This talk is an early version of part of a long essay, or short book, called Post-Cinematic Affect. In this project, I am trying to look at films and music videos that reflect, in particularly radical and cogent ways, on how digital technologies, and the concomitant social, political, and economic changes, are radically altering "the way we live now." These works are are expressive, in the sense that they give voice (or better, give sounds and images) to a kind of ambient, free-floating sensibility that permeates our society today, although it cannot be attributed to any subject in particular. By the term expressive, I mean both symptomatic and productive. These works are symptomatic, in that they provide indices of complex social processes, which they transduce, condense, and rearticulate in the form of what can be called, after Deleuze and Guattari, “blocs of affect.” But they are also productive, in the sense that they do not represent social processes, so much as they participate actively in these processes, and help to constitute them. Films and music videos, like other media works, are machines for generating affect, and for capitalizing upon, or extracting value from, this affect. As such, they are not ideological superstructures, as an older sort of Marxist criticism would have it. Rather, they lie at the very heart of social production, circulation, and distribution. They generate subjectivity, and they play a crucial in the the valorization of capital. Just as the old Hollywood continuity editing system was an integral part of the Fordist mode of production, so the editing methods and formal devices of digital video and film belong directly to the computing-and-information-technology infrastructure of contemporary neoliberal finance.
Steven Shaviro, DeRoy Professor of English, Wayne State University, Detroit US
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