The Affective Turn

Patricia T Clough, 2008. The Affective Turn: Political Economy, Biomedia and Bodies. Theory, Culture & Society 25, 1–22.


The turn to affect points instead to a dynamism immanent to bodily matter and matter generally – matter’s capacity for self-organization in being in-formational – which, I want to argue, may be the most provocative and enduring contribution of the affective turn.


Yet, many of the critics and theorists who turned to affect often focused on the circuit from affect to emotion, ending up with subjectively felt states of emotion – a return to the subject as the subject of emotion. I want to turn attention instead to those critics and theorists who, indebted to Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Baruch Spinoza and Henri Bergson, conceptualize affect as pre-individual bodily forces augmenting or diminishing a body’s capacity to act and who critically engage those technologies that are // making it possible to grasp and to manipulate the imperceptible dynamism of affect.

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The Double Logic of Remediation

Jay Bolter and Richard Grusin, ‘The Double Logic of Remediation’, pp.2-15, in:

Bolter, J.D., Grusin, R., 2003. Remediation: understanding new media. MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.


In this last decade of the twentieth century, we are in an unusual position to appreciate remediation, because of the rapid development of new digital media and the nearly as rapid response by traditional media. Older electronic and print media are seeking to reaffirm their status within our culture as digital media challenge that status. Both new and old media are invoking the twin logics of immediacy and hypermediacy in their efforts to remake themselves and each other.

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Digital Photography

Jay Bolter and Richard Grusin, ‘Digital Photography’, pp.104-112, in:

Bolter, J.D., Grusin, R., 2003. Remediation: understanding new media. MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.


Many remediations are reciprocal in the sense that they invite us to imagine each medium as trying to remediate the other. In such cases, deciding which medium is remediating and which is remediated is a matter of interpretation, for it comes down to which medium is regarded as more important for a certain purpose.

Computer photorealism is trying to achieve precisely what digital photography is trying to prevent: the overcoming and replacement of the earlier technology of photography.

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Media Archaeography

Wolfgang Ernst, ‘Media Archaeography: Method and Machine Versus History and Narrative Of Media’, pp.239-255, in:

Huhtamo, E., Parikka, J. (Eds.), 2011. Media archaeology: approaches, applications, and implications. University of California Press, Berkeley, Calif.


The media-archaeological method as proposed here is meant as an epistemological alternative approach to the supremacy of media-historical narratives. Equally close to disciplines that analyse material (hardware) culture and to the Foucauldian notion of the “archive” as the set of rules governing the range of what can be verbally, audiovisually, or alphanumerically expressed at all, media archaeology is both a method and an aesthetics of practising media criticism, a kind of epistemological reverse engineering, and an awareness of moments when media themselves, not explicitly humans any more, come active “archaeologists” of knowledge.

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Media archaeology and re-presencing the past

Vivian Sobchack, ‘Afterword : media archaeology and re-presencing the past’, pp.323-333, in:

Huhtamo, E., Parikka, J. (Eds.), 2011. Media archaeology: approaches, applications, and implications. University of California Press, Berkeley, Calif.


[…] this discourse of presence (a “presence in absence”) and its particularly concern with the past and the conditions under which it can be re-presenced (as well as historiographically communicated) are central to media archaeology.

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The Camera That Ate Itself

Matthew Fuller, ‘The Camera That Ate Itself’, 55-85 in:

Fuller, M., 2007. Media ecologies: materialist energies in art and technoculture, 1st MIT Press paperback edition. ed, Leonardo. The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts London, England.


This persistent whimsy that labor-saving technology will of itself release people into a helter-skelter world of self-determined fun is less a theory than a suburban myth.

Nevertheless, Flusser’s Towards a Philosophy of Photography insists we play along. Having been liberated from the necessity, if not from the compulsion, to work, people are available for play.

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The Technology of Gender

Teresa de Lauretis, ‘The Technology of Gender’, pp.1-30, in:

De Lauretis, T., 1987. Technologies of gender: essays on theory, film, and fiction, Theories of representation and difference. Indiana University Press, Bloomington.
In the feminist writings and cultural practices of the 1960s and 1970s, the notion of gender as sexual difference was central to the critique of representation, the rereading of cultural images and narratives, the questioning of theories of subjectivity and textuality, of reading, writing, and spectatorship.

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Virtual Gender

Judy Wajcman, ‘Virtual Gender’, pp.56-77, in:
Wajcman, J., 2004. TechnoFeminism. Polity, Cambridge ; Malden, MA.
Progress is still defined by technological enterprises, but it is digital rather than space technology that now excites the imagination with its more immediate and accessible possibilities. Rarely having made it into outer space, little wonder that feminists have seized upon new digital technologies for their potential to finally free women from the constraints of their sex.
The conviction that the Internet is the solution to social disintegration and individualism is no less popular than the idea that it will accelerate these trends.

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On the matrix: cyberfeminist simulations

Plant, Sadie. ‘On the matrix: cyberfeminist simulations’, in The Cybercultures Reader, eds David Bell and Barbara M. Kennedy, London: Routledge, 2000, pp.325-326


The Internet promises women a network of lines on which to chatter, natter, work and play; virtuality brings a fluidity to identities which once had to be fixed; and multimedia provides a new tactile environment in which women artists can find their space.

