Charlie Gere – Community Without Community In Digital Culture

Charlie Gere

Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN: 9781137026668, 208 pages, 2012, English
The title of this book very effectively synthesizes a complex essence in a few words. Gere is here investigating how digital technologies, despite their promise to create spaces for virtual communication that bring people together, also offer “non-relations”, and so “non-communities.” The author argues that technologies and in particular networks fail to fill the infinitesimal gap which lies between humans, and through his research he expands on the term “digital” in terms of connections of hands and fingers (at some point quoting McLuhan’s articulation: “Touch is the space of the gap, not the connection.”). The substantial analysis spans all the way from the “haptocentrism” of Medieval Christianity to On Kawara’s contemporary artworks, in which the artist sent regular messages (initially postcards and telegrams) from remote places proving he was still alive. The book contains plenty of quotes of Derrida, who, despite his disinterest (shared with Kawara) in using digital technologies, proves once again his seminal nihilistic role in deconstructing communication media. So the path Gere follows is to use the concept of contingency, (underlined as coming from Latin “con + tangere”, or “to touch”) as a direction for describing how new media relates to community. The Luther Blissett chapter in this sense explains perfectly how the anonymity in public relationships can enable processes of recognition, impostering and community, reaching the idea of the differentiated identities from which we are constituted.