The Gun and the Camera: possible gender analogies

The gun may be usefully taken as the masculine polarity of the camera. It is the technological rendering of the concept originating in the projected stone, the spear and the bow and arrow. It emits a projectile which deprives a target of health, wholeness, vitality, or existence as a living being. It turns a living being into an object. This is the opposite of the penis, which ejects semen with the capacity to fertilize an egg and potentiate life.

The camera (with which we also ‘shoot’ subjects or targets) receives light, producing a product in which dimensionality is flattened to a plane and the living flow of time is frozen. It is the technological rendering of the concept originating in drawing or painting, the basis of which is visual memory. The feminine polarity of the gun turns a living moment of visual relation into an object. This is the opposite of the womb, which, in receiving sperm while in a fertile state, potentiates life, movement, and the form of infinite (relational) dimensionality implicit in a living child. In order to ‘record’ a process (and thus represent the fluidity of time), we use a version of a camera which is the analogous equivalent of the machine-gun.


( image credit: © Christophe Stramba: )

I admit that the camera (a device now absolutely ubiquitous in our modern cultures) seems to us a far kinder, gentler weapon — but this feature of our relationship with it actually amplifies the dangers it poses — in part because hardly anyone recognizes it as a weapon. Nevertheless, many features of its application, produce and effects (which we remain largely unaware of) are essentially catastrophic, and actually cost lives or cause severe harm.

In the modern moment, we now couple these two technologies together in order to produce the most astonishing and terrifying forms of murderous technology. And as the camera continues its ever-more-common invasion our lives, it is changing the fundamental nature of our minds and what it means to see or to be human — or even alive, ceaselessly, and ever-more profoundly.

Both of these devices are weapons and neither is adequately understood or respected by our species. We are ignorant their costs and effects. And we are fascinated by technology which we cannot reasonably understand or survive the impact of. Particularly weapons, and things with which we may ‘record’ (there’s an umbilical reference here) some moment, image, or experience in order to render them into produce.

It is a little-known fact that indigenous images were not understood by their creators as mere representations, but commonly functioned as a sacred recognition as well as an invocation or invitation into existence. As an example, images inscribed on stone were often used to ‘call’ the phenomenon or beings there depicted into existence, locality, or relation. How ironic that we thought the indigenous peoples who were deeply concerned about our cameras (and photographs) were naive, when the opposite was actually the case. Perhaps they instinctively recognized this device as the feminine polarity of the gun, if only unconsciously. As it turns out, it was we who were naive, and worse, the particular features of our naivete are catastrophically contagious.

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