„Neurocinema Zum Wandel der Wahrnehmung“ (1996) & „Wahrnehmung im technologischen Zeitalter“ (2000) by Peter Weibel

Published in 2000, Peter Weibel’s text „Wahrnehmung im technologischen Zeitalter“ picks up where his previous text „Neurocinema Zum Wandel der Wahrnehmung“ – written six years before – had left off. Focused on the changes perception undergoes in the technological age, both texts explore essential ideas. Namely, the loss of human perception as an anthropological domain, for human perception has been replaced by machine-backed-up perception. Secondly, that there seems to be less interest in understanding the objective changes in the „world of perception“ than in the subjective changes perception undergoes under the influence of the „world of apparatuses“.

This specific interest in the “world of apparatuses” surfaces in the 1996 text „Neurocinema Zum Wandel der Wahrnehmung“, since in it Weibel traces exactly a brief history of technical apparatuses – from photography to the computer. In it the author argues how, in the XX century, the changes in the concept of the visual occurred in parallel to the changes in the concept of the technical image, in this way advocating the importance of looking into the historical conditions of technical visuality in the XIX century. Weibel’s main thesis here is that the creation of the technical image was held under the influence of the industrial revolution, a revolution which was precisely a machine-based one.

On its turn, the postindustrial Revolution is an information-based one. In this sense, the digital image would be the postindustrial version of the moving image and correspond to the substitution of the illusion of the moving image for the illusion of the living image.

„War der Schwerpunkt in den ersten hundert Jahren dis maschineunterstützte Erzeugung von Bildern (Fotografie, Film), ist der Schwerpunkt seit den letzten 50 Jahren die maschineunterstützte Speicherung und Übertragung von Bildern (TV, Computer). Dieser Wechsel ist Fundamental und hat den Charakter des Technischen Bildes vollkommen verändert. Die neue ästhetischen Möglichkeiten der Maschineunterstützung Speicherung und Übertragung von Daten haben auch wesentlich dazu beigetragen, von Medienkunst statt Maschinenkunst zu sprechen“ (Weibel 1996: 187)

Until here the previous forms of retention of the image were of chemical or magnetic nature. These were hardly changeable, highly deletable and extremely difficult to access.
For the first time in history and completely machine created , the digital image not only unites all previous four properties of the technical image but also introduces new ones, such as virtual variability, viability and interactivity. As a dynamic system of variables, the digital image can be changed at any time.

A six moment in this development would correspond to the internet, interface systems and sensory-technologies . This moment is characterized by information reaching more people and occurring in different places (non-local), at the same time or at different times (simultaneous or successive). Weibel speaks of a neurocinema, which could be influenced through brain waves and of the possibility of coupling the human mind with the digital world directly. Having predicted today’s world of connectivity – cableless, non-local, allowing parallel events, where the monopol of the real no longer exists and “citizens look into the image screen of their own brains instead into external reality” -, he further forecasts that the brain would become lossless and be able to couple with the digital world directly.

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