Paul Virilio and accidents
Accidents have always fascinated me. It is the intellectual scapegoat of the technological; accident is diagnostic of technology. To invent the train is to invent derailment; to invent the ship is to invent the shipwreck. The ship that sinks says much more to me about technology than the ship that floats! Today the question of the accident arises with new technologies, like the image of the stock market crash on Wall Street. Program trading: here there is the image of the general accident, no longer the particular accident like the derailment or the shipwreck. In old technologies, the accident is "local"; with information technologies it is "global." We do not yet understand very well this negative innovation. We have not understood the power of the virtual accident. We are faced with a new type of accident for which the only reference is the analogy to the stock market crash, but this is not sufficient.
The whole book deals with this idea of accidents ("ce qui arrive" / "what happens"), dromology, relation to space, speed and media. It comes form an exhibit he worked on at the Fondation Cartier in Paris, advocating for a future "Museum of the Accident": here's what he says: "Is the reconstituted accident a foreshadowing of the Museum of the Accident?":
I also like his point of how technology reshapes the spatial praxis as well as the notion of familiarity I addressed yesterday:
I think that the infosphere - the sphere of information - is going to impose itself on the geosphere. We are going to be living in a reduced world. The capacity of interactivity is going to reduce the world, real space to nearly nothing. Therefore, in the near future, people will have a feeling of being enclosed in a small, confined, environment. In fact, there is already a speed pollution which reduces the world to nothing. Just as Foucault spoke of this feeling among the imprisoned, I believe that there will be for future generations a feeling of confinement in the world, of incarceration which will certainly be at the limit of tolerability, by virtue of the speed of information. If I were to give a last image, interactivity is to real space what radioactivity is to the atmosphere.
Why do I blog this? because I like what Virilio expresses and how he does it.