As I was secretly hoping it would, this class is beginning to bring me back to my art history days. The reading that I found particularly interesting this week was Introduction: The Double Logic of Remediation, an essay preoccupied with the dual notions of immediacy and hypermediacy, particularly with how the former leads to the latter. This train of thought immediately reminded me of my previous studies in art criticism while away from Tech, specifically the theories of artist and philosopher Marcelle Duchamp. Commonly acknowledged as the father of Dada, and thus as a forefather or modern and postmodernist theory, Duchamp laid much of the theoretical groundwork for these movements through his theory of “Object-hood.” Essentially, the idea of “Object-hood” is the assertion that art (specifically sculpture and 2D painting at the time) from an ontological point of view, possesses a dual nature as both symbolic representation (conventional thought) and as object (in the physical word). This is to say that Duchamp’s artistic stance was an emphasis on medium. Think, “This is not a pipe (it is a picture of a pipe).” Although the work to which this statement refers is not by Duchamp, it is a very famous modernist painting that overtly alludes to his theories.

In the essay, the authors refer to a very similar idea. The process of Remediation, here defined as the necessitated movement from a state of immediacy (effacement of medium) to hypermediacy (presentation of medium), referring to Derrida’s concept of sign, seems to draw heavy inspiration from Duchamp. I once asked in this modern art class how Duchamp’s idea might be extended to digital art. I believe this reading provides the answer. In a word, to critique implies that we must objectify in Duchamp’s school of thought, or in Derrida’s words impose sign, referring to how meaning is derived form tautological systems.

 

When we were talking about Remediation article, specifically about the immediacy being just the experience without the medium and hypermediacy having extra information from other mediums, I thought about this comic: http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=2526

That SMBC comic depicts the difference between how shows and movies. The first one, the movie type hacking, has generic (and incorrect terminology) of how the character is hacking through some security system. This part is what I thought of as similar to hypermediacy, since these kind of scenarios tend to reference different parts of a computer and programming that usually sound vaguely familiar to people, but still keep the fact that it’s a person talking (usually in a TV show) about some objective using a computer.

The second panel, the realistic hacking, is just a guy pretending to be someone in an authoritative seat claiming some sort of computer trouble. This part reminded me of immediacy since this type of panel is literally just the guy asking for the password, which gives a very close idea of how the experience would be. This seems to align with the definition that immediacy being just the experience where the medium disappears.

Though this may not be an ideal example, since it is a comic medium explaining a trope of the TV medium of hacking, I thought that this gave a good example as an explanation between immediacy and hypermediacy. Technically it also shows Remediation by the fact it is a comic referencing a TV trope.

For those of us who grew up with MTV in the 90s, you might just remember how the channel was consistently delivering music to its audience as the main content of its structure and foundation. In more recent years, the channel has moved away from music as its main content to deliver (and has sadly moved toward reality tv shows). Although MTV has lost viewers here and there with its program changes, (as well as gained some critics because of it constantly showing reruns of Catfish), MTV always brought a certain sense of immediacy to consumers. As as cable television station, MTV was bringing video and information that people could consume to feel immediately and personally connected to the world’s events in the media industry.

As MTV has evolved into its current state, it has also had to start competing with online outlets like BuzzFeed and YouTube that make content more readily available to consumers. Because of this, MTV has been reworking its online tactics to get content out to consumers. With these strategies, Dan Fierman, one of the leads on MTVs online projects wants to be able to get information out to consumers more easily and more blatantly. In an interview, Fierman stated, ” I don’t really care where you want to consume what we’re doing — whether it’s reporting or criticism or it’s just beautiful thinking. I want to be in your earbuds. I want to be while you’re watching something online. I want to be in your Snapchat feed. I want to be in your Instagram. If you want to read, I want you to read. The point is, really, that however you’re using your phone — let’s be honest, that’s where everybody is right now — I want to be there.” With this way of thinking Fierman is definitely showing some acknowledgement toward the world of hypermediacy and making it apparent that we are consuming media in one way or another. I think is definitely interesting because in the new age of digital media, there are so many channels to display information, and Fierman is (literally) using them all to capitalize on consumers.

When you look into MTV’s past and its current state, you definitely see the way that it has shifted from older forms of media into the newer forms of digital media. With that shift, we are also seeing an interesting shift in the way we interact with our media, moving from immediacy that is less blatant, and toward media that is more in our faces through hypermediacy. With this shift, it will be interesting to see how MTV (and other media companies alike) appeal to their audiences to display information, as well as the tactics they use.

 

Article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/mtv-news-hires_us_56ba0d27e4b04f9b57db2b06?ir=Media&section=us_media&utm_hp_ref=media

I have heard of Agrippa before, but only through internet hearsay and the vague idea that it was some sort of disappearing artifact with a lot of weirdness behind it. Having now read more about it and checked it out myself, I find that there are two parts to Agrippa that are fascinating. Of course the actual content of book and diskette are objects of interest, but the thing that really interested me was the idea behind the encryption “virus” and the concept of permanence in the digital realm.

