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The curse of the body is that it habituates, and every signal from outside our senses already starts the cycle of its own attenuation. The brighter the insight, the quicker our pupils contract. Novelty and complexity do not make a media effective. Rather, it is our habits, a collection of well-used conventions, processes whose rudiments and presuppositions are well mastered by readers and spectators, that the effectiveness of a representation is ensured.

The new media, whatever its complexity and technical capability, i. In the meantime, the effect of presence it is said to impose is a myth — albeit a myth we should analyze closely. These myths claim cyberspace as the end of history, the end of distance and the end of politics. This is of course a utopia as neither history, nor geography nor politics disappear into the pixel screen of cyberspace; on the other hand it is true that the latter does transform the manner in which history, geography, and politics are practiced.

It modifies the ways users think these aspects of their lives. These myths oscillate between the dream of a perfect projection and the inevitable distortions of human enterprise. Myth simplifies to the extreme, while at the same time, it reveals. It renders present what would otherwise remain taboo or implicit. It provides a tool for understanding. Mosco studies them to show their foundations as well as their inevitable limits. Following his example, I wish to explore this myth of presence that digital brings to life. First, I will examine how digital fulfills certain promises of the myth, thereby ensuring it a certain credibility, and secondly, I will focus on its deconstruction to show its share of illusions.

To do this I will use a hypermedia work hosted on incident. This work creates a very subtle effect of presence, which sustains the myth, while never completely achieving it.

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However, it is perhaps a good idea to start with a closer look at presence itself, and the conditions for its manifestation. The Anatomy of Presence How does something reveal itself to us? Georges Didi-Huberman uses the example of dust suspended in air: In the ray that falls on the ground, from a window up above, the dust seems to show us the ideal existence of a light that is purified of the objects it illumines: This is nothing more than a fiction as the object has not been purified; it is there, and it is the dust itself.

But it is a tangible fiction, or almost; ineffable, while still quite palpable. The dust suspended in the air allows us to grasp an elusive moment where a presence is revealed. Much like the aura that attaches itself to the works of Walter Benjamin, it is neither the dust nor the light, but the subtle and ephemeral relationship between the two that creates the effect of this presence. It is the contact between the light and the dust, a light segmented by the frame of a window and the dust suspended in the perfectly still air of a room, that allows something to appear.

There can be no presence without a backdrop of absence. There can be no appearance if at first there was nothing. Presence does not, in any way, imply permanence; it does however imply dynamism. An inanimate body is not present; it is at the limit of disappearing. It hides in front of our eyes. The effect of presence can only be understood from discontinuity, an interruption, or an imbalance. It can only be really seen at the point of junction between appearance and disappearance. In logical terms, presence is what follows appearance, and what precedes disappearance.

It is bounded by absence, time frames that can be constructed either in a mode of anticipation — that which is not there, but expected — or in a mode of recall — that which is in fact no longer there, and whose absence is being felt. Presence is structured like the present, an interval of unstable time circumscribed by a future and a past, whose tensions provide its form and extension.

Presence is therefore circumscribed by two events, appearance and disappearance, the two time frames of absence that one after the other, appear and disappear. Moreover, if one of these two events no longer happens, presence ceases. If there is no appearance, it is the very limit of presence that is not achieved, unless we open the experience of presence to include mystic revelation, to the real presence of God for example, which requires no appearance for a presence to be established. In the same manner, there can be no recognition of presence if there is no disappearance.

Permanency does not ensure the recognition of presence: Permanency must be threatened or presence fades from consciousness; presence cannot remain static or inert. The effect of presence is tributary to disturbances, events that ensure, even if negatively, a dynamism. This clearly suggests the effect is a cognitive event. Presence can only exist for a subject who feels the effect. A wound, or a provocative image, make their presence known by imposing on the senses. This reaction can come from a natural phenomenon — the wound or the ray of light — or any other mechanism, a representation, for example.

In this case, presence appears as the illusion of a figure that emerges and seems real, even if it is only artificial. It is an experience that seems real when in fact it is the result of several processes. To create such an illusion, where a figure emerges from nothing, a representation — and more specifically a digital representation — it is essential to respect three limits, which are equally illusory.

These are immediacy or transparency, singularity and interactivity. The first illusion, immediacy, is the impression that a figure is offered without any mediation, that the processes are completely enmeshed in the representation. Immediacy implies transparency, a balance between the expectations of the spectator and the possibilities of the medium. This suspension of mediation affects the experience of time and space.

In the immediacy of the effect of presence, the figure offers experience its own determinations, which enter into phase with those of the spectator. The two space-times thereby converge to create a mixed territory where the near and far co-exist, the virtual and the real, the before and after. This is the land of illusion, where every paradox is permitted. Transparency requires an equilibrium that can only be attained if and when conventions are already shared, if and when the expectations of the spectator are structured as a function of the capacities of the media.

A referential illusion, no matter what form it takes, relies on a set of predispositions and habits that ensure its effectiveness. If there is no experience of spectatorship, there is no way to correctly interpret the signs. As Richard Powers suggested earlier, all mediation implies a complex interface that requires competency, an established set of interpretants. Any possible illusion is forfeited before it can even appear.

The habits of spectatorship are necessarily anchored in a practice that confirms action and gives experience both its opacity and meaning. However, these habits rely on predispositions that modulate the overall sphere. These predispositions are shared by the ensemble of the implicated interpretative community. Consequently, the desire for transparency and immediacy are at the very heart of the current developments in computer technology and manifests itself as the contemporary actualization of a quest started long ago, the quest to reproduce as faithfully as possible the original non-mediated experience of the world.

Transparency is the primary criterion used to propose interfaces that actualize design. Transparency is the barometer of all things. The second illusion, singularity, suggests the situation of spectatorship is unique: Here, the figure is perceived as fragile and precarious. It can at any moment disappear, which accentuates the effect of its presence. Singularity can only appear if transparency, or the effect of immediacy of the figure, is maintained. Obviously, the interactivity of digital strengthens this effect of singularity as it gives the spectator the impression of a real connection between her or his actions and the world represented.

However, singularity stems from the overall impact of the work itself, its ability to grab the spectator and bring her or him to fully participate in the representation. Both literature and film have, over time, developed strategies to facilitate our adhesion to the universe they propose. One of the properties of narrative structure is to grab the reader or spectator intellectually and emotionally through the creation of an intrigue, by giving her or him the impression of actively participating in the story and its reconstruction.

We can readily see how the interactivity of digital would accentuate this effect of singularity. Interactivity, the third illusion, provides the spectator with the sense that he or she has a real possibility of interacting with the figure, and can, if so desired, make it react to her or his own commands. Interactivity is the most accomplished form of appropriation. The subject is no longer content to project his or her intentions and desires onto the figure; the subject moves the figure to act as a consequence of his or her intentions and desires.

The figure espouses the intentions of the subject, and renders them in its own universe. Digital, more than any other media, has succeeded in developing forms of interactivity that ensure presence its most dramatic effects. This interactivity is not some mere fantasy or trick of the imagination: This is as close as I could get to your original text. It is important here to distinguish between two levels of interactivity: For this second level of interactivity to be effective, the first level of interactivity must disappear; the processes from which it originates must dissolve to give way to the semiotic universe projected.

In terms of the media itself, interactivity relates to the properties of the computer allowing a user to manipulate it, to set off actions, video sequences or the opening of other components or programs. At the semiotic level, interactivity is the fictional counterpart to this first property; it is the projection of various manipulations into a world of representation and their translation into action and events in that world.

The illusion of interactivity appears at the disappearance of the mediation the media interactivity provides. This oversight by the spectator implies a transitivity, which effectively allows the manipulations of the computer machine to be subjugated to the illusion. A direct relation between the desires of the spectator and the actions the figures present on the screen emerges. It is this second level interactivity that grounds the myth of presence, this illusion of a real experience that digital provides us.

The process is incredibly simple, at least in appearance. The browser window is entirely black, except for a rectangle at its center, an embedded window in sepia, where we can plainly see a woman laid out on a sheet. She is photographed using a three quarter mid shot; we can only see the upper part of her body, her trunk, her head and her arms. She is sleeping on her stomach and her face is hidden from us. The image itself is extremely stark. The backdrop wall is non-descript, no distinctive signs, no accessory is present that might allow us to date the scene.

We are confronted with a minimal representation: And we can know nothing more. The only information available is revealed by a line of text beneath the window of the image. Here it is our own space-time determinations that are presented. We in fact see, written in red on black, the exact time our of our visit to the site, as well as the day, the date and the year.

The usual cursor of most browsers transforms into a very small square, which seems to be inspired from computer programs used to transform images. The immobility of the woman is interrupted when suddenly, with the use of our cursor, we click on her neck or any other part of her anatomy. The sleeper awakens, slightly, and moves.

