PRESENT TOOLS OF DISAPPEARANCE

CAROLINE MELAMED
(she/her)
cbmelamed.cargo.site
instagram.com/melamed.jpg
melamedcb@mymail.vcu.edu

The term “technoself” emerged in academia in the early 2010’s as the subject of interdisciplinary studies on relationships between human identity and technology. Reality TV capitalizes on “index appeal”– viewers’ fascination with embodied emotions made manifest through indexical signs. This is the unique appeal of RTV which leads us back to the concept of the technoself. Witnessing human emotions genuinely bubble to the surface as ordinary people interact with each other turns viewers into intimate confidants in a parasocial, semiotic relationship. The confessional enables viewers’ intensified gaze to observe the performer’s body as the stage for emotional expression and self disclosure. Televised confessions, often of painful experiences, specifically serve to further the intimacy and authenticity that viewers expect. The creation of the RTV technoself is the physical body as an index-generating machine being packaged as a commodity. Parallels can be drawn between the index appeal of RTV and machine learning facial recognition techniques. Both are based on the human brain’s habit of extrapolating information from facial expressions and body language. Audience participation in the RTV image involves a certain level of violence– a single gesture is captured, magnified, analyzed, ripped, looped, and remixed over and over. As a result, one’s physical image becomes detached entirely from their physical existence. It can be said that the creation of the RTV technoself and the audience’s ritual participation in its image contributes to the disappearance of the original object: the human being beyond what was captured on camera.