‘Violence, Transgression, and Modernity’ is part of the publication ‘Baudelaire in Cyberspace’. This book was published by Academic. ‘flâneur’, Baudelaire’s symbol of modernity, the anonymous Introduction. Everyone loves the flâneur, Baudelaire’s cyber-arcades, and along with them the. In Baudelaire in Cyberspace (), Antoon van den Braembussche and Angelo Vermeulen explore the relationship between art, science and.

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Skip to main content. Log In Sign Up. Violence, transgression, and modernity. Now what if we placed the subject of violence in a broader perspective?

One example is that of the infamous photographs taken at the prison in Abu Ghraib. Toward the end ofthey were presented at Inconvenient Evidence, a museum exhibition at the International Center of Photography in New York. To give another example: In other words, the line between visual art and visual culture has become blurred. The problems of representation would be an interesting starting point for our conversation today.

My first question to you is therefore: What would you say are the most arresting representations of cybsrspace I can’t give a straightforward answer to that. The fear, the threat … AV And the excitement, of course. AVdB A kind of suspense. Highly addictive, and it has a very enjoyable, hard to describe feel about it.

It also touches on the sublime, one of our previous subjects. Repelling, and enthralling at the same time… AV Can you imagine anyone making sense of that? AVdB Cyberspqce think it has to do with a sense of delight, a sense of lust. Is it to do with the age-old opposition between Plato and Aristotle? Plato wanted to ban tragedy but Aristotle believed in its potential to heal and purge.

I’m more inclined to believe Aristotle but I still wonder about the precise working of this purging. AV Plato argued for the opposite.

Violence, Transgression, and Modernity online

AVdB Plato said that the display of violence breeds imitation or, to use a modern term, breeds copycats. AVdB But I cybegspace your question reaches further than that.

How does it come about? Is there a deeper explanation? What is the origin of this remarkable fascination with fictional violence? All these debates of Plato and Aristotle are still more or less descriptive.

Baudelaire in Cyberspace – hisk

Well, bsudelaire explanation is biological. Take noradrenalin, for instance. This argument is sometimes used to explain why people would choose to do such irrational things as bungee jumping. Our brain is thought of as a central cyberspacd that processes sensory stimuli, triggering the transmission of biochemical signal substances, physical responses and bodily sensations.

And that would be it? And how does it work exactly? I think such a cultural perspective is indispensable to obtain a more comprehensive idea. The fact that culture shields, enwraps and filters certain things is highly relevant.


Baudelaire in Cyberspace

In essence, this is about regaining freedom. On the other end of the scale, we can find the ambiguity of the desire for the forbidden, the attraction of transgression… Hence the importance of the fictional element.

The fictional element creates the illusion of freedom. In that case you can hardly speak in terms of freedom. Take the conflict between Israel en Palestine, where violence takes horribly predictable forms: But our debate is about the violence of surprise, of unpredictability. But the nature of the violence, its progress and wider context, all this is anything but uncertain. AV I agree, but does the unpredictable characterize representations of violence and death?

Suddenly, one of her legs is shot to pieces, causing the mine to explode. This climax is carefully built up and the representation of the final outcome has a tremendous visual impact. The effect of such extremely violent images is that of shock, caused precisely by their directness. The addictive quality is not so much due to the final violent outcome as to the gradual build-up, the subtle reprieve.

This is in sharp contrast with the shock effect. It’s this build-up that fascinates. What does fascinate them — look at the success of horror films — is the suspense, the time lag, the buildup of fear. Hitchcock was a great master of this technique. In his collection of essays, Danse MacabreStephen King distinguished three forms of horror – gradations, if you like.

There are no ready- made recipes and as a writer or film producer you can suggest it convincingly only at certain moments.

Hence the frequent baudrlaire to monsters in horror fiction. This too generates a kind of fear, but it is slightly more predictable. For example, when you explicitly show a body being slit open or a head bursting. Nobody will remain unruffled baudelaide that. King says his horror scenes should ideally have maximum impact but that if he feels a particular effect might strike the viewer as artificial, and therefore as ridiculous, he moves on to a lower level.

Suspense can be an element of horror, but not necessarily so. The explicit pictures of accidents and executions on a site like Rotten.

In the case of shocking images, the confrontation is only too visible, direct and almost immediate. This is something very different.

But explicitly shocking images are about disgust rather than fear. AV Of course, fear and disgust are two strategies that are often combined in good horror fiction. A convincing horror film makes use of both all of the time and manages to find a proper balance. Aliens, its sequel, follows a completely different strategy, which is why, I think, the film was not quite so strong. Or again, the emotion of fear will be greater when the threat is indefinite rather than a direct presence causing repugnance or disgust.

AV These are two kinds of emotion available to authors of horror fiction — a manga, a game, a film. An excellent baidelaire of the use of disgust is the horror film Cannibal Holocaust by Ruggero Deodato, from The first time I saw it I was in Ghent at a Halloween party. The film completely ruined the party, leaving all of us totally upset by its unusually violent content. Strange enough, one of the most shocking scenes is the butchering of a turtle.


In itself, this is hardly out of the ordinary, for cybersppace supermarkets are full of slaughtered animals. But the rituality of the cutting process is shown quite deliberately, almost like a documentary, rather loosely and in close-up. In this case, the use of documentary style in such a wholly insane fictional context has an utterly shocking effect. AVdB I think it has become far more common in our culture to actually represent such violence.

Not for nothing was Hitchcock a very great name in those days. AV The need for transgression has increased enormously. Trespassing the standard, exceeding the limits … The websites you showed are part of a cultural development that I find rather hard to take. AV Our main subject so far has been fiction and the strategies available to artists within their fictional work. But websites like Rotten. Its content has baudepaire filtered, taken from a particular perspective, etcetera.

AV You have a point there. But I find that appealing too. I like its disturbing and destabilizing quality. To me, the need for such transgression has an existential connection as well.

The two human skulls that you can baudelaird in my study often stir reactions. In a very commonplace way, they obviously refer to the vanitas theme, but — as the biologist that I am — I find i remind us of cgberspace fact that underneath our skin we all look the same. More or less like the clownesque members bauudelaire the North American tribes we already talked about.

Characters that, precisely by inverting the usual baudeliare of things, raise existential questions and make people laugh at the same time. Michel Bauwens, a Belgian media theoretician living in Thailand, once told me the cyberspacee about a particular Buddhist order.

He said its members are accustomed to hang images of horror scenes above their beds, pictures of car accidents and the like, cybfrspace remain mindful of the essence of human existence.

Trash as spiritual input. I’m not equating horror with spirituality, but still there is a fascinating link. AVdB I have the impression that people of your generation are much more casual about horror and violence.

AV We approach media very differently. We can now decide for ourselves what we want to see. And we can bauedlaire content ourselves, like opinion articles, videos and photo reports.