The inanimate is alive. Like a jinn we can discretely disturb her sleep, making her move, stretch an arm or turn onto her stomach. With the click of a finger, we can make her lift herself up on her forearms before falling back to sleep. The movements are usually irregular and it requires a bit of time before we master it, but there is no doubt, it is our displacements of the mouse that animate her; it is our gestures that make her turn in her bed. But is she really sleeping?

Does she know we are the ones inciting her to move, as if we were tickling her? Her vulnerability — her sleep is in our hands — makes her all the more desirable. And the absence of space-time determinations Where is she? Where does she come from? We re-territorialize the scene, projecting onto this world our own information.

This time is our own, this space is the one we wish it to be, thereby accentuating our adhesion to the representation. The effect of presence is ensured by this interactivity that links our desires with her movements. If the limits of the digital processes are quickly attained, the impression left by the discovery of the work confirms the initial effectiveness of the produced illusion. The interactivity accentuates the effect of immediacy, which ensures the transparency of the representation.

The movements that mutually correspond ours and hers reinforce the experience of singularity. The illusion, like all forms of playing with appearances, is precarious and quickly fades on closer examination. However, before exploring its limits, we should pay close attention to the force of this process and how it participates in the myth of cyberspace as being able to transcend representation. From the outset, the title of the work itself sets the groundwork for this mythification. It is what the first man on earth sees, what he can record with his digital camera.

Obviously if this webcam belongs to Adam, this sleeping woman can be none other than Eve, the very first woman. But what exactly is the nature of this gaze? Is it innocent or immoral? Obviously its nature depends on the moment and the type of relationship. It is innocent if Eve is sleeping in the earthly Paradise; it is much less so if it occurs after the banishment, after she has tasted, and therefore us included, the forbidden fruit of knowledge between good and evil.

Everything tends to indicate the couple has long left the garden. She is not simply sleeping, she is offering herself to be seen, to be desired. Her nudity is an invitation to voyeurism. If she remains essentially innocent, our gaze directed toward her is not. It has been constructed, and is therefore devoid of any saving grace.

Whatever the final verdict may be, the symbolism of this primordial relationship is impossible to escape: The window opens onto a myth of origins. The work uses this imaginary to hyper emphasize the singularity of its experience, its transcendent characteristic, and thereby enhances the effectiveness of the effect of presence. It is after all only logical these two imaginaries complement each other: The end and the origin share the same space, mirror each other, because they are the two salient points of a single moment of transition, a liminal space where what is disappearing is relay to what is appearing.

They are times of crisis which impose their own specific temporal and eventness logic. These time periods are favorable to apparitions, marvels and wonders, like inanimate objects coming to life by the click of our mouse. The signs play an essential role; they herald the truth to come. The marvel of a woman who reacts to our desires, despite the distance the screen of a computer imposes, is reinforced by the fact that it is the first woman.

This relationship we are establishing between her and us is potentially the start of a new world, a new reality. Our union is at the origin of a hybrid world, between the biological and the digital. If, as we mentioned earlier, this time is our own, it is transformed by our contact with the sleeping woman: It also expresses an important poetic function, as defined by Roman Jakobson.

This kind of paronomasia draws attention to its own composition, a reflexivity that is at the heart of the poetic function. However, this works against the wish to create an illusion of presence, which requires the media become transparent and disappear to enhance the immediacy of the object represented.

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The paronomasia leads us back directly, just like the quasi-homonym that we eventually discern once our attention drifts to the composition of the syntax instead of its meaning. The pronunciation is almost identical; only an incredibly attentive ear will pick up the camera from the ruse, the cam from the scam. The alliteration of the fricatives is lost in the tension between the nasal and occlusive.

It exploits all its possibilities while at the same time, it undermines its very processes. The interactivity, whose seductive appeal played such an important role in our initial adhesion, is quickly revealed as a simulacrum. The woman, who will never reveal her face, remains insensible to our presence. If the unveiling or the anticipated awakening ensured the dynamism of our relationship and fed an illusion of a real interactivity, their indefinite postponement reveals their illusory character. The interactivity is undone, and with it the singularity of the experience and the effect of immediacy of the representation.

This is not, after all, anything more than a machination, a representation whose effectiveness can no longer allow us to believe in the absence of any mediation. It is now the gaze of nostalgia that we slowly adopt for a relationship lost for ever, despite appearances to the contrary. Eve does nothing more than turn her back to us; she continues to sleep and live in her world, a world of thought we no longer have access to as we are separated by this computer screen. Eve is nothing more than a montage of code; we are clearly out of Eden, forever banished from Paradise where communication with the other was ideal, and is now revealed as impossible.

The immediacy and the presence of this other were nothing more than simulacra, the result of media mechanics. More importantly, these media mechanics have a long history. They eloquently speak of this desire to give life, to see forms of life appear where they were least expected. If the figure of the sleeping woman takes its source from the Bible and other literary myths, the actual mechanics are a direct echo of a long celebrated cinematographic sequence. Everything is static and yet, at the same time, the magic of cinema combines with an incredible intrigue, which allows us to animate this universe, to give it a breath of life.

This life is none other than our own. As the film progresses we forget these are fixed images, following one after the other, just like a reader of a novel forgets she or he is simply reading words. Meanwhile, more than half way through the film, a miracle occurs. The woman, who the man meets and seduces, is shown sleeping in a close up shot. She sleeps and the images begin to blend with each other. She dreams, and the scenes become superimposed. Suddenly, too suddenly for us to anticipate it, she opens her eyes.

A filmed sequence barely a few seconds in length is inserted into these fixed images and the appearance happens: The woman opens her eyes and the effects of presence are magnified. She is there, alive and palpably real. The unexpected has occurred. Something appears, and then almost immediately disappears, as if gripped by time, and this within a short interval between two times of absence, the future and the past, and a presence impresses itself on our minds. The time interval is brief, it only lasts a few seconds. The film resolutely returns to the initial slide show presentation of fixed images.

However, the impact is stupendous. It has created a simulacrum of presence. And it creates it with an exceedingly simple technique: Inserted in a limited technological background, the filmed sequence appears as genius, even though it is quite common. She stays there, silent and asleep, subjected to movements initiated by a fascinated spectator, but always present. The continuous presence of the image helps deconstruct the effect of presence that the interactivity helped create, as if some limit had not been respected. Eve becomes once again a simple image, and the myth regains its normal dimensions.

The comparison with the La Jette by Marker clearly confirms that the effectiveness of a representation is indeed completely unrelated to the complexity of the processes used to create it. In what context does the comprehension of this work transpire? It transpires in a cyberspace where bodies and nudes progressively impose their reign. Pornography, as we know, is one of the most important motors of Internet development.

Literally, millions of sites propose bodies in any imaginable position: We can, in fact, choose between being a witness or a spy. Two modes are presented, the first passive, the second active. The terms of engagement are predefined: All we can do is choose our attitude: Whichever one we choose, Eve is always naked and vulnerable, always sleeping and desirable, always distant, if only because she is hidden behind a mountain of code.

This is the heart of the project: This site is a virtual gallery of hypermedia art works. It provides information and space for artistic creation. In this particular exhibition, thirty works are presented where nudity is treated in different yet innovative ways, whether it be with humor, tragedy, esthetics, or politics.

Its processes are therefore inscribed in a space dedicated to nudity, and different representations of the body. And it expresses the nature of the gambit quite well. She does not face us, having nothing to cover herself in her purity; she turns in part her back to us, hiding her face, as if she did in fact have something to hide. The body, naked and pure, has nothing erotic about it: However, the body slightly covered or a covered body, incites itself to be uncovered, and therefore, creates an affirmation of desire and the need for an effect of presence.

The fall, in Biblical terms, is a prelude to desire. Eve alone, amongst all women, has experienced these two states. The first, Eden, is marked by a body without sign or taboo, a neutral body, the same as every other living body in Paradise. In the second state, human, the body is distinguishable. It is a body no longer pure, a body constructed by culture. It is covered, transformed, paired and especially, sexualized. Sometimes, we may well believe it is only that. It is an ancient paradox that the naked body disappears from sight, while the covered body can never stop showing itself.

Nothing ensures an act of presence more than the appearance of a sexualized body, that is, a body whose nudity is no longer a natural state: The effects of presence felt through the initial interactivity rely on the relative nudity of Eve, on the possibility that she might completely turn around so that we could see her face and her body, her breasts, and everything that has been undressed. As soon as we start moving our cursor over her body, trying to make her act, to wake her up or to show herself, we are voyeurs, hoping for the moment where the hidden will be revealed, as if the whole meaning of the work depended on this revelation.

The effectiveness of these processes lies in the dynamic created by every hermeneutical enquiry. The anticipation of the moment of return — in its literal and narrative sense here! By manipulating the mouse, we never really know if we will discover what needs to be done for her to show herself completely, and thereby answer our desire.

