Week 14

When using new technology it is essential to understand how the media works for the message to be sent correctly. When movies first came out, the language of cinema had to be learned by both audiences and film makers; events that happen in a film can jump location and time but audiences generally understand the relation between the two events even though it is not how vision works in the real world.

Similarly, new technological media must be learned to be understood. New tech media is moving extremely fast and possibly faster than audiences are able to keep up with. Twitter is generally understood by the public at this point but it took a long time. The trend of Facebook’s impact on the current election cycle, though, was not fully understood at the time, and still really isn’t. The presence social bubbles  created by trending topics tailored to interests had a huge impact, often because people weren’t aware that the press they were seeing wasn’t the only press that existed.

This too can be true of so called “fake news”. Older generations aren’t as familiar with how internet sites that publish these sites work i.e. that they can write things that are completely false without ever noting it. In the time of print journalism, if there was a headline it was generally true. This eventually evolved too, however with the creation of tabloids that generated news that was completely false. It was only with time that people learned this and which sources to avoid. Because of this, we have to learn how to “hear” and “see” through these new mediums to understand what experience is meant to be had, and what message is meant to be sent.

December 1- Week 13

The creation of art throughout time has changed significantly with the technology. Dewey, and people in his mind set, see the “old” media of paintings, sculptures, classical music, etc. as high art, and would likely discredit much of the art produced today. The classical mediation between the artist and a painting for example is much different than a digital artist today. The material of a canvas and paint is limited to only so many strokes and redos, and thus what is put on the canvas is planned out more. Similarly, because of economic restraints, an artist does not have as many opportunities to create something. This is especially true of something like sculpture; each hit of the hammer takes away a piece of marble, etc. that can not be re-added.

Modern technologies allow both more mediation and less demand for it. An artist can meticulously plan a piece of architecture or sculpture for months with digital programs. Conversely, much of the art produced today does have an undo button, both literally and figuratively. Anything done with photo editing software can be undone. Alternatively, the proliferation of supplies in modern day and their relative cheapness means that if something goes completely wrong during an artistic piece’s construction, an artist can start anew with much less of a hassle.

This is especially true with music, which Brun discusses in depth. For a large part of the 1900’s recording music had a sense of permanence. Getting something pressed to vinyl was (and still is) incredibly expensive and permanent. Digital music, however, flourishes in its non-permanence. There are multiple takes and remixes of most songs produced digitally. An even more recent example is Kanye West’s most recent album, The Life of Pable. The album itself was released once, only to be taken back and re-arranged several times with different versions and additional songs on the album weeks later. As such, understanding the media is very important to understanding the efforts of mediation. Things can be put out prematurely only to be rereleased later.

Week 12

Benjamin’s argument’s date back to the beginning of the 20th century, and explore the evolution of mechanical reproduction of art. Benjamin argues that there is a specific aura created by a piece of art in its original context. The space and time in which it exists is key to the way the art is viewed and its presence. Art that is reproduced mechanically loses that aura in the reproduction. Films are not able to reach a level of authenticity then because of the way they are mass produced and the intangibility of the aesthetics given the numerous number of frames and shots in even a minute of film.

Ranciere deals with the politics of aesthetics. He discusses the way in which the experience of viewing art is important to the art as anything. Almost anything can be seen as a piece of art if the person interacting with it feels the aesthetics of it allow it to reach that level. Even pieces of nature of acts of man can be seen as artistic. The realm of art is not tied down to paintings and sculpture.

Authorship is very subjective. With mechanical reproduction in play it could be argued that the person who created the machine to make the copies, or the person helming the copier, or the person convert the image to digital could all be considered artists. New media doesn’t allow authorship to be easily pinned down. Similarly, with new views on the politics of aesthetics and art itself the issues of authorship are even broader than with just mechanical interpretation.

Week 11

Immediacy is most prevalent in the use of VR and 360 interactive images. VR Videos and images are now able to transport the viewer into the world with photo-realistic images and allow them to move the image with the movement of their gaze. The goal of this is most prevalently to give the user the impression they are in that environment; as they turn their head or move up and down, the image that they would see as they changed perspective is the one displayed before them in a complete 360 degree environment. Unfortunately as Bolter and Grusin note the head sets are still relatively bulky (pg. 22). Another example of immediacy is the way cell phones display a touch pad similar to older touch tone phones when dialing. The embeddedness of this type of dialpad is intrinsic to many people’s idea of a phone, even if in a digital age they are essentially outdated.

