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> DRAFT < Final paper will be published in the proceedings of the Stereo & Immersive Media — 2015 International Conference

Rui Matoso Universidade Lusófona (Lisboa)

Abstract: The paper has his starting point in the video installation Serious Games III: Immersion, produced by Harun Farocki in 2009. This is the first work in which Farocki addresses directly the stereoscopic medium modulated by virtual reality and immersive technologies. In the preliminary investigations of Serious Games Farocki was faced with an unexpected circumstance, the military training simulators offers the same technology to perform trauma therapies caused by posttraumatic stress disorder of war (Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy). Our hypothesis takes the access to the traumatic event and their unconscious memories, mediated by neotechnic devices and correlative scopic regimes. It is therefore important to check the operability of the concept of the technological unconscious, particularly from the readings that Derrida made on Freud about the unconscious as a typewriter. In the context of our study case is also relevant to mobilize Katherine Hayles is contributions to an understanding of the structural and emotional affinities between trauma and code. Finally, we will see that the Derridean hauntology, and the consequent spectral turn in digital humanities, are an integral part of what Catherine Malabou postulates, traumas are not caused by events or accidents, but by ghosts.

Rui Matoso 12/2015 | [email protected] | |

1. Serious Games - Immersion All But War Is Simulation. STRICOM1.

In the installation series entitled Serious Games2, project that Harun Farocki3 launched in 2009, he investigates how computer games, produced with virtual images of the Iraq war and developed by specialized companies in simulation design4 are used in therapeutic processes based in immersive psychotherapies - Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy5. The connection between simulation projects for military training and entertainment culture based on 3D imaging consumption is notorious and globally recognized as constituting a powerful Military-Entertainment Complex. The large financing provided by DARPA 6 for research in the field of imaging technologies and microelectronics forms the historical link between the computer simulation, virtual reality for military purposes and the entertainment industry. The construction of the Head-Mounted Display, capable of virtual reality stereoscopic display, coordinated by Ivan Sutherland, as well as the development of SIMNET (Simulator Networking) in the 1980s, were defining moments for establishing the overall level of a post-human cyberculture supported in artificial intelligence, simulation and the ubiquitous data communications networks, thus consolidating the cyberpunk vision of William Gibson in Neuromancer, the cyberspace as consensual hallucination and data made flesh or the embodiment of information. Timothy Lenoir makes an exhaustive chronology of military archeology of the 3D immersion industry now abundantly used in film special effects, virtual and augmented reality, cybermedicine, etc, and his hypothesis is that these new media are re-engineering of our channels of experience, transforming the concept of real and redefine the meaning of community but also of individual subjectivity, for as we live longer in the virtual space of the Internet our materiality 1 Army Simulation, Training and Instrumentation Command (STRICOM): 2 Serious Games – Immersion: Plesase see this vídeo capture from a gallery instalation: 3

To an approach to the work and the author Cf. Elsaesser, T. (2004)


One of these simulators created for therapeutic purposes is rightly referred to as Virtual Iraq and marketed by the company Virtually Better, Inc. (

5 One of the pioneering research projects in the use of this therapy for traumatized soldiers are integrated into the Institute for Creative Technologies at the University of Southern California (ICT): . However, the therapeutic range is very broad and includes most unconscious fears and phobias dizziness, aracnofobia, agoraphobia, glossophobia, etc. 6 Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency ( Rui Matoso 12/2015 | [email protected] | |

notions and reality tend to change (Lenoir 2000, p. 290). The affinity between the psychic unconscious and virtual reality images can be seen in the war games used by the United States Department of Defense as simulators for paradoxical purposes, from providing training and recognition exercises (perception and cognition) to clinical uses. These display systems perlaborate7 on cybertherapies in the soldiers suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder, thus creating an isomorphism between the phase of pre-battle training in virtual reality simulators and the post-trauma therapy, both supported through the same technology platforms: images, algorithms and equipment.

Img. 1. Harun Farocki, Serious Games - video stills. [Courtesy Harun Farocki GbR]

The previous work of pre-production around the concept for the video installation Immersion (2009), included in the Serious Games series, began when Matthias Rajmann showed Farocki a press clipping with the information that in U.S. is being used a computer program called Virtual Iraq to treat war veterans. Since then, the filmmaker was faced with the unsettling strangeness of the images used to prepare soldiers for warfare are identical to those used to heal the trauma caused by the same warfare, but with minor differences and a certain irony, is that the 7