The work also fully exploits the principle of voyeurism. It hyper accentuates the function. For this reason the work is not only on incident. The work has transmuted. On the homepage of the portal webcamworld. Every available image is not necessarily pornographic, as this portal provides access to webcams throughout the world, classified by continent.

Nonetheless, the vast majority of the sites listed do propose explicit images. Eve is lost in a mass of bodies. She is also inscribed in a global offering that has no artistic intent. And this is no accident. Her presence here is quite deliberate: Infiltration In the domain of web art, artists have often used different strategies of infiltration, playing with the institutional limits of their work. The critical use of the codes for pornography for example, is a prime example of these types of strategies, which blur the limits between art and non-art.

Their success relies on two essential elements: It is a move to leave the art world to meander through the world of erotic webcams. By listing itself on webcamworld. By mingling with this mass of webcams, by rendering Eve anonymous, Loghman is attempting to pass the ultimate test: Is the experience she offers comparable to that of the others? The answer is clear: With an erotic webcam there is no secondary level of interactivity. The woman is in fact present at the screen, linked to a computer by a sophisticated protocol of communication a digital camera, a telephone connection, a network of information distribution, etc.

She has her own intentionality; she is not simply a fictional counterpart of the spectator. She can answer questions and accept to do what we ask her, but she is first and foremost alive and not controlled by the commands of a computer. Unlike Eve, she is not sleeping, her face is not hidden; on the contrary, her face is visible, as well as the rest of her more often than not. This is no longer interactivity. It is no longer representation, it is communication.

We are no longer confronted with a work, but with life. The mediation does not disappear, it is hyper accentuated. The effect of presence is neutralized because there is in fact, quite simply, presence. Other effects can appear, but presence imposes itself as reality, and this in itself subsumes all processes used to simulate its existence.

The interactivity, in its secondary and semiotized form, is the quality that identifies the effectiveness of a representation to imitate an interaction. It disappears when interaction takes up it rightful place. For a figure to be present and impose itself on our mind, for its effects of presence to be noteworthy, we need an absence, not a banal presence less and less meaningful. A figure is a complex sign that, like all signs, takes the place of an object whose absence it actualizes, while giving the illusion of its presence. However, this presence is symbolic. It is a construction of the imagination.

The Eve of Sebastien Loghman is a figure. There is no woman behind the code or the linked screen that gives her form and ensures her a presence — there is only a representation, a set of signs. This Eve is a figure that allows herself to be desired. She asks us to invest in our desire to manipulate, i. The fact that she does not stop being on our screen, refuses to leave the realm of dreams that is hers, provides her with a great potential for meaning.

Nothing is more present than that which makes itself desired. It is the law of the imagination to abhor emptiness. And she has the fragility of those figures where almost anything can make her disappear. It only requires that the process of representation encounters some error a damaged film, an interrupted communication or a computer virus for her presence to end, and the event of her appearance is cast into the category of a simple memory. The effects of presence are fragile, just like the figures that best represent their results.

The processes do not guarantee the results hoped for, and their results dissipate rapidly.


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But their effect is incredible, and remains at the heart of our continuing fascination with all sorts of representation, from the more traditional literature to the more resolutely modern digital. A fascination for these figures, these beings of thought that mime, in the theatre of the imaginary, our own desires and needs. All the while, as I have tried to show, this fascination does not depend on the technical means or processes used, even if new ones allow us to renew the game. Rather, it is the capacity of the forms projected to carry elements of signification, or, more generally speaking, meaning itself.

It relies on the narratives we create, and the myths in which we are ready to believe. The Role of the Body What role does the body have in this myth of presence that digital makes possible for us? What happens to the nude when the body can be industrially cloned and when nanotechnologies infiltrate the meat on our bones? What is the relationship between generalized nudity and this other form of being naked that awaits us with the experience of esthetic?

It brought it to the screen, it has slowly undressed it, and has exposed it in all its aspects, even the most private and secret. It has ravished and marked it, it has abused its limits and it has transformed it, some desired some horrible, and yet in every instant it has remained a spectacle. The body is our singular reality.

It is, for some, the incarnation of consciousness. For others, it is the ultimate limit that we cannot shed despite contemporary fictions to the contrary. It was the last frontier: Eroticism signals the appearance of these things hidden for so long, with effects of presence of an incredible effectiveness. If an author like William Gass could lament the paucity of vocabulary for the body and its sexuality, insisting on the fact that there were more words to designate types of birds than there were to describe sexual relations , the end of the last century has taken his reprimand quite seriously and has multiplied its representations.

In fact, the body has become an imposed subject. It is no longer hidden; on the contrary, we never cease exhibiting it, playing with its ability to capture our attention the moment its presence is most fragile. Showing the body is to inscribe its unveiling as an event. Its playing the game of appearing and disappearing, of presence and absence, of a gaze that is always surprised to see naked what society has clothed to protect it, even in its most vulgar moments. We know the techniques and processes have multiplied, have transformed the body into a privileged subject, a witness to the upheavals the media and society in its entirety have known.

The increasing importance given to the image, fixed and animated, have hyper accentuated an increasingly more explicit representation of the body. Digital and cyberspace have done nothing to attenuate this relationship. On the contrary, the reign of the image and the gaze has been inscribed in a new mutation: And banality is becoming the primary mode of comprehension. The effects of presence are attenuated. Meanwhile, the ever increasing banality of the sexualized body opens two distinct and yet opposite developments, clearly evident in our modernity: In the context of this polarization, the sleeping Eve by Sebastien Loghman marks an incredible time-out.

She reminds us of the simple truth that the reign of the image has helped us forget in its logic of showing: His Eve is a woman that resists us despite her vulnerability. And we desire her the more because she is inaccessible. What is she dreaming of? In what labyrinth of thought does she wander? Is she trying to return to Eden, from where was she banished? The window of the computer that opens onto her lair appears as a perfect equilibrium between presence and absence, between what is offered and what is refused.

And it is in this tension that nudity becomes an esthetic experience. A woman dreams and we muse. We cannot deny it: Texts and Cyberspace General field: Rien de plus, mais aussi rien de moins. Dans quel contexte est-il lu? En termes de lecture cependant, la page ne cache rien. Comment rendre compte de cette part dans la lecture? Translation - English Texts and Hypertexts: Reading in Cyberspace Bertrand Gervais Literary studies, UQAM As the vibrant new field of electronic textuality flexes its muscle, it is becoming overwhelmingly clear that we can no longer afford to ignore the material basis of literary production.

Materiality of the artifact can no longer be positioned as a subspecialty within literary studies; it must be central, for without it we have little hope of forging a robust and nuanced account of how literature is changing under the impact of information technologies. Katherine Hayles, Writing Machines. Cambridge, MIT Press, , p. Does a literary text retain the same status on the Internet? What type of materiality are we dealing with? What forms of reading, what forms of knowledge? We are confronted with increasingly different forms of texts produced with the aid of a computer.

More often than not, these texts exist only on the Internet. They are often animated, filled with sounds and images, accessible through a network, related to one another by hyperlinks, inscribed in complex environments that ultimately transform the experience we have of them. How do we manipulate texts that seem to be in a fluid state, that constantly shift; how do we understand them, interpret them?

Literary exploration abounds on the Internet. Two examples will show both their diversity and their complexity. Most of these pages carry instructions that cause the browser to refresh the active window with a new page after 30 seconds. In this Flash based hypermedia work created in , we are bombarded with words in both French and English, which move toward us. The screen is black, the words are in white, the background music is electronic.

Can we read this text, or are we consigned to simply appreciate its iconic features? Is it a text or a figure? What type of reading experience are we proposed in Hegirascope and 2translation? How do we talk about it? Must we discuss the software used? Must we indicate the colors of the windows, as the words go by?

In Hegirascope, they change from one page to another. In 2translation, the Macromedia Fash player uses our own intergrated microphone and camera to change the tone of the screen from black to various shades of grey. Evidently, we require a new vocabulary to talk about this new textual reality. It is not a text. Various terms are put forward — browsing, surfing, navigating especially in French — , that appear to encapsulate the experience of acquiring knowledge on the Internet.

The marine metaphor seems somehow apt to describe the exploration of cyberspace, perhaps, because it does actualize its spatial dimension. Navigating, browsing and surfing are words that contribute to the overall aspect of this sphere of communication: It is a space whose limits and determinations are electronic, not human: Regardless of the term chosen, to browse, to surf or to navigate the web, reading is always involved. Exploring cyberspace is a text-based activity.

If we do not recognize it as a form of reading it is because we tend to forget that texts play a major role on the Internet, and we misconstrue what reading is. Reading is not a single, constant act, the same every time — it is a complex practice bringing into play a large number of variables, which determine its forms and functions. As an activity, reading brings into play relationships between manipulation, comprehension and interpretation — gestures that complement each other in our progression through texts, regardless of their particularities or their supports Gervais, In this sense, to browse, to surf, or to navigate is to be reading because, and quite simply, our eyes are registering written words and texts.

