Sounds, Affects, and Nonstandard Intimacies in ASMR

Joanna Łapińska
(Independent Researcher)

In my presentation I would like to discuss the affective dimension of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR), a new cultural “nonstandard intimacy” (term by Lauren Berlant and Michael Warner) phenomenon currently flourishing on YouTube, by focusing primarily on its sound aspect. We will try to uncover the affective potential of ASMR by focusing on the question of what exactly is “affect” in ASMR video, and how it is produced. In our interpretation, affective dimension of ASMR is inseparably connected with sound. It is, without a doubt, the audial layer that plays a key role in ASMR. Above all, the video makers focus on their voice/whisper in most of their films, as well as on the sound possibilities of matter extracted by a non-standard approach to various objects and props used during the performance. In our analyses, we will follow the path set by Joceline Andersen in her interpretations of ASMR phenomenon as occupying “intimate sonic space” shared by the ASMR artist (or “ASMRtist”) and the viewer/listener, and as falling within the so-called “nonstandard intimacy” that leaves the private sphere, and enters the public space in its attempts of inducing the pleasure and feeling of relaxation. The sounds in ASMR videos contribute to the induction of pleasure and feeling of relaxation in viewers, which are, at the same time, triggered by the cognitive associations with intimate care and attention suggested by the general aesthetics of ASMR films (i.e. roleplay videos with female ASMRtists as make-up artists, flight attendants, personal therapists, hairdressers, etc.). ASMR community shows us how distant, nonstandard intimacy could look like in the future. Considering technological progress and increasingly frequent mediation of technology in interpersonal contacts, this kind of affective phenomena will probably be even more explored.

Joanna Łapińska holds a PhD in the field of humanities with the specialization in cultural studies and an MA in film studies. A graduate of Polish philology at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań. She obtained her doctoral degree at SWPS University in Warsaw on the basis of the dissertation on the love relationships between people and machines in science fiction film. She published, among others, in “The Polish Journal of Aesthetics”, “Kultura Popularna”, “Świat i Słowo”, and “Prace Kulturoznawcze”. Research interests: theories and practices of posthumanism, science fiction film, changes in contemporary subjectivity, new intimacy practices. Currently an independent researcher preparing a book on human-robot intimate relationships in science fiction.

Affect Unchained: Violence, Voyeurism and Affection in the Art of Quentin Tarantino

Adam Lipszyc
(Polish Academy of Sciences)

With the film titled Deathproof at the latest it became clear that the very medium of the cinema and the ways it shapes our modes of seeing is one of the principal topics or simply the key topic of Quentin Tarantino’s art. More particularly, he seems to be concerned most of all with the images of violence and the spectator’s very expectations in this respect, one of his bold gestures being the way he accuses the spectator of the sadist and voyeuristic urge. As Tarantino implictly suggests, we are becoming what may be called ‘ex-spectators’, who are increasingly interested in watching the expected than watching as such, the expected being more and more the violent. Thus, the affective life of our eye is chanelled and formatted along the most primitive and ruthless lines and so we are plugged to the monstrous machine which produces both the violent images and our very craving for them. By means of a very complex, dialectical play with our ex-spectatorship, Tarantino is trying to bring the workings of the machine to the fore and possibly subvert it, unchain our affects and  release the moment of pity and affection for the human. Focusing mostly on Deathproof, Django Unchained and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and relying on elements of Freudian theory, I shall try to reconstruct the implict logic of Tarantino’s project.

Adam Lipszyc works at the Insitute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences, and also teaches in Collegium Civitas in Warsaw and at the Franz Kafka University of Muri. He has published seven books in Polish and a number of papers in Polish and English. His most recent publication is a philosophical analysis of Freudian thought (Freud: Logic of Experience 2018). He co-edited (together with Agata Bielik-Robson) a volume of essays Judaism in Contemporary Thought (2014). He edited and co-translated into Polish two volumes of essays, one by Gershom Scholem and one by Walter Benjamin.

