Crash Cultures: Modernity, Mediation and the Material by Jane Arthurs

By Jane Arthurs

Twenty-one British students give a contribution 14 essays which give some thought to the crash (of actual items, residing beings, and nonvisible platforms within the modern international) as a symbolic and fabric occasion that can supply insights in regards to the studies of residing in a contemporary, technologically-oriented international. Their analyses recommend the strength of conventionalized methods of seeing and being, as a method of coping with the unruly materiality of contemporary lifestyles, and tackle the interrelations among inanimate machines and dwelling organisms. No topic index.

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The level of terror needs to be continually raised as the paying customer seeks more thrills, in the process becoming the ‘test pilot’ of higher degrees of technological speed and complexity. The process of being made to ‘feel alive’, then, requires the production of more and more convincing crashes that don’t quite happen, more near-death experiences that enable the rider to exceed the limitations of his or her earthbound, corporeal body. As Douglas Trumbull, creator of the Back to the Future Ride, ‘the attraction by which all the others are judged’, suggests: ‘the Back to the Future Ride is like an out-of-body experience.

Live death, even as it bursts on the screen with the immediacy of the present, remains virtual, happening elsewhere, to others: despite the proximity, enough distance is inscribed to hollow out the moment of experience as an encounter that has just been missed. Instant Experience Even NASA has been unable to avoid repeating the disaster for the sake of entertainment. One of the most popular exhibits at the new Space Center Houston, a $70 million attraction designed by the same firm that did Disney’s Epcot Center, is a Nintendo-like exhibit that is a wall of computer simulators the visitor can use to attempt to land the space shuttle.

Feeling what the other feels’ is not so far away from the voyeurism of the confessional media of the 1990s which dominate popular culture: Springer-style television shows, the rise of celebrity confession, group therapy. Strange Days envisages 26 How it Feels the fin-de-siècle culture as one obsessed with ‘how it feels’. This returns us to the aesthetic of attractions we have identified as the beginning of cinema. Shock becomes not only the experience of technology or a way of coping with technology, the traumatic response, but its only purpose.

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