Dematerialization and Disinformation

As videogame controllers become more sophisticated, there emerges a "gamer envy" in those who do not possess the physical skills to play, nor perhaps the discretionary time required to summit the steep learning curve, and thus a cultural divide is created between those who possess this physicality and those who do not. Clearly the desire is for interfaces that more naturally approach everyday body movements, with the caveat that these movements can then be hyperrealized mathematically in the game environment via kinaesthetic wormhole. In this sense, Virilio's prediction (in Open Sky) of the telematic datasuit seems prescient.

But for a critical theorist so knowledgeable about speed, light, and the vision machine, it is quite surprising that he could not follow his own logic to the limit and realize that the datasuit could be dematerialized completely.

With the EyeToy, it is light that takes the gamer and makes of it a metabolic vehicle in its own right. The EyeToy (as well as later devices such as the Xbox Live Vision and PlayStation Eye) is a color digital camera device, similar to a webcam, that uses computer vision to process images taken by the camera, allowing players to become an avatar in the game environment and interact using body motions.

EyeToy - Courtesy of Sony

We thus witness a progression: from the mechanical dance of the puppeteer's wooden frames and strings, with its cognate "problem" of the strings' tensile properties; to the paddle used in early videogame consoles, a direct descendant of the knob-tweaking required to operate the Tennis for Two oscilloscope at Brookhaven National Laboratory that offers one line of movement in virtual space; to the wired joystick, with its digital connection to the game console and problem of plastic and wire fatigue at key joints; to the wireless controller, like the Sixaxis (traditional-style controller neutered of wire) or Wii (kinaesthetic gyroscope), with its dematerialization of the umbilicus and problem of electromagnetic spectrum connectivity and interference; to the EyeToy and its problem of light wave interference and colour spectrum noise.

EyeToy Kinetic - Courtesy of Sony

Perhaps Virilio is correct after all: the dematerialized interface of light is a unidirectional interface, representing the body and its kinaesthetic activity in virtual space with no corresponding haptic feedback. The sense of touch is folded into the sense of sight for representational purposes and does not make a return: the body shirks its tactile burden. The hypothetical datasuit of Virilio, on the other hand, is a bidirectional interface that leverages the haptic to help reorient the body in the vertigo-inducing non-space of the data-network.

But perhaps Virilio is wrong after all: there is no need for this feedback dimension to be simulated to the skin (and sympathetic nervous system) by a datasuit so that a "real" message may then be transmitted to the central nervous system, when instead it is possible to just simulate the message directly to the central nervous system. So long as the datasuit (or other controller) ports into the nervous system for feedback purposes its potential as an input device isn't negated in advance. Tactile feedback thus becomes a problem in communications engineering, of jamming the signals emanating from the skin so that a contradictory message may be injected into the channel.

Datasuit or no, one thing seems certain: biological disinformation will become central to the mediated leisure society.


3 responses to Dematerialization and Disinformation

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  1. sportsBabel » gesture, negative space, capture, agency says:

    [...] The incipience of a motion will always precede some form of material lag time (nerve conductivity, electromagnetic interface, state censorship) that precludes the possibility for the subject of the gesture to ever be fully [...]

  2. sportsBabel » Marginal Notes on Notes on Gesture says:

    [...] like well-made Armani suits. While playing these games the user reduces one's own gestures to a programmed and nearly-pure electromagnetic impulse almost unrecognizable in comparison to those movements taking place on the [...]

  3. sportsBabel » The Nuclear Outcome(s) says:

    [...] nuclear bomb, in its undetonated form, yields the technological lineage most responsible for the dematerialization of the human body as well as the lineage most responsible for its material recombination in the name of speed (which [...]