“Without emotion there may be craftsmanship, but not art…”

 

“Without emotion there may be craftsmanship, but not art…” This.  This makes all of the sense in the world, but is baffling all at the same time.  When I read Dewey’s words, obsessing over what art is comprised of, this line made his thoughts clear.  A well thought out project; a carefully designed building is not necessarily art – it is craftsmanship.  When that craftsmanship is paired with emotion and a deep understanding and draw to the project, then it is art.  However, is it art if it lacks craftsmanship?  Is emotion and passion in a project enough to constitute something as artful when it may not be well crafted?  Is a sloppy finger painting art?  Sure, it is emotion, but there is no craftsmanship; there is only paint splattered on the paper.

However, this seems to be a polarizing idea within myself.  Why can not pure emotional exodus contribute to great art?  Why is it necessary for the artist to toil away in suffering to contribute to the ether a product of his suffering which is ill fated to be recognized after his death?  I have many times created out of passion and happiness – no torture.  Okay sure, Dewey wrote this in the 1930s so perhaps my perceived stubbornness within his writing is a result of the time warp between then and now?

Now, Brun…what to say about Brun.  I honestly feel as though I need a crash course in computer programming to fully understand Brun.  What I did gather though is his resistance to electronically composed music?  Again, I am going to attribute this resistance to the fact that this piece was written in 1973.  However, computer assisted music composition has come so far from Pac-Man esque sounds and now incorporates more emotion that ever before.  The computer is just another tool – like a piano or a guitar.  It has different cords, more varied and can transform the sound of tapping keys into a bass line so dense you’ll drop.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that I really didn’t find these articles to be relevant to our modern world.  Perhaps when they were written? But not now. For sure not now.  These two men held views that aesthetic value comes from extreme struggle, work and effort.  However, my belief is if that emotion is involved, there is automatically effort.  Art is a lifetime of effort, compacted by every experience and secreted into something representative of a particular stance in the universe.  It is not about understanding what the meaning behind the art is, but instead understanding that there is meaning behind the art.  It has always been favorable to me when viewing art to destroy my notions about the world to fully connect with the piece.

A Hypermediated Medium is Remediated Immediacy.

Describe three interesting new media technologies that are examples of “immediacy,” “hypermediacy,” and “remediacy.” Can any of your examples be viewed as more than one of these?

 

How does understanding the material form of your examples help you to understand the nature of their mediation?

In order to understand immediacy, hypermediacy and remediacy, we must first be able to understand the meanings behind the words themselves.  When I google immediacy, I m brought to a webpage with a breakdown on the pronunciation of the word, the part of speech, an explanation of the word and the use of the word in a sentence.

By definition, immediacy is making something direct, instant in nature.  As explained by Bolter and Grusin, immediacy is just that.  It is when you are mentally drawn into a technology, almost to the point of physically being there. When reading Bolter and Grusin’s explaination I could not help but think of the AR game, Night Terrors.  (For those of you who don’t know what that game is – it is essentially to a horror version of the Pokemon Go type mobile apps.)  In Night Terrors, you are wearing headphones, focusing on your phone screen and exploring your space in the dark.  Visual graphics of the game resemble the found footage style horror films like Alien Abduction and Blair Witch.  Since you are walking around your space with the lights out, your only source of light is your phone screen, which utilizes the camera to display the interior of your home, all while your headphones play ambient creepy music akin to that of a haunted house.  After a while, the game ‘learns’ the layout of your home (patience is a virtue here) and places monsters behind doors, in reflections in mirrors and lurking around corners.  You almost forget that you are holding a phone and begin to fear walking into your bathroom and finding what is in the mirror or behind the shower curtain.  Your environment merges with that of technology and you are drawn into the technology.

