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Avatar, or film as the third dimension of financialisation

By Benedict Seymour, 31 December 2009
Image: That D3D landgrab of all previous cinema never happened did it, James?

Some thoughts on James Cameron's Avatar, film, and financialisation.

A familiarity with the landmark digital 3D movie Avatar and the works of Jean Baudrillard may help render this more intelligible.

It doesn't talk about the multi-platform status of Avatar or the apparently complex ramifications of this in terms of games merchandising, its impact on the movie's form, etc. But the obvious point is that the film sells the game - i.e. the montage sells and the story allegorizes ever deepened layers of immersion, with a move from 3d spex to joystick-facilitated interactivity being the logical outcome of consuming the movie.

Like other good neoliberal commodities, Avatar both narrates the productivity of the crowd and calls on the crowd to take up networked occupancy within the world of the film. From spectator to agent, the story is one of (sur)real subsumption, cybernetic synergy, a melding with the technology of simulation. But internally a pathos of splitting and separation is reiterated, making symptoms of conflict into metastable sources of the commodity's consistency, like the grit that forms the crystal.


Avatar, or film as the third dimension of financialisation

A blank film.

Howls against Hayek.

The first frames are black.

Then we start to see money.

Is it a steady black, a digital flat-lining black, or a flickering, celluloid darkness which is imperceptibly strafed by slices of white light?

If it is film, then 24 fps is the limit of resolution, the depth of the emulsion defines the richness of representation, the potential depth of the shadows, the lambency of light.

If it is digital, then the parameters are measured out in pixels, there are constraints to shadow and to its texture; things may be grainless, noiseless, but also flatter, a kind of white blankness will sap things of presence. Even 3D wont restore that – will it?

3D is filler, it is the SIVs and CDOs of the visual, it is a CDS on the loss of resolution; a lossless condition paradoxically lacks presence. Hence supplementing it with further volume through the odd stratification of 3d is no cure for over-presence. What is lacking is lack. An increase in presence is a further loss of loss. The last coat of lack does not take. We are left with the escalating repetition of an underlying mistake.

Look at the synergy of human and animal, of alien and mammal! The hope of a reconciliation between technology and the real is at once conjured and deprecated, conjured by deprecation. The lie about technology – that it should disappear, become transparent (as the fetishist forgets the lack that is the mother’s sex with the prosthetic object? As the trader forgets the surplus that is the workers’ labour with the act of exchange, with the self-activity of interest?) is lived out at ever new levels – we put on dark glasses like blind men, tapping at the world with a white stick. The story of Avatar allegorizes the loss and prosthesis on which, as a film. it is predicated; what we surrender is given back with interest. Yet the technology always amputates. Augmentation is amputation’s alibi. (cf Surrogates – a recent film which tells the same story but resolves the problem of separation by finally eradicating the technology rather than finding – as in Avatar – a new age natural surrogate for the surrogate).

McLuhan is bettered by Marx who spotted that in the machine the godlike multiplication of powers is subtended by a devastating alienation – money as universal agent of separation for the consumer is mirrored in the machine’s separation of the worker from his own powers. The viewer, like the holder of CDOs, is necessarily all the more unaware of the underlying paralysis, the brutality, that makes the illusion of control and mastery occur.

Far from the site of trauma, some self-reflexive drive decrees that the substance of the social film must itself be primitive accumulation. Content retells form, allegorizes abstraction. Science fiction is the right choice for the fiction of a new science; it is always the future that must be paid for now with a brutal act of enclosure, of ‘alien abduction’, but on the site of foregoing lootings – in our case the multiplex cinema at West India Quay, where I watched Avatar. This is the site of superimposed and ongoing legacies of theft, colonial rapine, industrial enclosure and, with containerisation in the 70s, eviction. Then, once more, under Thatcher, we have the grabbing back of the land for a regime of financialisation and consumerism which is the vessel on which the 3D viewers are riding, the moment in which we are cybernetically immersed. The LDDC is just the latest in the waves of looting, but this time it is an involuted process, a self-cannibalisation; the East End has become one of the dark places of the earth again but the heart of darkness has imploded and multiplied; globalisation is an endo-colonisation of the former darkspots of (as Joseph Conrad put it) the 'whited sepulchres', with the sepulchres themselves, like Brussels and its West African malls, over-run by what they once over-ran.

