The Difference the Digital Makes: The Affective Synthesis of Reality by Digital Screen Media

Strutt, Daniel. 2012. The Difference the Digital Makes: The Affective Synthesis of Reality by Digital Screen Media. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

Do digital screen media alter our sense of being in the world?
Contained within this question are some fairly fundamental existential and metaphysical notions about what it is to be in the world, and what is it to have this sense altered? There is the complex notion of consciousness: what is it to be conscious of the world? What, indeed, is ‘the world’ – simply our phenomenal sensory awareness of reality, or some external transcendent actuality? To understand the effect of the digital on consciousness, one must consider investigating the dynamics of synaptic signals in the brain, to affection and cognition, to larger social, global and even metaphysical systems – whilst also maintaining an eye for the subtle metaphoric connections between them.
In the work of new-media theorists such as Massumi, Shaviro, Pisters, Rodowick, Parisi, and Hansen, we see some of the above questions tackled through a triangulation of aesthetic theory, affect theory and philosophy of consciousness. It is amongst these theoretical perspectives that I position my research. I describe digital visual media as an extension and fruition of aesthetic impulses towards indeterminism and flux largely described by Deleuze in the Time-Image as ‘the indiscernibility of the real and the imaginary, or of the present and the past, of the actual and the virtual’, but further, through Bernard Stiegler, as a new mnemo-technical ‘grammatisation’ of vital metaphysical forces, or of existence as such. I then show by example how digitally created and inflected images, through their own vital automatism, give us new mimetic and metaphorical tools through which to affectively and conceptually think the real. I argue that the digital-image establishes itself in ways that Deleuze foreshadowed but could not quite foresee, becoming: ‘an as yet unknown aspect of the time-image’.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Additional Information:

Due to copyright restrictions only the redacted version of the thesis is available


Digital media, ontology, phenomenology, affect, Deleuze, Stiegler, grammatisation, spiritual automaton, passive synthesis, digital aesthetics, techné, Heidegger, Rancière, Vattimo.

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies



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Date Deposited:

28 Jun 2013 09:49

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 08:41


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