Film-Philosophy Conference, Film-Philosophy Conference 2012

Stiegler and Film/Philosophy

Patrick Crogan, Ben Roberts, Marcel Swiboda


Stiegler’s significance in the interdisciplinary field of film/philosophy will be examined by investigating aspects of his work and its purchase on important questions that have animated the field as it has developed over the course of the last 10 years or so. Arising from his wider project of re-thinking, in a more engaged and pertinent register, the question(s) concerning technology, as prosthetic, supplement, and as inextricably bound up with any consideration of the future becoming of the ‘(not in-)human’ (as Stiegler prefers to call ‘us’ in our potentiality at least), his take on cinema is central to his account of the nature and stakes of contemporary industrial media and the role they play in contemporary technocultural becoming. The cinema (and the audiovisual media that adopt and develop its epoch-making capacities) as tertiary retention (that is, as exterior, factical memory form), as attentional capture/coordination, and as opportunity for the inventive redoubling of the technocultural programme, will be considered in this panel in relation to Stiegler’s efforts to reposition philosophy at the centre of contemporary efforts to reinvent a credible cultural and political future.

1. Patrick Crogan: Editing Experience: Stiegler and Film Theory/History.

At the 'Impact of Technology on the History and Theory of Cinema' conference in Montreal in Nov 2011, leading film scholar, Tom Gunning, affirmed the importance of Bernard Stiegler's philosophy of technology for a reconceptualisation of cinema's past and future at this juncture of its becoming digital. Gunning is less interested, however, in Stiegler's specific analysis of cinema. My paper will elaborate and evaluate some of the key claims of Stiegler's work on cinema by reflecting on this curiously ambivalent steering of the theory of film towards Stiegler's post-Derridean, post-Simondonian philosophy of technology. Gunning sees the possibilities of this reorientation in a renewed encounter with the graphic, 'mythological' power of the cinematic image not reducible to its significatory potential, and linking it to the long, long history of exterior technical supports of human imagination and collective becoming. His distinterest in Stiegler's account of cinema would seem, then, to run parallel with his identification of this power of cinema as something prior to its becoming a form of montage or assemblage (what Deleuze says cinema becomes later, when its 'true' nature emerges). For his part, Stiegler identifies the cinema's re-edit of experience as an absolutely singular development of this long trajectory of exteriorisation. it is in Stiegler's post-phenomenological (post-Husserlian) account of the experience of cinema that the difference between Gunning's Stiegler and Stiegler's cinema lies.

2. Ben Roberts: ‘Drôle d’époque’: Bernard Stiegler and the hyperindustrial age'

The starting point for this paper is Bernard Stiegler’s discussion of the Alain Resnais  film On connaît la chanson [Same Old Song] (1997). The characters in this film ventriloquise various well known French chanson in a manner reminiscent of (and, in fact, influenced by) Dennis Potter. They thus project chanson as the shared cultural memory of the film’s (French) audience. In the first volume of De la misère symbolique (On symbolic misery) Stiegler explores the strange age [‘drôle d’époque’] in which our collective memory is constituted through these industrial temporal objects.

Taking my cue from a passage in which he discusses the cinematic practice of Resnais as akin to ‘sampling’, I compare Stiegler’s approach here with the arguments made by Lawrence Lessig jn Remix and Free Culture. I argue that they share some common concerns, for example about the potential of the ’remix’ to reclaim an industrialised culture – and therefore to reinstate citizens as writers and not only readers of culture. However, the outcomes and assumptions of the two approaches are quite different and this helps to elucidate Stiegler’s much broader critique of the era he calls ‘hyperindustrial’.

3. Marcel Swiboda: Orthotheses in the Philosophy of Media History: Technics, Time and Audio-visual Embodiment

In his second volume of Technics and Time, Disorientation, the philosopher Bernard Stiegler recasts his conclusions from the first volume towards a thinking of technological inventions and innovations in the age of ‘industrial temporal objects’. Developing his exploration of this theme in terms of his concept of the ‘orthographic’, Stiegler considers the complex ways in which specific technological developments such as photography provide an in-road into the further examination of technical and mnemonic inscription. This paper will take some of the technological developments of the ‘orthographic age’ as a basis for analysing the ways in which audio-visual media associated with the epochal transformations of the industrial age embody and inscribe these concerns as they pertain to the history of material inscription and its theorisation, as explored by Stiegler . The paper proposes to consider these themes and concerns by and through specific ‘intermedial’ case-based examples derived from photography and film, examining how ‘orthographic’ inscriptions of memory and temporality allow for a sustained and concrete engagement with the important themes Stiegler raises in relation to technological and material inscription and some of their ethical and political ramifications.


Only abstracts are available on this site

About the Presenter

Patrick Crogan
University of the West of England, Bristol
United Kingdom

Patrick Crogan teaches Film and Media at the University of the West of England in Bristol. He guest edited the special issue of Cultural Politics on Stiegler (6:2, 2010), and co-translated Stiegler’s Acting Out (Stanford UP, 2009). He has published several essays on Stiegler's philosophy of technology in relation to film and media, and is currently working on a larger project on this theme. He is also the author of Gameplay Mode: War, Simulation and Technoculture (U Minnesota Press, 2011)

Ben Roberts
University of Bradford
United Kingdom

Ben Roberts teaches at the University of Bradford. He is currently editing a special issue of the journal New Formations on the work of Bernard Stiegler and is working on a book project on critical theory of technology.

Marcel Swiboda
University of Leeds
United Kingdom

Marcel Swiboda teaches in the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds. His current research interests are primarily focused on the the philosophy of technics in relation to media, music and film, with a specific emphasis on the relationship between technics and critical culture