3D is this condition of overlayered, laminated phases of exploitation, the absurd, glutted congestion of theft such that we can’t even register it anymore; the surface is so slick it’s as dead as the screen, the storylines and gestures as inter-changeable as the cosmetically eclectic bar interiors behind the wharf front façade in West India Quay.

3D is the condition beyond hyper-realism, beyond the baroque tromple l’oeil or the modernist screen, beyond the late 20th century era of CGI, even. 3D is the return of a kitsch technology as a humorlessly functional simulation without charm or glitch, without red and green lenses – even the viewing glasses are hyper-real, blind man’s glasses, an audience of Orbisons (roi) and (filled) Spectors spectred by a superimposed depth, a depth that is constructed, planar, obstructive, distracting, disorienting like Fredric Jameson’s postmodern space but finally self-dispelling, a clunk in vision that repeated collisions gradually efface until, like a drug one has just gotten used to, the frisson is expended and one is returned to reality at a higher level of disappointment. As with the CDO's and ABS's that forestalled then expanded the crisis of 2008 across the whole monetary system, after the meta-financial buffering or neutralisation of risk, in the end there is always a crash, a moebius loop returns us to the condition of dissatisfaction with which we began, and the over-valued images deflate.

While such ‘empty experiences’ may help reflate bubbles by forcing consumers to part with their cash (£25 for 4 buckets of popcorn and a very long hotdog?), it would seem that nothing is being consumed (and the unproductive consumer risks not being reproduced). There is a hollowing out of the commodity that corresponds to the 3D enhancement of ‘depth’. Just as, in digital 3D, flat space is given a behind in order to project ‘non-3D’ objects forward, the perceptual scam extends to the movement of capital; armies of animators and digital engineers labour to create the lining of the experience. But further down the chain other technologies undo what value they may produce by rendering their product instantly available, practically free. Depth, like value, is an illusion, what we have is a pushing forward of profits - 'mark to market' accounting allows us tomorrow’s presumptive gains today. 3D preempts space, a flat revenue graph can appear artificially upward in its movement by introducing artificial axes. The new audiences it guarantees now will soon be undermined as 3D finds a home online, presumably consumating its presence-giving narcissistic intensities and vertigo-creating powers with the coming of 3D digital porn – surely the true raison d’etre of this new enhancement of the visual in the domestic sphere? Its uses in the military sector on (non-re)production are already well documented.

The enormous increase in the skilled manipulation of the virtual pays out in further refinements of investment software – as everywhere, non-reproduction exists in dialectical relation to fictitious capital creation. The technology of financialisation expands to compensate for the manic over-productivity of the unproductive entertainment (and war) technologies. There is no money in science fiction, though the plot of Avatar is all about a corporate land grab – the search to extract ‘Unobtainium’ from the virgin soil of the blue planet, Pandora. (Perhaps if the evil developers had had help from Flann O’Brien’s maverick scientist De Selby they might have been more successful?).

But, like the rose that is absent from all bouquets, or rather the real abstraction that is latent in every bouquet, Avatar is structured around the unobtainability of the ding-an-sich. At the level of narrative this means the loss of the object, the whole film is a fantasia about a reconciliation with the (national) Thing. (This imaginary community is now displaced into space, since the US is no longer plausible as a herrenvolk utopia, but clearly the replacement community – aka The People of Pandora – is analogous to the hallucinated homeland of the most sentimental John Ford movie).

3D is the formal-visual extension of the same dream of reconciliation with the object; but the whole operation is predicated on the renewed failure of this project. Just as the worker reproduces his alienation through the exercise of his alienated powers in production, the Avatar viewer reproduces both the looting, the financial ponzi-ing, and the general political inertia which seems to physically congeal like so much gelatin in the joints of the micromanaged multiplex goer. The perplexed play their parts in keeping the chimera of expanded reproduction in motion, but Value remains as rare as unobtanium, the rose that is absent from all these bouquets. Life and cities becomes not just allegory, as Baudelaire noted, but now they become 3D allegory, allegory that is so overlaiden one lives in fear of its collapse. We go everywhere under the shadow of an avalanche of metaphorization. As in the financial sphere, terrifying baroque architectures loom tottering above us, so in the cinema a metaplex of references and over-coded allusions threaten to fall on our heads. We Sky People, displaced from our own Dying Planet, a place where no value can form, live a vampiric existence searching for nuggets of alien reality to sate our lack.