Affectively designed? In search of affect within human-technodigital objects’ encounters

Julia Krzesicka
(University of Warsaw)

Taking the thesis of Anna Malinowska and Toby Miller about the current phenomenon of “increasing emotionality of the media world and its infrastructures” (Malinowska & Miller, 2017, p. 660) as a point of reference, I want to explore further this phenomenon in context of human-technodigital objects’ encounters, especially those where the voice interface is being used. Defining affect as pre-social intensity that modifies, I will try to look for new affective forms of human-technodigital objects’ encounters and ask questions about the possibility of designing an affect, and about what it could mean.

Julia Krzesicka is a PhD Student within the Nature-Culture Program at University of Warsaw, Faculty of “Artes Liberales”.

Optimism as Emotional Attachment to Capitalism

Mümtaz Murat Kök
(Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw)

In this presentation, I am going to try and answer one of the questions in the call for the conference regarding the affective language of the contemporary global economy. In order to do so, I will focus on what I have termed as ‘discourses of optimism’ which exhibit blind belief and thus commitment to the inevitable human progress through capitalism. I will explore these discourses through a reinterpretation of the concept of “emotional capitalism” in that I will argue that they constitute an emotional commitment to capitalism. After having discussed the downside of the discourses of optimism, I will argue that pessimism (specifically ‘cosmic pessimism’) can and will affect much needed radical change in the face of increasing global inequality (and all that it brings with it) and impending climate disaster.

Mümtaz Murat Kök was born in Ankara in May 6, 1989. He completed his undergraduate studies at Izmir University of Economics (2008-2012). After that, he was admitted to Ege University for master’s study. He graduated from Ege University in 2015. Later, he attended the IFiS PAN/ Lancaster University Joint MA Programme at the Graduate School for Social Research. He is currently continuing his PhD studies at the GSSR.


Pathologies and self-representations on social media

Victor Gabriel García Castañeda
(Autonomous University of Barcelona)

The hyper-mediatic nature of the post-digital era has created new pathological modalities on the way in which Internet users present themselves on social media. It is not uncommon to hear nowadays about narcissism (infatuation with the self-image), attention deficit disorder (derived from the oversaturation of information), sociopathy (fostered in online communities that hold radical ideologies), depression and anxiety (caused by the pressure of seeking social recognition) or other affective and behavioral disorders in relation to the compulsive use of digital technologies. In this space I will argue that these disorders are presented within the framework of cognitive, affective and aesthetic capitalism that demands users –specially the most active and the so-called “influencers”– to maintain a systematic presence on social media, to represent themselves with stylized bodies, over perfectly designed scenarios and maintaining a transmedia projection of their self in episodic forms by means of different textual and audiovisual supports. On the other hand, it is common for content creators to enter “burnout” phases of creative or physical exhaustion, as is the case of streamers who spend hours recording on their computers daily, often without leaving their homes for weeks, in addition to being pressured to always show a positive and entertaining facet of their lives for their followers. Exploring the effects of late capitalism exploitation of the affective dynamics of social media is important to understand the social constructions of online and offline identities and the political dimension of the self.

Victor Gabriel García Castañeda is a Philosophy PhD student at the Autonomous University of Barcelona doing research on the aesthetics of the post-internet subject. He holds a Masters on Sociology from the Iberoamerican University of Mexico City and a bachelor’s in Philosophy and Social Sciences from ITESO (Guadalajara, Mexico). His research interests include: digital cultures, aesthetic and cognitive capitalism, online identity constructions, the attention economy and the informational person and body. He has previously worked as a research assistant, a political communications consultant and an editor for a nation-wide newspaper in Mexico. He also writes for different magazines about the Internet, popular culture and music.


