Monday, October 31, 2005

Bolter and Grusin - Remediation (1999) I

The remediation project depends on a double-logic.  Tangled around and around one another, bread-tie like, hypermediacy (opacity) and immediacy (transparency) stand as the two poles between which all remediation oscillates (again, oscillations, as from Lanham).  Hypermediacy is the "frenetic design" that comes with exciting and blending mediaforms into one another.  Immediacy refers to the dreamwish of closing the gap between the real and the mediaform.  Hypermediacy invites others to enjoy the interplay (explicit); immediacy strives for the perfect mimesis, a match with reality so convincing that the real/virtual distinctions wash together, ripple-free (tacit).  Remediation, relative to these poles, synthesizes, collects them together again, keeps order, shepherds inventive deviations and garbled others back in step: web 'pages' inhere newspaper layout, television inheres film, blogs, just like diaries. 

After first describing the project as a genealogy (attr. Foucault, a la TOOT), Bolter and Grusin frame chapters one, two and three as theoretical: c. 1 "Immediacy, Hypermediacy, and Remediation," c. 2 "Mediation and Remediation," and c. 3 "Networks of Remediation."  The introduction on double-logic and C. 1 set out definitional parameters, present theoretical bases for the twist of immediacy and hypermediacy into remediation, and lay the groundwork for the running together of media.  There are a couple of interesting hooks here; stuff I'll return to: actual immediacy and the discourse of immediacy (30), windows and scaling (33), and (un)acknowledged repurposing (44-45). In c. 2, B&G write that remediation encompasses mediation and all that's involved, including language (57).  This extends definitions of hypermediacy and immediacy in terms of the mimetic aims and the hybrid qualities (58).  The definitions in this chapter run the risk of totalization--ballooning remediation to a vast scale.  Its end?  Exceptions?  What escapes/exceeds/eludes remediation?  In c. 3, B&G suggest the relationships among media; the theater lobby filled up with movie posters and cardboard cutoutprops remediating the film is exemplary, and the film reciprocates, remediates the lobby in return. 

Also in chapter three, B&G write, "Remediation is not replication or mechanical reproduction" (73).  But I wonder if we could agree that remediation is devoutly historical; it prefers antecedent trajectories to notions of innovation, revolution or break.  In this sense, remediation describes media (all expression?) first as inertial and indebted, rather than as accelerative, disruptive or eccentric.  In this, I think, I can account for one of my apprehensions about remediation: as a descriptive term, it licenses the dismissive turn--the ambivalent shrug-it-off of time owns all.  Paradoxically, perhaps, and widely applicable as it may very well be, it too easily atrophies new media (as in "weblogs are merely...").

I also want to think more about hypermediacy (as well as other prefix-mediacy).  Just how hyper- is it? And is its counterpart, tamediacy, in some way plain or banal or ob(li)vious? As in, aw, nothing; I'm just watching reruns of Friends.  It's barely televisual, but it's not immediate and I can see it as media.  I'm less settled on this point ( can tell?).  Without coming off as smug, I want to ask whether hypermediacy, given its opacity and given its "frenetic style," accounts for all self-conscious mediaforms.  Same question as the earlier one: what evades it, dodges it--or proves the hyper- prefix sedate

I'll try another few notes on the middle and ending chapters in a day or two.

Terms: virtual reality (22), linearity (24), erasure (24), beyond medium (24), automaticity (24), photorealism (28), monocular (28), immediacy (30), windowed style (31), hypermedia (31), phenakistoscope (37), photomontage (39), replacement (44), remediation (45), mediatized (56), hybrids (57), remederi (restore to health) (59), medium (65), abandonment (71), immediacy (epistemological/psychological) (70)

Figures: Latour (24, 57), Foucault (21), Rheinghold (24), Strange Days (24), Jameson (56), Cavell (58), Philip Fisher (58-59), McLuhan and R. Williams (76), Benjamin (73)


"Our culture wants both to multiply its media and to erase all traces of mediation: ideally, it wants to erase its media in the very act of multiplying them" (5).

"We will argue that these new media are doing exactly what their predecessors have done: presenting themselves as refashioned and improved versions of other media" (15).

"With photography, the automatic process is mechanical and chemical" (27).

"Again, we call the representation of one medium in another remediation, and we will argue that remediation is a defining characteristic  of the new digital media" (45).

"The rhetoric of remediation favors immediacy and transparency, even though as the medium matures it offers new opportunities for hypermediacy" (60).

Bookmark and Share Posted by at October 31, 2005 9:15 PM to Reading Notes

"I also want to think more about hypermediacy (as well as other prefix-mediacy). Just how hyper- is it? And is its counterpart, tamediacy, in some way plain or banal or ob(li)vious? As in, aw, nothing; I'm just watching reruns of Friends. "

This is good. What makes it hyper is how it circulates among the uninitiated? The academics, let's say, who suddenly realize: hey! media! Hey! Wikis! Wow! But that's only (maybe) because we are not already in these conversations - we make ourselves go to these places/and conversations to see what's up.


Is there a banal (as Jenny might say) layer to this - those already interpellated by new media who don't find the hyper-extension nature of media? They just do it.

Posted by: jeff at November 2, 2005 9:34 AM

Right. Relating it to the (un)initiated was something like what I had in mind. Those sudden realizations are like stars in the night? So the hyper might account for the way new media shakes up temporal orthodoxies. One person's initiation--!--is already two weeks old (deteriorated into boredom, forgotten) for another. I suppose this might go to social bookmarking and aggregation, too. I continually determine my niche, subscribe to those feeds (for not only the freshest of the web but the freshest discoveries of webstuff by others, the freshest initiations), and thereby move from an individual-hyper to a collective- or networked-hyper (roughly...maybe).

Posted by: Derek at November 2, 2005 9:39 PM