When I Google the term hypermediacy, an excerpt from our reading is the first result. It explains hypermediacy not as a definition in a dictionary, but as a term perfectly described by the Bolter and Grusin.  It is essentially the incorporation of other media into a single medium. It again, relies on a merging of two things.  Just as immediacy relied upon our mergence with technology, hypermediacy relies on the mergence of old and new.  As I am sitting in bed, looking around my room for an example of hypermediated technology, I turned on a light – literally and figuratively.  My bedside lamp is both a light source and a speaker – the lamp, an old technology using a lightbulb, as been replaced with an led light and is now seated atop a speaker.  It is not even strange to me that I plug my phone (or should I say tiny pocked sized computer) into a lamp and hear music (music not from a cassette or CD but from my tiny pocket sized computer). Thirty years ago I would have good reason to fear lock up in a mental institution if I uttered that same thought. (Really, picture it – you’re in a mental institution watching a frazzled patient hopelessly attempt to plug the television into the radio and into the lamp which is missing the lightbulb all while expecting to see light and hear music while maintaining the capability of reading the book seated atop the television set.) That is hypermediacy. It is all of the technology smashed together into a single device small enough to fit in your pocket! Mind blowing.

Similar to hypermediacy, remediacy is use of new technology to function as old. We can consult our friend in the mental hospital for this one as well. Our crazy (or progressive) friend, after failing at hypermediating the content of the day room, is now yelling at the dictionary to explain the word remediacy.  Unfortunately our friend still must read words – there is no tiny speaker next to them, there is no digital assistant who responds to her/his(its?) name and process the command to explain a word.  Dictionaries still exist as books with paper and tangible pages.  In our progressive friend’s (and our own) world, dictionaries can now exist without tangible qualities.  My iPhone 6s (alright not so new, but I’m a poor college student) functions as a heavy dictionary – and all I need to do to access information is talk to it.

So what I have gotten from my journey into insanity with our crazy friend is that a hypermediated medium is remediated immediacy. The use of a medium to function as multiple technologies both redefines the tangible form of old media to incorporate ourselves into the technology which runs these devices. My phone, a single piece of technology, combines within it multiple forms of technology and remains attached to my arm as a way to forget that reality outside of it exists.

I’d like to read a book now, with real pages, while physically sitting in a forest. Our world is an episode of Black Mirror.

 

What do cyborgs eat? – Microchips.

 

I’m going to start this by mentioning that the Haraway article was tough. Much of it went over my head, so to speak, and the rest was very dense.  I do not know if I have the right idea, but E for Effort right?

From what I gathered, the idea of immersion and embeddedness are absolutely related.  However different, they both represent the state of entanglement we maintain with technology.  Immersion, as explained by Lahti is “liberation from real-life spatiotemporal constraints…” (p163).  In other words, mediums such as video games, and one can argue immersive films, is a way to place ourselves in another world, one that is separate from our own, one with different norms, rules and identities.  Through immersion, we temporarily occupy a virtual space where the impossible is made possible.  Through immersion we adopt a new identity, as present in the representation of ourselves on the screen.  We can ‘try on’ different identities without the judgements and restraints in our real world.

Similarly, Haraway explained embeddedness as a complete and permanent connection with a virtual experience (I think).  She writes, “From another perspective, a cyborb might be about lived social and bodily realities in which people are not afraid of their joint kinship with animals and machines, not afraid of permanently partial identities and contradictory standpoints.” (p154)  My take away from this is that embeddedness is more about a state of lasting connection with machines.  We can not remove ourselves like we can under Lahit’s idea of immersion.  We merge with technology and it becomes as much a part of us as our fingers or toes do.

This embeddedness, I think, is central to Haraway’s desire to reclaim technologies.  The permanence that embedding oneself into a new identity or space, virtual or physical, lends itself to a greater understanding of another perspective.  Politically, this is a fantastic notion, a prerequisite of world peace and global understanding.  Through the use of cyborgic transcendence, we will be able to fully understand another’s ideals through the adoption of those ideals into a totally new identity.  In light of the election results, the idea of cybrogian embeddedness to fully understand another’s perspective and boundaries does not seem so bad.

 

 

 

Cyborgs are taking over!

What does Hayles mean when she argues that Wiener sees “communication as a relation”?

When Hayles mentioned that Wiener sees “communication as a relation”, she means that an idea, or a communication of that idea does not make sense or exist without its context.  For an idea to be properly understood, one must have an understanding of other ideas surrounding it.  There must be something to compare the idea to and somewhere to place it.  Like an inside joke, it only makes sense if you understand the situation fully.