Moody Wandering: Affects and Walking Simulators

Paweł Frelik
(University of Warsaw)

Video games are, to use Raymond Williams’ phrase, structures of feeling as well as systems of affects, both emotional and bodily. Some of the players’ affective responses to game texts have now been well theorized. For instance, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of “flow” has been repeatedly mentioned in both academic works in game studies and more popular approaches to games (e.g. Jane McGonigal’s Reality is Broken). Elsewhere, Aubrey Anable, in Playing with Feelings: Video Games and Affect (2018), provides several case studies in which she traces various affective entanglements in games to earlier cultural experiences and phenomena. Following her line of thinking, in my presentation I would like to apply her framework to shed some light on selected titles belonging to the sub-genre known as “walking simulators.” Texts grouped in this category very often lack traditional features connected with challenges or goals, and while some substitute them with strong narrative structures, there are many “walkers” that dispense even with those. As my case studies, I have selected 9.03m (2013) and Glithhikers (2014), two ephemeral texts which, to my mind, provide interesting opportunities for thinking about affect and/in games. In their analysis I would particularly like to focus on how these two texts can engender both indescribable emotions and embodied experiences. Apart from focusing on specific affective operations and qualities in them, I would also like to propose some new ways of understanding walking simulators as texts exceeding the task-and-challenge and narrative modes of the gaming medium.

Paweł Frelik is Associate Professor and the Leader of Speculative Texts and Media Research Group at the American Studies Center, University of Warsaw. His teaching and research interests include science fiction, video games, fantastic visualities, digital media, and transmedia storytelling. He has published widely in these fields, serves on the boards of Science Fiction Studies, Extrapolation, and Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds, and is the co-editor of the New Dimensions in Science Fiction book series at the University of Wales Press. In 2017, he was the first non-Anglophone recipient of the Thomas D. Clareson Award for Distinguished Service presented by the Science Fiction Research Association for outstanding service activities. 

Dr. Strange(love) or: from affection-images to inter-faces

Adam Cichoń
(University of Warsaw)

The borderlines between love, technology and community in the post-digital age are really thin, if not completely blurred. The development of virtual reality goes hand in hand with the changing relationships between people. In the last few years cinematography has given us representations of something which can be called “strange love”. In movies such a
Her or Blade Runner we find protagonists who fall in love with an “interface”. For a long time authors such as Sherry Turkle tried to rethink how people are affected by non-human objects and why they can establish relationships with them. Thus, it is not surprising that science fiction movies explore these kind of stories. In his works, Dominic Pettman goes one step further and provides us with a concept which is adequate to that of “strange love”. For Pettman love is simply a kind of technology – technology of being together. In the end love is something that we make. From that perspective an inter-face is just another technology which helps us to be together or in other words – to “make” a love. But what exactly have interfaces to do with affects? To answer that question we have to go back to the notion of face which Pettman borrowed from Gilles Deleuze and which he transformed into the inter-face. In my paper I am going to explore that concept by juxtaposing it with another Deleuzian idea – the “affection-image” of which the face seems to be an important correlate. In some sense the digital age enables us to fulfill the Deleuze’s famous postulate – to escape the face, escape that horror story (as he called it). But even if we are living in the age of “strange love” is it a sufficient reason to learn to stop worrying and love the interface?

Adam Cichoń is a PhD student at the Faculty of “Artes Liberales” at the University of Warsaw. He received his MA in Philosophy from the University of Warsaw. He is currently working on his PhD dissertation which is focused on the expression in Gilles Deleuze’s philosophy of cinema.

Leibniz Law Arguments Against Substrate Migration: Transhumanism, Personalism, and the Epistemic Chasm

Mitchell Atkinson III
(Polish Academy of Sciences)

A central goal of the transhumanist community, that of “migrating” personality from an organic substrate to a non-organic or otherwise artificially constituted substrate, is troubled by myriad philosophical difficulties. Although the range of these difficulties is broad and includes thorny problems of the structure of consciousness requiring phenomenological analysis, here I will begin with Lebniz Law arguments on the structure of identity. Starting with the problems of identity, it can be seen that emulations and ancestors must be different sorts of thing if they are to be clearly defined.  Further, I will address phenomenological issues related to criteria for salience of functions of consciousnesses attempting migration, and the problems associated with construing those salience criteria personalistically, naturalistically, or transcendentally. All of the preceding leaves open the question as to whether something like substrate migration can take place, and more pressingly, whether such “migrations” will yield creatures who believe that they share an identity, however tortured, with their ancestors.