But this is the scam. The illusion of scarcity, of ontological emptiness, runs the show. It is the assumption that we need all this to sustain us that reproduces us as poor. The assumption that as a species we are a nothing doomed to decline is now the dominant and all-supporting lie, just as in the 19th century the assumption of human preeminence and progress made class conflict disappear. 3D means not seeing the dimension of social difference for what it is. Species eclipses class. The disavowal of social difference is the secret of the pornographic escalation of vision. 3D is the filling out of social space with the projection of ontological lack. What is social is restructured as existential; the powers of the species as labour-power are dissimulated as a helpless, paralytic surrender to our exorbitantly potentiated technology. The films celebrate their overweaning powers of simulation while – even louder – declaring our historical bankrupcy, our inability as a species to lift a finger to overcome our fallen condition. The happy ending is always the death and/or banishment of the human; only the surrender of the human body to the infinitely stronger and nature-symbiotic non-human is acceptable. Only here can the Human – as The People – live on with its contradictions supressed. In short the last resort of the human scoundrel is in the simulation of its demise. Like a fleeing hedge fund manager, errant surgeon or insurance-defrauding canoeman (stars of the 2008 crisis tabloids), the simulation of death is the privileged scenario of our times – hence the plethora of zombies and vampires; pseudo-suicide is the survival strategy of post-crunch capitalism.

Rather than overcoming the old cold war dualisms they are simply inverted. There must always be aliens, but this time the alien is us. This perspectival reversal, whether or not assisted by 3D, is a crude repetition of the same undialectical logic which, in the films of the silent pioneers, gave us noble and/or brutal savages. (After silent cinema, we now have a cinema that is blind, a second childhood of the medium).

The digitally and politically corrected image is in alignment with the financial instruments that promise/d to erradicate risk. Rather than talking rapine and greed like the caricatural 1960s style corporate villains in Avatar, money instead speaks the language of ethics and sustainability, an esperanto syncretising everything good, just like the speech of Avatar's Na’vi. Money feels that the human has much to be embarrassed about and lives in a state of embarrassment on our behalf. It invents the human in order to be sad about it. In fact the human is completely obsolete but money desperately needs it to survive; it clings to the ‘oh, aren’t we bad, we’re so sorry’ like any other ethical brand, exorcising the systemic reality with gestures and commitments and pledges to the consumer. Similarly the tranches of recycled debts are sustainable, responsible, a constant gardening and husbandry conducted with the best interests of the planet at heart. As in the Californian debacle of Enron, the very destruction of resources and artifical constraint of supply in the name of intensified demand, is legitimated in the name of ecology. Less is more, from Gaia’s perspective.

A Malthusian destiny for technologies of projection and simulation makes recyling into the perpetual penance of the human animal for being out of joint. But the human, and nature, are just symptoms of the repressed reality of class. In order for class to disappear, it has become necessary to feed us a ceaseless procession of spectacles of the destruction of the human species. What we make today is the human, in order that it can be destroyed. [A human strike is for the same reason a bad – you could say dumb (as in silent, as in movies) – idea since it is predicated on an affirmation of that which does not exist]. Like a screen memory it is the pseudo-trauma that must be projected to conceal the unspeakable reality of class. Spectacles of colonialism are fine as long as they are defined in terms of racism and genocide, of humanitarian disaster. As long as class is suppressed, the greatest atrocities can and must be exhibited. The atrocity film of our times must be perpetually remade and reshown, as if apocalypse alone could keep tendencies to insurrection in check. The absolute silence in the cinema of any sound or sight of class, of class consciousness, fills the auditorium with a barrage of noise louder than cluster bombs, a spectre with more dimensions than the screen can hold. But the spectre is conjurred away by a torrent of technologically facilitated spirituality. Communism is crushed under a volkish spectacle of The People reunited. The potentiation of human powers is diverted into a Cartesian mind-body dualism, alienation is rendered ontological, religion replaces politics, individual heroism and a cult of The People throws up anti-imperialist demagogues and Hezbollah like anti-capitalism. The gone-native hero of Avatar plumps for the Na’vi’s Taliban guerillas over the tech’ed up Humanoid invaders, a leftist ‘anti-imperialism’ of fools which banks on the organic community of The People against the internally conflicted and brutal Humans, missing the opportunity to realise the non-wholeness of social being as becoming.

