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Rendering the Ghost: Towards a Digital-orientated Ontology

Research output: Contribution to conference - Without ISBN/ISSN Conference paper

Published
Publication date3/08/2018
Original languageEnglish
Event14th Biennial Conference of the International Gothic Association : Gothic Hybridities - Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, United Kingdom
Duration: 31/07/20183/08/2018
https://igamanchester2018.wordpress.com/

Conference

Conference14th Biennial Conference of the International Gothic Association
CountryUnited Kingdom
CityManchester
Period31/07/183/08/18
Internet address

Abstract

Since the conception of digital space, the human race has wondered what populates this sphere. The development of smart phone technology and augmented reality proposes a hybrid state in which, for many users, this boundary has become increasingly porous. Unsurprisingly therefore our perception of digital entities has taken on an anthropocentric dimension – whether the anxiety of computer viruses or transmission of ‘viral’ social media. Phrases such as render ghosts, stock images that ‘live’ in our projected construction advertisements, expose the terminology this non-human identity is continually framed within. Focusing on the meeting point of Science Fiction and Gothic, this paper will consider how we may conceive of a truly digital-orientated ontology and the applicability of such a term.

This identification will be applied to Mr Robot (2013-) which follows Elliot, a cybersecurity engineer and vigilante hacker, who is recruited by the titular Mr Robot to undermine the world’s largest corporate conglomerate. Mr Robot is, however, revealed to be a psychological projection of Elliot’s alter ego, echoing a Jekyll and Hyde hybrid personality. As the boundary between the two begins to blur, their mental destabilisation is portrayed through a range of digital effects, such as glitch aesthetics. In this paper I will question how the incorporation of such fundamentally virtual aspects both frame and haunt human engagement with the digital. Indeed, I will consider how a digital-orientated ontology offers an alternate perspective on the non-human and thus a reflection upon ourselves.