In the following pages I want to describe some of the constraints on the act of reading in an era of hypertextuality. I will start by proposing a definition of what a text is, one capable of embracing the various forms it can take; I will then describe the current context of our reading practices.

This will enable me to identify the major difficulties we face while reading new textual forms. A Mythical Cyberspace The computer and the Internet radically change our relationship with texts, the methods of their production and our ways of reading. But do we know the real capabilities of the instrument we use with such increasing frequency? The computer is no longer simply a tool — it is a medium. It is providing us with a set of new media forms and genres, just as printing, the cinema, radio, and television have done before. Are they in fact infinite?

The most pervasive beliefs about cyberspace and the computer revolution revolve around the unlimited capabilities of digitalization to provide an ideal representation of the world, and its ability to autonomously produce texts. The setting of his short story lies at the frontier of the possible, playing on the indeterminate status of texts in cyberspace.

On the first of the year , the most inauspicious of dates, Richard Powers, author, narrator and character of this story, tells us how he received an intriguing email. A man he knows nothing about, called Bart, proposes nothing less than the alpha version of an incredible program, designed to automatically produce fictions, i. Concretely speaking, the program Dialogos produces actants i.

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To start Dialogos, you merely open the downloaded program, whose interface is similar to other email programs Outlook, Eudora, Entourage , write to anyone you want — your dead father, a childhood friend or even Emma Bovary — and hit send, with no need to include a precise address. Dialogos does a search and answers the email as if it came from Emma or your own dead father, maintaining the fiction of these characters through a dialogue with the sender.

Richard Powers, at first incredulous, sends his first letter to Bart. Emma, or what passes for her, quickly responds, providing details about her last film and current projects. Powers immerses himself in the game. He writes back to her and they exchange a number of letters. Emma, this actant without body or life, plays her role exceptionally through the letters, personifying with ease the British actress. To further test the machine, which is performing beyond all expectations to the point of suggesting some form of trickery, Powers decides to send out a bunch of letters, three dozen in fact: In less than an hour, the responses start appearing on his screen: Few of the notes came close to passing the Turing Test for intelligent equivalence.

But more of them amused me than even my unrepentant, strong-AI inner child could have hoped. He also keeps in touch with Charlotte, Albert and Goethe. And the expected occurs. But not without first convincing the narrator of the incredible autonomy of the program, of its capacity to generate completely independent fictions, fictions that produce their own story, a narration narrating itself and inventing its own program, thereby creating its own reality.

But how does such a generator of fictions and stories work? How could a machine slide into the skin of historical or fictional characters and succeed in convincing even the most skeptical author? It does so, in part, by becoming a structuralist, capable of transforming stories into narrative programs, and characters into functions or actants; it also does so in part by being connected to this vast ensemble of data and knowledge called the Internet. As Bart explains, his team has created a machine language capable of dealing with databases, the most unstructured of texts.

We are living in an age of digitalization and electric texts de Kerckhove , and as Powers would add, an era of incredible alienation that forces us to take our hopes and dreams for reality. However, in doing so, it is the frontiers of the present that are muddled, affecting every other time frame in the process; it is the very limits of consciousness that are dissolving, in an ever dilating present, an unawareness without limits. What is the status of an author in this universe of simulacra?

What forms of reading are we engaging in with cyberspace, and its primary expression, hypertextuality? Dialogos is a fiction: Roland Barthes would roll over in his grave! The death of the author was never more than a theoretical principle, a symbolic death that should allow, or so Barthes suggests, the emergence of the reader; more specifically, the beginning of theories about texts and their reading. Dialogos transforms this symbolic death into an actual disappearance, leaving even the function of scribe, an automation.

No one is at the origin of the signs that are read. If the symbolic death of the author encouraged a figure of the reader to emerge, the complete elimination of the author leaves the reader an orphan, or a slave who has no one left to oppose, or in an even more apocalyptic scenario, becomes completely obsolete. Powers, the narrator, learns this the hard way in the short story: The very person who initiated the exchange of messages has become useless and obsolete. The story tells itself. And turning off the computer changes nothing — the story is happening in cyberspace, this limitrophe non-human space propelled by its own dynamic.

What texts are we reading? Leaving Dialogos and the myth of an omnipotent cyberspace, lets get back to our initial question: This requires of course we initially understand what constitutes a text? We have seen, in literary theory, a wide variety of responses to this question. One of the more widely accepted stances proposes that whatever can be interpreted or perceived as a totality is a text, whether this be the flight patterns of bees or human interactions. The more restrictive definitions have focused on writing in a natural language.

A text is what you have before your eyes right now. But does this writing require a coherent totality, is it composed uniquely in a natural language excluding any schema, illustration, figure or diagram? Let us define a text, in its broadest possible view, as an organized ensemble of signifying elements for a given community. This definition delimits the status of the text by relating it to a set of conventions already set and established by an interpretive community, i.

A text is what such a community decides it to be. With this premise in mind, it is possible to add a further definition, narrower in its scope: As a being of language Charles What such a set can be is open to discussion and can be specified whichever way seems fit. The important part of the definition is the presence of speech acts, recognized as such and interpreted as constituting an enunciation. A being of language can only exist if it is actualized in a given situation. It requires a sender, evidently, but also and more importantly a receiver, a reader in this case, who will actualize in his own context and by way of his own experiences its form and content.

A text, in this definition, does not exist alone, but only within its relation to a reader. It exists through the act of reading. A text is what we make it to be; and its legitimacy is a function of what we provide it through our diverse experiences and institutions. The third aspect of this definition is the essential presence of a medium, the material support by which a text is transmitted.

And it is only by questioning this aspect of our textual experiences that we can investigate the concrete modalities by which a text is read, and the impact new media and forms of texts can have on our reading practices. Does it make a difference, in terms of reading, if a text is transmitted through a computer screen instead of a printed page?

What does the presence of fixed or animated images change in our readings habits?

La vie littéraire. Première série by Anatole France

What is the current cultural context of our reading experiences? To answer this last question, we can say that the current diversity of our reading experiences is inscribed in a cultural and technological context that is fundamentally new; in fact, we could qualify it as a cultural hyperextension Gervais This specific context corresponds to our screen culture, in contradistinction to the more traditional book culture and manuscript culture.

This screen culture is marked by the heterogeneity of texts read through a variety of genres and media. It is a context of hyperconsumption of cultural goods, which the terms browsing, surfing or even navigating especially evoke. The tendency is towards acceleration. Texts are read rapidly and with little investment; moreover, and with few exceptions, they are quickly left behind after the initial encounter.

These texts often do not partake of any pre-established canon, they are selected with few a priori motivations. We read what comes up on our screen, through the simple click of a finger. The shift from one medium the page to another the linked screen is not without its consequences on our relationship with texts. For instance, it substantially modifies our relation with linearity.

In hypertextuality, linearity is no longer a limit or a constraint, a basic quality that literature often tried try to escape, it has become an added feature. A hypertext is a non linear text composed of nodes connected together by hyperlinks. It is not just written, it is programmed. The electrified text flows in any direction it wants, establishing links independently from its user.

In this context, linearity is a quality that we try to recuperate in order to maintain, among other things, the possibility of telling a story, which still requires a certain form of linearity. Cultural hyperextension favors displacement towards the periphery of a culture, towards translations, combinations of genres and forms, the introduction of new technologies and new modes of communication. We can easily say that screen culture is overdetermined by its linked screens.

The technological dimension, if it is so prevalent, is only one factor amongst many indicating a major cultural transformation. In fact, if such a transformation is possible, it is because two major tendencies converge, each amplifying the other. The first corresponds to the apparition of new technologies for storing and transmitting text and is marked by the apparition of cyberspace and its specific textuality. The second is related to modifications in the very structure of cultural relationships and the way identity is defined.

For instance, both identity and cultural relationships are progressively moving from a logic of tradition to a logic of translation. This transition favors a shift from relationships expressing ties with a cultural centre, ensuring permanence and value, to relationships expressing ties with the periphery and exchanges between cultures. Tradition as a cultural principle, implies a certain stability, e. Translation as a cultural principle implies accelerated transformations, the multiplication of ties that provide an ever shifting identity. As Yuri Lotman has shown , tradition does not exclude outside influences, translation or exchange — however its tendency to re-appropriate them is paramount.

As an identity principle, translation places its emphasis on de-appropriation, with an a priori for the other. The movement is centrifugal — not centripetal. Internet participates in the decentralizing of cultural exchanges — short-circuiting a number of social, cultural and symbolic institutions by proposing a network that allows individuals to be connected to the world while never leaving their linked screen, and to participate in virtual communities grounded on speech acts, not cultural position.

