Bolter and Grusin’s Remediation

Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin
Remediation: Understanding New Media
Area: Digital Media

•    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 it
11: “Remediation didn’t begin with the introduction of digital media.  We can identify the same process throughout the last several hundred years of Western visual representation.”
Part I
•    Programmers seek to remove the traces of their presence
o    27: “Computer programs may ultimately be human products, in the sense that they embody algorithms devised by human programmers, but once the program is written and loaded, the machine can operate without human intervention.  Programming, then, employs erasure or effacement, much as Norman Bryson defines erasure for Western painting, or as Cavell and other describe the erasure of human agency from the production of photographs.”
•    All any new technology could do: define itself in relationships to earlier technologies of representations
•    Immediacy: 30: “Our name for a family of beliefs and practices that express themselves differently at various times among various groups, and our quick survey cannot do justice to this variety.”
•    Hypermediacy: 34: “Where immediacy suggests a unified visual space, contemporary hypermediacy offers a heterogeneous space, in which representation is conceived of not as a window on to the world, but rather as ‘windowed’ itself—with windows that open on to other representations or other media.”
•    Hypernediacy was the counterpart to transparency in Western painting, an awareness of mediation whose repression almost guaranteed its repeated return
•    “Just What it is that Makes Today’s…” hyper conscious of the medium of photo-montage because photography is normally so transparent
•    Hypermediacy expresses the tension between the visual space as mediated and as a “real” space that lies beyond mediation
o    Looking “at” v. Looking “through”
o    Attempt to hold the viewer at the surface indefinitely
•    “Repurposing”: to take the “property” from one medium and reuse it in another
o    Example: Jane Austen novels → films
•    McLuhan: the “content” of any medium is always another medium
•    Digital Media = hypermedia => explicit critique and refashioning
•    Hypermediacy and transparent media desire to get past limits of representation to achieve the real
•    “They look what they do”
•    Our history is genealogical, not linear, and older media can remediate new ones
•    Fisher: colonizing the space between the canvas and the viewer has been one of the most aggressive features of the twentieth century
•    A medium is that which remediates
•    When we focus on an aspect of a medium, we must remember to include its other aspects (film: darkened theater, etc.)
•    2 senses of immediacy:
o    Epistemological: immediacy is transparency (absence of representation/ mediation)
o    Psychological: immediacy names the viewer’s feelings => authentic feeling
•    Remediation doesn’t destroy the aura of a work of art, but instead it always refashions that aura in another form
22: On VR: “You can visit the world of the dinosaur, then become a Tyrannosaurus.  Not only can you see DNA, you can experience what it’s like to be a molecule.”
23: “What designers often say they want is an ‘interfaceless’ interface, in which there will be no recognizable electronic tools—no buttons, windows, scroll bars, or even icons as such.  Instead the user will move through the space interacting with the objects ‘naturally,’ as she does in the physical world.”
47: “The new medium can remediate by trying to absorb the older medium entirely, so that the discontinuities between the two are minimized.  The very act of remediation, however, ensures that the older medium cannot be entirely effaced; the new medium remains dependent on the older one in acknowledged or unacknowledged ways.”
55: “ Remediation as the mediation of mediation; Remediation as the inseparability of mediation and reality; Remediation as reform.”
56: “Jameson has traced out the connection between the ‘linguistic turn’ and what he calls ‘mediatization.’ Jameson describes the spatialization of postmodern culture as ‘the process whereby the traditional fine arts are mediatized: that is they now come to conscious of themselves as various media within a mediatic system in which their own internal production also constitutes a symbolic message and the taking of a position on the status of the medium in question.”


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