‘Between Page and Screen’ and Mappable Spaces

Sunday, February 9th, 2014 by lola192

In ‘Postscript on the Societies of Control’, Gilles Deleuze claims that in disciplinary societies, “the individual never ceases passing from one closed environment to another”. He goes on to assert, however, that we’re no longer existing within those societies of discipline. Rather, we now exist within expanding societies of control born of an increasing reliance on capitalism for societal movement. For Deleuze, this switch means that “man is no longer man enclosed but man in debt”. However, I believe that sadly (and yes, terrifyingly), man is both enclosed and in debt. Moreover, he is further enclosed by his debt. Society dictates our mappable spaces. It allows or denies entry or exit to whomever it pleases. It establishes who may move within which space, how much they may move, and bars us all from the non-mappable (read ‘uncontrollable’) spaces in between.

I started to think about societies of control and their mappable spaces in regard to Between Page and Screen. Is the text/piece of art allowing us to transcend these enclosed spaces and map our own spaces beyond them? Or, is it simply passing us from one closed environment to another under a flimsy title suggesting liminality? Whilst Between Page and Screen, as inherent in the title, seemingly desires to exist within the liminal spaces between ink printed on white paper and coded text displayed on a computer screen, I feel it fails to do so. Admittedly, the text does rely on the successful communication between the two spaces, that of the page and that of the screen, in order for it to work, and maybe that suggests some semblance of liminality. Maybe. I’m not convinced. However, the words themselves can only appear on the screen. The text is only readable on that previously mapped space. Moreover, the reader is afforded very little movement during their reading of the text. The book must be perfectly positioned in such a way as to allow the words to remain on the page whilst still enabling the reader to read. I found that the slightest movement too far right, left, up, or down, or simply the slight twitch of my finger, would cause the words to dissipate, leaving me to look uncomfortably at myself whilst I tried to remedy the book’s problematic orientation.

Additionally, as Erin mentioned in her post a couple of weeks ago, the text assumes a place of privilege amongst its readers. Firstly, one must have the $27 to buy the book with its printed shapes (maybe I’m just a jaded and broke graduate student, but that’s an outrageous price). Secondly, one must have reliable access to the internet in order to understand the purpose of those shapes. Thirdly, one must have a webcam in order to make the text readable.

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One comment on “‘Between Page and Screen’ and Mappable Spaces

  1. Lori Emerson says:

    Lola, I really appreciate your post and your attempt to bring Between Page and Screen (let’s call it BPS) in conversation with Deleuze. The tricky part, it seems to me, is that BPS can also, equally, be read as drawing attention and enacting the many spaces of control we have to exist in and also as trying to intervene by exploring the in-between, the uncomfortable, the not-quite-functional space between us and any medium. And the fact that BPS can be read in the way you read it and also in the way I read it, makes me think that it’s “liminality” (sorry to use that cliche from the 90s) is its strength and gives it the potential to open up new modes of experience. I also hope you don’t mind me pushing back a bit on how BPS is a space of privilege – you and others who pointed this out are DEFINITELY right…but then I wonder whether we’re still not assuming there are some spaces that aren’t privileged? As I pointed out on someone’s blog post a couple weeks ago, there are many places in the world where books are extremely hard to come by and also places in the world where it may even be easier to get access to a laptop than to have regular access to printed matter. My point is that access is unevenly distributed everywhere and no medium seems to be exempt.

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