foreground. Generally however both of these interests are present and interrelated in the work of Martin Arnold.

His work is fundamentally a commentary on the mechanisation of urban living, and also an exploration of domestic space and the political/sexual tensions that charge and shape the material environment and of interpersonal relations within the ‘family unit’.

His work is of relevance to my present studies because of my interest in ‘cut and paste’ and ‘feedback’ .

‘Consider Pièce Touchée: a fifteen-minute recollection
of eighteen seconds; a man who appears as a father
(a kind of symbolic patriarch), struggles to pass
through a door, enter a living room, and kiss the assumed
mother. It is a child’s view, a primal movie scene
and an umbilicus to the imaginary. The insignificance
of the view is undermined by its fixation. The seemingly
innocent act that forms the nucleus of the scene-a
kiss-is reworked in the spectator’s imaginary into a
series of violent gestures and assaults.
Regarding the displacement of the scene from its
larger context or flow, Arnold confesses his indulgence
in the sampled fragment or excerpt. Passing the original
material of The Human Jungle through a computerdriven
analytic projector that could both decrease and
accelerate the time of projection, Arnold became fixed
on individual moments within the film. “At a projection
speed of four frames per second the event was
thrilling; every minimal movement was transformed into
a small concussion.”26 Those concussions, or traumas,
are a feature of Arnold’s own memories of a childhood
immersed in Hollywood: “In my childhood,” he writes,
“Hollywood’s love and crime stories instilled in me
great expectations of adulthood. I absolutely wanted to
be a part of that exciting world. When I grew up, I was
tremendously disappointed.”.’

Akira M. Lippit
Martin Arnold«s Memory Machine. In: Afterimage.
The Journal of Media Arts and Cultural Criticism. Vol 24 No.6, Rochester, NY 1997, S. 8 – 10

This exert refers to the significance of memory within the work Pièce Touchée (embedded within this post)

Why I think this work has been compared to a memory process is because of the way that time and space are transfigured by memory, in perhaps a similar to way to how the preexisting footage is re-worked by Arnolds’ process’s which re-member the footage.

The result is a kind of implosion, the impressions embed themselves in the present and refuse to filter through into memory, and a kind of feedback ensues whereby the past and the present become entangled and the machine that regulates experience gets jammed. I find it quite useful to think of this work as a kind cinematic feedback, based on the principle of sonic feedback, whereby a loop is created between input and output. In the films of Martin Arnold a similar kind of loop is created between sensation and memory.