De/Mystifying smartphone-video through Vilém Flusser’s quanta

Jenkinson, Jamie and Gere, Charlie (2021) De/Mystifying smartphone-video through Vilém Flusser’s quanta. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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Videos made on smartphones are recognised in popular culture in a manner that is not reciprocated in media theory and fine art practice. The difference between smartphone-video and other film and video technology has been obscured within post-medium contexts such as “moving image,” where an ideological indifference creates new physical and psychological barriers between video ‘user’ and moving image ‘artist.’ This thesis considers smartphone-video as a significantly different gesture to other moving image technologies, which I raise through media theorist Vilém Flusser’s interpretation of “quanta,” and his interest in ‘the gesture of video’ as a “quantised phenomenon.” I approach these ideas through my own smartphone-videos, which are initially influenced by principles of Peter Gidal’s structural/materialist filmmaking. By readdressing Gidal’s methods of non-illusionist demystification, smartphone-video can be considered a very different gesture to filmmaking. Film becomes stable, causal, and Newtonian; while video becomes unstable, probable, and quantum. Developments in digital imaging and computer processors highlight such quantum mechanics, which although complex, function in ways classical physics cannot explain. This thesis proposes how Flusser’s concept of quanta can account for the unstable qualities found in smartphone-video’s manner of operation when de/mystified through principles of Gidal’s structural/materialist filmmaking. Such observations consider video's quantum instability through AI driven automation and user-friendly features that enable “quantum dialogues” between user and machine as decision-makers. Observing smartphone-videos as non-polarised quantum dialogues through improvisation in the act of recording, expresses Flusser’s theory of gestures, and elucidates his proto-decolonial efforts against “universal phenomena.” The gesture of smartphone-video encompasses much more than I had imagined, and subsequently — with the aid of Karen Barad — considerations are made to a de/mystification of video’s gesture, operating through proximity in an intra-subjective network of user(s).

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24 May 2021 14:25
Last Modified:
16 Jul 2024 05:55