Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Wed. Sec, Windows and Light

Thomas Keenan’s Windows: of Vulnerability has some parallels between Liz Canner’s art she presented to class. Namely, when Keenan discusses “humans,” and the windows they “need.” He says “Humans…first of all are seeing beings, seeing ahead, from their heads, and their actions are human to the extent that they derive and follow from what they see” (126). This stance is what makes Liz Canner’s project Symphony of a City possible, as a human’s entire day is relayed through sight, by wearing a camera and microphone at the eye level. And yet it is still bound by the frame, when being projected.

The most difficult passage for me was 3.3 on page 124, beginning with “This house is a risk, not simply at the empirical risk so easily thematized and exploited by the film.” The basis of the house as an eye, “risks the more violent opening of the distinction between inside and outside, private and public, self and other, on which the house of the human is built,” ending with “But the exposure to risk offers us in turn the chance to think about the light in the eye, about the window in all its forms as an event or a gift of light—the chance of a blink, the twilight of an eye” (125). The ability to wear a camera and allow others to see your life most definitely breaks down the barrier between public and private, illustrated by such a personal habit as brushing one’s teeth, all of the sudden becomes public, in the sense that people can see it, but also that it’s projected right next to others doing the same thing (it’s not a private custom, if it’s socially dictated that we should do it). Keenan seems to be saying then that with the case of the house the window is now a two-way window, in which one looks in and out, which relates to this “gift of light.”

This concept seems to be so rooted in the concept of film and photography, which is nothing but creating images through exposure to light. But Keenan is moving this forward, and it seems that television, the “window to the world” should be associated with the windows he feels are on the way out. The “gift” then, is the gift of letting light in, but if this is extrapolated to digital media, it seems that the physical concept of light is not so much important in the new media. He mentions “autosurveillance” (128) and “the public” (135), which seems to render “light” more as a metaphor, a platform for the article, than a genuine entity to discuss.

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