“Perlaborate” is a back formation from the neologism “perlaboration”, from the French translation of Freud's term Durcharbeitung or “working through”, as the ability to redraw the crises, feelings and inner conflicts. Rui Matoso 12/2015 | [email protected] | |

images for therapies has a lower graphic quality (among other details do not have shadows) due to budget for therapies be less than for the war simulators for training (Farocki 2014, 116). In this specific point on the quality of the graphic definition of the images, we can indeed question about the difference that Farocki points ironically and whose corollary would be that the investment in the military industry is always higher than the investment in health systems. But perhaps there is another reason which relates to the characterization of immersive virtual reality and the resulting anesthetic powers. Because, as is known, the greater the naturalization of the interface and the higher is the level of sophistication of the sense of the immersant8 into the virtual environment, the lower is the critical distance of the subject faced to the device, to the point of hallucinatory symbiosis with the medium. The extreme empathy with the device and with the simulacrum, presents physical and psychological symptoms known as the illusionary symbiosis of observer and virtual reality progresses and psychological detachment vanishes, causing the emergence of side effects such as apathy, disorientation, nausea and vomiting (Grau 2003, p. 204). It is this symptomatic limit that the difference between virtual reality as art or entertainment and the so-called serious games9 aimed at teaching or therapeutic purposes is established. Even so it is necessary to take into account the differences and specificities of medical clinical cases (phobias, pain, trauma, etc.) and the level of conscious and critical distance in immersion promoted by cybertherapies10 based on virtual reality. But, to give a contradictory example to what we said earlier, in the case of relief sensation of pain in burn patients, a study by Hunter Hoffman 11 and published in 200412, shows that in these cases it is important the quality of the flow13 the patient experiences while synthetic agent (avatar) in virtual reality, for that reason therapists prescribe numbing immersion in a Virtual Reality 8 The term immersant is used by Char Davies (apud. Grau, p. 198) to refer to the participant operator in his immersion into virtual reality environments. 9 A serious game or applied game is a game designed for a primary purpose other than pure entertainment. The "serious" adjective is generally prepended to refer to products used by industries like defense, education, scientific exploration, health care, emergency management, city planning, engineering, and politics. ( ) 10 Cf. The Annual Review of CyberTherapy and Telemedicine ( 11 Virtual Reality Analgesia Research Center - University of Washington Human Interface Technology Laboratory (HITLab) – Seattle ( e ) 12 Hoffman, H. (2004). Virtual Reality Therapy. Scientific American, august 2004, 58-65. 13 Flow is a concept originated from studies in video games to designate the semi-hypnotic state of the players, used to describe the physical and mental immersion in a completed task. Requires immediate feedback without the occurrence of external disturbances and feeling of frustration due to software errors or network failures. Inside the flow state, individuals are fully focused on their actions, distractions are ignored and the sense of time is distorted. See Shinkle 2010. Rui Matoso 12/2015 | [email protected] | |

Distraction Environment to the relief of pain symptoms. The scientific evidence of a reduction in pain by cybernetic immersing the patient has its explanation in the fact that the sensation of pain contains a strong psychological component as «the same incoming pain signal can be interpreted as more or less painful depending on what the patient is thinking. In addition to influencing the way patients interpret such signals, psychological factors can even influence the amount of pain signals allowed to enter the brain’s cortex» (Hoffman 2004, p. 60). Tests conducted by The Human Interface Technology Lab (HITLab)14 through functional magnetic resonance image (see Img.2.), clearly show the brain changes in response to pain with or without virtual reality.

Img. 2. Reduction of brain response to pain in patients immersed and not immersed in a virtual environment. [Courtesy Image by Todd Richards and Aric Bills, UW, copyright Hunter Hoffman,]

Whether for a recreational use, whether in battle simulators for training purposes to military operational or post-traumatic stress disorder therapies, the display «creates a new liturgy where are played new transubstantiations (...) the display establishes a new relationship between mimesis and fiction» (Mondzain 2009, p.42), thus giving rise to a device with fusional and confusional powers in the constitution of synthetic and phantasmic imaginary of postmodernity, and adding a new scopic regime to the logistics of perception. It is not only about to advocate in the new imaging technologies the extending possibilities of knowledge, nor in the screens only an expansion of vision, but essentially to understand different modes of operations with visual information. The alliance between the military industry and visual culture industry is, of course, the result of a relationship whose strong bond was located in the production and dissemination of military propaganda, which Paul Virilio including in the field of logistics of perception (Virilio 1994, p. 49). 14 Rui Matoso 12/2015 | [email protected] | |