What are the advantages of thinking about humans and technology as part of an integrated system?

Thinking about the boundaries of communication, humans and technology is useless.  It will only inhibit our development.  Humans have always used and relied upon technology to survive.  Be it the use of tools for hunting, building long standing structures to live it, generating a community near bodies of water, storing pictures digitally or using the cloud to access projects across multiple devices, technology is beneficial to our lives.  When technology is deemed as superfluous , it inhibits our growth as a species.

Does this preclude human agency?

The realization that technology, in any form, is essential does not inhibit us, it makes our lives possible.  The reason we can act in any given environment is because we can adapt to that environment through our innovation. Like using cars and other modes of transportation to get to class, technology enhances our lives and the possibilities for our lives.  Technology is enriching.

Can everything be reduced to systems theory?

Wiener believes that, according to systems theory, on a very basic level, all things are organized in the same way.  Everything we own, everything we use, everything we believe exists for the advancement of ourselves.  Hats are used to make snow easier to handle.  Mugs are used to make coffee easier to drink. Cars are used to make far away places accessible.  Books are used to express and inspire knowledge; and that knowledge is used to expand our own world view and understanding of our own lives.

Much like cybernetics, technology is present in our lives to further enable our possibilities as a species.  Integrating technology into humans is beneficial to our advancement, much like anything else we as humans have conjured up.  Today we have smartphones to communicate with one another, yesterday we had hieroglyphics. On some level, these are the same – they have the same uses, the same ideologies behind them and the same benefits to our communities.  Though the format is different, the purpose is the same.  We can watch a film on VHS, DVD or BluRay and still see the same images, hear the same sounds and understand the same stories.  At the most basic level, VHS, DVD and BluRay possess the same patterns; they are just superficially different.

 

Media Classification and Representation

Why is it important to understand how media classifies audiences and represents various types of people?
How are the two related?

This idea very much reminds me of a dusty old book on the top shelf of the book case in my childhood living room: Man Creates Art Creates Man.  I never opened it because I was far too short to reach the top shelf and by the time I was tall enough, I was no longer interested in dusty old books. However, I may have to find that book now that its on my mind…

Anyway, this question reminded me of that book simply because media both explains and shapes society.  We are at once a product of our media intake and an influencer of media output.  Much like Herman Gray explains in The Politics of Representation in Network Television, race is classified in television and other media through stereotypical ideologies then released onto audiences who will then form a notion of what a particular race is like based strictly in media portrayal.

Growing up in an extremely WASP-y environment of Sparta, NJ, I was surrounded by upper-middle class, Roman Catholic, white folks.  That is it. My brother once had a friend from Latvia, but that was about as diverse of a culture as we ever encountered until  I was 16 and could escape the madness via friends’ cars and public transportation funded by part-time jobs.  Until then, whatever culture that was not mine, was explained to me by media – a VERY stereotypical media.  I had formed ideas which were nothing by classified notions of what certain cultures could be.  I had no idea that race was not actually a factor in major personality traits such as kindness, curiosity, empathy or reliability.

Understanding that media is not the truth, not an accurate representation of man would have made a world of difference to me when I moved to Long Island and my neighbors were Cuban and my landlord was of Japanese decent; when I was living down the street from a Temple, and when I became fast friends with someone whose grandparents are from Ghana.  I am embarrassed to say that my notion of race and identity provided to me by the media and nothing more was extremely inaccurate.  Media will classify and simplify just about anything to make sure that the very essence of it fits within broadcast restrictions.

PANOPTICON

How is it possible that media are able to control people’s behavior, and how is this related to the way Foucault argues that prisons function to control people’s behavior (even when they are not prisoners)?
Does the panopticon function primarily as a material/architectural technology, as a psychological device, or as some hybrid of these? Is this a useful distinction to make?

The wonderful world of the internet has brought us a paradox of controlled information accessibility and a freedom to obtain information at our leisure.  We live in a world where information has never been as available as it is.  Galloway and Thacker argue in their essay, “Protocol, Control, and Networks”, that media is a control device, enabling us to access only what is deemed okay to access by powers in control.  In Foucault’s article, he describes a more physical means of control.

