Breaking out that Perl script: The imaging and imagining of code in The Social Network and Catfish

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Breaking out that Perl script: The imaging and imagining of code in The Social Network and Catfish. / Dinnen, Zara.

In: European Journal of American Culture, Vol. 32, No. 2, 06.2013, p. 173-186.

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@article{0340301bd36846dfbc64c07f8fafe743,
title = "Breaking out that Perl script: The imaging and imagining of code in The Social Network and Catfish",
abstract = "For most users of digital technology, code is the hidden engine of their experience: silent, disguised, unknown and possibly unknowable. It is this experience of code that will be the subject of this article. Code, which is often perceived as textual, runs software, which is predominantly received as graphical. As with printing and hand written script, all text is technically graphical, but this observation refers specifically to the increasing use of graphic icons, and visual media, to form the language of digital communications the egg-timer, the pointer, Twitter and Facebook {\textquoteleft}buttons{\textquoteright}, video CVs and avatars. This article will consider how the user encounter with code, as image, can perhaps be brought to our attention through visual narratives that attempt to represent digital communication and programming. The article will begin with a consideration of code itself as a problematic imagetext: that is, code as a semantic, or linguistic, material that is not readable in a human context; that persists as a sign until the instance of its being run an instance of potential performativity. It will do so through a discussion of critical interventions in the field of code studies by scholars such as Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, Alexander Galloway and Adrian Mackenzie. Having established this reading, the article will move on to consider how code might resist representation in narrative form, particularly in film. It will do so through a discussion of Matthew Kirschenbaum{\textquoteright}s term {\textquoteleft}medial ideology{\textquoteright}, a construct that references fictional representations of code and coding that wilfully obscure the actual mechanical process. The main section of the article will be given over to tracing Kirschenbaum{\textquoteright}s term through two recent films that creatively interpret the difficulties of depicting computing and communication on screen, The Social Network (Fincher, 2010), and Catfish (Joost and Schulman, 2010).",
keywords = "digital culture, code studies, Matthew G. Kirschenbaum, The Social Network, Catfish ",
author = "Zara Dinnen",
year = "2013",
month = jun,
doi = "10.1386/ejac.32.2.173_1",
language = "English",
volume = "32",
pages = "173--186",
journal = "European Journal of American Culture",
issn = "1466-0407",
publisher = "Intellect",
number = "2",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - Breaking out that Perl script: The imaging and imagining of code in The Social Network and Catfish

AU - Dinnen, Zara

PY - 2013/6

Y1 - 2013/6

N2 - For most users of digital technology, code is the hidden engine of their experience: silent, disguised, unknown and possibly unknowable. It is this experience of code that will be the subject of this article. Code, which is often perceived as textual, runs software, which is predominantly received as graphical. As with printing and hand written script, all text is technically graphical, but this observation refers specifically to the increasing use of graphic icons, and visual media, to form the language of digital communications the egg-timer, the pointer, Twitter and Facebook ‘buttons’, video CVs and avatars. This article will consider how the user encounter with code, as image, can perhaps be brought to our attention through visual narratives that attempt to represent digital communication and programming. The article will begin with a consideration of code itself as a problematic imagetext: that is, code as a semantic, or linguistic, material that is not readable in a human context; that persists as a sign until the instance of its being run an instance of potential performativity. It will do so through a discussion of critical interventions in the field of code studies by scholars such as Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, Alexander Galloway and Adrian Mackenzie. Having established this reading, the article will move on to consider how code might resist representation in narrative form, particularly in film. It will do so through a discussion of Matthew Kirschenbaum’s term ‘medial ideology’, a construct that references fictional representations of code and coding that wilfully obscure the actual mechanical process. The main section of the article will be given over to tracing Kirschenbaum’s term through two recent films that creatively interpret the difficulties of depicting computing and communication on screen, The Social Network (Fincher, 2010), and Catfish (Joost and Schulman, 2010).

AB - For most users of digital technology, code is the hidden engine of their experience: silent, disguised, unknown and possibly unknowable. It is this experience of code that will be the subject of this article. Code, which is often perceived as textual, runs software, which is predominantly received as graphical. As with printing and hand written script, all text is technically graphical, but this observation refers specifically to the increasing use of graphic icons, and visual media, to form the language of digital communications the egg-timer, the pointer, Twitter and Facebook ‘buttons’, video CVs and avatars. This article will consider how the user encounter with code, as image, can perhaps be brought to our attention through visual narratives that attempt to represent digital communication and programming. The article will begin with a consideration of code itself as a problematic imagetext: that is, code as a semantic, or linguistic, material that is not readable in a human context; that persists as a sign until the instance of its being run an instance of potential performativity. It will do so through a discussion of critical interventions in the field of code studies by scholars such as Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, Alexander Galloway and Adrian Mackenzie. Having established this reading, the article will move on to consider how code might resist representation in narrative form, particularly in film. It will do so through a discussion of Matthew Kirschenbaum’s term ‘medial ideology’, a construct that references fictional representations of code and coding that wilfully obscure the actual mechanical process. The main section of the article will be given over to tracing Kirschenbaum’s term through two recent films that creatively interpret the difficulties of depicting computing and communication on screen, The Social Network (Fincher, 2010), and Catfish (Joost and Schulman, 2010).

KW - digital culture

KW - code studies

KW - Matthew G. Kirschenbaum

KW - The Social Network

KW - Catfish

U2 - 10.1386/ejac.32.2.173_1

DO - 10.1386/ejac.32.2.173_1

M3 - Article

VL - 32

SP - 173

EP - 186

JO - European Journal of American Culture

JF - European Journal of American Culture

SN - 1466-0407

IS - 2

ER -