To this link between digital artistic creativity and war destruction we should join the industry of automation, to have a global view of «the phantom perspective of war, from the perspective of an imagined war-subjectivity.» (Farocki 2004, p. 20). One possible conclusion, says Orit Halpern (2015), is that we are conditioned to avoid experiencing war as pain or as trauma, and therefore, as Nietzsche would say, beyond good and evil. The computer games industry, especially the war games, by incorporating images of scenarios from the vast military archive lead to the development of strategic partnerships founded by a techno-aesthetic15 regime common to war and the games industry. The deal is done this way: the military dispositif provides images and maps of the territories, and software houses offer augmented reality algorithms, modulation and real-time interactivity. One of these cases, reported by Farocki is the game Full Spectrum Warrior16, whose production was even funded by the U.S. Department of Defense. In fact, says our filmmaker, the U.S. Military complex has surpassed all artists in the ability to see and recognize the visible unconscious (Farocki 2004, p. 18). With the reference to Walter Benjamin's idea of an optical unconscious, Farocki places the military industry at the forefront of the production of phantom-operative-images17 in the same manner as psychoanalysis provided access to the pulsional unconscious 18. In the thought of Walter Benjamin, exist between the two unconscious - pulsional and optical - the closest relations: The multiple aspects that the photographic device can register from reality lie largely outside the normal sensitive perception spectrum. Many distortions and stereotypes, change and disasters that 15 A letter from Gilbet Simondon to Jacques Derrida, dated July 3, 1982 (On Techno-Aesthetics. Parrhesia No. 14), on techno-aesthetics, reveals his will to revitalize the contemporary philosophy, which, in the opinion of Simondon, must be based on a «thought of the interfaces, where nothing should be excluded a priori». Translating into a new category of objects produced by intercategorial fusion of technology and aesthetic, perfectly functional objects, successful and beautiful.The notion of techno-aesthetics enables us to so frame the synesthetic relationship between the techno-scientific developments and their aesthetic haunting of the various stages of modernity. Since the invention of the magic lantern in the 17 th Century, the public presentations in the form of phantasmagorias, the great technical emanation merges with a technological way of aesthetic enjoyment. 16 17 Operative images are not abstract images and do not comply with the representation function, they form part of an operation that is used to store and recognize visual patterns. Operative images are the product of the development of a new generation of intelligent machines capable of defining a new visual space and a post-human vision. Compared to the phantom shots from the beginning of the 20 th century cinema, vulgarized in the sequences filmed in trains where the camera occupies a place inaccessible to human eyes, Harun Farocki notes that there is now a new category of phantom images, with traumatic subjective properties «We can interpret the film that takes up the perspective of the bomb as a phantom-subjective image. The film footage from a camera that is plunging towards its target, a suicidal camera, stays in our mind» (2004 Farocki, p.13). This new category of image, mediated massively during the Gulf War (1991), emerged with the appearance of cruise missiles in the 1980s (smart bombs), but at present they are an integral part of operations carried out by drones. For a more detailed approach Cf. OperativeImages / Phantom-Images: The Synthetic Perception Media in the late Harun Farocki (Matoso, 2015). 18 «The camera takes us to the optical unconscious, as psychoanalysis to the pulsional unconscious» (Benjamin 1992, 105). Rui Matoso 12/2015 | [email protected] | |

the visual world may suffer in the film really affect this world in psychosis, hallucinations and dreams. Thus, the camera procedures are equivalent to the procedures through which the collective perception of the public appropriates the individual modes of perception of psychotic or dreamer. (Benjamin 1992, p.105)

Thus, we can understand that the duplicity operative-image / phantom-image, formulated by Harun Farocki, performs a double-bind short-circuit, i.e., fulfills the dual function of working schizophrenic phenomena; on the one hand, through a process of capturing, encoding and cognition that gives the image an operational status; but on the other, the mediatization of an haunted image as a visual counterpart of the operative-image, which calls for a new mythology and visual culture drawn from unintended and non authoral images, but subjectivated by the receiving process. These phantom images contribute to the formation of a visible unconscious that allows us to access aspects of tangible reality mediated through inaccessible images to natural vision, thus transforming the human eye in an anachronistic vision organ, declared overtaken by the demands and accelerations of techno-science.

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2. Unconscious, cinema, desire and Pavlov What pictures want from us, what we have failed to give Them, is an idea of visuality adequate to Their ontology. W.J.T. Mitchell (1996)

The conjunction between unconscious and image, in the optical unconscious of Walter Benjamin, has been constituted, over the past centuries, as a psychoanalytic film theory, and, in this field, much is due to the fact that early studies of Freud on hysteria have coincided in time with the first sessions of cinema provided by the Lumiere brothers. In addition, it is clear that the development of a theory of psychoanalysis has been favored by is research on The Interpretation of Dreams, published by Sigmund Freud in 1899. In this work, Freud tried to follow his intuition on the analysis of dreams, where he discovered the key on an unconscious oriented to desire. Although it is reasonable to compare the movie to the dream, there is a significant difference, while producing and watching a movie can match the metaphor of a collective dream that runs between filmmakers and viewers; the dream itself is an individual production that according to Freud comes from illicit erotic desires repressed by the superego. What seems relevant in Freudian dream analysis is that the mental movie that accompanies us during sleep reveals the structure of our unconscious desire, thus enabling a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind. Then we can say that there is no film, as there is no dream, that do not directs us to that secret appeal of unconscious desire. However, as highlighted by Todd McGowan a confrontation between cinema and unconscious: The key similarity is not what we might expect—that the medium replaces ideas with images, like the rebus and like the dream. While this is significant, the crucial parallel lies in the position of the subject in the dream and in the cinema. The cinema is just as much a royal road to the unconscious as the dream because it marginalizes conscious will and privileges unconscious desire more than any other artistic medium to this point in history.19 (McGowan 2015, p. 9).

