Monday, September 14, 2009

Thoughts on Remediation

We try to make connections so we can understand and communicate with others. We use different forms of media as our tools to communicate. We take our human perspective and layer it into the things we know, the things we see, the way we understand the world, and how we relate with those around us. We try to create that which has meaning by creating relationships with those around us. Immediacy, hypermediacy, and remediation result from our interaction with media and experience. We are in a world full of others, trying to grow, live and experience life. Our culture, lifestyles, privileges, and sometimes limitations dictate the evolution of our use of media and the way in which we use it. What we do with it seems to continually expand and grow like a living organism. We seek constant stimulation but yet wish to remain at a distance from it.

Immediacy is the “contact point between the medium and what it represents.” (Bolter) It is like the moment when light hits a thunderhead. We see many colors of the storm that remind us of a painting or a photograph. We take this visual image and make a song, video, or photo of it to fulfill something within us.

Hypermediacy is experiencing the moment as it occurs, with as many possible media elements as imaginable. “Hypermediacy like other media since the Renaissance –perspective painting, photography, film, and TV, new digital media oscillate between immediacy and hypermediacy, between transparency and opacity.” (Bolter)
Here is an example of this: Patrick Swayze dies at 57. I see this news flash on the screen as I write this. I am listening to the sound of the TV, reading Facebook messages from friends, checking out Yahoo news…I see it, his picture instantly… he has died, he is gone and the news is now old. I remember him, his movies, moments my personal life with reference to him, and publicized moments in his professional life. It is as if he were a part of our family as we connect that point of reference with him to us. Yet we never really knew him as a man. He was just a person in the media. This is how media can saturate your life. Someone you don’t even know can touch your life, and pass away, leaving a mark in your life.

We are saturated, continually bombarded with media. Moving from moment to moment faster, quicker, with all senses stimulated, connected by the media but at the same time tactilely detached. That is why virtual reality is so appealing. We want the contact without actual commitment. We want the control without the responsibility.

We can participate by watching a movie, cry, become emotionally involved and then instantly remove ourselves. We are part of a disposable age. We consume, become bored and discard. We desire more, bigger, faster, and better. New cameras, new phone, new GPS, to get us where we want to be and stay connected while we are there. The virtual world with digital components allows us to create that which pushes the boundaries of our human capabilities.

We can be immersed in something yet maintain a distance. We can be the object of the gaze, detest it, desire it, or see from the perspective of the viewer (gazer). We assume a point of view through different forms of media, see through the eyes of the protestors of the September 12th march on the Capitol, or hear the viewpoint of a film critique from the Toronto Film Festival in the same day. We can follow a video crew through the Tour de France using twitter or text messages and see photos and video from a phone operated by a friend who is actually there following the race. All of this is possible. We are morphing continually as we find new ways to track, report, capture, and communicate what we see, feel, hear, smell and perceive.

Even music can be composed without instruments. We can download free software (Audacity) with synthesized sounds (Freesound) to create pieces of music without even knowing how to play an instrument. It may not be great but who cares? It is ours and we created it. It is a file that can instantly disposed of.

I guess that is the transparent immediacy of it all. Like a photograph, you are there and connect with the medium. You put yourself into it, but the moment is no longer there. It is gone the moment the image it made. Even TV tonight…the huge production of Michael Jackson’s key moments in music, his dance and his video on the music awards. He was here and now he is gone, the moment is gone, the production is gone. We may talk about it with others tomorrow and remember the event of tonight, but the visual images, sound, and production of the moment is over. We can record the event but he will never be here again. It was a moment, a connection, an illusion and now he is gone.

Finally remediation is not trying to improve on some one thing that was but building on many by merging and combining what was and continuing to create new media forms morphing into something new.

These are all topic discussed in Bolter’s book, Remediation. This is our culture, our life, our living art form.


April said...

I agree that our culture is a living art form, but I don't think that once we view something, it's gone forever. The historical moment may be over, but thanks to all of technology that we are perpetually inundated with, we can look back on so many past moments and events that *would* have disappeared forever, if not for our power to capture and replay them endlessly. I also believe that we live in a disposable culture, but for me, I hold on to the things that move me, that elicit emotions that are meaningful, and regardless of what else comes along, I'll hold on to those and cherish them for as long as I can. Remediation, and the cultural age, hasn't killed or played down my humanity. It many ways, I think it has intensified it, and made me more aware of how fleeting the moments of my life truly are.

kristalbrook said...

I like what you have to say about live events being gone forever. What I find interesting is how new technologies are creating new ways to relive memories. For example, Janet dancing "with" Michael on the VMA's or even the weird live Elvis/Celine Dion performance a few years ago. These productions are using all the power we have to create a remediated tribute to an artist.

annisleung said...

Michael Jackson is now gone, the moment is gone, the production is gone. However, "His Music Will Live Forever" through the older media (his CD albums, music video) and the new media (website, youtube video, web gallery). Check out MJ's website at

You never know, Michael Jackson may be remediated to a character in virtual reality. His dancing skills may be remediated to any video game focusing on his music and dancing. It would be like the most recent released video game "The Beatles: Rock Band. Sooner we will see MJ on the stage again.

Jax D. said...

I do see the immediacy, and I do see the the knowledge getting stale. I do not see it getting old or fading away. We have reached a point of digital archeology. We keep artifacts and have digital artifacts of what we hold important to us.