Sunday, November 6, 2005

Bolter and Grusin - Remediation (1999) II

Let's call this entry part two of three. I'm a bit behind (behind what? just my own schedule), but I'm through the application chapters--the middle 140 pages of B&G.  In the paragraph opening into the final section, "Self," B&G write that these middle chapters are applications of remediation as a process.  In their glossary, B&G define remediation this way:

remediation Defined by Paul Levenson as the "anthropotropic" process by which new media technologies improve upon or remedy prior technologies.  We define the term differently, using it to mean the formal logic by which new media refashion prior media forms.  Along with immediacy and hypermediacy, remediation is one of the three traits of our genealogy of new media. (273).

B&G discuss remediation as this logics-guided process involved with a variety of media throughout section two: computer games (88), digital photography (104), photorealistic graphics (114), digital art (132), film (146), virtual reality (160), mediated spaces (168), the www (196), and ubiquitous computing (212).  In the final section, "Convergence," B&G offer an explanation for more various push-pull relationships among media.  Whereas remediation tends to describe a uni-directional process of influence, convergences are akin to blends--multi-directional shapings felt among media (where television flows into the www and the www flows into television).  Convergence rel. to remediation: a sloshing media spillway, a complex subversion of remediation's teleology.

The brief chapters in this section are useful as mini-histories for specific media, and they are also instructive for the way they set up the tensions between immediacy and hypermediacy, between realism and virtuality.  However, because B&G's project is now 6+ years in circulation, I wondered how well remediation--as a description of one medium transitioning into another--holds up.  It's clear that remediation happens; it's a valid description for the derivation and diffusion of logics.  These logics, I suppose, draw together representation, technique, communication, instrumentation, and so on (this is an admittedly unruly list...wordwatchers, go on and ask what I mean's a little bit loose, crumby).  But remediation depends on resemblances; what happens when simple two-resemblance comparisons (x into y) become (-1-) so common and persistent as to be commonplace (pass into ubiquity?) or (-2-) so freestyle-frenetic as to exceed the analogic formulae for one media rolling pleasantly into another (breech the hyper, a hyper-hyper)?

Because remediation is processual, the short chapters on each medium also bring up questions about processual orthodoxies.  Ever since looking at Sirc's En. Comp as a Happening this summer, I've been thinking about material and processual orthodoxies, esp. as reflected in composition (although S. is more explicitly concerned with the material).  Such orthodoxies, artificially constructed as they may be, are useful even as plastic models good for introducing malleability to widespread practices (so widespread, I mean, as to be ingrained, rooted, reproduced smoothly and without hesitation).  Remediation might simply point out the persistence of orthodoxies; to say something is remediated is as much a testament to its being constituted by antecedent parts/modes/models as it is an acknowledgement that change is inevitable (though not always deterministic). 

The application chapters include a number of small points worth following up on: links between hypermedia and insanity/mania (154), digitality mocking photoreality (111), filmic games (98) and cinema of attractions--the public electrocution of an elephant (173).  I'll also return to the section on mediated spaces; it was interesting to read the stuff on Auge and non-spaces following Jenny's talk on Friday about delocalization and a meta hodos of documentary.  More on that, I hope, in another entry sometime soon.  (We just lost electricity, so I'm finished.)

Terms: real as plenitude (119), vacillation (plate 8), digital art (133), absorption (147), Cinema of Attractions (155), fright/exhilaration (161), point-of-view technologies (162), virtual reality (166), flaneur (174), shared replicability (177), channel (188), ricocheting remediations (192), replicatory technology (201), augmented reality (215), telepresence (214), flow (as organic metaphor) (223)

Figures: Barthes and CL (110), Walt Disney (171), Marc Auge (177), Haraway, Anne Balsamo, Allucquere Rosanne Stone (182), Williams and McLuhan (185), Baudrillard (194)

"The process of digitizing the light that comes through the lens is no more or less artificial than the chemical process of traditional photography" (110).
"Here as elsewhere, the logic of hypermediacy is to represent the desire for transparent immediacy by sublimating it, by turning it into a fascination with a medium" (122).
"Once it has been digitized, any image can undergo a while repertoire of transformations, which for our culture are regarded as distortions: rotation, shearing, morphing, and filtering (139).
"Virtual reality is also the medium that best expresses the contemporary definition of the self as a roving point of view" (161).
"If artificial intelligence in the 1950s and 1960s refashioned the computer from a mere adding machine into a processor of symbols, virtual reality is not refashioning the computer into a processor of perceptions" (162).
"The television broadcast protocols have until now offered the viewer much less visual information than a photograph or a film" (186). [Consider alongside real/plenitude (119)]

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