Hypermediacy essential does the opposite of immediacy in that it tries to highlight the prevalence of the medium. A good modern example of that is the movie Adaptation by Charlie Kaufman. In the movie, a writer named Charlie is attempting and failing to adapt a book into a movie. As such much of the movie uses clever call backs to the fact that the movie itself is about his own attempts to write the movie. One scene in particular shows the character’s own in dialogue voice-over interrupted by a speaker at a conference on book adaptation saying “And so god help you, if you use voice over!”.

Remediacy then is using other forms of media to present a new form of media. Video services such as Youtube rely heavily on the previous structure of home TV in their presentation. The screen is the same ratio format, the commercials during shows are often shown in the same intervals, the play button and stop button are the same symbols as on VCRs and generally positioned in the same spot (bottom left).

The use of remediation through these different techniques is important to understand which components of the material form are important to the essence of its mediation. Elements that are superfluous after mediation are left in often times and without them the mediation does not feel correct. This is tied directly to McLuhan’s idea that the medium is the message. It does matter what the medium being used is when thinking about the bias and climate in which a message is received as shown with the creation of new media who remediate elements of old physical traits of the medium to convey the same tone for messages that they feel fit that medium rather than another.

Week 10

 

When Hayles argues that Wiener sees communication as relation, she is referring to his ideas about the way humans work in systems as a whole and as he puts it in his analogy of the civilized man communicating to the intelligent savage, “social animals may have an active, intelligent, flexible means of communication long before the development of language” (Wiener, pg. 157). To Weiner, communication is inherent within beings and systems and works most predictably a relation between the parts of the body and their tools as to each other as well as to others in the system or community.

Viewing the technology and human as a system has advantages in understanding how the two relate and working towards making tech with more integrated components. Future technologies such as VR must learn to adapt so that the user and tech can be one in the same, working off of each other. There is some essence of human agency that can be lost in this view, however.

If the human is entirely part of a system responding to stimuli with a combination of senses it takes some individuality away from the human experience. The idea of taste and experience is simply a reaction of a number of systems in the body reacting to each other and then on larger scale people in a system relating to each other tech and odors, scents, etc. as mentioned in Weiner’s analogy of the ants (Wiener, pg. 156).

Week 9

 

Lathi’s article discusses the evolution of of videogames into the ones we have today. When the medium first started players usually viewed the avatar as separate from themselves, both literally and figuratively. Not many identified physically with something like an Italian plumber but his lack of communication allowed players to make up for what wasn’t said. Developers have taken a page from the storytelling techniques of novelists and found that to create more immersive games the main character must be as mute and bland as possible so we can put our traits onto said protagonist.

Half-Life for instance is lead by Gordon Freeman, a scientist whose image is barely known and who never talks. Thus when the player is interacting with the world it is as though characters are speaking directly to them. The rise of virtual reality has created world’s that can take this even further adding a physical element to the psychological immersion. This combination of technologies is tricky, however, and I believe it will be a long way off before bodies will truly let themselves fully immerse into VR realities. As it stands now, current VR machines are praised for their immersive environments but users often complain about motion sickness and not being able to play for too long. This will inevitably fade, but only with the embeddedness of technology that Haraway discusses.

Despite the similarities between the two, they are viewed publicly very differently. The immersiveness of computer and technology that happens in storytelling games and even on the internet is viewed negatively, but accepted. The combination of human flesh and robotics is much farther away from public acceptance. Despite its benefits to health and the body, such as prosthetics and implants, it is feared at a much more base level. This can be seen regularly in the number of pop culture pieces of works about the fear of cyborgs, embeddedness, and losing the nature of humanity to machine. People are more than happy to watch a movie in 3D, even if it is Terminator 5 and the antagonist is a killer cyborg that looks human.

Week 7

Media and media studies, to many people, is also the study of media representation and classification. The audiences and viewers of media are constantly broken into different groups and strata that are spoken and advertised to. The ways that they are divided are crucial to how media is viewed and to understand how the media is made and with what intent.

Audience polling and such to identify who is watching and who likes what is a huge part of TV production now that advertisements are the majority of the revenue stream. The ways audiences are broken down, either by age range or socio economic class, becomes a group unto its own whether or not this group of people originally interacted with or associated with each other. Like colonial times, the higher up create and divide people into group for their own purposes whether or not these patricians make sense.

As the media is represented to various groups with content specialized to their apparent interest, the viewers eventually define themselves by what they are being shown and identify more with the content and the other content viewers simply through sheer force of repetition on the part of the media makers. Thus the higher ups both yield to the content viewers whims, and bend the content viewers to their whim.

Audience research then, and the way media classifies and represents people is a two way street. Any research done surely has some ground in the real world ways audiences feel and what they want to see. At the same time, the media reinforces these groups and opinions so heavily that they also have control over what these groups want. Any outliers in a group are quickly pushed toward the median. This is the power of the media and research and its power to both monitor and subjugate viewer interests.