Virilio and Visual Culture

Virilio and Visual Culture

Virilio and Visual Culture

Virilio and Visual Culture

Synopsis

The first genuine appraisal of Virilio's contribution to contemporary art, photography, film, television and more

This collection of 13 original writings, including a newly translated piece by Virilio himself, is indispensable reading for all students and researchers of contemporary visual culture.

Paul Virilio is one of the leading and most challenging critics of art and technology of the present period. Re-conceptualising the most enduring philosophical conventions on everything from technology and photography to literature, anthropology, cultural, and media studies through his own original theories and arguments, Virilio's work has produced substantial debate, compelling readers to ask if his criticism is out of touch or out in front of traditional perspectives.

Excerpt

John Armitage and Ryan Bishop

We might add that rejection of visual (audiovisual) conformism
would also tend to rule out establishing some kind of optically
correct politics
which could cause the manipulation of sight by
future mass communication tools quickly to take on totalitarian
overtones. (Virilio 1997: 97)

The Visual as Perpetual Contestation

Paul Virilio’s major contribution to contemporary European thought has been to demonstrate that questions of visual culture are not only academic and cultural, aesthetic, historical, critical, philosophical and anthropological questions but also extremely important political questions. For Virilio, visual culture does not simply provide ways to understand the visual or examine images; it offers primarily a critical site of theory and contemporary cultural action and intervention, where relations of power in this field of study are both established in everything from film studies and psychoanalytic theory to gender studies, queer theory, television and video game studies, comics, the traditional artistic media of painting, advertising and the Internet, and potentially disturbed. Virilio’s initial ways into these areas of power relations that constitute the visual cultural scene and its usual analytic topics are odd and oblique, which provide them with their intellectual purchase, emerging as they do from his work as an urbanist interested in technology, speed and the military. These larger forces, according to Virilio, are the primary influences on and shapers of visual culture, with the standard areas of enquiry being mere effects of them. Virilio reminds us that the battlefield is primarily a visual and sensory domain: perception as aiming and targeting, hiding and uncovering, and that urban centres result from paths . . .

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