CASTRO, J. C. L.
Between material and virtual places: fetishism and hybridization.
Book of abstracts of the Media and Place Conference,
Resumo: Since the advent of the Internet there has been an extraordinary proliferation of virtual places. At the same time, a complex relationship is established between them and material places, since the user who navigates online also has a physical body and the two dimensions communicate. This paper argues that this relationship corresponds to a kind of symmetrical fetishism, which tends towards hybridization without ever fully achieving it.
In psychoanalysis, fetishism is a defense mechanism that involves having recourse to something that is artificial – a fetish – in order to hide a lack. However, this is not done out of naiveté. What characterizes the fetishist is his ambivalence: he acknowledges that the lack is real, but at the same time denies it by using the fetish.
From the offline point of view, there is a fetishist attraction to the virtual, in the same way that the technique in general is fetishized. The aim is to compensate for the shortcomings of the offline world, indicated by the fantasy, through immersion in an obviously artificial environment. On the other hand, from the online point of view, there is a strong concern for capturing and reproducing the offline world. By duplicating our surroundings, the virtual attempts to make up for its perceived paucity of reality.
The combination of these two symmetrical fetishisms continuously reinforces the rapport between material and virtual places. On the horizon lies their hybridization: it is difficult, nowadays, to determine the boundaries between offline and online. By virtue of the interpenetration of these two dimensions, they seem to embody continuity like a Möbius strip. However, considering that, in the ultimate analysis, the material and the virtual are ontologically different and that the link between them is subject to technical limitations and to choice (we are not always connected), hybridization is not absolute.
Palavras-chave: cyberspace, virtual, Internet, place, fetishism, hybridization.