Les ateliers d’été de l’Institut d’histoire culturelle européenne Bronislaw Geremek, qui ont eu lieu au Château des Lumières de Lunéville les 11, 12 et 13 juillet 2016, avaient pour thème: Objet(s)
Defne Turker Demir, professeure assistante en littérature occidentale à l’université Kültür d’Istanbul, s’interroge sur la perception et l’expérience de la violence à travers les écrans.
Exposure: Can Experience Materialise through Dematerialisation?
Objects or their Lack within a Simulation
This paper is the outcome of a mental exercise, stemming from questions and “what ifs” intending to enumerate questions in a Postmodern fashion, instead of trying to provide answers. The initial premise is “what if it were possible to expose the people in the West/ the Global North/ the First World, that is the inhabitants of privileged societies, to the conditions of war the rest of the world populations are no strangers to?” Then this would constitute an attempt to immerse individuals in an experience the likes of which are taking place today around the globe, and lately even more so in the Middle East. In the aftermath of the final attacks in Paris, Brussels and finally Nice, it would perhaps be easier to create a simulation of loss and a sense of catastrophe, based on an ever increasing appraisal of mayhem and chaos, since the people in the Global North are no longer mere spectators to these multiple tragedies, but they have become victims, too.
Today, our contemporary appraisal of reality still depends mainly on the information gathered from the visual modes of media. Yet, is the modality, frequency, and plurality of our visual exposure to violence making us shrug our shoulders and turn our heads in disgust from the computer or the television screen? When we are exposed to the visuals of carnage and brutality, are those imploding images overloaded with significance or already deflated, normalised, reduced to third page news? Since we started watching wars real-time, in sync with the actuality of the action as early as the First Gulf War on television, having become practiced in munching popcorn in our cosy sitting rooms as bombs hit the cities of Iraq, have we learned to override visual stimuli of violent content because of overexposure? Are our categories of fact and fiction lay equated as a result of the frequency of our exposure to, and the concurrent normalisation of brutality, be the violence factual or fictional, real-time or Hollywood time? Hence, the virtual images of the real on the television or computer screen have become a mere white noise to the reality of gulping down our mugs of camomile tea snuggling in our comfortable sofas.
Consequently how can we establish the Brechtian alienation, the sense of strangeness, the psychic distance that will allow us to get shocked by the images on the white screen? Or how to realise, materialise or solidify experience, if not through visual exposure? How would people feel if they were left in the dark, physically and metaphorically? If they were made to feel alone, isolated in an uncanny atmosphere, unknowing and unknown? Will they then strive harder to make sense of the reality, if the stimuli is audial and not visual? Will the spatial alienation and a different coding of stimuli result in a stronger sensation?