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
), 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 (oh…you 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).


  1. “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.

  2. 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).

Comments are closed.