As discussed before when we were examining the Internet Archive, anything that has been posted to the internet in the modern incarnation of the world wide web is saved in one form or another. In the early days of the internet however, there were fewer thoughts about longevity and keeping information for a long period of time. I find the idea of “rediscovering” the Agrippa piece through the work of modern archivists to be a fascinating archeological dig through the past of the internet and beginning of the digital age. While Agrippa (A Book of the Dead) might not itself contain information pertaining to internet history, the artifact itself and the records of its existence hold much more meaning. In a continuing dialogue of whether or not an artifact is valuable based on its contents or its being, Agrippa is a great example of this argument being extended to the digital realm. As mentioned in Codex, the codex was valuable for the fact of its possible (and later proven) existence, even though it was supposed to have been written many centuries ago. Agrippa, on the other hand, was written merely decades ago, with people who have a living memory of its initial existence and the phenomenon surrounding its entry into limelight.

In a way, the renewed interest in the book and efforts to preserve its existence is ironic when considering the efforts and ideas that were employed to keep the book “exclusive”. This of course can lead easily into the idea of author intention versus reader interpretation, but to keep the argument contained to the value of the artifact itself, here is a quote from Gibson that I think encapsulates the spirit of the project and the idea that artifacts often create their own destiny once they are out of their creator’s hands:

Today, there seems to be some doubt as to whether any of these curious objects were ever actually constructed. I certainly don’t have one myself. Meanwhile, though, the text escaped to cyberspace and a life of its own, which I found a pleasant enough outcome.” – William Gibson, Introduction to Agrippa (A Book of the Dead)

The eminent recurring theme in Agrippa deals with the decay of memory, and the way that memories are replaced by material representations of them. Agrippa is rife with connotations of a “mechanism,” which usually refers to this recording of memories into physical objects:

In eerie Kodak clarity,
Are the summer backstairs of Wheeling,
West Virginia

Gibson uses this poem to discuss how this “mechanism” of recording our memories actually replaces our true memory, so that we no longer rely on our thoughts to remember experiences. Gibson relies on photographs to recount memories of his family history. Almost every stanza begins with the title of a polaroid, e.g. “Moma July, 1919,” highlighting the extent to which his memories are grounded in these photos rather than his own mind.

Other stanzas, like

The mechanism: stamped black tin,
Leatherette over cardboard, bits of boxwood,
A lens
The shutter falls
Forever
Dividing that from this.

seem to discuss how this mechanism separates memories from these recordings, an allusion to the separation of life and death (that and this). Gibson is describing how recording our memories leads to the destruction of our memories, and thus our identity; if these recordings capture all that we know, who are we, uniquely, anymore? This sentiment rings particularly true in today’s technology, most notably in Snapchat’s Story features, that essentially becomes a mechanism for recording our entire days. This allusion to destruction is ultimately captured by Agrippa’s ability to delete itself after you are done reading, whether through code corruption, if viewed digitally, or through the text fading away, in paper reproductions.

As I read throughout Agrippa, I kept coming across moments and descriptions that felt vaguely random and strange to me. It started as soon as the third paragraph with the description of the string being tied which in the end was described as “Like a lady’s shoestring in the First World War.” A lot of these feel like very random and strange description and kept catching me by surprise. Terms such as “copper-jacketed slug” also came up which brought me by surprise. I’m really curious about the decisions to these. Why does he go so far in his descriptions, some of which take an entire paragraph to describe whatever object it is? An example of that being the knives in the first paragraph in the fifth section. Do they have a special meaning upon what is being told here? Many times it seems like when this “randomness” is thrown in, it feels like it is used to catch the reader and make them think, however it can in fact have a negative impact if it just leaves the reader confused and not wanting anymore. Was there a goal in mind? I really feel like in this “A book of the dead” everything here has some meaning, as most author’s I believe intend, but I’m really wondering what it is in this case. What makes an author decide to use what they use in whatever they write? How is this used appropriately to attract a reader?

I was assigned Agrippa in another class last semester, but I was equally fascinated with it the second time around. The ominous black box, mummy-like shroud, DNA genome and the floppy disk poem force you to think and ask questions about these features. However, I find myself most interested in the actual poem.