However, the increasing liberty of the individual, who can easily publish texts and have them read by whomever is interested, is paid for by a certain precariousness of the texts themselves. Internet escapes traditional modes and mechanisms for the institutionalization of texts. Nothing guarantees the authority, or even the authenticity of what is said on the Web. Nothing guarantees the seriousness or the quality of a circulating text. If a text is a being of language commanding authority Charles , the Internet text is still under construction.

This context of cultural hyperextension and linked screens is a consequence of the convergence of two transformations: This is one of the most prolific production in recent cinema, and is extremely relevant for the discussion about the functioning of myths in contemporary visual culture. Mixing characters taken from Perrault, like Puss in Boots, with Rumpelstiltskin, an antagonist borrowed from the Brothers Grim, with witches and humans as equally evil participants, Shrek puts a spin on the traditional fairy tales, making amalgamation its central axis.

As noted before, Shrek is the typi- cal postmodern story, where the melange of fairy tales is based on a reversal of iden- tities — an Orcus is a god of the underworld, who is usually killed by the hero, not the other way around. Elements from several classical narratives are appropriated for the benefit of a new production, in an indistinctive mixture of com- posing parts.

Shrek, who is clearly an anti-hero, since he lives as a marginal and has no friends, is accompanied by a mule, Donkey. His universe is populated be numer- ous fairy tale characters, which most of the times have nothing to do one with anoth- er. Such is the coexistence of Pinocchio and the Big Bad Wolf, of Farquaad, the invent- ed antagonist, with Gingy the Gingerbread Man, who later fights in gladiator-like bat- tles.

In the sec- ond Shrek, she makes half donkey babies, dronkeys with flying abilities. Nothing is im- mutable in the logic of amalgamation. This is the case with Fiona, the Ossian ogre who is mixed with elements from Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty, has traits from Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Breauty and Rapunzel, yet she is coexists as friends with all of them, including the transvestite Doris, the Ugly Stepsister.

This mingling of identities is even more explicit in Shrek the Third, when, by the magical intervention of a absent minded Merlin, Puss in Boots and Donkey are inter-changed. No identity is stable in this new mythology; Prince Charming and his mother, the Fairy Godmother, are ruthless social climbers; King Arthur is simply Artie, a Pendragon who does not want to be a hero; Rumpelstiltskin becomes an expression of an extortionist and of a dictator, sharing similarities with Lord Farquaad. Puss in Boots, who also appeared in one of the earliest Disney pro- duction, is later transformed in the third movie, as the fat Puss, the duelist who has become obese and lazy behaving like a decrepit Marlon Brando.

And since Shrek take place in Far Faraway, a parodical reference to Hollywood, almost all the myths and characters of the contemporary cinema productions are re-appropriated, in a to- tal transformation of identities, where the boundaries of fiction are moving beyond metafiction, into a total cross-referencing. Shrek brings together elements from al- most all the Disney productions, it gives way to parodic re-appropriations of movies like The Princess Bride and Robin Hood, it criticizes Hollywood practices and nar- rative structures, becoming the ultimate expression of the contemporary myth-illog- ical practices.

Selected Essays on Mass Culture, ed. London, Routledge, , first ed. Evolution of an Image, London, Penguin, , first ed. Les Letters nouvelles, Marvel superheroes and everyday faith, Chalice Press, Capitalism and schizophrenia, trans. Ferrell, Literature and film as modern mythology, Westport, Praeger, Hull, Princeton, Princeton University Press, Hall and Mardia J. It looks at one particular case study of British to American cross-cultural exchange: The Lady Vanishes and Flightplan. When equipped with the knowledge of the source text, however, we can see that most of the conflicts present in the earlier work resurface in the update.

Dowling and Billy Ray, claim to have written an original script. This indicates that the similarities between the two films are not accidental but could rather serve as reference-points. Many also point to the links between Flightplan and other titles, e. Finally, a short mash-up video on youtube. This should not be surprising as the Hollywood film industry has always sampled ideas, attempting to capitalise on the success of earlier works. The practice is as old as the film industry itself. The coming of sound, for instance, in- spired the studios to film their more popular pictures again [ What is new, howe- ver, is their visibility made possible thanks to the unprecedented access to digital film material and a vibrant online culture.

The digital era may or may not have revolutionised cinema, but it has definitely revolutionised the extent to which viewers disseminate information. Reinventing Cinema means that viewers are now often better in- formed when writing about films than professional critics. They too are able to judge, compare and tell others if they spot any hidden remaking practices as the case of The Lady Vanishes and Flightplan clearly shows. Remakes are also more visible thanks to the academic scrutiny they have enjoy- ed in recent years.

There have been numerous publications dedicated to the study of Hollywood remakes of foreign films: Still, the linguistically and culturally complex issue of American remakes of British films has not received adequate attention. Most im- portantly, such remakes turn out to be a particularly fertile and rewarding ground on which to examine British to American cross-cultural exchange, transformations wit- hin the film industry and the way they are reflected on the screen.

It addresses the important role of remakes in film culture and their vital function in reflecting socie- tal and cultural transformations on the screen and beyond. It attempts to look for rea- sons why particular texts are revisited at particular times and to what extent one can continue to talk about hidden remaking practices in the digital era. Finally, it tries to answer if Hollywood has made any attempt to address the problem of race, gender, religion or class-based preconceptions in the modern era of political correctness.

The Lady Vanishes derives from at least two sources. With Flightplan, the problem of remaking is more complex for a number of reasons. First of all, the screen- writers of Flightplan, Peter A. Dowling and Billy Ray, claim to have written an origi- nal script. Furthermore, one could ar- gue against the link between The Lady Vanishes and Flightplan on the grounds of their respective genres: When Iris wakes up from a nap, she discovers that the lady has vanished without a trace. All the passengers claim that they have never seen the old woman and that Iris must have imagined her.

Despite constant rebukes, she con- tinues her search and is given a helping hand by a young man called Gilbert. When their attempts prove futile, she begins to succumb to the idea that the whole thing was just a figment of her imagination or a result of concussion caused by a flowerpot that fell on her head just before she boarded the train. This boosts her confidence in her sanity and at the same time confirms her suspicion that the passengers are lying and must hence be part of a conspiracy.

When she wakes up from a nap, she discovers that her child is missing. Worse still, when she begins her desper- ate search, she is confronted by passengers and an unremitting flight crew who claim that they have never seen the girl and that she was never even on board the plane. They persuade her that she is mentally unstable and delusional and that her hallucina- tions are caused by the recent death of her husband and child. Despite significant alterations in the script: Additionally, the authors of the script appear to include a veiled tribute to The Lady Vanishes.

Furthermore, in both films, the vehicles are delayed due to unexpected heavy snow, which creates narrative as well as visual doubling. Thus, it is no surprise that the film becomes a jovial satire on his countrymen by playing with nu- merous stereotypes of Englishness as represented here by mostly two social classes: Their contempt for local cultures, languages and sensitivities is so out of place and incongruent with their circumstances that it makes for most of the comedy in the film.

For instance, both men are so much into cricket that they pretend never to have seen the old lady fearing that they may miss the match in Manchester if Iris stops the train. They are also annoyed to find out that not all foreigners speak English and that abroad things do not run exactly the same way as they do at home. To provide a variant to representatives of well-to-do classes, Hitchcock also shows local peasants from an unnamed Balkan country who appear to spend most of their time folk dancing and playing traditional instruments.

Still, to challenge that stereo- typical image of the happiness of simple rural life, it appears that some of them are dancing on demand, forced to perform their folk rituals for the pleasure of Gilbert, who collects rural songs — a hobby worth admiring for its importance in preserving folk art for posterity, but at the same time a possible comment on class division and class relations. Iris, whose telling name reveals her detective-like function, instigates the search for the lady and is prepared to go to all measures, and even risk her own life, in the pursuit of the truth.

Being the daughter of a wealthy manufacturer, she is about to marry a bankrupt aristocrat to help him balance the books and enable her father to climb the social ladder. At the end, she chooses to marry Gilbert, thus refusing to be a pawn in this traditional English transaction. Her stubbornness, courage, persistence as well as her re- fusal to be subjugated to the male version of the story according to which her hyste- ria is unfounded and typically feminine contradict the conventional representation of gender and could be seen as indicative of changes taking place in pre-war Britain.

The old lady herself is another playful joke based on stereotypes. Although for most of the film we presume her to be an innocent sweet governess who always trav- els with her own favourite tea as an obvious sign of English peculiarities, pickiness and fondness of the beverage, at the end we discover that she is in fact an agent un- der cover.

