Surface to Surface: War and Art in the Screenic Era


Session Title:

  • Political Discourse on the New Media

Presentation Title:

  • Surface to Surface: War and Art in the Screenic Era




  • Drawing on several images from both military weapons systems and digital media artists, this paper sketches a critical phenomenology of the surface at the intersection of human sensoria and technological media—at the screenic sites where complex technological, social, and corporeal operations become perceivable events. Certain visual technologies, in both their vernacular and official uses, from the digital cameras at Abu Ghraib to the recent Gorgon Stare Reaper drone program, serve simultaneously to both document and implement acts of war. At the same time, the practices of digital artists have sought, in the same convergent digital milieu, to address, reframe, and think through these emerging militarized modes of perception. Engaging the work of Michal Rovner, Jenny Holzer, Martha Rosler, and Wafaa Bilal as “objects to think with,” this paper works toward a transmedial theory of the screenic by attending the way these digital-artistic practices address and are addressed by the interpenetration of technological media (the screen) and corporeal media (the human sensorium) in the context of war.

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