Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Tension Between Man and Machine

In Paul Virilio's essay, The Third Interval, the idea that technology is a double-edged sword yet again arises. Virilio uses the term "terminal citizen" to refer to those who have been affected by the technological developments that exist in urban areas. He cites examples of certain advances in particular that involve less physical activity. This further relates to his point that the urbanization of real-time ultimately invokes the urbanization of the body of the citizen. This is certainly evident in most technological advancements of today. Home shopping, as Virilio states, is an example because it allows us to save time by ordering products online and eliminates the need for us to go to the specific store. Here, the goal of saving time results in less physical activity for humans reflecting Virilio's statement about the urbanization of the body of the citizen.

Virilio gives a warning about the dangers of technology here: “catastrophic figure...who abandons himself, for want of anything better, to the capabilities of captors, sensors and other remote control scanners that turn him into a being controlled by the machine...”(20). He argues that eventually, humans will become a “catastrophic figure”, using technology in so many ways that we will end up depending on it and being controlled by it. By using the phrase “abandoning himself”, Virilio conveys the notion that humans will give full agency to the machines while retaining no agency for themselves. This would explain the wording he chose for the term that he coined, the terminal citizen. The word terminal refers to an end, implying that he equates the loss of agency of humans to the loss of mankind on Earth.

Tension between man and technology is not a new subject to this class. In the scene that we saw from Metropolis, we saw that the bodies of the workers had been enslaved by the machine time that is established by the movements of the factory machines. Again, time as influenced by technology also affects the physical activity of the humans who use the technology. Also, students pointed out in earlier response essays that one of the themes in Man With A Movie Camera is that people should not be consumed by machines, but should partake in more natural activities. The manifestation of this message can be seen when Vertov shows people engaging in outdoor activities such as swimming, playing basketball, exercising, etc. .



Blogger Shane_Wey said...

This raises the question regarding whether technology is really helpful. People think that technology makes life simpler, but it seems that all it does it introduce exponentially more complications. Getting a computer may help with organization, but it opens up the user to a whole world where he must buy software, check email, instant message, load music, buy and research online, etc. We may accomplish more tasks with more technology, but these tasks lead to infinitely more that are never finished.

4/30/2007 12:04 AM  

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