Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wednesday 2pm Section

My trip to the Cave left me thinking of caves, and boxes, the geometrical representation of a cave space abstracted to an easily representability, and their intimate connection with regard to the history of Western metaphysics as such. I also think back here to Anne Friedberg's The Virtual Window with respect to the Cave as a system of multiple screened projections. The two ideas are for me intimately connected.

In representing reality, screens and projections have been the medium of such par excellence, dating back to Plato's much-referenced cave metaphor in The Republic in which those he describes consigned to taking shadows on a wall as reality await the freeing (and literal) enlightenment represented by the Philosopher.

Is it at all surprising that despite being dazzled by the technological trip offered by the Cave, I was all the same dissatisfied by its lack of complete verisimilitude? In entering a cave, through a screen, of course, in positing a virtual space achieved through real space via optical tricks and representation, I expect a simulation of reality. I thought to myself how much more engrossing the Cave would be were it to completely engulf us on all sides by screens, literally removing the visual-logical connection with the 'outside'.

All this talk of screens though belies the fact that there is in fact one more screen that is everything but visible while in the Cave: the screen of the lens of the glasses. It is in fact this screen above all others that corresponds to the verisimilitude of the Cave as an apparatus, as a holistic experience. I wonder if this is precisely because we do not think of it as a screen as such, even though it literally functions exactly that way, by modifying light in preparation for our optical reception, generating the appearance of three-dimensionality.

Perhaps we might then, instead of talking of windows and mirrors, as Friedberg does, follow Lacan, Copjec, and Zizek in insisting that our very eyes are our prototypical screens, and that they function as that specifically because we do not recognize them as such. Rather than windows to the soul, or pure organs of perception, we should realize that our eyes function exactly as the screens onto which is projected our identity in the eyes of the Other, our symbolic value as such. And, for us, they constitute the very apparatus which allows the gap between our selves, our "I"'s, to be filled in by the myth of subjectivity.

No comments: