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  • 2016Ragliantiphd

    Final published version, 8.11 MB, PDF document

    Available under license: CC BY-ND: Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

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The alignment of screens

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Publication date12/10/2016
Number of pages238
Awarding Institution
Thesis sponsors
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This thesis makes a distinction between screen and surface. It proposes that an inquiry into screens includes, but is not limited to, the study of surfaces. Screens and screening practices are about doing both divisions and vision. The habit of reducing screens to the display neglects their capacity to emplace separations (think of folding screens). In this thesis an investigation of screens becomes a matter of asking how surfaces and the gaps in between them articulate alignments of people and things with displays that, in practice, always leave something out of sight. Rather than losing touch with screens by reducing them to surfaces, in other words, I am interested in alternative screen configurations. For this task I sketch an approach that touches on screens through the figures of lines, surfaces, textures, folds, knots and cuts. Lines help me to make the case for thinking about screens as alignments. I then ask what kinds of observers emerge from reducing screens to single or digital surfaces. I trace that concern with Google Glass, a pair of “smartglasses” with a transparent display. To distinguish between screen and surface I suggest, through a study of biodetection and assistance dogs, how to qualify or texture screens within webs of relations. I further outline, with snapshots of my workplace and two screens named Vig and Ben, two modes of touching or un/en/folding their locations. Finally, with knots and cuts, I underline the unfolding of self checkouts in supermarkets, and the enfolding of automated tellers outside banks. All of these reconfigurations experiment with screens by moving sideways in order to approach their displays laterally, and make visible their (ab)use by those in power. This method is a way of grasping the
embodiment and the materiality of screens, while responding to the practices, agencies, and affects aligned around, through, and away from their displays.