The Control Room: War, Exception, Threat

If the machinery of intelligence-gathering and war is never switched off, then we have truly entered the permanent state of emergency. This 10-minute video essay looks at control rooms in film and television since the 1970s, and identifies an array of technological apparatuses that both manifest and make possible an increasingly distributed kind of sovereignty. These control rooms display a set of related technologies – virtualization, remote control, simulation, real-time processing, networked computing, graphical user interfaces – that have become commonplace in popular screen narratives about imagined threats to modern society. The transformation of the theatre of war into a virtual, audiovisual, theatrical experience is part of a broader, deeper transformation of modern experience itself, including politics, under the sway of technoscientific media. This video essay is based on an open-access article in Culture Machine: A Media Archaeology of the Control Room.

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