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Non-Users Also Matter

Sally Wyatt, “Non-Users Also Matter: The Construction of Users and Non-Users of the Internet”, pp.67-79 in:
Oudshoorn, N., Pinch, T. (Eds.), 2003. How users matter: the co-construction of users and technologies. MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.
The reasons why private companies selling Internet-related products and services wish to promote the Internet as a universal medium are self-evident; the reasons why policy makers support them are less clear.
Users have been neglected for too long. Including them helps to overcome the problems associated with approaches to science and technology studies and innovation studies that emphasize the roles of powerful actors such as scientists, engineers, politicians, and financiers in producing technologies.
But restoring the dialectic between production and consumption by establishing the importance of use and users may introduce another problem: by focusing on use, we implicitly accept the promises of technology and the capitalist relations of its production.
Users are increasingly introduced into technology studies to counterbalance the emphasis on producers found in much of the literature, but all categories involve exclusions. Therefore, users should be seen in relation to another, even less visible group, that of non-users.
The car was a paradigm case of a symbol of modernity in the twentieth century. To many people, cars reflect wealth, power, virility, and freedom. The Internet promises many of the same attributes on an even larger scale, with its possibility of global reach. The symbolic value of having Internet access is often presented as a sign of inclusion in a high-technology future.
According to the trickle-down view, there may be inequalities of access and use during the early stages of a technology, but these disappear, or are at least much reduced, as the technology becomes more widely diffused.
Similar claims can be found in much literature and in policy statements about industrialization and modernization more generally. Individuals, regions, and nations will “catch up”; those not connected now will be or should be connected soon. This is the real annihilation of space by time: the assumption that the entire world shares a single time line of development, with some groups ahead of others but with everyone on the same path.
The stereotypical user remains a young, white, university-educated man.
There are differences in patterns of use, men spending more time on line and logging on more frequently.
Will the cyberworld come to dominate the physical world to anything like the same extent as cars and the associated socio-technical system? Is it possible to turn off the machine? Or will everyone’s choices come to be shaped by the Internet, just as many people’s transport choices are influenced by the automobile whether or not they own one?
People who stop using the Internet are poorer and less well-educated. People who are introduced to the Internet by family and friends are more likely to “drop out” than those who are self-taught or those who receive formal training at work or school. Teenagers are more likely to give up than people over 20.
There are different categories of non-use. As Bauer (1995: 14–15) points out, there is a difference between passive “avoidance behavior” and active resistance. Also, care should be taken to distinguish between non-use of a technological system (such as the Internet) as a whole and non-use of specific aspects of it (Miles and Thomas 1995: 256–257).
[description of four types of non-users: resisters, rejectors, excluded, expelled]
If Internet access is seen as inherently desirable, this might be accompanied by the provision of measures to facilitate access. Another possibility is to accept that some people will never use the Internet. This could lead either to a focus on existing users or (moving away from the perspective of the suppliers and promoters who see non-use only as a gap to be filled) to policies that would make alternatives to the Internet available to people who want or need them.
Once one has made the step of including “former user,” as well as “current user” and “never a user,” it is not too much more of a leap to begin to take apart the notion of “user.” What exactly does it mean to be a user?
The Internet “user” should be conceptualized along a continuum, with degrees and forms of participation that can change. Different modalities of use should be understood in terms of different types of users, but also in relation to different temporal and social trajectories.
Many authors have pointed to the ways in which producers and designers of technology draw on the “I-methodology,” using themselves as the paradigm of a user (see the chapter by Lindsay in this volume), or the singular, undifferentiated user, or users in the plural as a homogeneous group. Including the variety of non-users also helps to open the way for subtler description and analysis of the multiplicity of users.
Analyzing users is important, but by focusing on users and producers we run the risk of accepting a worldview in which adoption of new technology is the norm.
Cars are not simply wheels, engines, and steel; they exist within a sociotechnical infrastructure that includes test centers for drivers and vehicles, motorways, garages, the petrochemical industry, drive-in movies, and out-of-town shopping centers. The more people use cars, the greater the infrastructure to support them, and the lessening of car-free space.
Similarly, the Internet is not just web content. It includes many other applications as well as computers, telecommunication links, routers, servers, educators, and cyber cafés. The more people use the Internet, the more pressure there is to develop user-friendly interfaces and to provide more access equipment, greater bandwidth, and faster switching and routing. But there is a paradox here: as the network expands and becomes more useful, it may also become more difficult to create well-working communities.
It is thus important to analyze the Internet not only along a single dimension or characteristic but as a large technical system (Mayntz and Hughes 1988; Summerton 1994; Coutard 1999).
At the beginning of the chapter, I highlighted the importance of incorporating users into technology studies as a way of avoiding the traps associated with following only the powerful actors. Another way of avoiding such traps is to take non-users and former users seriously as relevant social groups, as actors who might influence the shape of the world.
The use of information and communication technology (or any other technology) by individuals, organizations, and nations is taken as the norm, and non-use is perceived as a sign of a deficiency to be remedied or as a need to be fulfilled. The assumption is that access to technology is necessarily desirable, and the question to be addressed is how to increase access.