Defiantly pro-ethnic, Avatar is like an Islamic bond or Sukuk – it sucks because it sells the same as different, a trade in orientalism that sustains the dominion of the system and installs its logic the more thoroughly for veiling it. 3D, as visual convolution is comparable to the convolution of debt in the once-prized Islamic debt market; indeterminacy and ambivalence, the lure of a mysterious and exotic financial instrument, helps sustain speculation a little longer, just as these orientalist narratives, with similar doses of pc ‘understanding’, keep the entertainment business moving through the depths of the depression. As in the 1930s, the last place you can turn a buck is in the depth/less spectacle, the space where only semblance is produced or consumed. An extra dimension of the visual must be developed and exploited because we have n-dimensional debt and no trace of expanded reproduction (of capital) on the horizon, whatever the plot of the official recovery movie tries to spin.

Post-script: it should be obvious that Avatar's 'pro-ethnic', 'anti-imperialist' position is a form of bourgeois fundamentalism not a form of genuine solidarity with workers from outside the dominant capitalist nations - that is, the class domination imposed by both the noble savage's hierarchical leaders or the supposedly civilised NGO/corporate penitents goes unquestioned in the film. To be pro-neoliberal undead NGO is to be pro-neoliberal undead leftist militant or third worldist demagogue (the role attained by the film's white American hero in the final part of the film). The ideological space of the film is as flat and ketamine-like as 3D, it may make the unitiated all fuzzy wonky for a while but in the end one is trapped in a depthless off/world. We can sympathise with the blue people of Pandora facing down a corporate-military land grab (the plot is in some ways very similar to Marco Ferreri's 'Touche pas a la femme blanche') but the film ends with the lie of their invincibility, as if the sequel to the end of the Vietnam war was the perpetual peace and prosperity of the Vietnamese, the imperialist enemy dispatched once and for all. The neoliberal story undergoes a drastic (l'oeil-tromping?) foreshortening to enable this happy ending to stand up long enough for the (very long and wide) credits to roll.

Clarifications: Notes for a Film of Capital

1. Volatilisation results from the end of the US dollar-gold standard of Bretton Woods in 1971.

2. A proliferation of financial instruments as buffers and ways of securing profit occurs in response to these conditions of heightened volatility

3. Development of new forms of temporal homogenisation in the financial sector – i.e. VaR (Value at Risk as standardised measure of risk) - the imposition of abstract labour at a higher level of the financial pyramid. The failure of this new standard through its very success both lead to and potentiated the crisis. The solution is the return at a higher level of the problem.

4. The shift from film to video to digital to 3D. The problem is the lack in the gaze, the gaze as lack. Thought introduces lack. A thoughtless, sated eye would be happy on its own. A narcissistic solitary eye. I don't think wherefore I am a sated gaze, therefore I am the subject of neoliberalism, to update Lacan.

5. The development of new forms of space, of the abstraction and re-furnishing of space; a pseudo-reterritorialisation; attempts to reoccupy abstraction.

6. Space as dimension of primitive accumulation and of vision.

7. 3D as synergistic with interactivity; the movement forward of space coincides with the integration of the viewer and the diegesis. Cybernetic/ simulator – allegories of this fusion as, in itself, primitive accumulation, or the (sur)real subsumption of the visual field and of the viewer as protagonist within a scripted but fluid world; the continuum between military training and entertainment vehicle.

8. The emergence of cybernetic/informational capitalism as coeval with intensified primitive accumulation pace Caffentzis et al, but also with fictitious capital production; fictitious capital as simulacrum coexstensive with the production of new visual and cinematic spaces.

9. The possibility of a film of this evolution which uses the pivotal films of the epoch - which uses film - to talk about it; it might use a technique of ascesis, a Debordian refusal and austerity, but un/equally it might go to the other extreme and work with the deprecated ciphers of the hyper-visible and the hyper fake (schein, price, money as pure appearance positing but not guaranteed to be made good by value) – e.g. more Katie Price (aka Jordan aka Dubai) than Guy Debord.

10. In the end the status of ideas is at stake. If we are technologically poor, if we are poor in monetary terms, all we have are ideas and relations, relations as ideas and ideas as relations. This kind of idea is at war with their real abstractions, it seems of a different order, ontologically. It may be transmitted through monetised media but it is not identical to its vehicles, and, as a relation, is by definition only constituted by practice. It is practical, as is value; it is anti-value as practice. But what is a film if not this idea? And if all films are dedicated to the destruction of this idea, like anagrams dedicated to the destruction, by permutation, of the name of God (Baudrillard), then why not a film that restates the idea of something other than this one film?