19 Todd McGowan does not rule out the possibility of the emergence of a new medium that marginalize awareness even more than the cinema, such as certain filmmakers imagined, and gives as an example the soaking machine consciousness in the dream, Wim Wenders in Until the End of the World (1991), or the artifact that Kathryn Bigelow invents and that allows people to share mental experiences of others through the connection between brains in Strange Days (1995). We could add other films whose imaginary refers to the eidetic relationship between the virtual reality of video games and dreams, as Existenz (Cronenberg, 1999). However, most of the projects in the Media Art field are by the presence of interactivity, which represents an unconscious clearance and an approach to control by the conscious subject. Rui Matoso 12/2015 | [email protected] | |

The ambiguous nature of the relationship with the unconscious desire resulting from conflict with the superego censorship, transforms desire in an endless line of flight20, a desire to desire21. This mechanism created to circumvent the psychic core of desire is due to the fact that the meeting with the desire is always traumatic, so maybe the great films are disturbing because they promote the traumatic encounter with our unconscious desire (ibid, p. 10 ). The way some filmmakers make use of unsettling strangeness theorized by Freud (uncanny)22after Jentsch (1906), e.g., David Lynch, Andrei Tarkovsky, Luis Buñuel or Tod Haynes, demonstrates this capacity that the cinematographic image has to take us to the most inhospitable and ghostly regions of the mind, desire and trauma23. In this regard, it is pertinent the comparison that Harun Farocki makes about the access to trauma through film and through immersive virtual reality: Hitchcock did more than a movie where the scene in wich the character was traumatized is eventually displayed on the screen. But here, at Fort Lewis 24, we can see that the patient seems to imagine. Then, Hollywood refers to Freud; but here and now therapy refers to Pavlov (Farocki, 2014, p. 116).

In order to comment on the enigmatic reference to Ivan Pavlov, that the filmmaker does not develop, we would be taken to another analysis about the related developments of cybernetics and behaviorism, i.e., the cybernetics extent of behavioral psychology, particularly of the conditioned reflex applications, combining in what we designate as cyberbehaviorism25. The link between the 20 A line of flight (French: ligne de fuite) is a concept developed by Gilles Deleuze and used extensively in his work with Félix Guattari. 21 «The dreamer … does not have a simple and unambiguous relationship to his wish. He rejects it, he censures it, he doesn’t want it. Here we encounter the essential dimension of desire - it is always desire in the second degree, desire of desire.» Jacques Lacan, The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book VII: The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, 1959-1960, ed. Jacques-Alain Miller, trans. Dennis Porter (New York: Norton, 1992), 14. 22 The sense of strangeness that emerges from what is familiar. Cf. Freud, S (2003) .The Uncanny. London: Penguin Books, Pp. 297-324. 23 A parody of the relationship between cinema and psychoanalysis is patent in short film by Roman Polanski, The Therapy (2012). View in: 24 Fort Lewis is one of the U.S. military facilities where Farocki filmed some of the sequences of Serious Games. 25 The cyber fusion of the brain (and central nervous system) and the phenomenological emergence of mind (mental functions, emotional states, thoughts, ...) - referred many times by Norbert Wiener - is since then a new line of action of the cybernetic behaviorism which has to be implemented as immersive and holistic cybernetic environment (totalitarian?), that is, which seeks to act throughout the feedback process cycle, automating the management of logical and emotional inputs (rationality and emotion) hoping to collect calculable and preemptive outputs (algorithms), and thus exercise a form of fuzzy control and maintain homeostasis in sociotechnical collective (networks). Cf. Networks, Cybernetics and Neuropower - brief study of the current cybernetic context. (Matoso, 2015b).

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formulations derived from darwinism, behaviourism and mechanicism, remains acting in the investigation of such networks and human-computer interaction, and the set of experimental and therapeutic practices designated as neurofeedback that currently is evident as a legacy of behaviourist determinism in particular with regard to conditioning phenomena triggered by activation of neural reward centers (stimulus-response), evident for example in technological multitasking context in which we are immersed. The understanding that the pavlovian conditioning reflex mechanism - or affective tone as Norbert Wiener prefers to designate (Wiener, 1948: 150151) - is a biological feedback mechanism related to apprenticeship and association of ideas, which allowed Wiener to speculate about computer learning skills. In short, what Farocki wants to allude is that there is a new medium that allows connection with the unconscious and the trauma, not via traumatic desire and psychoanalytic film, but trough the path of neuroscience and cybernetics applied to multiple psychotherapies 26 where the interfaces, more or less natural, enable interactivity with the sensory produced by immersive virtual reality technologies and provide us a new kind of sense of (tele)presence. Like a prosthetic extension of Heidegger's Dasein. The media archeology perspective clearly demonstrates that the experiential dimension of virtual reality (presence, space-time) is not a historical novelty, the stereoscopic photography of the 19th century is regarded as a precursor of the achievement of further technical objects, e.g., panorama, sensorama, stereoscopic television, 3D glasses or HMD (Head-Mounted Display), whose technical individuation process stabilize around common traits: spatial illusion, immersion, interactivity, hallucinations or presence. The correlation between immersion and presence in virtual digital environments is explained by Oliver Grau as a result of the medium's strategy to produce a high feeling of immersion, presence (a suggestive impression of being there), which can be enhanced through interaction with environments and dynamic scenarios in real time (Grau 2003, p.7). Immersion as a mentally stimulating and absorbing process can be characterized by the critical decline and emotional involvement in a synthetic context in which the action unfolds. However, what we now refer to as virtual reality consists of a wide range of practices and projects in various sectors (art, therapeutic, military, educational, ...). The conceptual differences, practical purposes or experiences provided to the immersant are of various kinds, in the case of artistic projects such as the now classic digital stereoscopy, Osmose27 (Char Davies, 1995), immersion results in a radical process of duality, 26 Of the several existing companies in the market, see the therapeutic offer in virtual reality therapies: 27 «Simply stated, Osmose is about being-in-the-world in its most profound sense, i.e, our subjective experience the sentient, embodied, incarnate, living beings embedded in enveloping flowing space. Osmosis: a biological process involving passage from one side of the membrane to another. Osmosis the metaphor: transcendence of difference Rui Matoso 12/2015 | [email protected] | |

