Informatisation, Automatic Shift

from You Saw Nothing: Sight, Digital Video, Post-3.11 Japan

The viewers of You Saw Nothing in Fukushima are hardly able to know or understand the disasters as ethical or political knowledge through the digital photographs. Here, we further examine the semblance of knowledge through the slide show’s aesthetics of reduction.

A slide show is a recurrence of structurally automated shifts of images, which I have considered as a structural specificity. The slide show transmutes these digital photographs and videos of the disaster sites into the duration of a second of visual information. Hence, the slide show (the automated shift) functions to intensify the degree of informatisation which has already occurred in the process of the reconfiguration of the here and now. In this intensifying process, they are aesthetically brought to quantification in Jean-Luc Nancy’s sense. As in his After Fukushima: The Equivalence of Catastrophes (2014), the quantification of disasters leads to an exchangeable and comparable notion dismissing their non- equivalent nature.* The systematic reconfiguration into a second of visual information brings the irreducible difference of kinds and degrees of pain and damage of the disasters onto the terrain of commensurability. It is a terrain that operates equivalation and commensuration against these specificities of pain and damage. The automated shift demonstrates these operations aesthetically and embodies the terrain.

Prior to the slide show of informatisation, the car window of the photographic and videographic framing also perceptually homogenises the views and aesthetically equivalates the pain and damage of the disasters. Sontag also states on the equalisation of meaning by photography that:

Crushed hopes, youth antics, colonial wars, and winter sports are alike – are equalised by the camera. Taking photographs has set up a chronic voyeuristic relation to the world which levels the meaning of all events.**

As Sontag describes of the establishment of a relation to the world by taking photographs, the car window, another form of frame to look through, equally establishes a relation to the world. The car window functions to reframe the experiences and landscapes lived through by the survivors and victims. The reframing imposes homogenisation and equivalation on these experiences and landscapes of irreducible nature, leading to an exchangeable and comparable notion in Nancy’s sense. The framing from the car window is here an aesthetic quantification that casts the frame of commensurability onto the non-equivalent nature.

*Jean-Luc Nancy, After Fukushima: The Equivalence of Catastrophes, New York, NY: Fordham University Press, 2014.
**Susan Sontag, On Photography. London: Penguin Books, 1971. p. 11.
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