The most puzzling aspect of the poem for me is the emergence of “the mechanism”. Throughout the poem, Gibson mentions it eight times. It is not just one mechanism he talks about, but six. They start out pretty basic and then jump into ambiguity. A camera, a gun, the photo album, the timers of a traffic light, borders and then the elusive sixth mechanism. He describes the first mechanism, the camera, ending with, “The shutter falls/ Forever/ Dividing that from this.” I think this is the only defining quality of the/a mechanism Gibson gives us. I think the mechanism characterizes the “enter and exit”, a moment where you cross over or into something else, and you cannot necessarily always go back. I tried to apply this to the other mechanisms he describes. The camera divides that time of the memory from this time; you can now look at it and “relive” that moment. The gun, and subsequent gunshot, divides that moment into a before, and an after the gunshot. He closes the photo album, the mechanism, that lets him into those memories. The traffic lights, pretty self-explanatory, resemble the start of a moment you cross into, but I think there is something more to this one. He couples the traffic light timers with a section about a bus station describing the colored restroom and how the “dark uncounted others…/ were made thus to dance/ or not dance/ as the law saw fit.” I see the traffic lights symbolizing, “the law”, and how it often divides this from that. The fifth mechanism is mentioned in respect to traveling abroad, borders that allow you to enter and exit, but this one he states is “no round trip.” Finally, as he walks through Chiyoda-ku he is “laughing,/ in the mechanism.” I read this last mechanism a little cynical as if the poem is aware you are reading it (a fourth wall moment if you will) and aware after this last line it will disappear out of reach, dividing you from the poem.

But hey, who could know but Gibson himself.

To summarize the “Introduction” to Remediation by Bolter and Grusin in layman’s terms: there’s nothing new under the sun. As stated toward the end of the excerpt:

What is new about new media comes from the particular ways in which they refashion older media and the ways in which older media refashion themselves to answer the challenges of new media.

Initially, this was an abstract concept for me to grasp. Given that, outside of this class, I have never been forced to analyze the mediums through which I am receiving various stimuli. In a world where you are overloaded with things from the time you wake up to the time you fall asleep, the concepts of immediacy, hypermediacy, and remediation play a larger part that I would have thought. This is due, in part, to a culture in which both multiplying and erase mediation simultaneously to increase the human experience.

However, that cannot be done. For the simple reason that those two ideas are contradictory. You can not destroy something by which the other media thrives off — that goes against the “double logic” of remediation. A few examples of this relationship between the different types of media mentioned in the introduction are:

  • “Directors of music videos rely on multiple media and elaborate editing to create an immediate and apparently spontaneous style; they take great pains to achieve the sense of “liveness” that characterizes rock music.”
  • “The CNN site is hypermediated—arranging text, graphics, and video in multiple panes and windows and joining them with numerous hyperlinks; yet the web site borrows its sense of immediacy from the televised CNN newscasts.”
  • In describing a flight simulation game: “As in a real plane, the experience of the game is that of working an interface, so that the immediacy of this experience is pure hypermediacy.”

In comparison to the flight simulation game, MOMUS from Codex was the opposite. The immediacy of that experience for Edward was so real, that he was mesmerized by the game and eventually it leaved into his own life — at which point, recognizing the hypermediacy of the game was key to utilizing it as an effective tool.

The cycle of remediation appears to be a concept akin to inception, or even matryoshka doll (Russian nested dolls). You can analyze any media and find other mediums inside by which it was built upon.

In the Remediation reading this week, three concepts are discussed that are worth defining.
Immediacy: erasing or making automatic the representation. “The medium should disappear and leave us in the presence of the thing represented” In other words, immersion.
Hypermediacy: A design that makes the user/interactor aware of the medium/interface.
Remediation: The representation of one medium in another. New media repurposing old media ex. Film remediates photography.

These concepts reminded me of the recent trend of live musicals being broadcast on television. Most recently, Grease: Live! was aired by Fox. The New York Times’ review here: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/02/arts/television/grease-live-review-vanessa-hudgens.html quickly reveals how these live TV musicals are a remediation of theater.

When Sound of Music premiered live on NBC, it seemed that the idea “was merely to bring beloved stage music to a national audience” (NYTimes). The point would be to convince viewers of the immediacy of television and put them right in the theater. In other words, the television medium would disappear, and the viewer would feel as though he or she is watching live theater. However, as the TV musical trend progressed through Peter Pan Live and now Grease, it has become more than just an attempt at a seamless broadcast of live singing and dancing.

Grease Live was “greatly enhanced by television’s versatility … The crowd-pleasing “Greased Lightning” was nicely energized by multiple camera perspectives. Carly Rae Jepsen, playing Frenchy, was given a song written just for this production, and it blended into a gauzy “Beauty School Dropout,” sung by Boyz II Men in a way that wouldn’t have been clumsy onstage. A drag race was made at least moderately convincing with some smoke, tricks of light and amusing camera angles.” This is evidence of the remediation of theater. The affordances of television are being used to repurpose theater for national broadcasts.

The New York Times article also sheds light on the hypermediacy of live TV musicals. It mentions how “The show began with Jessie J doing a backstage walkabout while singing ‘Grease Is the Word’”. In the backstage walkabout, the viewer is given a tour of the whole set with camera crews clearly in view and a behind-the-scenes look at the production. This “attention-getting device” makes visible all of the work that goes into live TV musicals. Because of the viewers’ awareness of the medium, live TV musicals are hypermediated productions.