Why Digital Media, Religion in the Age of Digital Reproduction?
Noted philosopher, critic and essayist Boris Groys, turns his attention now to the recent and dangerous marriage of religion and digital media. In a talk based on his paper, Religion in the Age of Digital Reproduction. He contends that the revival of extremist religion worldwide, in the face of a secular and skeptical world, depends on the broadcast of video and distribution of data, particularly through the Internet.
Groys argues that in older times, religious rituals were practiced “in isolated sacred places.” Today, “ritual, repetition and reproduction have become the fate of the entire culture. Everything reproduces itself -- capital, commodities, technology and art.” In our day, public media sites like MySpace and YouTube feature private hopes, dreams and beliefs, substituting for the public discussions of a previous age. This new configuration of the media, especially the Internet, encourages and even favors sovereign religious politics over institutionalized secular politics, says Groys. “The Internet is the space in which it is possible for contemporary, aggressive religious movements to install their propaganda material and act globally.”
Today’s religious rituals are enacted in a wired global space, where they can be faithfully reproduced an unlimited number of times, through the apparent magic of digital duplication. Video, believes Groys, serves as the principal medium of fundamentalism, serving up images over broadcast TV, the Internet, and in stores. Digital images are all the more powerful because they “have the ability to originate, multiply and distribute themselves through the open fields…of communication, like climbing out of nowhere, like being divine…” "Video recordings, digital images transmitted to countless many, are attempts to generate belief and passion, and function in some ways like a Byzantine icon."
“The digital file functions as an angel -- an invisible messenger transmitting a divine command.” says Groys.
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