Mitchell Atkinson III is a doctoral candidate at the Graduate School for Social Research in the Polish Academy of Sciences. He works on phenomenology and social theory.

Rhetorical Emergence: Affect & Allegorical Incipience in Post-Truth Narratives

Euripides Altintzoglou
(University of Wolverhampton)

Post-Truth assertions are public acts of persuasion; rhetoric exercises that employ rational processes of dissemination (technology) and volumetric strategies of validated authorship(public endorsement of the ‘source’) in order to corroborate the ethical manipulation of what is right or wrong. This paper will pay particular focus on the allegorical processes that enable the production of these public statements and their operative manipulation of the veracity of fiction as fact: the resolution of familiar images into otherwise abstract aesthetic norms followed by their re-contextualised appropriation into precepts of specific ideological determinacy. Images have been traditionally theorised within binary paradigms: personal/universal, truthful/idealised (fictional), radical/hegemonic. With the rise of social media and their impact on the rate of dissemination of information, along with a populist determination of source credibility, we need to consider how these factors further condition the production of meaning in images that are proposed as ‘truthful’. The resurgent prominence of the theory of the ‘affect’ provides a third pole that not only mediates a balance within the dialectic natureof linguistic and semantic conflictual coexistences but also repositions the production of meaning as an emergent phenomenon. In such triadic networks, the ‘unleashed potentiality of abstraction’ (Massumi, 1995) renders the ‘affect’ as a tabula rasa, where the allegorical methods of confiscation, superimposition, fragmentation, and decentralisation (Owens,1980) are employed for the appropriation of narratives.

Dr Euripides Altintzoglou is a Subject Leader in Photography and a Senior Lecturer in Fine Art & Photography at the FHEA Wolverhampton School of Art, University of Wolverhampton. He is the author of Portraiture and Critical Reflections on Being (Routledge 2018) and co-editor (with Martin Fredriksson) of Revolt and Revolution: The Protester in the 21st Century (Inter-Disciplinary Press 2016). A practicing artist, he exhibited his works in Greece, France and the UK.

Hackerspaces’ socialization: Tensions between recreating or overcoming reproduction of power relations?

Lara Alouan
(Ph.D., Sociology, University of Paris Saclay, France)

To sum up briefly, Hackerspaces are workshops organized with an open community model where people with technological interests can socialize, collaborate, share and expand their knowledge. Hackerspaces advocate more democratic, less formalized and hierarchical way of proceeding, in order to grant more autonomy and responsibility to their members. The interest generated by hackerspaces, as particular places of technological creativity, has spread recently beyond researchers (Lallement, 2015; Davies R., 2017; Berrebi-Hoffman, Bureau, Lallement, 2018). Specifically hacker movement – taken in its general sense of emancipation thought technic and not in its reductive acceptance of informatics piracy (Raymond, 1999 ; Himanen, 2001 ; Mc Kenzie Wark, 2004) – calls for continuous experimentation with alternative forms of working organization. And if these organization forms, based on peer relations, own alternative character, even “capacitable”, do hackerspaces create a new socio-economical paradigm or do they consider/conceal other realities? To answer all these questions, we suggest our research: behind the smooth and enthusiastic facade in which hackerspaces are presented, what are structuring or occurring issues implemented (not only technological, but also social, economic, political terms)? In this contribution, we analyze if and how a focus on sensitization, technological skills and hacking can recreate or overcome reproduction of inequitable power relations at work. The purpose of this communication, based in empirical analysis, is to present four hackerpaces, self-organized, and observed in France from April 2015 to December 2017. Hackerspaces observed are volunteer-run, self-managed, autonomous spaces. Three of them become a hub for hacktivists in an attempt to create and communicate a collective challenge against capitalism and defend their vision based on open access, horizontal collaboration, self-management coordination and the free circulation of information.

Lara Alouan received her doctorate from University Of Paris Saclay, in November 2018, in France. She joined Sociology and Economics of Networks and Services at Orange Labs. Since 2017, she has been involved with French Association of Sociology (AFS) as a member of RT 25 committee (Research Network related to Labour market, Employment and organization).