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 by…it’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)]