Computer in a dark room

Above: Computer in a dark room. Credit: Bich Tran.

Computer in a dark room early evening

Above: Computer in a dark room early evening. Credit: Bich Tran.

Room lit only by light emitted from Mac screen

Above: Room lit only by light emitted from Mac screen. Credit: Markus Spiske.

Diurnal Motion

Our planet, Earth, rotates 360-degrees around its vertical axis once every twenty-four-hours. During about half of each rotation any given location on the surface is in view of the sun (day), then, for the other half of the time, any given location faces away and is shielded from the sun (night). To Virilio, however obvious this fact may be, it should not be forgotten that this day-night diurnal motion is something that has always been absolutely basic to human experience (for the sighted at least). For Virilio, the modern urban human (in the developed West at least) is living increasingly in a darkened room, preoccupied by various digital devices, and somewhat disconnected from this diurnal rhythm.

Equally, the live-breaking-news television channels pay no attention to whether a broadcast is during the day or the night: for the rolling-live news channel it is always day, albeit a harsh-bright professionally studio-lit artificial daylight--an unchanging and oppressive "electronic daylight (PI: 32)." Local time recedes and is replaced by the continuous "false day (LE: 2)" of the twenty-four-hour live-breaking-news television cycle; a ubiquitous "telepresent (IB: 13)." The former sanctity of the intrinsic rhythm of Earth's diurnal day-night cycle is unfortunately being lost--masked, concealed. The modern Western Internet-connected human exists suspended in an insular netherworld.

Very often the only light in the computer-user's room is the light emitted from the screen itself. In this way the computer-user's room is formally redolent of a camera obscura: a darkened box with a single narrow entry-point (the device screen) by which light is admitted (GA: 48). This format of lighting is unnatural and in fact terminal.