Ghassan Hage: “The Lenticular Condition” (video)

Lenticular technology is the technology behind those surfaces that allow you to see two different photos on the same surface depending on the angle from which you look at them: Smiling face/frowning face; Jesus/Mary; old house/renovated house; young/old. When we think of reality we think of it at best as a three dimension version of one reality. But what if this homogenized mono-realism is itself an effect of power that diminishes what is otherwise a lenticular multiplicity of realities. My work on Lebanese diasporic culture has highlighted the lenticular experience of reality as one of its chief characteristics. But isn’t the lenticular condition becoming a more pronounced and generalized condition today. Are we not increasingly inhabiting realities that are continuously flickering and changing before our very eyes? This opens the way for an anthropology of disintegration but also an anthropology of new possibilities.

Lecture given at the Summer School in Ethnography at the University of Trento, September 2018.