11. Begin with the permanent apocalypse – the unveiling – that is our era, and with what it ceaselessly conceals. The reproduction of the human through its deprecation conceals the explosion of class consciousness, of class not as identity but as practice of self-abolition. It is not enough to no longer be Workers we have to stop working. Apocalypse as a blindness which is not optical – it is not for lack of seeing that we cannot see. Rather, it is a paralysis of the eye. The eye is over-worked. It keeps us repeating the same, albeit at ever diminishing levels of reproduction, like a steadily degrading film on a loop. The tendency of the rate of representation to fall is offset by ever-decreasing levels of reproduction; the representative apparatus is sustained by perpetual onslaught on the human bearers of the system of (re)presentation (Darstellung). In short, to support the persistence of money (like the persistence of vision) requires many more than 24 transactions per second, and the bearer of that eye must be bled dry – like the suffering bodies in the sarcophagi of Surrogates and Avatar or the ur-model in the Matrix, the technologised system for the representation and circulation of value requires the progressive debasement of the body.

12. The otherside of the image of enclosure and looting is the proliferation of images and visual prosthetics, of new visual capitals, the deregulation of the graphic and illusionistic powers and, through CGI, a prodigious reconstitution of signification that seems more obese than any previous visual medium. The idea of a shift 'From intensity to entitlement' (Keston Sutherland) returns here – i.e. the new signs, the new representational space is not worked for (directly). (The collective worker is bled dry or tossed away entirely, but the workers operating the vision machines are well remunerated, if 'precarious'). Leveraged on an unspeakable and unrepresentable relationship of exploitation, the production of the visual is not itself exploitative, it is prolifically abundant and easy. A bloating of the visual field is the index of a chronic meagreness of reproduction outside the magic circle of the digital. Overproductivity compels non-reproduction.

13. The desert of the real, for all its tacky immediacy as metaphor, remains hard to avoid. If anywhere, the desert insists in the visible, since every consumer of CGI carries in their head the fantasy of ‘what’s really going on’ – the fetishistic disavowal operates differently with the digital than with film. We know the silver nitrate index of events that once took place is somehow realer than the digital preemption of events, digital is more and less, film is less and more. Without getting trapped in the pathos of lost techniques, it’s clear that where the representation comes too easy, the missing difficulty or inertia of the real depletes representation of its power. Inflation sets in. The digital image is a self-depreciating currency. The very bloatedness of the new image is coincident with its crash. The reflation of the visual is the system of representation’s bankrupcy. (Sovereign debt, the Name of the Father bailed out by the Father of Enjoyment. Good Obama, bad Roosevelt). We have to hollow out what we see because desire always knows the simulacrum is hollow, that it lacks in lack. Like the birds which peck at the grapes in the parable of the 2 Greek painters (Lacan, again), we get an unsatisfying snack, whereas the hand that goes to draw open the painted curtain invents the dimension of desire, and desire animates. As animation CGI is somehow deadening, it mortifies by expanding to fill every pore of the screen, it leaves us no room to act even as – through interactivity – our engagement is supposedly ensured, compelled. The loss of all passivity is the same as the complete decommissioning of the active spectator. The engaged viewer is predicated on a gap which 3D sutures, sealing us out of the image all the more for trying so hard to take us in.

14. Sigmund Fraud is Madoff Marx: Think of the Madoffian Ponzi scheme, an 'affinity fraud' which, advertising its exclusivity, ends up needing more marks than it can ever reward to go on growing, to go on paying out the illusion of returns. 3D and CGI more generally depends on this recycling of our own attention, an infantile short circuit in which we are handed back what we walked into the cinema with. The non-duped, no longer believing in cinema, err when they infer higher resolution as the solution to the scam. Seeing through cinema, they demand more, but it’s more of the same deception – so much more that the deception loses its charm and becomes a mere visual aid. 3D renders us all optically disabled. The cinema as simulator is Sartre’s practico-inert, an instrumentalised space where play no longer occurs. In short, the scammed are taken in by the idea of a new gimmick, of a scheme that pays guaranteed returns, but in truth all it does is break the principle of equivalence, the law of lack (or the rule of representation). Thus the Madoffian scheme ultimately pays no returns, it takes the dream of riskless accumulation and uses it to fleece the mark. The apparent revenue is merely the recycling of the desire the mark brings to it. In holding to the promise if not of happiness then of a couple of ‘happy hours’ without lack (cheap pleasure in the midst of a recession), the loss is lost and nothing comes back with a vengeance. Cheating flatness issues in the super flat, a bad emotional investment. 3D is a visual pyramid scheme offering something for nothing, something instead of nothing. But the elision of nothing renders worthless the something that you get. Excessively gratified, the eye wanders round like a clubber in a k-hole. Seeking the mirage of a free party, the emancipated spectator is a filled spectre, a royal orbless sun.

