Monday, April 8, 2013

Further Venues for Exploration

There was a plethora of amazingly interesting and engaging presentations at the GWU Ecologies of the Inhuman symposium. I would first like to comment on the sheer variety of approaches that people have taken towards a dislodging of an anthropocentric line of scholarship, which speaks volumes on the nature of the field of object oriented ontology.
I found Alan Montroso's close reading of the Prioress' Tale particularly engaging, as he focused on removing an anthropocentric line of reasoning and opted to see the human figures as “tool-objects” for the inhuman, music. He even chose to use the word “virus” as a descriptor for the role music and other sounds play within the narrative, which is a refusal to commit to the negative connotations that are conventionally associated with the word. It would be an interesting experiment to see how animals or other beings react to music, and see how the music of nature interacts with human productions, whether it is a scientific experiment or an aesthetic synthesis that can be found in the work of certain artists. I would expect such research to be done by now, so this might be more of a personal reminder than a suggestion.
My main focus aligns with my own interests, which is Ian Bogost's mention of the Gears of War franchise. Not only did it connect to his mention of Cliff Brezinsky, director of the franchise who owns the Ferrari, but it was an admirable contribution to his argument of the inhuman as the process of transformation. The franchise has set the standard for “cover-shooters” in the industry, and his recognition of the game as a “getting to cover shooter” was compelling, yet it ignores the franchise's narrative background which aligns with the general focus of the symposium. The games take place on the planet Sera which humans have colonized in pursuit of a highly valued power source called Imulsion. What they don't realize is that the planet is inhabited, as the extra-terrestrial species called Locusts exist underground in areas inaccessible by their scanners. What we instinctively and conventionally recognize as "extra-terrestrial" is proven false, as humans are the invaders and true "extra-terrestrials." Even though the general public reaction to the game isn't one that recognizes the "alien" existence of humans on Sera, the game does hint at the notions. This might make more use of post-colonial theory in terms of analysis, yet there is commentary on the (in)human condition as well. Throughout the violent actions the player commits as the protagonist Marcus Fenix in “defense” of the human colony, we can start to notice the inhuman in the remaining human characters, especially in their unimaginable physical proportions and eventually how similar they can be to the Locust enemies as well. While it seems to be a simple action game that many would scoff at due to a weak narrative and strong focus on committing violent acts, there is a wealth of theory that can be applied to it. As a side note, I should mention that looking around the room during the symposium, I was somewhat happy to be the only one who was smiling and nodding my head to his mention of Cliffy B and Gears of War after listening to a variety of analysis on works that I wasn't very familiar with.  

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