the final section of Remediation, B&G break out three self orientations–three
varieties of self in light of the forceful processes of remediation: the
remediated self, the virtual self, and the networked self. The remediated
self basically begins with a notion of self as summative and re/configurable
(like William James’ empirical self (233)) rather than rigid or authentic.
Remediated self gives way to (at least) two variations of self: immersed
and interrelated/interconnected. These selves correspond to the poles of
remediation; the immersed experiences the visually mediated as transparent and
immediate; the interrelated/interconnected self experiences the visually
mediated as opaque and navigable (232). According to B&G, we experience
ourselves in both ways. This connects up with expressive activity, too.
Virtual reality (where the user moves through) fits with romantic selfhood,
while opacity and ubiquitous computing are akin to the fixed-subject self of the
Enlightenment. The clearer part of this first chapter in section
three–"The Remediated Self"–builds on the duality of self as object and
subject in the specific case of bodybuilding. In bodybuilding, when "the
body is reconstructed to take on a new shape and identity," the body as medium
seems most plausible (237).
The virtual self opens onto vast possibilities for perspectival free-play:
"this same freedom can serve a more radical cultural purpose: to enable us to
occupy the position, and therefore the point of view, of people or creatures
different from ourselves" (245). The most optimistic response to this
virtual freedom frames it as a way to reapportion point of view, ultimately
fostering empathy (245). Jaron Lanier suggested more radical notions of
empathy with the idea that VR users might move beyond human subjects to
empathize with dinosaurs or even molecules (246). Of course, there are as
many skeptics as proponents, but VR has sprung these questions to the fore,
challenging us to sift through the implications of "perspective as a locus of
all knowledge" (249). In the section, "The Dissolution of the
Cartesian Ego," B&G hold VR up to Descartes’ cogito and distrust of sensory
experience (may as well trace this all the way to Sextus Empiricus and the
Pyrrhonists…some of the earliest virtual-realists?).
Next chapter: "The Networked Self." Unlike the remediated self and the
virtual self, which are forged through through the visual (?), the networked
self is deliberately constructed out of felt connectivity among multiple and
oftentimes simultenous points of view (257). The networked self is
hypermediated because it is hypertextual. The examples in this section
draw on MUD/MOO encounters–the encounters in multi-user online spaces (chat,
From the conclusion:1996 presidential campaign, Mars Surveyor landing, and
Princess Dianna. "As we have shown, what is in fact new is the particular
way in which each innovation rearranges and reconstitutes the meaning of
earlier elements. What is new about new media is therefore also old and
familiar: that they promise the new by remediating what has gone before" (270).
Terms: overwhelmed self (232), authentic self (233), William James’ empirical
self (233), operational degrees of freedom (244), adaptive interface (248),
Cartesian perspectivalism (249), empathetic knowing (251), haptic feedback (252)
Figures: William James (233), Hayles (250), Descartes (250), Bourdieu (250),
Lanier (251), Butler (264), Wittig (264)
"These virtual reality films take the process of empathetic learning
dangerously far–dangerous, that is, for the characters, who may find it
difficult to get their minds back into their original bodies" (247).
"Now, in the late twentieth century, no one in the virtual reality community can
share Descartes’ distrust of the senses" (249).
"The crowding together of images, the insistence that everything that technology
can present must be presented one at a time–this is the logic of hypermediacy"