1 - Does it still make sense
to talk about «post-modern» to refer to what is going on in contemporary experience?
Well, post-modernism ... Ive actually tried to stop using the word because it
means so many things to so many people that it has almost become a word that doesnt
mean anything at all. To the extent that I still use it or find it inescapable, Id
say that I want to think of it not as a style or a choice but as a description of the
general cultural circumstances which were living under. Basically because various
political, social, economic, technological changes with global capital, electronic
transmissions and things like that, would I have a model theory of what influences what?
It seems we have a constellation of things that is very different from, say, theory of mid
20th century or before. And post-modern is, unfortunately, the best word people have come
up to describe or to give a label to this situation.
2 And what about «Cyberculture»?
Cyberculture is the same kind of thing. Its a very
vague word that may nonetheless, be inescapable. Since more people, myself included, are
doing more things online, making connections, paying the bills and buying things, again it
becomes a kind of inescapable word. Im not sure whether the word itself means much
except a designated area which we have to think about more carefully.
3 Yet you often use these terms....
I am always worried about general theories, and they make
me nervous. Maybe its just because Im not good at doing them. When people make
grand theories its just ignoring singularity and differences. Thats a general
philosophical question. Whether it applies more or less to now as to other periods is
different. In my own work I start to put singularities of very particular things and look
and see what they lead to, rather than try to give a global totalizing way. Lyotard has
said that the age of the grand theories and narratives is over. Im not sure
its just that or its just the kind of way I prefer to work. Im
suspicious of totalizing. Maybe its because Im post-modern or because you miss
a lot of stuff if you go to the total.
4- What is your opinion about those thesis which insist on the
«dematerialization» and on the «disembodiment» as an effect of digital technologies?
Thats a complicated question. On one level
theres been a lot of rhetoric about disembodiment and sometimes it takes very silly
forms. When people have more fantasies about downloading our brains into computer,
becoming immortal, or when John Perry Barlow says the invention of the internet was
the most important human event since the taming of fire, that seems a kind of
ridiculous to me. On the other hand, its obvious that things are changing, and one
of the changes is that again the things will be less materialised, and because we have
long distance communications and people arent physically present we can,
nonetheless, have contact. But that was already true in the 19th century with the
telegraph and the telephone, but is obviously more true with new technologies. So, I
wouldnt deny that there are certain changes in how our bodies are going to be
presenting themselves. What I criticise is these fantasies of disembodiment which people
writing about cyberculture have had. I dont believe theyre possible, even if
we take them at their word. If youre embodied in silicon instead of in carbon-based
flesh, youre still embodied in something that pulls the electronic plug. Everything
has a physical substrate. Even if you accept the idea of information rather than other
ways of attaining materiality, even if you accept- which Im not sure I really do-
that information is just a pattern that can be enacted in any matter indifferently, it
still has to be enacted in some matter. A pattern never exists without its embodiment Even
if you accept to some extent this very seductive idea that a pattern can be repeated in
different embodiments that doesnt necessarily mean that the matter in which the
embodiment takes place is totally indifferent. Because matter isnt completely
transparent, it has a certain density that I dont think can be eliminated. From that
point of view, Im critical of some of the very predominant cyber fictions which will
talk about dematerialization this way. Because I dont believe its possible,
Im not as worried about it as some theorists are when, for example, Baudrillard or
the Krokers in Canada talk about the extermination of the body and the
extermination of the real. Its not going to happen because its still a
physical substrate and it always will be. So, in that sense, Im not finding it
terrifying for the same reason I dont find it exhilarating as the people who think
were going to be immortal. The question is looking up for different types of
materializations and what they really tell.
5 In fact, its been clear that youre more interested
in the way new technologies modulate emotions through images. May you explain us what
youre looking for?
What you said is very much what Im interested in,
and in terms of what my project is Id say Im interested in the question of
emotional affect. Partly because they are generally ignored. The emphasis of the last
twenty, thirty years on semiotics, on ideology and on textuality has often led to ignore
questions of affect which are not necessarily reducible to linguistic codes. Im
interested in trying to find out that which is uncoded and how it leads to what is coded.
I dont want to say we just cover our emotions instead of our rationality.
Thats obviously stupid. To think how questions of emotion have an impact upon
semiotic codes, and seeing again how their change seems to be important and- it seems to
me- largely ignored. Again, what affects discourses, images and language, is often an
effect of their affect, rather than an effect of their meaning. I dont have any
romantic idea that we escape meaning or that we come to something truer or more natural,
but I do think the whole realm of affect or emotion is a very important part of how we
exist and negotiate through culture.
6- Doesnt that imply a transformation of the image itself? Which
are the effects on the cinema, about which you wrote a book?
Im more interested in looking at modulations and
looking at multiple possibilities. In terms of images the 20th century is very much the
century of cinema. I cant see what the 21st century will be. Already in the latter
part of 20th century the role of the cinema has been replaced by video and television in
terms of what people do. Of course thats a great multiplication of the ways
were watching images. We have a beautiful scenery behind us right now but for the
most part the mediasphere is the nature that surrounds us. I dont think it
makes sense to deplore that. Film is an important way in which images proliferated but
its not the only way. I like film and I dont think film is going to disappear
anymore than novels or painting disappeared. But I think the way films do images is both
becoming less traditionally cinematic and more influenced by other things. And,
increasingly, images pass in other ways besides through cinema. I do have a kind of
aesthetic gratification to certain types of images which you might associate with either
classic cinema or modern cinema from the 60s and 70s. And I do have a certain
nostalgia for that. With all these mutations an artist can do more interesting things that
wouldnt have happened otherwise.
7- Just to finish, what is your position about technique? So much depends
on this issue...
Technology is part of the human nature. If you take it in
the broader sense you might say even animals have technology, at least in a very limited
sense. But if you take technology in a more narrow sense, in the way we talk about
technological innovation, its not something that has been invented twenty or fifty
years ago, but it has existed for at least sixty thousand years. If you go to pre-historic
records, homo sapiens is marked by differences in the structure of the skulls and
bones, but also associated with the fact that they started innovating much more, making a
variety of tools. Technology in a human sense certainly occurs then. Its a mistake
to think technology is only the particular new technologies or the particular
post-newtonian science kind of technology. I think technology has always been what human
beings are made of. If it makes sense to say of what the essence of the human being is
made of, its having a culture and technology. In so far as humans have language and
a culture they also have technology. Its part of how we live in the world since we
evolved to what we are now.
Transcrição: Victor M. E. Flores