Digital Affectivity
Virtual technologies authorize action at a distance.
Cruise missiles. Immersive Virtual Reality. Telerobot-
ics. Webcams. All are forms of applied science that
trade in what were once the realms of magic and the
divine. These technologies operate within a highly me-
diatized, increasingly screen-based commodity culture,
many members of which live in awe of the spectacle
and appearance as experience. Such individuals are pro-
pelled by an implicit but dominant belief system within
which “for one to whom the real world becomes real
images, mere images are transformed into real beings”
(Debord 1994:17). If, in earlier modern eras, the awe-
inducing grandeur of a mountain range or the aurora
borealis could induce experiences of beauty or the
sublime in humbled pilgrim viewers, today significant
components of this moral power have been relocated
to information machines. In a world that mass media
tell us is overwhelmingly polluted and rapidly warm-
ing, and which modernity has rendered disenchanted
and therefore separated from much of human experi-
ence, sublime grandeur is now often found in the over-
whelming power of technology. Graphical chat partici-
pants and webcam operators imaginatively transcend
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