awareness dissolution, approaching altered states of consciousness as in the mystic trance or psychedelic hallucination. In deepening the trend towards an increasing naturalization of interface promoted by the stereoscopic virtual reality industries, the ideology of the natural interface is now starting to develop their psychological influence with the backdrop of the illusion of virtual reality which targets to mobilize all senses for the illusion, i.e., the dissolution of the interface becomes a matter of politics (Grau 2003, p. 203). In the case of virtual reality exposure therapy described by Harun Farocki in Serious Games, the patient immerse in the digital image through a graphic interface designated as First Person Shooter, thus exerting partially the psychological transference 28 to is own virtual agent (avatar) whose action unfolds in a setting that simulates the digitally reconstructed traumatized site-specific reality, one that was concretely lived during his painful and hostile experience. Obviously, when Harun Farocki refers to Pavlov and the unconscious, or when we think of neuronal formation of stereoscopic image - 3D image has no physical existence, which is why a third image29 is formed in the visual cortex - we may have to rethink if these eidetic entities also belong to the category of image as it needs no support other than the brain. With the example of laser scanners which project images, or more precisely, modulated beams of light directly on the retina (virtual retinal display), Oliver Grau recognizes that although the retina stills one medium, these are the most private images so far known and accordingly, the ontological dimension of the image dissolves. Therefore, at the time of digital images based on computational calculation is plausible to question whether image is still the correct characterization or if the virtual image should not be interpreted as a neural category (ibid., p.251) ?. Research around the neuro-image, a concept developed by Patricia Pister (2012), still requires the recognition of the constituent properties of the modes of afection and the overlap between neuroscience of affects and affective computing30. Thus, it is important to note that the formation of neural image results from transductive interaction between technological devices and through mutual absorption, dissolution of boundaries between inner and outer, intermingling of self and world. An osmosis the artwork is motivated by the desire to heal the Cartesian split between mind / body, subject / object, Which has shaped our cultural values and contributed to the West's stance towards dominating (and estrangement from) life. In this context, Osmose seeks to re-sensitise-reconnecting mind, body and world» (Davies, 2002). See also 28 The transfer is constituted from the patient's psychic reality, through their desires, fears and other aspects of his personality. Freud states that the transfer creates an intermediate region between illness and real life through which the transition from one to the other is made (Freud, S. (1914). Papers on technique. Remembering, repeating and working-through.) 29 The exhibition "The Third Image" is dedicated to stereoscopic photography, organized by the research project Stereo Visual Culture (CICANT, ULHT) 30 Cf. and Affective computing: challenges (Rosalind Picard - MIT Media Laboratory). Rui Matoso 12/2015 | [email protected] | |

neural bases of affection (emotions and feelings), and therefore allows the manipulation of emotional states and feelings (Pister 2012, p. 113). The neuro-image is, accordingly, a component of medial practices in the network of ubiquitous digital technologies. As a corollary, Pister further argues that in contemporary culture the image passed the status of illusion of reality to be considered as reality of illusions, operating directly in our brain as real agents in the real world (ibid., p. 6 ). Now these eidetic agents operating in the world are what Farocki, already mentioned above, designates as operative-image. The neuro-image, as an image, is operative on the one hand, an integral part and parcel of the medial dispositif (media machines), and on another, belongs to the technical ensemble that Paul Virilio designated as machine vision (1994). Perhaps it is in this context that the Deleuze his aphorism, «The brain is unity. The brain is the screen» (quoted by Gregory 2000, p. 283), get is hermeneutic relevance in the problematic field of our essay. After all, it is always a brain issue, «the brain is the hidden face of all circuits, which can make triumph the most rudimentary conditioned reflexes, the same way to leave an opportunity to more creative traces, least probable conections» (Deleuze 2003, p. 89). It is therefore necessary to go beyond the dominant issues of rhetoric and image interpretation and knowing what images want, as suggested by W.J.T. Mitchell, shifting the field from the uses and effects issues, to the field of desire: What want the images is not the same as messages communicated by them or the effect they produce; it is not even equal to what they say they want. Like people, the images do not know what they want; they must be helped to recognize this through dialogue with others. (Mitchell 1996, p.81)

