Let's SCAMPER some art, part II.

2020-10-01

In the original post, I messed with some art and trying to transform it without knowing what remediation really meant.

I thought it meant to just change a piece of media from one thing to another (e.g. superficially changing the look of it, but cutting it up or inverting colours).

One of the recommended readings this week is Remediation: Understanding New Media. I have now read the Theory section to better acquaint myself with the terminology. (In fact, I’ll probably come here in a few months’ time, having read the entire book, to post yet another follow-up.)

I’ll just quote the synopsis from the book’s website:

Media critics remain captivated by the modernist myth of the new: they assume that digital technologies such as the World Wide Web, virtual reality, and computer graphics must divorce themselves from earlier media for a new set of aesthetic and cultural principles.

In this richly illustrated study, Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin offer a theory of mediation for our digital age that challenges this assumption. They argue that new visual media achieve their cultural significance precisely by paying homage to, rivaling, and refashioning such earlier media as perspective painting, photography, film, and television. They call this process of refashioning “remediation,” and they note that earlier media have also refashioned one another: photography remediated painting, film remediated stage production and photography, and television remediated film, vaudeville, and radio.

In the Theory section that I read, the authors talk about remediation, and its two principal styles “transparent immediacy” and “hypermediacy”.

  • transparent immediacy: think of realism art, a photos, or VR all attempt transparent immediacy by turning a blind eye to the presence of the medium
  • hypermediacy: a painting of a photo, or an electronic mirror perhaps which superimposes a moustache on your face, where there is a fascination with the medium itself

Although these two styles seem to stand opposed, they are two sides of the same remediation coin.

New analysis

Armed with this new knowledge, I look back at my original remediation, and wonder if something else could be done, or if more could be said about it.

Firstly, I suppose the original piece is a painting, so the new piece is in fact already a remediation in the sense that we’ve transplanted the visual from the frame on the wall to the pixels on your screen. This could be the “transparent immediacy” part.

Secondly, by adding scan-lines in the final step, I’m effecting “hypermediacy”, where I’m in a sense fascinated by the medium itself by adding visual artefacts typically associated with TV monitors. It could be argued I’m paying homage to an intermediate step in the evolution here, by “downgrading” the visuals from something crisp and modern as you would see it on an OLED screen, to what you would see on a TV screen from the 80s.

Resources

  • Grusin R.and Bolter, J. D. (2000) Remediation: Understanding New Media, London: The MIT Press.
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