robertogreco + self-surveillance   1

Close Reading — Real Life
"In transitioning ambient intimacy from one mode to the other, it turns out that our desires are more ambient in text and more intimate when visual. Even among the rather ordinary set of people I follow on Instagram, there is an undercurrent of the erotic more immediate and obvious than on places like Twitter. An ambient sense of social desire is something else when it is visual; we aim to be seen, and are thus asked to be seen in certain ways. And if the camera asks you to be seen, it also offers a chance to determine how you are seen and by whom, this new insistence on the scopophilic turned back against the viewer. I have watched people I know who long seemed to avoid being looked at settle into a new idea of who they are: The ego, once pinched, releases and expands from the center to the skin, a kind of warm fluid of confidence, a body now radiating a newly-minted sense of self-possession. A watchful eye once avoided is reclaimed, welcomed, relished — and so of course, the connective tissue of our communication came to include the image of the body.

There is a tension in this, though. It is hard to separate visual culture from economies of various sorts, from systems of circulation and exchange. The demand to place yourself into the swirl of images comes with certain rules. These are the boundaries of our particular modal shift. One can, for example, embrace body acceptance, can challenge regimes of corporeal domination, but it helps to do so symmetrically, in fashionable clothing, against well-lit backgrounds, engaging in the logic of the rectangular image, augmenting one form of desire with another. When intimacy is a thing to be as much seen as felt, one must, if not contort oneself, at least turn one’s life to the camera. The lens is like a supportive mother believing she is simply doing the right thing: “Be who you are, dear, but at least make yourself presentable.”

Yet there is warmth in the feed of images, too: a steady cavalcade of tiny, precious detail, a gentle flood of affection for both others and ourselves. For the lonely, sitting by themselves in quiet rooms and apartments, it represents an emergent social field, a kind of extra-bodily space in which one communes. The modal shift of ambient intimacy from text to the image is itself a minor analog of the broader one, from mass media to the network, from the body to its holographic pairing. There is in it surveillance and self-surveillance, the insistent saturation of capital down to our most private core. In its most ideal state, the collection of stories on otherwise faceless platforms is like an auditorium of holograms, a community of bodily projections. In those rare moments, one does not find oneself simply alone in the dark and cold, barely lit by a glowing phone. Instead, if only for a fraction of time, it is a field of light made full by incandescent strands of connection, staving off a colourless abyss, an intimate ambience that is — temporarily at least — just enough."
ambientintimacy  socialmedi  twitter  instagram  clivethompson  2017  socialmedia  intimacy  capitalism  capital  loneliness  smartphones  bodies  presentationofself  communication  media  news  photography  imagery  imagessurveillance  self-surveillance  economics  body 
october 2017 by robertogreco

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