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3. Techno-aesthetic double-bind: Immersion, code, unconscious, trauma, hauntology and cybernetic ghosts The brain has lost its Euclidean co-ordinates, and now emits other signs. Gilles Deleuze (1989) Code is the unconscious of language. Katherine Hayles (2006)

What in fact we are committed to examine in this paper is the vehicle through which we access a traumatic memory recorded in the unconscious, and how psychotherapy assisted by immersion in virtual reality environments (Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy) are adequated to an understanding of the unconscious as a technical substrate resident in the underlying computer code to produce the digital image and, therefore, the immersive virtual reality. The correspondence between trauma and virtual reality or trauma and computer code is recognized by Katherine Hayles, as follows: Experienced consciously but remembered nonlinguistically, trauma has structural affinities with code. Like code, it is linked with narrative without itself being narrative. Like code, it is somewhere other than on the linguistic surface, while having power to influence that surface. Like code, it is intimately related to somatic states below the level of consciousness (…) This possibility was explored in the early days of virtual reality, through simulations designed to help people overcome such phobias as fear of heights, agoraphobia, and arachnophobia. The idea was to present a simulated experience through which the affected person could encounter the phobia at a distance, as it were, where fear remained at a tolerable level (Hayles 2006, p. 141).

In Traumas of Code, Hayles begins by proposing a similar analogy from Walter Benjamin his optical unconscious, because as the unconscious is to consciousness also the computer code is for language, and, in our intense computational culture, «the code is the unconscious of language» (idem. p. 137). The most striking practical example of analogy can be seen in the designated genetic algorithms, included in multiple programs of artificial intelligence and whose code is autopoietic, i.e., it is written automatically and iteratively by himself. This code opacity, but also of the unconscious, can still be compared to what philosophers of technic refers to as black box, particularly in Bruno Latour (1991) and Flusser, referred to the sociotechnical ensemble made up of the «apparatus-operator» pair (Flusser 1998, p.35), as a set of Rui Matoso 12/2015 | [email protected] | |

operations and codifications that we only know the input and output values. Albeit in a disguised form, code produces agency in the world the same way as the unconscious do, code agency demonstrates its resemblance to the unconscious to produce effects even when it remains hidden under a linguistic surface. This agency of the code in a conjunction with the activation of huge streams of data (big data) forms a cybernetic context conditioning the human perception and behavior (cyberbehaviorism). A phenomenon that can be prosaically verifiable as a good example of unconscious machinic agency, in the context of multitasking imposed by the profusion of computers and software, is the use of social networks like Facebook, whose algorithms generates the visualization of information, The notion of unconscious-code (Hayles) as the optical-unconscious (Benjamin) or visibleunconscious (Farocki) can be encompassed in a larger set that Nigel Thrift names as technologicalunconscious (Thrift 2004). After all, these partial unconscious have been historically made up of the technical-aesthetic embodiment of the human, and they can be subsumed today in the context of post-humanist problematics, implying a notion of the brain as transductive membrane 31 immersed in the sociotechnical interface. This perspective of a cyborg brain (Matoso 2015c) allows us to understand that the unconscious and consciousness are influenced and modulated by the interaction with the technological environment in which they live, as well as the existence of a historical and contextual dimension of the unconscious. So if we accept that the mind, the body and the environment can not be absolutely separated, we have to conclude that consciousness and mental processes of individuation, or the formation of the self, can not be isolated from the biotech environment in which are immersed and since epigenesis in the case of natural-born cyborgs, as advocated by Andy Clark (2003). This idea is not so new as it seems, McLuhan had already mentioned that one of the main aspects of the electric age is to establish a global network expanding the nervous system, which is not merely an electric network but a consciousness or unified field of experience (McLuhan 1964, p. 384). Giving afterwards rise to an emerging cognitive system 32, which is part of the synthetic vision and machinic perception. To summarize, the code through these multiple associations becomes a powerful resource 31 Deleuze: «the brain’s precisely this boundary of a continuous two-way movement between Inside and Outside, this membrane between them.» (Deleuze, Negotiations, 176) 32 In this fourth wave of computing systems, also known as, among others, as computational turn or affective computing, the notion of cyberculture that emerged from the Gutenberg Galaxy (M. McLuhan) as a new interdependence phase imposed by the electricity that recreates the world the image of a global village, has been recognized as noosphere (Teilhard de Chardin), semiosphere (Yuri Lotman) or cognisphere (Thomas Whalen), whose ability to distribute the sensitive reality at home which Paul Valéry already foresaw in 1928 , is today expanded by the ubiquity of Internet access. The cognisphere thus is a term that identifies a cognitive interconnection ecosystem, in which the machines and the human bodies are becoming increasingly integrated. Rui Matoso 12/2015 | [email protected] | |

