Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Grad Prog talks 6/3: Information Wars / The Aesthetics of Disappearance

Wednesday 6 March:
Internal Speaker: Carole O’Reilly (University of Salford; Journalism division)
MediaCity, 3.10-4pm, Room 3.32.
‘Resistance is Victory’: Occupy Bilderberg, Journalism and the Information Wars
This paper examines the tactics of this small and tightly-focussed Occupy movement as they protest the annual meeting of the Bilderberg group and their subsequent attempts to influence the reporting of that event.
The Bilderberg group consists of an alliance of politicians, academics, bankers and economists. The group has been the focus of numerous conspiracy theories centring on the alleged establishment of a ‘new world order’ and a shadow world government.
Members of Occupy Bilderberg are comprised of individuals of very diverse and divergent political views but their main focus is to protest and disrupt the annual Bilderberg meeting and to gain mainstream media coverage. This study examines the strategies deployed by the group in 2011 and 2012 to publicise their activities through websites, livestreaming, Youtube and Twitter and their interactions with the mainstream media.
This paper demonstrates how this interaction can help us to understand the relationship between mainstream journalism and citizen journalism – many Occupy Bilderberg members define themselves and act as citizen journalists. While some writers have celebrated citizen journalism as a democratic liberation from the restrictions of an increasingly corporate mainstream journalism, this paper demonstrates that, in practice, the boundaries between the 2 have resulted in a fractious and confrontational relationship that has resulted in a new information war.

Guest Speaker: John Armitage (Northumbria University)
MediaCity, 4.10-5.00pm; Room 3.32.
The Aesthetics of Disappearance

Media theorists generally associate Paul Virilio with his conception of the “aesthetics of disappearance.” This illustrated lecture examines his contribution to the debates over contemporary aesthetics by considering one of his most powerful texts, The Aesthetics of Disappearance (2009). It explains the importance of the argument of this book to afford an entry point into it for uninitiated English-speaking readers. The lecture then surveys the ramifications of Virilio’s study for theorizing and practicing media in the present period.

The theme of the book is the development and modern-day condition of human perception in the world’s advanced cultures. Virilio’s text is therefore about how diverse ways of perceiving and coping with the realms of photography and technology, science, and cinema are appreciated and incorporated into postmodern culture.

Perhaps the principal claim of the text is its description of the aesthetics of disappearance as an “irresistible project and projection toward a technical beyond” (Virilio 2009: 103). Before presenting an explanation of what Virilio means when he employs concepts such as “aesthetics” or the “technical beyond,” it is vital to grasp how this assertion stems from The Aesthetics of Disappearance in its entirety. Consequently, the purpose of this lecture is to offer a foundation for an appreciation of what he means by defining the aesthetics of disappearance in this way.

John Armitage is Professor of Media Arts at Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton. He specializes in the cultural and media theory of Paul Virilio, the French contemporary philosopher and ‘critic of the art of technology’. Professor Armitage is the founder and co-editor, with Ryan Bishop and Douglas Kellner, of the Duke University Press journal Cultural Politics and the author or editor of seven books on Paul Virilio including, most recently, Virilio and the Media (Polity, 2012) and Virilio and Visual Culture (EUP, 2013).

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