Pasi Väliaho (Goldsmiths College): Rhythms of the Console Screen

Event date: 29 October 2011 
King’s Anatomy Theatre & Museum, 
6th Floor, King’s Building
King’s College London, 
Strand Campus, 
London, WC2R 2LS



Rhythm and Event

Pasi Väliaho (Goldsmiths College):
Rhythms of the Console Screen
A generic description of a couple of seconds of playing a first-person shooter such as Call of Duty: Black Ops on PlayStation®3 in one’s living room might go as follows: “I crouch down and hide myself behind the wall, lean to my left to get a better view of the situation; feeling a bullet hitting my shoulder unaware where it came from, I panic, jump up and start to fire.” Television and computer screens have today become occupied by a multiplicity of pre-verbal visual-kinetic images that literally make us move by evoking fundamental feelings of arousal and kinaesthesia at the heart of self-experience. At the same time, these “sub-representational” images tap into the brain’s plasticity to predict and adapt to new situations by producing what neuroscientists call fixed action patterns. This article develops the notions of rhythmic agency and gesture (from Latin gerere, to behave, to act) in light of these developments in contemporary visual culture. The purpose of this article is two-fold. First, drawing from neuroscience and psychology, it addresses the evocative power of the console screen to pattern motor actions and the proprioceptive organization of selfhood. Secondly, it discusses the mechanisms of repetition, reiteration and standardization of gestures that the console screen thus implements in plotting agency in the neoliberal era. In this context, the concept of rhythm will be used in critically analyzing how the screen apparatus captures the embodied agent into ever-expanding circuits of consumption and virtualized war. Furthermore, it will assist in conceptualizing the type of preemptive “onto-power” (Massumi) that can be seen as shaping screen subjectivities today.Pasi Väliaho teaches and writes on theory and history of film and screen media. He has a PhD in Media Studies from the University of Turku, Finland, and is Lecturer in Film and Screen Studies at Department of Media & Communications, Goldsmiths, University of London


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