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Title: On the Possibility of Visual Literacy and New Intentions with Digital Images: An Engagement with 'The Discrete Image' By Bernard Stiegler
Keywords: discretisation, digital photography, technics, inscription, specter, techne
Issue Date: 2-Aug-2010
Citation: USHA MANAITHUNAI NATHAN (2010-08-02). On the Possibility of Visual Literacy and New Intentions with Digital Images: An Engagement with 'The Discrete Image' By Bernard Stiegler. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: In this thesis, I address Bernard Stiegler?s text `The Discrete Image.? I analyse the key argument of the text that a new visual literacy is given by digital technology. And that consumers of images will be able to critically apprehend images and even synthesise new ones due to digitisation. Stiegler argues that the inscription of images with discrete units or pixels implies the possibility of reading and analysing images in the same way that writing made speech and thought analysable. I suggest that Stiegler?s arguments for the said possibilities of digital technology are based on a process that he understands as underlying the relation of man and technics generally across all time. This is the process by which technics open future possibilities for the human by constituting (inscribing) the past and rendering it accessible. Technics, in other words, give humans the specters of the past. With digital technology formal and other regularities of the visible world (and images) are constituted and this results in the possibility of a new kind of intelligent perception. But if we consider the contexts of humans today and the history of digital technology the massive impediments to the realisation of such possibilities come to light. The mediated realities of the consumer world are not only targeting behaviours, but are more actively altering the fundamental human faculties of attention, perception, thought and memory. The ontological (metaphysical) facts about humans are undergoing significant change. As a result of this the giving of pasts through technical/technological inscription may no longer be possible. On the other hand, technologies of the post-War era themselves come inscribed with the language of control and visions of closed worlds suited for control and total predictability. I contend that this history of technology can be seen as giving the possibility of Stiegler?s own thinking on technics and their self- evolving status. But these same developments do not fare well for the hope that such technology will yield new perceptual possibilities for humans. I argue that in relation to both the contexts- of humans (consumers) and of technology today the possibilities of digital technology that Stiegler conceives appear implausible at best. In the epilogue, I propose a mode of artistic creation as a means of achieving a transformed perception and visual literacy. Techne in Heidegger?s sense or the productive act of poesis (creation) names the modality by which the human surpasses the knowledge of his time, fulfills the debt of the past and in doing so opens up future possibilities.
Appears in Collections:Master's Theses (Open)

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