I’ll be travelling tomorrow to Poitiers for what looks like a very rich roster of speakers discussing… oh yes… the subject of interactivity. Cough.

Oh, and apparently Ségolène Royal will be giving an opening pep-talk (oui, oui, that Ségolène Royal), which probably has something to do with the fact that she is currently the president of Poitou-Charentes where the conference is being held. You might also have noticed that she is currently making a bid to for the leadership of the French Socialist Party, so I don’t know how much to bet on her appearance.

I haven’t completely finished my talk yet, but from what I have so far, it looks like I’ll be sticking with this resumé that I sent a few weeks ago to the organizers:

L’image du monstre

Il y a trois ans, lors d’un précédent colloque à l’ÉESI sur le cinéma et l’interactivité, j’ai argumenté pour une approche “hydraulique” de l’image en mouvement : une approche dynamique autour d’une image fluctuante qui prendrait en compte notamment la fluidification que les machines algorithmiques apportaient à l’image. C’était une hypothèse intéressante, mais qui n’osait pas aller jusqu’au bout. L’épine du problème était une insistance à maintenir notre relation nostalgique avec la trace photographique à l’intérieur de l’image, face à l’horizontalité des nouvelles formes de stockage comme les bases de données qui ont tendance à brouiller les figures qui s’y trouvent.

Depuis, mon optique s’est totalement transformée. L’objet n’est plus pour moi un simple jeu de re-juxtaposition permanente, il est devenu un jeu de mutation, avec des images-croissance qui poussent à partir de n’importe quelle extrémité de la « Chose ». Il se peut qu’il y ait encore des traces anciennes dans cette image, mais ces traces jouent un tout autre rôle, et nourrissent la bête tout autrement. Je vois désormais dans cette image nouvelle une forme de « monstruosité » qui pousse à l’intérieur des images, et descend jusque dans les entrailles du GPU lui-même, ne remontant à la surface de l’écran pixelisé que le temps d’un court affichage.

Accepter le monstre dans l’image, transforme notre approche de celle-ci, et transforme aussi ce qu’on entend par figure, mimesis, et enfin narration. Cela change également les champs d’exploration qui permettent de saisir plus fermement les phénomènes que je considère comme les plus pertinents pour ces transformations, à commencer par les jeux vidéo.

  • Here is the symposium’s valiant attempt at an English translation, which makes absolutely no sense to me, and I wrote the damn thing. The words are right, it’s just that the meaning got lost in there somewhere. Apparently, my French is hard to translate, or perhaps just plain hard to understand:

Three years ago, during a previous conference on cine-film and interactivity at the ÉESI, I put forward the outline for a “hydraulic” approach to image in motion: a dynamic approach hinged on the fluctuating image ,which, notably, could factorise the fluidising import that algorithmic engines have brought to the image. It was an interesting hypothesis, which was just not bold enough to go all the way. The bane of the problem being insistence on maintaining our nostalgic affinity with the photographic trace within the image, at the hands of the horizontality of the new storing configurations, like those involving data bases, which tend to scramble the figures present.

Since then my assessment has been turned around. I no longer view the object as just a game of constant re-juxtaposition; it has become play on mutation, with image-growth sprouting from just about any appendage of the “Thing”. It is just possible that old traces still linger in that image, now however, they play a completely different role and feed the beast with different fodder. In this novel image, from now on, I can see a form of “monstrousness” germinating within the image, and getting right down to the entrails of the GPU itself, coming up to the pixelized surface of the screen for only a brief moment of display.

By accepting the monster in the image our approach to it becomes transformed, thus transforming that which we understand as figure, mimesis and finally narration. It also changes fields of inquiry which sanction and capture phenomena more securely and which I consider as being the most relevant for these transformations, starting with video games.

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