Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Core Post 1 - On Domesticity of War

Amongst this week’s assigned readings, I found Colomina’s “Domesticity at War” especially interesting. I would like to pick up from her argument about the World’s Fair of 1964, when people showed concern about the computer—a screen—dictating tastes of the domestic environment. If you think about it, it’s even kind of surprising for us today that it sounded surprising at that time, for what is the screen if not a dictator of parameters? She continues, affirming: “Windows may be needed psychologically, but are in fact rarely looked through.” (6) I remember a few years ago, when I used to wake up and open my eyes to look at the window, instead of the screen of my phone. If  “The displacement of time and space produced within the house problematizes traditional special distinctions, such as that between inside and outside.” (6), then the screen becomes a mediate between these two worlds. In the simplest example, instead of stepping outside to feel the temperature, we rather open our weather apps to decide what to wear.
The author dissertates about how humanity is always at the edge of war, both exterior, in a foreign territory, and interior, in the ambient of the house. In fact, Colomina argues these two environments dialogue with and influence each other. Evoking the thoughts of Paul Virilio -- ‘War is no longer identifiable with declared conflict, with battles’ -- she argues wars of today take place without visible fighting, and what I want to point out in this reflection is the question of political visibility. In 1991, when CBS news invited war “experts” to foresee the signs of tomorrow’s war, it might mean it was because they were not capable of seeing the war of the present time. As the author argues, the media, a supposedly vehicle of visibility, failed in bringing to the house sphere the true image of war. At this point, we could think about all non-recognized forms of civil wars happening in “non-western” (meaning those who aren’t conductors of the dominant culture) countries and that the media does not give voice to.

When the author argues the line that establishes the limits of the inside, space of domesticity, and outside, ambient of the foreigner, are now unclear, it could be, positively thinking, this new mediation will open up the “shell of peace and privacy” described as domesticity, to lead the once enclosed subject to care for the surroundings and the exterior. What I extract from “Domesticity at War” is television’s capacity to act as instructor of political agency. When the world is at our reach through the screen, it is a personal choice to look beyond the private sphere; to make sure the eyes on the screen that virtually shows the outside, are focused on what realistically inhabits the ambient outside of domesticity.

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