Costa, P.D. R. da (2013). Between seeing and looking: echoes and screen resonances

This PhD thesis proposes to examine some psychosociological consequences imposed by the screening sociation on seeing and looking, from the screen-film to the screens of modern days (computers, tablets and smartphones). We conclude that the transition from literate to visual culture was due, mainly, to its gradual ubiquity, to the evolution of forms of use and of interaction with screens as a technical object, as well as to the metamorphosis of its contents. However, this was a process that took place in two distinct phases: with the screen-theatre and the screen-tv we were facing a culture of a vertical nature, hierarchical, prone to create and enforce standards – of life, fashion, thought, ideology. In a different way, with the screen-computer, and, more recently, with the mobile screens (mainly smartphones and tablets), network connected, we have gradually seen the explosion of a more horizontal cultural expression, less hierarchical, more focused on individual singularities who tend to give rise to small communities of interests and motivations. Due to the fact that the screen interacts with the vision, and this relates to the mind in a way different from that promoted by the literate and structured segment – for it enhances the connection between the rational and the non-conscious, between objectivity and subjectivity – it gives rise to a more subjective and unique expression, in individuals and communities (especially in networked tribes). In addition to the wear caused by techno-political promises and to the greater introduction of the Eros as a result of the female strength in the social environment, this is, partly, the result of a progressive emancipation of the screen-user in face of the modern design (that of the vertical imposition of reason, male objectivism and materialism). But the findings do not stop there. After comparing individuals with different types of screening sociation (interaction) – those that use only one type of screen (monoscreeners) and those that use a larger number of screens (hyperscreeners) – this study concludes that there are at least four dimensions that reveal significant differences with increased importance to explain the impact of the screen: these are the dimension of learning and thinking; the dimension of memory and its uses, the dimension of socialization processes, and the dimension of the individuation processes. Within the dimension of learning and thinking, this study reveals, through certain evidences, that the hyperscreeners who were interviewed (frequent users of various types of screens: computer, Internet, television, cinema and tablets and smartphones) tend to demonstrate, in relation to monoscreeners (using almost solely TV), a greater capacity for detailing information and building opinion and information in a more autonomous fashion – making greater use of cross-sources, having a more critical and more analytical standpoint on collective affairs, the ability to learn based on a more intuitive, connective and rhizomatic approach (in a labyrinth of hypotheses), and also a more iconic reasoning, drawing on many metaphors and allegories as base-markers of memories and explanatory links. On the other hand, as in hyperscreener sociation individuals live in a reticular, mediated and hypersonic connection, they tend to suffer from what we call anxiety by the immediacy, driving force that generates a tendency towards fragmentation (of bonds, meanings, relationships, connections). As regards the memory and its uses, this study found that individuals, rather than memorizing in their minds, tend to transfer to computer systems and screens what was once memorized. This generates a greater trend to the release of psychic memory, replacing sequential contents by mental icons which, in turn, tend to refer to the stored memory. This dynamic allows, on the one hand, to increase the ability of rhizome reasoning, connecting issues and thoughts based on referential icons. On the other hand, it tends to deplete the memory and create greater dependence on technology to access the contents. The screenvisions, thus, constitute a strong basis for the constitution of this change: as they mentally function as icons that allow you to generate associations (emotional, affective, rational, logical, etc.), they become a sort of snapshots (iconic synapses) that suggest meanings and directions, ready to generate associations, and emerge into consciousness through what, in the contingency, is over-exposed – this is the basis of the iconic-rhizomatic thought. According to this conclusion, the gain is in the speed, efficiency and the ability to (re)combine solutions, but is often lost in depth, since a certain philosophy based on a theorization without theoretical memory, or using a frivolous, inconsistent and fragmentary connection. On the other hand, within the dimension of socialization, the hyperscreeners tend to recover certain community logics, free of the economistic ‘ultimate-end relationship’. The levels of sharing registered in hyperscreeners, without objective interests, provide evidence to this dynamics. If with the screen-tv there was a certain screening individualism, with the screen-web a logic based on a certain communitarian screening surely overlaps. And, in this transition, from the imposed vertical to the shared horizontal, data demonstrate another noteworthy gain: networking, in a horizontal logic and away from the verticality imposed by the media, life for hyperscreeners becomes more optimistic than for monoscreeners (as the latter, mainly through the use of TV, feel much the weight of the tragedies and terrors). Therefore, in the senses of hyperscreeners reigns a blue force, the connection, the infinite and even the dream, much lesser the power of red (of blood, tragedy, alarming news), very present in monoscreeners. Finally, as regards the dimension of individuation, we have established some archetypes with different bases in these two forms of sociation (monoscreener and hyperscreener). For monoscreeners, the Romantic-Baroque hero imposes himself as a great background image. For hyperscreeners, in turn, the archetypal hero tends more to the multiplicity of forms, thus influencing the young in a more plural and open manner: the strength of the superhero, friendly, righteous, humble, courageous, fighter, cheerful, optimistic, confident, is more evident; the scientist-policeman, intellectual, rational, scientific, but who cooperates with the intuitive, sensitive and emotional; the hero-neighbour: an equal among the common who, for some reason, has submerged either in a grotesque and fantastic world or just wishes to live his real life and try accomplish, within some normality, something important not for the entire world but for those around him; or the grotesquehero: that who is not perfect, who has some virtues and some faults, but much lesser aesthetic than the usual heroes, usually a solitary or someone who lives underground or in the cave. On the other hand, the archetype of the environmentalist, more present in hyperscreeners than in monoscreeners, constitutes a subliminal, even unconscious, response in face of the growth of the archetype of the cyborg, who acts as the shadow of danger that may come from over-hyperscreenization. It is then here shown that, through this screen power that is transmitted and granted through several screening sociations, there are profound changes in the aforementioned dimensions. This is how this dynamic imposes and/or puts pressure on basic institutions of modern design (school, interpersonal relations, economic structures, labour and forms of citizenship) towards the need for an urgent renovation, under penalty of becoming, in the near future, something excessively blurred for current times.




Pedro Daniel Rodrigues da Costa