through which new communication channels can be opened between cognitive conscious, unconscious and nonconscious operations, given that one of these communication channels will promote the connection to trauma, as suggested by Katherine Hayles (2006, p. 140). As the code and the unconscious, the trauma goes beyond the human capacity to process it and verbalize it, because, once dissociated from the language, the trauma resists narrative, and hence the need for recourse to psychotherapy. As the code, the trauma is bound to somatic states below the threshold of consciousness, this similarity suggests that the code can be designed as a vehicle that allows the understanding, representation and operative intervention in trauma (Hayles 2006, p. 141 ). In Serious Games we are dealing with an artistic work that clarifies the modus operandi of a cultural technology that explores, through immersion in virtual reality environments, the way the computer code has become operationally appropriate to deal with the trauma. Consequently this work has a lot to say about «the ways in which the technological nonconscious operates with unprecedented cognitive power in conjunction with the performances of intelligent machines» (ibid, p. 142), causing the ethical and philosophical questioning of the meaning of this intertwining of human agency, artificial intelligence, databases, optical fibers and the cognisphere in general. It is precisely in this context of post-media aesthetic production, according to Lev Manovich (2001), that we most need new categories that can describe how a cultural object (computer) organizes data and structures the user experience of such data. These categories are now essential for the construction of a new information behavior whose substrate lies in the nervous system his ability to handle ubiquitous digital information and the corresponding neuroplasticity of the human brain to survive in simulated environments. N. Katherine Hayles, in the cited article, addresses three study cases 33 sharing the same double articulation of the code, between humans and intelligent artifacts, and the relationship between code and trauma. The implications raised by the works of these three artists, suggests that the code is a kind of virulent agent capable of transforming the context of human life in a simultaneously dangerous and artistically liberating metamorphosis. Despite the different approaches in each of these works, there is a common idea in seeing the code as central component of the complex system where artificial intelligence interacts with and influences the conscious, the unconscious and the subconscious of human behavior, including a diverse group of symptoms: panic attacks, flashbacks, paranoia, depersonalization or nausea (Hayles 2006, p. 146), in fact manifestations often described by imerssants on the hallucinatory virtual reality. Coincidentally, the film Avalon (Mamoru Oshii, 2001) and Serious Games focus on the same 33 Three works of three authors: the novel Pattern Recognition by William Gibson; the film Avalon, of Mamoru Oshii; and hypertext fiction Dreamaphage, Jason Nelson. Rui Matoso 12/2015 | [email protected] | |

problem: the immersion in the code, the simulated experience of war and the emotional energy investment in stereoscopic virtual reality. The difference between the two projects takes place on the approach to trauma, while in Oshii immersion is the origin of trauma - because the simulated physical damage of the avatar generates psychosomatic symptoms in the human body; Farocki´s immersion on trauma has therapeutic purposes. Anyway, this techno-aesthetic double-bind is at once rooted in the deep ambiguity of the immersant, is that a real world or a simulation? There is an effective danger of death, or is it just a temporary hallucination? In its approach to the technical substratum of unconscious memory, Patricia Clough Ticineto uses Jacques Derrida as an intercessor for Sigmund Freud on the presentation of a metaphor for the unconscious as a typewriter (Clough 2000, p.28). Derrida suggests (in Archive Fever34) the existence of a relationship between the unconscious memory and the specific metaphors of machines and thus concluding that the unconscious memory is inextricable from their various technical substrates. In the age of telematic technologies, the metaphor of the typewriter is like a child's play, but in the imagination of Freud was enough to connote the impregnated ink ribbon with the unconscious traces of perception. These traces, says Clough, meant the energy discharged in the nervous system, because, according to Freud, the main function of neurons is to receive a sensory excitement and turn it into electrical signals and, in addition, retain some of that energy in the functioning of the nervous system and the plastic creation of neural networks. It is therefore through an inscription system, organized between the nervous system and neuronal networks, which simultaneously establish the memory, the unconscious and the trauma (ibid, pp. 32-33). When Derrida deconstructs the relationship between the typewriter and Freudian neurobiology is to approximate the technique and the nature, the body and the machine and the real to the virtual, to focus on the development of his concept of différance as a synthesis of subindividuals marks or traces, inspired by the psychic mechanism of translation that Freud established between the unconscious memory and conscient perception or cognition, and more specifically within the frame of an hypothetical textual (hieroglyphics) interpretation of dreams. This hypothesis, as we know, was later revoked by Freud when he assumed that the hieroglyphs of dreams are untranslatable, in the common sense of the term. Dreams have only a scenic quality untranslatable and without meaning, therefore there is no textual basis for dreams in unconscious memory, only unconscious production of a screen-memory (ibid., pp. 35-36). Derrida assumes the same conclusion, that the movement between the unconscious and cognition is not made like the 34Derrida, J. e Prenowitz, E. (1995). Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression. Diacritics. Vol. 25, No. 2 (Summer, 1995), pp. 9-63.