Thus, this apparently benign sweet old granny who carries an important message about a secret pact between two European countries that could shape the course of history is a James Bond in a skirt — or rather a comedic prototype for anoth- er Englishwoman defying gender stereotypes, M, played by Judi Dench in the James Bond franchise from When looking at other nationalities in the film, it soon becomes obvious that The Lady Vanishes is a clever political allegory. There is an evil neurosurgeon, Dr Hartz of Prague, who speaks with a German accent and is the mastermind behind the plot, and a couple of Italians, a magician and a baroness married to the Minister of Propaganda — both implicated in the kidnapping.

Their complete refusal to join in the search for Miss Froy or to even admit that they have actually seen her has been interpreted as a comment on the Chamberlain Era with Britain turning a blind eye to the progressively dangerous political situation in Europe. Still, although critical of the English at first, towards the end of the film Hitchcock has almost all of them, including Charters and Caldigott, reunite in the fight with the oppressors.

The English opposition is greatly outnumbered and significantly consists of three men and three women. At first glance it appears that the issues of class, nationality and gender seem to play a minor role in Flightplan whose primary concern appears to be entertainment. Contrary to expectations, when equipped with the knowledge of the earlier work, we can see that most of the conflicts resurface in the update although for obvious reasons they take on a new form and meaning. First of all, whereas the issue of class divisions does not apply in the American re- make, there are nevertheless clearly-marked divisions based on financial status.

In Flightplan, the lack of cooperation can be read as a bleak comment on society in the new millen- nium where collective responsibility and a sense of community have been replaced by self-interest and individualism. It shows how the representation of women has changed in seventy years and, most importantly, its current status quo in Hollywood. The film is primarily a Jodie Foster star persona vehicle. It is a continuation of her pre- vious roles initiated by her ground-breaking portrayal of FBI agent Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs , the importance of which for feminists and lesbian groups cannot be underestimated.

Since then, playing roles of strong though often victimised women in a male-dominated world, Foster has established herself as a powerful femi- nist icon on screen and an important player in the Hollywood industry: In Flightplan, in contrast to her English lady-like prototype, Kyle does not need a male companion to back her up. Her husband is dead and the pater- nal figures of authority on board — the captain and the Air Martial — are shown as ei- ther weak or corrupt.

Kyle is a propulsion engineer in her 40s with visible wrinkles and no make-up on to hide them from view, presenting what until recently was a very unlikely image of the main lead in an action thriller. The gender ambiguous name, Kyle, was retained. The final product seems an uneasy mix of two stereotypes that do not sit comfortably with each other. On the one hand, we have Kyle with her motherly concern, warmth, gentleness, confusion, and vulnerability associated with the genre of melodrama.

On the other hand, we have a bullet-dodging character whose cunning, physical strength and acrobatics are larger than life and typically associat- ed with the over-the-top and self-reflexive style of Hollywood action flicks with their formulaic one-liners, low-angle shots and slow-motion explosions. When it transpires that they have become unwilling participants in an international military conflict that they do not quite understand, they wish to escape the alien and unfriendly lands and return home to the safety represented in the penultimate sequence and the familiar sight of Victoria station.

Although one of them reacts very passively, the other protests their innocence and is clearly enraged by her accusations. Kyle, howev- er, insists that he be searched and interrogated. Then I guess you have to find a few other Arabs to harass? On the one hand, they could be accused of typical Hollywood racial profiling and po- litical incorrectness as the Hollywood film industry has repeatedly cast Arabs in ste- reotypical roles of either terrorists or sex maniacs, as Jack Shaheen observes in his book Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People As the title of his recent publica- tion indicates, Guilty: Passengers regard non-white ethnic minorities on board with prejudice, suspicion and fear.

According to Butler, the media and government authorise and increase racial hysteria, encouraging individuals to be on a constant look-out for alien elements without specifying what they are and how one could pro- tect oneself from them. When Kyle rescues her daughter from the burning plane, the only passenger to approach her is the Arab she previously mistreat- ed. He picks up her bag, hands it over to her and they make eye contact.

Kyle smiles at him gently. This could be read as a gesture of reconciliation, an expression of sym- pathy and a mutual recognition of what it is like to be misunderstood and unjustly abused. Flightplan, whose story pretends to be about a terrorist attack with a couple of Arabs as all too obvious contenders for the terrorists eventually features a benevolent look- ing, white, middle-class air martial as the main villain of the piece. Instead of protect- ing the plane and its passengers against harm, he is in fact exploiting their fear and manipulates the feeling of panic on board to his own advantage.

His reasons, howev- er, do not seem to be political. They are entirely motivated by greed. Considering the proliferation of other works that critically engaged with the govern- mental policies of the time in a more or less obvious fashion, for instance, Crash , The Deal and Good Night, and Good Luck , it is possible to see Flightplan in a larger context as another such voice. Thus, remakes not only show the potential of earlier works to generate new versions but also, by introducing changes, become a comment on societal and cultural transformations.

They are part of a vibrant online culture whose collective intelligence and competence are a sign of modern times. In the case of Flightplan, the producers want to have their cake and eat it. Not having obtained the rights to the earlier film, they brand their product an original work.

Yet, by inclu- ding all too obvious references to The Lady Vanishes, they have ensured that Flightplan enters a more interesting critical discourse by profiting from its remake-of-the-classic status with critics and audiences in the know relishing in this feminist and political Hitchcock re-write. Looking at user comments on imdb. On the one hand, we have viewers entertained by this action-pa- cked movie or enraged by its convoluted plot; on the other hand, we have those who see it as a rewarding update of a known classic and those for whom it is little more than a poor Hitchcock imitation.

Publication Berkeley; Los Angeles; London: University of California Press, The Powers of Mourning and Violence. London and New York: Make It Again, Sam: A Survey of Movie Remakes. Actresses in s British Cinema. Justine Ashby and Andrew Higson. A Theory of Adaptation. New York and London: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York University Press, The Making of Flightplan. Touchstone Pictures, Imagine Entertainment, How Hollywood Vilifies a People.

Olive Branch Press, Movies in the Age of Media Convergence. Rutgers University Press, Dogville de Lars von Trier. Il importe de remarquer que: La croissance du mythe est donc continue, par opposition avec sa structure qui reste discontinue. Grace et Tom vont-ils se marier et avoir beaucoup d'enfants? Ils se posent sans doute une autre question: Grace se venge alors des villageois en les exterminant. Hospitality is both proposed and imposed by normative and prescriptive dis- courses that seek to be obeyed as laws of hospitality: Jason - Je sais pourquoi tu ne me prends plus jamais sur tes genoux.

Grace — Oh, allons. The embodied Eye takes us to the disembodied Cinema-Eye, the machinery that copies and stores the images in motion. In the present essay, I analyze the aesthetic, cultural and technological dimensions of the dialectical move from perception to recording, from vision to visuality, from the organic to the technologic function represented by the transformation of the Eye into the Cinema-Eye.

I conclude that within the communication society, the camera brings forth a new identity for the body, thus becoming an indispensable attachment, a sort of safe backup for the images that are responsible for our state of mind and emotions. Cinema-Eye, camera, images in motion, cinema, visual perception, light. The act of looking le regard is what defines the intentionality and the purpose of sight, of vision Sight becomes possible by means of optical, chemical and sen- sory phenomena.

The look into the set up and the functioning of the visual organ starts with a number of theories and experiments that link the physical traits of the light to the anatomy of the eye.

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The data produced as a result of said experiments is later on integrated to the study of the relationship between visual stimulus and con- sequent behaviour, a study that would reveal information otherwise unperceivable about the specifics of the visual process. Moreover, the integration of this kind of data to research on communication has helped prove such hypothesis. The analytical theory of sight focuses on studying the nature of visual stimuli and on the ways light will enhance their functions.

Visual perception forms as a result of the input of electromagnetic waves of a certain spectre to the decoding system de- scribed above for example, the intensity of the waves will facilitate the perception of colour. In order for the information to actually turn into a projection on the retina, it needs the support of other sources, so that to allow a precise positioning in space of all objects. Thus, the combining processes and the read- ing algorithms rely on a series of external associated variables, such as the memory, the eye movements, previous experience, prejudice and expectations.

Even though, physically speaking, the stimuli are situated with- in a large area, the eye, by means of its biological characteristics, is able to discern dif- ferent intensities and amplitudes of the wave lengths that define said stimuli the per- ception of the intensity of light or the perception of colours.

The eye as a dark room eye, due to the concave form of the retina, where the im- age of the object will form. All devices that preserve and render images in motion rely on this principle of copying the reality into a similar rep- resentation to the one our memory engraves on our consciousness by means of visu- al mechanisms. The technical progress of today, the universal democratization of all devices used to take pictures are the result of an on-going process to update and op- timize of the search to capture, preserve and reproduce visual information the im- mortalization of the moment , the attempt to recompose movement creating the illu- sion of real movement and the transmission and receiving of audio-visual informa- tion from a distance.

