Theory of Media Technologies


Evolution of Data
The storage, representation and usage of data are concepts that are relevant to individuals, organizations and companies. There have been numerous paradigm shifts over the ages as to how societies store their data and the shifts continue to occur. Lev Manovich writes, “To sum up: new media today can be understood as the mix between older cultural conventions for data representation access and manipulation and newer conventions of data representation access and manipulation” (Manovich 6). If we look back in culture, we used to store data on papyrus rolls, wax tablets, and codex’s. Gradually we have created more efficient forms of data storage; currently it is more common to store our data virtually rather than on print. I continue to see more students take notes in class on their computers or tablets rather than in notebooks. Even in office meetings, co-workers will have a computing device in front of them to jot down important notes rather than pads of paper. It will be interesting to see in the future the materials they are promoting for “Back to School” supplies – it feels as if notebooks and pens will eventually be replaced.

Manovich brings up the idea of data representation access which reminded me of how popular cloud computing has become for companies and individuals user to store their data in the cloud rather than on their personal computing devices. Computers are being referred to as “thin clients” since cloud computing offers the service of storing applications and the data you need stored within this “cloud”. This poses benefits in regards to security since if your computer or IPAD is stolen, your secure information is no longer stored on the device. I believe our culture views cloud computing as a new media. The topic is raising awareness among communities as we decipher the potential advantages and disadvantages of storing our information within the cloud.

Another topic I found noteworthy was Walter Benjamin’s view on technology and how it has transformed the auro of photographs and film. He explains that when we make reproductions of images, we are getting rid of the originality and are interfering with the essence of time. Walter Benjamin discusses the topic of film in his essay The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction and the relationship between the actors and the actual equipment used to film the productions. Benjamin states, “The characteristics of the film lie not only in the manner in which man presents himself to mechanical equipment but also in the manner in which, by means of this apparatus, man can represent his environment”( Benjamin). He goes on to explain that the way the camera captures actor’s movements and the surrounding environment can add a whole new magnitude of meanings to the film. He explains that the camera sets out a perspective for the viewers to look at the film differently than they would if the actors were performing live. I felt that in a way he had a negative attitude towards the cameraman since he has the ability to shift the focus of the viewers to certain objects or surroundings in the film. Benjamin discusses how the use of zooming in and out in films and slow motion allows the cameraman to once again intervene in what the audience views. Benjamin’s thought on film and the different ways movies are beginning to be filmed currently reminded me of a preview I saw at the movies recently for the musical Les Miserables which stars a long list of famous actors and actresses such as Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathway. The difference in the filming process of this musical is the cameraman will be filming the stars singing during the initial filming instead of incorporating the music in later and allowing the stars to lip syncing. Below is the trailer I saw where Hugh Jackman goes into depth on this concept. I wonder if Walter Benjamin would feel that this film which focuses on a musical still is missing the aura even though the stars are singing live.

I also wonder how Walter Benjamin would feel towards digital frames?

Les Miserables (YouTube Clip)

Benjamin, Walter. ""The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction." . Pantheon Books, 1964. Web. <http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/irvinem/theory/benjamin-work-of-art.html>.

Manovich, Lev. "What is New Media? Eight Propositions." . The MIT Press, 2002. Web. 9 Oct 2012. <http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/irvinem/theory/Manovich-NewMedia.pdf>.

Emily Fuerst

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Détournement


Guy Debord, in his work of philosophy and critical theory entitled “Society of the Spectacle” (1967) attempts to provide exhaustive critique of the social and political manifestations in modern forms of production. One important aspect of his theory covers how social order imposed by the global economy maintains, expands, and perpetuates its influence by the manipulation of media representations. In his mind, the “worldview” is actualized and no longer concerned with science or economics, becoming “mediated by images”.

Détournement as a media technique was developed in the 1950s by members ofLetterist International,[1][2] and consists in "turning expressions of the capitalist system and itsmedia cultureagainst itself," similar to turning slogans and logos against the advertisers or the political status quo. The Letterist International (LI) [1]was a Paris-based collective of radical artists and theorists between 1952 and 1957. It was created byGuy Debordas aschismfromIsidore Isou's Lettrism group.

