Editing (and) individuation

Autumn 2012

This essay will explore aspects of Bernard Stiegler’s theorisation of film editing as the construction of a flux of perceptual experience at the heart of the industrialisation of attention characteristic of modern and contemporary technocultures. This work appears in the third volume of the Technics and Time series and provides a crucial plank in the rationale informing Stiegler’s recent critical activism dedicated to a reformulation of the mainstream mediascape. It also represents a substantially novel reconsideration of key themes in film theory through a critical phenomenological perspective informed by an equally critical mobilisation of Gilbert Simondon’s notion of individuation. The relations between perceiving spectator and projected film, film and experience, and the individual and collective experience of cinema as a cultural form are reposed through this perspective. Editing is central to this reconsideration, as it has been to many accounts of the specificity of cinematic representation. Stiegler sees the coincidence of the flux of the perceiving consciousness with the synthesis of an edited cinematic work as crucial to cinema’s capacity to both inherit from and displace the literary technicity of early and pre-modern Western cultural becoming. Cinematic technicity has been and remains a crucial substrate for the dynamics of this mutual becoming because it has played such a major role in the organisation of collective cultural experience in and through its instantiation of individual lived experience, memory, imagination and anticipation. Stiegler’s diagnosis in recent texts of the addictive, disassociating, and disorienting dynamics of contemporary ‘ill-being’ will be approached through his account of editing’s part in making experience modern - which he associates with mainstream Hollywood’s projection and exporting of a model of life as and for universal adoptability - and then global and realtime in the digital age.

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NF 77 Bernard Stiegler: Technics, Politics, Individuation