This search has begun during ancient years and had as starting point an austere dark room. The dark room, mechanically copying the structure of the Eye the sense organ, translating visual signs and perceptions against our consciousness was the first essential step towards explaining the way the human being relates to the surrounding universe. At the beginning, the image the mechanical Eye managed to reproduce was ephemeral — it was only possible inside the darkness of the room and would immedi- ately go away, similar to the image reflected against mirrors.

History documents a long series of small contributions to the microscopical fight of photo-chemical processes or in the field of optical and physical phenomena, until a real breakthrough is achieved, the redoubt of the ephemeral overthrown and the in- stant immortalized. On the first photography reality was very simply rendered: The Magical Lantern — the first pro- jector of static images, images initially drawn on Image 2.

The lantern was just a simple curiosity but, for the first time, it created the illusion of real movement by moving a series of fixed images. A series of scientists, engineers, physicists, psychologists, physicians or chemists will contribute to the optimization of the prototype and, in such, to the transforma- tion of the magical lantern a toy, by all accounts into a device where people could see other people or themselves as real as they could in a mirror, in motion and overthrow- ing the complex of the ephemeral. Thus, the cinema came into being — a rudimentary device that managed to miraculously reproduce the spectacle of life; a live mirror, a real one, in a performance both multipliable and repeatable of the surrounding world.

At the beginning of the 20th century, this particular stage of getting to immortalize the instant will overlap with the discovery of the electrical current and with the pos- sibility of broadcasting sound waves at a distance. The radio broadcast comes into be- ing and, later, some of the first innovations in television — in the form of prototype sys- tems that were considered to be visual rep- licas of the radio broadcast.

Using the same protocol used by the radio broadcast , peo- ple try to broadcast at a distance not only the sound waves but also images. The first Television Set was a complicated machin- ery that transformed images into dots pix- els ; the dots, as essential components of the image, were thus turned into an easi- ly broadcasted content, by means of a very sinuous process of decomposing and re- Image 3.

The Baird television set prototype composing of the whole. Wunenburger The shock of being confronted with the repeatable mirror image was extended from each individual to a mass scale with the coming into being of filmed mirror images. The collective consciousness was beginning to perceive something never experienced before: Improvements in the quality of the broadcast followed, larger screens, signals broad- casted at greater distances and, most significantly, the unification of all telecommuni- cation systems electronics, informational techniques and audio-visual media into the technical branch.

This assumption could be sustained by the resemblance between the camera and the eye. For instance, the camera lens is made up of a system of lenses and optical media same as the human eye. The eye and the lens are one and the same thing; they both have a similar struc- Image 4. The analogy between ture and similar functionalities. The lens is, in fact, the Eye and the Camera an artificial eye.

Within the mechanical eye of the filming camera, the yellow spot is substitut- ed by the same type of machinery that turns optical information into electromagnet- ic impulses. Similar to this, the image turned into electromagnetic impulses, will travel bio-physi- cal networks, from the sensory unit to the stocking and processing unit, be it a human eye or the machinery of a camera.

The reality of the image comes from the equivalency between things and their representation within the brain that turns signals into signs. When Dziga Vertov considered to be the forefather of the documenta- ry as an objective rendering of reality met with the camera, he launched the Kinoglaz manifesto, where Image 5. I am the Cinema-Eye. I take the strongest and most skilful hands of one individual; the best fitted legs from another one; a third individual is going to provide me with the most beautiful and most expressive face; with the help of editing I am able to create a new person, a perfect individ- ual.


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I am the Cinema-Eye, I am the mechanical eye. Now and forever, I can free myself of the human immobility and set myself in a continuous motion, get close to the objects around, go further away, crawl under them or climb them. Within the communication society the camera becomes an indispensable attachment, a safe backup for all the images that are responsible for our state of mind and emotions. Thus, the mechanical eye opens new estheti- cal horizons, by pushing towards the extreme the limitations of the visual field the fish eye lens. In accordance to make and model, the storing of the audio-visual information is done on a certain kind of support.

With the first cameras, this was the celluloid film impregnated with photo-sensitive emulsion; as science evolved, there appeared the possibility to store the information on a magnetic board the video camera ; nowadays, with the digital video cameras, the information is stored on digital systems disks, memory units. According to its features, the camera can also accommodate this kind of adjustment, either through a manual tune-up or, as in the case of the human eye, automatically.

It is well known that for each camera the correct rendering of clarity the focus can be obtained by adjusting the focal distance; that will then place the focus in the spot where the optical sensor is placed. Older cameras only allowed a manual adjustment that left the accuracy of this setting that the eye performs instinctually, into the hands of the person that was handling the device. We adapt our sight unconsciously, in accordance with the distance to the stimuli, within our visual field.

In the case of professional cameras this feature is missing, as the focus of the image needs to be discerned and controlled technically and esthetically by the professional handling the device. When the intensity of the light varies, the iris will open up or close down, thus constantly regulating the quantity of light that reaches the retina. Same thing happens in the case of the camera.

The diaphragm that adjusts the volume of the light flow is built similar to the iris. Depending on the make and model of the camera, this function can also be performed automatically or manually. In the case of the human eye, the adjustment of the light flow is done, as for the regulation of the focal distance, automatically; we only become aware of it in case of disease, when the function is disturbed. This particular instance of blindness was documented as early as Plato, in his dialogue that was the foundation of the Cave myth.

University of California Press, 3. New horizons in psychology. A History of Modern Communication. Before being addressed from a historiographical standpoint, the biog- raphy of the recently concluded communist period was subjectively filtered and tele- vised. After more than a decade during which memory had become repetitive and, at times, had sanctioned lynch law, it was time for an alterna- tive filter of identitarian representation. Exeunt the auto biographical pact, enter the fictional pact. The Screen of Transition A new generation of fiction writers and directors who had barely come of age un- der communism made the transition from biography to story.

However, while the tes- timonial stage had been marked by the oppressive memory of those who had expe- rienced the traumas of the past, the narrative stage was bound to keep its allegiance to the present. Thus, the perspective enabled by the transition generated a denouncement of the convention or ideological screen whereby communism had been represented, that is, appropriated. The mind-set of the present provides the imagological and narrative backbone of a defunct era: Both chart two exemplary stories about characters whose lives were marked by communism.

This is a mature perspec- tive on communism, from the vantage point of the post-communist transition. It is not by chance that the two representations have been appropriated in the West as identi- tarian versions that are symptomatic2 of the Romanian society as a whole. Recycling and Confronting Ostalgie under the Romanian Transition.

Their story is one of childish naivety set against a backdrop of life im- posed by communism. Lilu, the seven-year old protagonist, has failed to assassinate Ceausescu as planned, and Eva, his sister, who is 10 years older than him, clandestinely emigrated shortly be- fore the end of the communist world. With hindsight, looking back at communism from the angle made available by the transi- tion, it becomes clear, thus, that ideology could be countered not only by flouting it, but also through the triumph of innocence.

As burlesque farces from another world, the stories in Tales from the Golden Age entail, as a first impulse, the recognition of the communist archetypes, followed immediately by identitarian distancing in a humorous vein. Derision essentializes the past and cre- ates distance. This time, however, parody has another func- tion.

Emilia, the protagonist of the novel, is emblematic of the category of n ostalgic cit- izens during the Romanian transition. We are in the s: Emilia, a low-income pensioner, lives in an apartment in the province, with her husband Tucu, as their daughter Alice is away in Canada. Lungu diegetically alternates her memories with diverse moments of the present. The choice is strategic: The book has sparked conflicting reactions.

The rationale behind this type of argument is as fol- lows: Her nostalgia is parodied by repetition, the point of this narrative and ideological game being the denunciation of communism, responsible not only for the mystification of memory, but also for sabo- taging the transition itself: Wheat is not inno- cent: That is why the Soviets, like elder brothers, have decided to help us. Emilia are all those who cannot adapt to the new realities because their make-up was vitiated by communism.

The problem with this interpretation comes from the fact that, still, the novel does not go through with illustrating the overturned socialist-realist scheme. Progressive to the end, she conceives the future as an ingenuous utopia. She would like to restart the metal confections factory where she used to work as a young woman, but she is discouraged by her former co-workers.

She does not adapt, but seeks to adapt the present to the past. Still, it would be questionable, to say at least, if he used his character mere- ly to place himself amongst inveterate anticommunists. At this point, phenomenology becomes just as important as ideology.

The author simply allows his character to man- ifest herself. Among the various memory flashbacks, transcribed by Lungu in various registers — ranging from the sentimental to the burlesque — the protagonist has a self-reflective, almost dialectical moment, which problematizes her concept of communist identity: I mean I might know. Maybe because in the old days, we called communists those who gave fiery speeches during boring, long meetings.

