I am The Sun And Cannot Be Gazed Upon Fixedly: Art And The Spectral Power Of The Derivative

Vasseur, Roman. 2018. I am The Sun And Cannot Be Gazed Upon Fixedly: Art And The Spectral Power Of The Derivative. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This PhD claims that art and cultural production, more broadly, are irrevocably changed now that the logic of the derivative is seeded in and transmitted by culture’s objects. The thesis and the artworks that form this PhD submission employ examples of cinema from the early 1970s onwards to affectively map how the spectral, but impactful, reign of the derivative has taken hold, and how its violent rearranging of time and space is dramatically different from the commodity form’s sedimenting of the same forces. I examine how the modern derivative’s ability to bundle and unbundle the component qualities of a commodity, and then mine the information arising from those actions, performs a spectral, politically romantic, but absolute power. I consider how the function of probability for both derivatives and information engineering has amplified the ideological effects of the derivative and afforded it the qualities of a mythic law. Cinema is employed throughout as a form of divination that locates instances where the ideological info-power of the derivative clashes most visibly and productively with the chaotic and material properties of information. I suggest that it is in these shuddering bodies and markers of underlying dispositions of power that the refracted, immense power and mythic law of the derivative can be represented and annulled.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):



Cinema, Informatics, Contemporary Art, Financial Derivatives, Carl Schmitt, Political Romanticism, Ideology, Violence, Decisionism

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



30 November 2018

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

18 Mar 2019 15:32

Last Modified:

07 Sep 2022 17:14



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