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translation of a text on the unconscious, because it does not have a representable ontological structure (a presence), only a neural network with stratified traces, a pre-textual domain. Replacing the technological metaphor of typewriter (technical substrate) that works like a transducer35 converting sensory stimuli into electrical signals traceable as entries in the neuronal network and operating in pre-individual and pre-textual formation of unconscious memory, Derrida updates his metaphors to the image and function of the new technologies of information and communication. The typewriter turns into telecommunications system, a «distributed network transmissions without beginning or end, whose function is to allow the pure repetition of unconscious memory» (ibid., p. 38). In short, the archival instance of the Freudian unconscious is updated by Derrida to the notion of hypertext and digital storage, where the machine is not just a metaphor for something reified out of the unconscious and where memory is inseparable from its technical substrate. There is no separation, says Clough, in face of nature or biology, neither opposition between nature and culture, biology and technology, the unconscious and the machine; instead «for Derrida the machine is deferred unconscious as culture and technology are deferred nature» (idem.). In the deconstruction carried out by Derrida on the legacy of the Freudian unconscious as a machine, he will conclude that the unconscious memory, technically deferred by telematic networks configures the formation of a pre-individual machinic unconscious. In the purpose of the reconfigurations that media imposes on human agency in the context of teletechnologies, Derrida posits the existence of the medium as an element «neither alive nor dead, neither present nor absent, so without a specific ontology, but it spectralizes, and therefore requires another hermeneutics founded in hauntology» (Derrida 1994, p. 63). By replacing the priority of being and presence with the cybernetic and hauntologic ghost figure, Derrida gives rise to what since 1993 has been designated as the spectral turn36, where subjects like the ghost in the machine or haunted the media, has beeing worked by several authors37.

35 The term "transduction" (Gilbert Simondon) can be understood as a critical operation in order to express biological individuation; can operate in mental functioning - thinking transductively is to mediate between different orders and heterogeneous realities in contact, and turning them into something different- and represents the true course of the invention, it is therefore not deductive or inductive. A transductive event is then the one that articulates different realities, giving rise to what previously existed separately (Simondon 2009, p.39). 36 Cf. Blanco, M e Peeren, E (2013). The spectralities reader - ghosts and haunting in contemporary cultural theory. New York: Bloomsbury Academic. 37 The ghost in the machine ( Koestler, A. 1968. New York: Macmillan) ; Cybernetics and Ghosts (Calvino, I. 1986. The Uses of Literature. San Diego, New York, London. Harcourt Brace & Company. pp. 3 to 27); Haunted media: Electronic presence from telegraphy to television (Sconce, J. 2000. Duke University Press.) Rui Matoso 12/2015 | [email protected] | |

4. Brief conclusion By changing space, by leaving the space of one's usual sensibilities, one enters into communication with the space wich is psychically innovating. ... For we do not change place, we change our nature. Gaston Bachelard

The techno-aesthetic double-bind operates as a metastable feedback mechanism between the operative image and the phantom image, in the simulation between therapy and war or between ghost and trauma. In this framework, the soldiers are trained for fighting through virtual reality simulators, and then afterwards they participate in military operations in real scenarios, which in turn are subject to the traumatic events of the war battles, and then they return again to immersion into virtual reality, for therapeutic purposes. Does the stereoscopic simulation of war, evident in computer games, produce microtraumatic events by modulating the intensity of affection? Matteo Pasquinelli, after Kurt Goldstein, suggests that the brain is in «a permanent and constitutive state of active trauma», but also that «machines continuously extend human trauma» (Pasquinelli 2015, p. 10). Maybe, therefore being traumatized, as advocated by Cathy Caruth, means being possessed by an image or event located in the past, but also describes the condition of being haunted by ghosts (Blanco, M and Peeren, and 2013, pp 10-12). Hauntings, in this case, are an integral part of the trauma symptoms and of the traumatized body, or, as recalls Catherine Malabou from his reading of Freud, «traumas are not caused by events or accidents, but by ghosts» (Malabou 2015, 196). In the context of the proliferation of virtual images and post-media environment, the ghost metaphor remains useful as part of an archeology of the media and, as a concept, the ghostly gains a new quality as a contemporary visual culture element. The genealogy of technical images is from the beginning a ghostly becoming of the modernity its vision, therefore, the history of photography is inhabited since its inception by shadows and death, the image is born from the death and is a presence inhabited by the absence (Batchen 2004 p. 317). The «art of fixing a shadow» was the description used by Henry Fox Talbot to define the photogenic drawing that their first contact proofs fixed. After all, perhaps the Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy, analyzed by Farocki in Serious Games stays an integral part of this ancient art to fix the shadows and access ghosts, reopening the channels of communication with the trauma through the technological unconscious, the code and its stereoscopic representation.

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