The object of the computer is not a man, nor is it this or that human face or body. In this sense it breaks with those arts (painting, photography, cinema) that fixate upon the embodied human form--the face, but not always, the hand, but not always--and its proximal relation to a world, if not as their immediate subject matter then at least the absolute horizon of their various aesthetic investments. The computer has not this same obsession. It aims not for man as a object. The reason is simple: because the computer is this object in and of itself.
This is why we do not cry at websites like we cry at the movies. It is why there is no "faciality" with the computer, why there is no concept of a celebrity star system (except ourselves), no characters or story (except our own), no notion of recognition and reversal, as Aristotle said of poetry. If the theater screen always directs toward, the computer screen always directs away. If at the movies you tilt your head back, with a computer you tilt in.
But, you say, there is more affect than ever today, is there not? The net is nothing if not the grand parade of personality profiles, wants and needs, projected egos, "second" selves and "second" lives. This is true. The waning of affect comes at the moment of its absolute rationalization. At the moment when something is perfected, it is dead. This is the condition of affect today online, and it is why the object of the computer is not a man: because its data is one.
Might one go so far as to make the ultimate leap, then, and assert the following: that the computer is an anti-Ring of Gyges. The set up is reversed. The wearer of the ring is free to roam around in plain sight, while the world, invisible, retreats in absolute alterity. The world no longer indicates to us what it is. We indicate ourselves to it, and in doing so the world materializes in our image.
// Alex Galloway, "The Anti-Language of New Media"
15 September 2009
the anti-Ring of Gyges