Monday, July 31, 2006

New Technologies of the Word?

Here's a sharp looking new journal for Deleuzians. Besides being a new forum, it is also an attempt to make use of the potential of broadband, offering filmed paper presentations rather than printed texts. I also think there is enormous potential in digital media, and that we are not really making use of them. In fact, academics habitually repress (in several senses) the very existence of alternatives to the standard prose paragraph. Ideologues of the paragraph, like myself, would do well notice that what many academics today do poorly in prose, or only with great difficulty, might be accomplished much more effectively with photography, video, sound, and their combinations in hypertext. We have the technology to do so, but we seem to lack the nerve to do away with books, which, in a sense, is precisely what Deleuze suggested we do.

It is also what AV seems to be gesturing at (the acronym stands for Actual Virtual but the pun on audio-visual is no doubt intentional). On closer inspection, however, there is something odd about this journal. It begins with its editorial mission:
To provide current Deleuzian academic research papers presented as they were meant to be seen... rather than publishing the written word, each paper is filmed ... and presented here as streamed movies.
What do they mean by "research papers as they were meant to be seen"? When editing papers, I often find myself reminding authors that their papers are not transcriptions of monologues or lectures (just as a lecture should not consist of reading a manuscript out loud.) One must try to use the medium to its own best advantage. Even the basic idea of videotaping a "live" presentation (they largely film academics holding standard academic talks or seminars) is somehow bound to fail. Most of their "authors" are trying to present the content of a paper or chapter they're working on. There is almost an obligatory apology for the "in progress" character of the work (e.g., here and here) or the impossiblity of doing the written text justice in the space of forty-five minutes. Add to this the imperfect representation of the classroom experience on film, and the idea that this is how the papers were "meant to be" begins to lose its intuitive appeal.

The times are changing, and I'm not trying to deflate the idea behind this journal. But I would think that, if you're going to be filming anyway, you could be more daring in your choice of settings and approach to editing. I suppose I'm wondering why we would want to do this with a medium that can do this.

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