Tech by VICE

How Touchscreens Alter the Acting in ‘House of Cards’

New media artist Benjamin Grosser’s new series ‘Touching Software’ examines how the ubiquity of touch screens is impacting film and TV.

by DJ Pangburn
Aug 10 2016, 8:35pm

GIFs courtesy of the artist

The screen is near-ubiquitous. They're on our mobile devices, our televisions, in cars, and at almost all points of sale—and beyond. In the past, we were merely gazing into them, flipping channels with a remote control. Now, so many of our screens are touch-based that we spend all day having tactile relationships with them, and we hardly seem to notice.

This mediated reality is explored by Benjamin Grosser in his new media art series Touching Software, in which he explores how we constantly tap, rub and even caress our various screens and trackpads. The first entry in the new series is a supercut of all of the touch-based human-computer interactions from Netflix’s House of Cards.

“The result illustrates not only how the show’s actors perform the manipulation of software, but also how software performs through the actors in return,” Grosser explains. “Beyond these performances, the work asks viewers to observe the roles of software within contemporary stories.”

With House of Cards, Grosser wonders how software impacts the plot, as well as how the show’s narratives of electronic communication’s connective tissue and ubiquity square up with Netflix’s use of viewer tracking to determine how the show’s characters develop, or how it looks and sounds. He is also curious if software in film and television influence how mass media and Silicon Valley portray the neutrality of technology. 

Also interesting, as in many David Lynch projects, is the screen-within-a-screen effect. There is, at least on some level, a blurring of the lines between the real and the virtual in House of Cards. Sure, it's not the conceptual approach of a Lynch project, but it does lay out in its own way the fragmented, multi-window reality in which we now exist. Watch the supercut below:

Touching Software (House of Cards) from benjamin grosser on Vimeo.

Click here to see more work by Benjamin Grosser.

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