The relationship between images and technology has not ceased to be relevant for scholars, thinkers and image operators. Starting from the early essays by Benjamin, Heidegger and Adorno and Horkheimer it clearly emerged that the renewed impact of technologies on image production did not only affect the creative aspects or the experience of the spectator, who is asked to have unprecedented performances and acquire new skills. Through images, modern technology conveys an original vision of the world. If Benjamin speaks of those of cinema and photography as images capable of causing perceptual shocks and of implanting new technical innervations in the subject’s consciousness, Adorno and Horkheimer think of cinema as a cultural industry that expropriates the public of its capacity to make sense of the experience- Instead, Heidegger conceives modernity as the era of the reduction of the world to its image.
At the intersection between theory and practice of the image, we see how different directors-theorists of the avant-gardes have thematized the technical element of cinema: Vertov aims to “capture life in the fact” through the camera and puts forward a “montage of intervals” which strongly depends on the technical character of cinema, which we will find in Pelešian. Moreover, the idea of witnessing the growing technicalization of life forms finds confirmation, not always congruent with Vertov's project, in contemporary German cinema: from Metropolis (Lang) to Berlin. Die Symphonie der Grossstadt (Rutmann). Epstein, for his part, theorizes a connection between perception, the sense organ (the eye) and technique. Ejzenstejn will not address the question from the point of view of perception, but will think of editing as a real process of thought. This connection will not stop questioning intellectuals and philosophers, feeding the idea of a conscience (Bergson, Deleuze), and even of an unconsciousness (Baudry) originally organized as a technical device and always reorganized by it in principle.
These issues developed widely in the second half of the twentieth century and beyond. Several hypotheses were formulated, starting with the most pessimistic: a highly technical experience would prevent the subject of the “third industrial revolution”, from grasping the ongoing catastrophe due to the poverty of his imagination (Anders). The image, primarily that of television, could also be the “artifactual” supplement of historical events (Derrida) – like in Blob – or the “hypomnestic” supplement of memory (Stiegler): the question of digital and virtual archives arouses the interest of theorists and artists (Bookchin). On the side of contemporary cinema, for example in the latest production by Bellocchio and Kiarostami or in Moore’s documentaries, the possibility of devising a new “ethics of form” that puts in charge the task of witnessing digital technologies (Montani) has been found. This is also linked to an intense documentary production (Delbono, Ferrente) in which the experimentation of new devices becomes the pivot on which to reconstruct a narration of reality (Cecchi, Dottorini). Images – through television, photography, documentary and the internet – seem to preside over processes of couplage between users and the technical devices that implement their, individual or collective, presence in a technical infrastructure of transmission and processing of information (Flusser). Harun Farocki's works are exemplary in this sense. This new way of treating the image conceives the world as already prepared to welcome them, being now invaded by supports and screens of all kinds (Carbone). Studies and research in the field are also linked to this trend, which we would define today as “media archeology” (Parrikka, Pinotti-Somaini). In a broader sense, it is a question of tracing the passages that connect one medium to another, together with the legacies of meaning that occurred in these passages. Think of how the development of visualization technologies applied to war is contemporary with the birth of cinema (Virilio) or with the heterogeneous and at times disturbing diffusion of drones in the contemporary landscape (Chamayou). This line has found considerable feedback in both fictional and documentary cinema, from Zero Dark Thirty (Bigelow) and American Sniper (Eastwood), to documentaries by D’Anolfi and Parenti, to name just one example.
In this context, the art world increasingly offers immersive experiences and virtual environments, where the image can be practiced almost as a simulation of reality (Diodato): the result is a very complex remixing of the roles between author, actor and user – just think to Holy Motors by Léo Carax – no longer attributable to the dynamics of the “spectator” (Lischi), but which presupposes the idea of a technical network at the basis of all what makes up the life of an image. Circulation through a network is also linked to the idea of thinking about the creation of images as a production of value to be placed on the market (Szendy), which the recent exhibition Le Supermarché des images (Szendy-Alloa-Ponsa) held at Jeu de Paume of Paris addresed. To the image seen as a network operator (Ardovino), we can also connect recent media theories such as “radical mediation” (Grusin), “mediascape” (Casetti) and more generally as a “media environment” (Montani-Cecchi-Feyles). Here comes the interest of anthropology (La Cecla) for the way in which images and devices make up for real presence and perform an essential affective function. Just think of the recent lockdown and the widespread and specialized use (Zerocalcare among others) of images and sounds, comics, animated drawings, online performances, etc. We are facing a new evolution of “art out of itself” (Balzola-Rosa) placed at the intersection between creativity and technique (Carboni-Montani), of which the narrative museums and in general the works of Studio Azzurro are a case exemplary.
The idea of a “techno-aesthetic” would also describe the sentient life of the individual from the point of view of his technical performance (Simondon): in this horizon, there is space for therapeutic practices of the image (Deligny) that call into play the same status of the medium and the intersubjective and interactive character of its use. This is what happens in experiments between medicine and cinema such as Memofilm (Grosso, Montani). Such techno-aesthetic practice of the image can almost be seen as the technical externalization of a work of the imagination (Velotti) that implements the embodied simulation inherent in our cognitive and emotional processes (Gallese-Guerra) to exploit it or to make a deeper, pre-linguistic level of signification emerges (Montani), as it happens, for example, in the latest films of Godard (Adieu au langage, Livre d’images).
Possible themes of the proposed articles can also address:
- How cinema, starting from the avant-gardes, has thematized the way in which technology has transformed the perception of reality or forms of life;
- The idea that the image carries with it a potential for perceptive shock and is capable of implanting, in perception or consciousness, a new technical innervation;
- The role of technology in making remediation processes between different image formats possible and its contribution to the definition of an intermediate imagination;
- The way in which philosophies and theories have rethought the experience in the light of its modern technical transformations and the impact of images in this reflection;
- The modification of the relationships and dynamics between the author, the public and the actors in the light of the mediation of the technical device;
- The experimentation of new mobile devices and interactive and network technologies, together with their potential for meaning in the field of a story of reality;
- The question of the transformation of the archive and its virtualization as a new ethical, aesthetic and political challenge;
- The intertwining of image production, value production and life forms production;
- The therapeutic uses of technically produced images and their impact in rethinking an ethics or politics of affects.