At M.I.T. the philosopher, critic and essayist Boris Groys, Global Distinguished Professor of Russian and Slavic Studies, New York University, in a talk based on his paper, "Religion in the Age of Digital Reproduction", draws freely on such predecessors as Gilles Deleuze, Walter Benjamin, Martin Heidegger and Nietzsche to draw a bead on fundamentalism.
Boris Groys contends that the revival of extremist religion worldwide, in the face of a secular and skeptical world, depends on the broadcast of video and distribution of data, particularly through the Internet.
Groys shows two video clips: a Christian evangelical ritual in Siberia, where a man dressed in Biblical garb straight out of Franco Zeffirelli’s bio-pic, Jesus of Nazareth, greets the faithfuls; and the taped confession of a Lebanese communist suicide bomber with commentary.
In older times, religious rituals were practiced “in isolated sacred places. Today, “ritual, repetition and reproduction have become the fate of the entire culture. Everything reproduces itself -- capital, commodities, technology and art.”
Video recordings, digital images transmitted to countless many, are attempts to generate belief and passion, and function in some ways like “a Byzantine icon,” says Groys.
“ The digital file functions as an angel - an invisible messenger transmitting a divine command. ”