Tuesday 13th February
15.00-16.00: Prep Session (optional)
16.00-18.00: Main discussion
Arts, Room 103
This week’s Play/Pause discussion will consider the ways contemporary theoretical concerns can (or can’t) be visualised and represented by videogames. In particular, we will be thinking about the ways our affective encounters with videogames might enable new ways of thinking through theoretical concepts as something we are actually able to encounter and interact with.
Steven Shaviro’s 2010 work on Post Cinematic Affect considers the ways in which post-cinematic production has enabled new modalities of affect, thinking particularly about the disappearance of the subject “in a regime of modulation” (p.14) – a “post cinematic regime of dispersed or disembodied experience” (p.39). Shaviro maintains that affective mapping enables us to encounter the otherwise ‘abstract flows’ of neoliberal capitalism. Drawing on Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s conceptualisation of ‘the Multitude’, Shaviro claims that the internet provides “a good initial image or model for the multitude” as a “living flesh that rules itself” (p.100).
We will be using Playdead’s 2016 game Inside to think about the ways videogames represent and complicate their own control mechanisms during gameplay – thinking about stillness/movement, rhythm/rupture, pattern/randomness. How does it feel to control a “fleshly” entity? Why might the interactivity of a game enable new modes of engaging with theoretical concepts? How are games part of a post-cinematic regime? We will think about the ways the game Inside might enable us to think through some of the concerns found in Shaviro and Hardt & Negri’s work, thinking particularly about neoliberalism, biopolitical production, and the social flesh.
Please read the following two sections from Shaviro’s Post Cinematic Affect (2010) and Hardt and Negri’s Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of the Empire (2005).
Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of the Empire (London: Penguin Books, 2005) pp. 189-202. The PDF will be circulated on our mailing list. To join, and for this reading, please email email@example.com
Steven Shaviro, ‘Post-Cinematic Affect: On Grace Jones, Boarding Gate and Southland Tales’, Film Philosophy, 14.1 (2010) pp.1-11: http://www.thing.net/~rdom/ucsd/biopolitics/PostCinematicAffect.pdf
In the hour before our discussion, we invite you to join us to play through some sections from Inside (2016) – or alternatively do feel free to watch the clips below (prewarning – the game is quite dark!):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3M7QTHV9Pw (from 4:00)
Optional extra reading:
Steven Shaviro, ‘Monstrous Flesh’: http://www.shaviro.com/Blog/?p=639