15. Diminishing returns. 'D3D' is the return of the primal scene of primitive accumulation in another sense: The first viewers of films notoriously panicked when seeing a train coming toward them out of the screen. Stereoscopically, D3D repeats this moment for the digital era. The reactivation of a primal trauma (space is raum, traum is dream, a primal dream-space of capital accumulation; the dream time of looting comes again and again). From the expropriated kulaks of war communism viewing films projected on the Bolsheviks' agit prop trains (a moment of avant garde innovation and economic crisis, experiment and starvation) to the re-disoriented audiences of the current 'Great Recession'. Avatar risks sinking the industry but tries to reclaim cinema's USP as a site of reproduction unmatched by other media. Stereoscopy doubles the number of eyeballs in order to make the movie more unique, resistant to piracy. But it also shows the effects of what Marx called 'moral depreciation' (or 'technodepreciation'; a universal tendency to debasement in the sphere of profits, to fuse Freud and Marx's theories of diminishing returns): in economic terms the cinema is obsolete except as a publicity generating vehicle for new more efficient viewing technologies. Double the technology = double the over-productivity = double the economic lack. Repeating the primal scene repeats the economic trauma; once again, technology is a double-edged solution to its own problem. The audience, but also the economy, re-experience vertigo. Is the light at the end of the tunnel an oncoming train? No wonder the cinemas have to pad out profits with the monopoly rent secured through extra-long hotdogs. The logic of the supplement means that everything but the film makes money - the latter is subsidised, mere marketing for the multiplatform technology coming soon to a planet near you.

16. Make It New, James: Meanwhile, back in the future, Cameron holds the copyright for 3D-ifying 2D film, according to Thomas Elsaesser. As he explains, Cameron can thus open up the vast back catalogue of cinema, looting the archive to make new an obsolete technology. A repetition of the economics of the CD and DVD era. D3D may quickly undermine it's own ability to secure profits in the cinema, but it blazes the trail for home 3D, and the stereoscopic laptop screen. The past may pay for the future, for a while at least. But like the CD racket, the reproduction is also a non-reproduction, and, as a crisis measure, in turn prepares a new crisis. The spatial retrofitting of cinema would coincide with futher reflation and, across the really existing world of value extraction, intensified tempi of dispossession. D3D is the formula of the Greatest Depression (so far). The Grapes of Wrath as Second Life-style multi-player game in immersive stereo. Watch this space.

17. "The irony with Avatar is that people think of it as a 3D film and that's what the discussion is," James Cameron told an audience at the Comic Con festival in San Diego. "But I think that, when they see it, the whole 3D discussion is going to go away . . . That's because, ideally, the technology is advanced enough to make itself go away. That's how it should work. All of the technology should wave its own wand and make itself disappear."

The screening of Avatar I attended suggested other ways in which the technology could go away – green screen glitches on several occasions interrupted the seamless, hallucinatory flow of the action. The greatest, most nail-biting moments were the unscheduled reappearance-through-disappearance of the technology, technology that punctured its own illusion of depth. The possibilities of Brechtian estrangement seem rich in a space which – as a brand new accumulation of things – is already completely strange. The unplanned disorientation opens up all the closed questions, just as land grab opens opportunities for resistance. The narrative, like that of Star Wars, takes sides with the rebels, with those facing dispossession. But this ruse of capital simultaneously sutures shut the gaping wounds of an already exceptional political space. Technical faults not programmed by the apparatus put us on a completely different side in the conflict, on 'the wrong side of capitalism', as it were, at an angle to both the forces of domination and the official opposition. With Brecht and Benjamin we can insist on the reappearance of the technology, and imagine the aesthetic and political possibilities of a 3D more disorienting and disorganised than anticipated.