A Virtual Body Politic on #Gaza: The Mobilization of Information Patterns

Laila Shereen Sakr

Abstract


 

From Walter Benjamin and Dziga Vertov to Instagram and machine vision: new strategies of seeing and representation in modern and software societies constantly emerge and reshape our field of phenomenological, affective, and discursive vision. Social media’s use of images and representations of the body, within the highly securitized and militarized networks and landscapes that we traverse, focuses attention on the body as a site of contested political control and capitalist consumerism. This study of a virtual body politic provides a close reading of two data visualizations from Twitter conversations on Egypt in 2011 and Gaza in 2014 in order to analyze the mobilization of information patterns over time. These visualizations of Internet data are not about claims about material bodies or the intentions of communicators, but traces of an embodied moment of intentional use of digital media. Every data point has an embodied analogue at some moment. And tweets have a very particular (historically specific, geo-specific) moment of origin that is exceedingly tangled with materials bodies. My aim here is to determine what the emerging patterns tell us about a virtual body politic.

 


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