Those who stuck to the party line without seeing left and right, without a care for people and with- out understanding the particular situations. For us, it was not the party members who were communists, but the politricks and the zealots. I did not regret those guys. Now the communists were the ones who had lied, who had taken by force, put people in prison, tortured them, and so on. What kind of a com- munist was I?

But if those were the communists, did it mean that I wanted com- munism without the communists? If not, did I still want communism? Can you be one without wanting to be one? Therefore, her communist nostalgia seems to have no object. Instead, it does have content. While la- bels are misleading, what she experienced in her life remains: But Emilia finds it dif- ficult to rank herself amongst the communists, for she contributed nothing to this sys- tem, she was only the beneficiary of a polity that gave her a reasonably decent urban life.

This di- mension of her discourse is not, indeed, alien to the novel. Rhetorically non-homoge- neous, the flux of her memory frequently has melancholic-argumentative overtones. As a victim of the transition, Emilia makes a swift, pragmatic reckoning and deems that she used to live a better life under communism. A diminished, but safe existence is preferable, in her view, to an uncertain transition, dominated by poverty. Thus, Dan Lungu maintains both stakes of the story. The film spawned an interesting polemical debate4 be- tween two generations of intellectuals regarding the way in which the Romanian soci- ety should relate to its communist legacy.

Before analysing the arguments sparked by the film, it should be noted that the director Stere Gulea and the script co-writers Lucian Dan Teodorovici and Vera Ion substantially changed the story of the source text, and this requires a conceptual clarification of the idea of fidelity in film adaptation. The degradation of film as a medium is indirectly supported by the constant ap- peal to the idea of mimetic fidelity. The maximum that the cinema can do is to visu- ally illustrate the narrative with accuracy.

Fidelity turns thus from a correlative prin- ciple into an axiological criterion. On the other hand, the acknowledgment of infidelity as an essential principle in an- alysing the relationship between novels and films coincides with a kind of return of the repressed in adaptation studies. Recent approaches Leitch ; Westbrook , in- formed by respect for the cinema as a medium, do not exclude fidelity — for denying it would suspend the relevance of the comparison — but turns it from a valorising mech- anism into a hermeneutic barometer. The idea would be that there is no point lament- ing the lack of fidelity of a film in relation to a novel, but that one should question and seek to explain the stakes of the infidelity and the purposes of the adaptation.

As long as the meaning is not exclusive- ly embedded in the source text, but in the process of adaptation, infidelity can also be- come significant in a hermeneutic sense. The argument set forth by the professor from the University of Delaware unravels three constants distributed in a causal manifestation. The first — transgression — is in- scribed in the very nature of the marital contract as the latency of infidelity.

The sec- ond — re-narrativization — marks the consequence of the breach of contract by one of the spouses, a consequence that leads to an amendment of the contract. Finally, the third — which is two-headed: But this symmetry of axiological opposites — condemnation vs. Should it be faithful to the source text or should it be free and imaginative? In other words, which prevails? The criterion of precedence or the criterion of innovation? The categorical an- swer given by an entire tradition of adaptation studies is as predictable as it is paradox- ical: Therefore, axiological symme- try remains, as it were, a simulacrum, since the axiological verdict rests on the side of fidelity.

The justification of such a discriminatory situation, Leitch be- lieves, derives from the fact that the hermeneutics of adaptation has built and consol- idated its discourse mimicry by predicating it on the concept of artistic mimesis, de- rived from Plato and Aristotle, which is an essentially ethical concept. The romantic conception whereby art is a product of the imagination failed to impose itself precise- ly because it lacked the ethical weight. Therefore, as regards the reception of adapta- tions, the rigidity of the contract has stifled the latent tension of transgression.

When the latter manifests itself, according to this reductive view, a rule is violated, a text does not open. Leitch fails, however, to mention yet another paradox. This concept of the — albeit conservative — fidelity of adaptation has manifested itself, after all, since modernism. On the other hand, modernism is no lon- ger mimetic either: Benefiting fully from infidelity — by denying tradition — modernity undermined its ethics by approaching the idea of adaptation a field marked, in fact, by the dia- lectic tension between fidelity and infidelity through the rigid filter of a slanted aes- theticism.

However, in the terms of Umberto Eco, if fidelity prudently outlines the interpretation limits of an adaptation, infidelity provides the fertile grounds for a work opening out and lending itself to adaptation. The title of a book announcing the triumph of subjectivity in the Romanian literary criticism of the s — Infidel Readings Manolescu — seems symptomatic not only as a methodological op- tion in the study of adaptation, but also for the textual relationship that it establish- es.

He takes the breach of contract to its ut- most consequences, even postulating his separation from it the break-up , which he understands as a condition of its re appropriation. The term Gulea uses is not at all an innocent one in adaptation theory. Julie Sanders has used to make a broader dis- tinction, functional in the field of intertextuality and rewriting: Stere Gulea says more or less the same thing, trying to answer those who accused him of having produced a film that swerves too far away from novel. His plea for a substantial degree of autonomy is quite clear: Will the film, in itself, stand or not?

I think it is inevitable: We understand that she has been speaking to her daughter Alice, who will arrive together with her husband Allan from America in just a few days. The first scene introduces us visually into a warmly lit interior, acquaint- ing us with a socialist domestic space onto which the modesty of the Romanian tran- sition has been superposed. He returns home from his rural farmstead we learn that he was there from the previous phone call. The central theme of communist memory, so striking in the novel, is here replaced by the family theme.

While Lungu had relegated the concrete meeting between the two generations to half a page, reducing it to a conflict over the telephone about the elections, Gulea nar- ratively develops precisely this ellipse of the novel. By exploring the meeting between the two parents and their daughter, accompanied by her husband, the film adapta- tion breaks out of the adaptation frameworks, decidedly entering the unpredictabili- ty of appropriation. The mythologized microhistory from the novel gets atomized, in the film, into several fragmented micro-histories.

Emilia is no longer the sole representative of the Romanian transition. Besides her, there are several other complementary or antag- onistic voices. In this regard, the most powerful scene of the film takes place while the characters are seated at table. This occasions the start of an almost political dispute: Really, Mom, are you going to vote for the communists? So you tell me, who should I vote for? But have you forgotten the meat queues that went all the way around the block? What we got by, our fridge was full of everything.

No one starved to death and people did not die hungry in the street like they do now, people with small children. How could we have heard when we had two hours of TV broadcasting a day. OK, tell me so that I can get it: What was this awesome thing communism did for you? Communism made blocks and gave me an apartment for free to raise my child in it. It built factories, I had a secure job. And capitalism would also have built blocks and factories.

Well, I gave myself away. What can I do? I know I worked honestly and I did not hurt anybody. Communism was an absurd, utopian system. What shall I do now, forget it? The nostalgia of the resigned Emilia, the revolt of the emancipated Alice and the sadness of the discrete Mrs. Stroescu are particularized versions of existential choic- es, which essentialize various layers of mentality during an advanced transition. The fact that these views are polemically shared in a family context suggests the polariza- tion of the perspectives adopted on the totalitarian past at the level of individual bi- ographies.

The past — reactivating nostalgia or, conversely, states of rebellion — seems to be further and further removed: The communist past is no longer actual, but people [ Such a well- argued conclusion would not have been possible if Stere Gulea had not appropriated narrative time too, thereby bringing about yet another fundamental shift in relation to the novel. Very inspired, the director brings the story up to date, lifting it from the confusion of the s into the economic crisis of the years If micro-histories are multiple, macro-history also has a recalibrated dynamics.

The nostal- gia for communism was the negative example, which held the Romanian transition in place. By telling the story of young people who return defeated from the American paradise — as they have lost their jobs and the bank threatens them with foreclosure — Gulea interrogates this myth of the West. While this is obvious to almost any spec- tator, the director proves much more subtle and enjoyable when he presents the au- tochthonization of capitalism.

Explaining the situation to Emilia, the man becomes confused and outraged: What the hell are they waiting for? It depicts a late transition, in which the nostalgia for communism and the revolt against communism, as well as the still il- lusory despair capitalism coexist. However, the film escapes from the competitive log- ic of ideologies, revealing a burdensome naturalness, a sort of reconciled resignation. It is that humaneness that no longer takes the place of any convention, of any persua- sion. An old carpet, which almost covers the windshield, and a green cage stand out in the frame: The camera focus rises gradually, shooting a panoramic overview, from a he- licopter, of the dismantled industrial areas that preserve the ruins of a communist so- ciety, stuck in transition, and conceal the survival of people who have been defeated, but continue to live their lives with dignity.

References to the late transition are made this time through the family theme, and nostalgia is just one of the possibilities of relating to communism. Memory, Longing, and East German Things. Teorie e proposte di lettura. Bagatto Libri, , pp. The Cambridge Companion to Literature on Screen. Cambridge University Press, GDR Bulletin 25 Spring Romanian Cultural Institute, Ainsi que le souligne Linda Hutcheon: