What is the impulse behind media applications — especially photo apps such as instagram, hipstamatic, toy camera, etc. — that drives contemporary culture to aestheticize a media-based memory, that collectively may or may not be true?

Is it about the ruination of the image? Is it genetic or shared memory?

Rarely are these applications considered critically, as they bring together issues of technology development, aesthetics, memory, use-value, cultural imperative, collective imagination, the psychological positioning of the memento, geo-locatability, etc.

How do these applications tell lies about the now?

How do they reconfigure “scopic field”, and how are they “vocative”?

In “The Split Between the Eye and the Gaze,” Jacques Lacan looks to the “scopic field” as identified by Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Merleau-Ponty identifies the eye as the “guide” in his examination of ideas in the aesthetic world, and also points out the fundamental obstacle in understanding the “scopic field”: “I see only from one point, but in my existence am looked at from all sides.” [A] The scopic field is not limited to the subject’s view, but indicates all visual angles, which is difficult to get around when the medium for experiencing this field is limited to the eye. A singular person can thus only have one view. (The University of Chicago :: Theories of Media)

Can we consider these sorts of applications a new cubicle of media — vocative media? 

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  1. Joe Grobelny

    I think he’s wrong about one person’s view being singular. They can only have one view at a time, but multiples in succession. I’m taking the Parallax View (Zizek) that only by seeing something from two different angles, between the two (or more) you see the truth of the thing. So by knowing what instagram does, you can imagine what it would be without it, and between those two pictures you have enough of an implied scopic field to understand what’s going on.

    Memory is always colored by recall, and these media make the recall more legible than in the past by adding a layer of fauxstalgia.

  2. tmemmott

    I think it is interesting that the addition of filters adds to the legibility of a memory. Perhaps, that is the potency of fauxstalgia and is what connects it to nostalgia — that the memory is aestheticized in either/both regards. That said, the increased legibility is disjoined from, and reduces authenticity, even in the immediate production of the memory… The memory here, unlike a photograph does not need to age and deteriorate for it to take on the aesthetic conditions that we connect to aged, deteriorated photographs. We can intentionally produce these effects without having to wait.
    I would wonder is users of these applications make subconscious decisions about which filters are used for what sort of events… as if they serve a categorical or ontological function.

  3. Pingback: dusk to dawn: horizons of the digital/post-digital | post-digital-research
  4. Pingback: Dusk to dawn: horizons of the digital/post-digital | post-digital-research

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