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Caetlin Benson-Allott, “By Design: Or, What Remote Controls Can Teach Us about the Nature of Control”
Thursday, September 25, 2014 @ 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm EDT
Co-sponsored with MIT Literature.
How does an object set the limits for human experiences of will and subjecthood? How does an interface temper our desires for interactivity or intervention? A remote control appears to exert its user’s will over distant objects, yet the design and function of the device itself instill in its subject a vexed relationship to his or her own agency. Analyzing the technical and design evolution of these devices reveals how the seemingly most inconsequential of media devices have shaped the way users cohabit with mass media, consumer electronics, and each other.
Caetlin Benson-Allott is Associate Professor of English and Film and Media Studies at Georgetown University. She is the author of Killer Tapes and Shattered Screens: Video Spectatorship from VHS to File Sharing (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013) and Remote Control (New York: Bloomsbury Press, forthcoming 2015). Her articles have appeared in Cinema Journal, Jump Cut, Film Quarterly, South Atlantic Quarterly, Film Criticism, and The Quarterly Review of Film and Video as well as multiple anthologies.