The Galloway and Thacker essay was highly technical and most of it went over my head, however, what I did gather from the article is that the internet is essentially a control network with guidelines for accessing certain information.  Our Google search results are controlled and ordered by algorithms (not sure if this is an accurate term to use here) which dictate what results are presented first…and really, who scrolls past the first page of Google results?

In a medium presented to us through a lens of an informational free for all, we are being access to only certain information. It is similar to the physical means of control outlines in Foucault’s “Discipline and Punish, Panopticism”.  This article was much easier to understand, so I will attempt to spend more time on this idea.  The Panopticon is a mechanism of order, control and punishment.  It allowed for a centralized observation into individual cells.  Lighting ensured that the observers (has anyone seen Fringe because the Observer is all I kept thinking about here) were able to see the controlled while simultaneously preventing the observed to see.

By restricting the ‘sight’ of the participants, it enforces a method of unwavering control  over them.  The prisoners were unable to see the guards or the other prisoners. According to Foucault, this  gave a level of obedience not available when the prisoners are privy to information about the guards.

Similar to the Panopticon, the internet serves as a method of controlled information.  We can not clearly see the ‘guards’ of internet information, but they can clearly see our inputs and information. The same applies to our fellow ‘prisoners’ as we can not see their information or inputs nor can they see ours.  Due to this, I believe that the Panopticon acts as a hybrid of physical and psychological control. It at the same time restricts us, while planting the seed in our minds that we are always being watched (who else has a sticky note over their webcam?)

The Public Sphere vs Ideology

What is the “public sphere” and what is its relation to “ideology”?

Is it possible to have a free and equal discourse in the public sphere, given differences of power, wealth, and access to communication channels? Can the public sphere escape the influence of propaganda? Is the public sphere useful as an ideal or goal, or are its shortcomings too great to overcome?

     The public sphere, according to Habermas’ article, “The Public Sphere: An Encyclopedia Article” can be described as a sort of social network – a Facebook group in modern day.  Habermas described it as, “a realm of our social life in which something approaching public opinion can be formed”.  Apart from a public sphere, people are left without a place to voice concerns or opinions which can be built upon and valued by their peers.  The public sphere acts as a safe space, metaphorically speaking, where common practices, beneficial ideas and improvements can be developed.  It is a space where the people can speak from themselves instead of being represented by a government. As Habermas wrote,”The public sphere is a sphere which mediates between society and state, in which the public organizes itself as the bearer of public opinion.”

In Calhoun’s “Habermas and the Public Sphere” it is described as a channel of communication between the general public and political decision makers.  It is something which Calhoun believes is of even greater relevance today.  I agree very much with this statement, because like Calhoun wrote, we are living in an increasingly global society with a higher need for successful communication between the people and the government.  Without a global public sphere, ordering and organizing this society would be near impossible.  His second reasoning for the public sphere idea as a modern term is due to the ease in which we are linked globally through media.  Television, videos and radio can reach nearly anyone nearly anywhere in the world – these mediums connect us.

Through discussion in the same article, Calhoun describes a problem with the idealist version of fully open and free communication between both parties in an idealist world.  He explains that the major problem is that our modern world is based around technological communications while Habermas’ theory is based on face to face communication.  The way we communicate with one another in a modern society is frequently through technology which does away with a face to face model of communication.  It poses many problems to interpretation (we really do need fonts to express emotions).

In my opinion, I believe that it is close to impossible to have a free and open sphere of communication because of the vast differences between cultures across the world.  No matter how global our world is, we will always have basic differences due to environment and background, thus preventing us from truly understanding one another in a public sphere. Propaganda is also another problem facing the public sphere because it opens us to ideas that are not truly ours.  Advertising, politics and media constantly bombarding us with information causes us to filter out unnecessary information to leave room for only what we think are our own ideas, but how can they be when they are given to us through the television?  Because of these problems, I believe that the short comings of a public sphere are just too great to be actualized in a global society, maybe in an idealist version, but not in our current one.