When reading Chapter 8, “Negation and Consumption within Culture”, Debord claims the contemporary sociologist, is “unable to grasp the true nature of its chosen object, because it cannot recognize the critique innately present to that object”. It appears that in this line of thought he subscribes to Rorty's neopragmatism. Hence, detournement is introduced as a theoretical strategy to reverse the established logic of spectacle and the relationships it creates. From a practical media perspective, détournement has found its expression in comic strips, whose speech bubbles are replaced by revolutionary slogans; utopian and apparently nonsensical graffiti; and the alteration of billboards. This latter tactic, first introduced in Methods of Détournement (1956), involves the radical subversion of the language -- both textual and graphic -- of the modern spectacle. The point is "to take effective possession of the community of dialogue, and the playful relationship to time, which the works of the poets and artists have heretofore merely represented" [187]. In my interpretation, here are some example of detournement in current media:

Barbara Kruger’s ‘Belief+Doubt’ is an immersive exhibit at Hirshhorn Museum:

BarbaraKrugerinstallation2.jpg

Latest Old Spice Video Clip:








Finally, in an interview he granted before his death, 20 years after his original publication, the author had various comments on contemporary events but no revisions to the original text. The “Society of the Spectacle” remains an accurate depiction of today’s state of affairs. Perhaps the centerpiece of his life’s work will now garner more than a passing mention in Media Studies, Social Theory, Economics and those fields which stand to gain the most by the influence of his ideas.
Eric Cruet
Debord, Guy. Methods of Détournement. N.p.: n.p., 1956. 8-10. Print.
[1]^ Report on the Construction of Situations (1957)
[2]^Internationale Situationniste #1 (June 1958)




Tom's Shoes and Commodity Fetishism
Kassie Barroquillo


Guy Debord confronts the idea of commodity fetishism in “Society of the Spectacle.” According to the works of Marx, commodity is the product which is developed after labor changes raw materials. Fetishism is an obsession, it is an object which has hold over people’s imagination, from the outside it is hard or impossible to understand, but it is clear this obsession has power over someone. Commodity fetishism happens because an individual becomes alienated in a system, so they try to find meaning within a commodity. The combination of Benjamin’s thoughts on art and cinema and commodity fetishism can be used to see how commercials can affect people.


If you are not familiar with Tom’s Shoes, they are a wildly popular brand of shoes; the company donates a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair someone purchases. They have recently branched out into sunglasses and the same system is in place: for every pair of sunglasses purchased, a person in need receives prescription glasses, sight-saving surgery or medical treatment.


With only the above information, one can see how Tom’s Shoes can be a commodity fetish. Every purchase of a pair of Tom’s Shoes seems as if it is more than just buying a pair of shoes. It is apparent in every pair of shoes, they are not worth as much as they sell for, but the feeling a consumer has after purchasing a pair (creating a commodity fetish) is (for some people) more than enough to make up for the difference. Tom’s Shoes realizes this is part of the reason their shoes sell, so they play upon this in their commercials.


After viewing the commercial, the emotions of the consumer may validate the commodity fetishism impulse a person may feel. The commercial hits a pathos nerve; the children saying thank you is definitely persuasive for the consumers. The commercial makes it very clear that the consumers or “YOU” made this possible. When the consumer feels responsible for helping the people, then the commodity value increases.


Benjamin says the camera makes the viewer consciously explore a space he or she may not have noticed before. He also explains there are two different ways to perceive art, one in which the viewer absorbs the art – the viewer is concentrating on a work of art and the art absorbs the viewer – the viewer is distracted by a piece of art.

When viewing the commercial created by Tom’s Shoes, one can see what Benjamin means by making the viewer consciously explore a space. The first five shots of the video consist of shots of the equipment used to make Tom’s. Some of these shots are of places people could in no way access normally. Next, the commercial features close up shots of the shoes being put on the children. This is a situation in which you would only have this perspective if you were, in fact, the person putting on the shoes. Finally, the video uses shots which feature bust shots, low crane angles and close ups, all are very personal angles. These kinds of shots absorb the viewer; the viewer believes they are in the place, they are distracted by the art.

References


Benjamin, Walter. "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction." The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Oct. 2012. <http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/irvinem/theory/benjamin-work-of-art.html>.

Debord, Guy. "Society of the Spectacle." Society of the Spectacle. Marxist.org, n.d. Web. 10 Oct. 2012. <http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/debord/society.htm>.

"TOMS One for One Movement for Eyewear - Learn All About Eyewear Giving | TOMS.com/Eyewear." TOMS One for One Movement for Eyewear - Learn All About Eyewear Giving | TOMS.com/Eyewear. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Oct. 2012. <http://www.toms.com/eyewear/our-movement>.

Tomsshoes. "TOMS - Thank You!" YouTube. YouTube, 01 Sept. 2010. Web. 10 Oct. 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owTiwnNly_4>.