What is "new" about "new media"?
What are the characteristics, both technical and social, of new media?
How does new media transform and "remediate" earlier media practices?
As noted in the lecture notes, here is an excerpt from Bolter and Guisin's Remediation:
Immediacy is 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. The common feature of all these forms is the belief in some necessary contact point between the medium and what it represents. For those who believe in the immediacy of photography, from Talbot to Bazin to Barthes, the contact point is the light that is reflected from the objects on to the film. This light establishes an immediate relationship between the photograph and the object. For theorists of linear-perspective painting and perhaps for some painters, the contact point is the mathematical relationship established between the supposed objects and their projection on the canvas. However, probably at no time or place has the logic of immediacy required that the viewer be completely fooled by the painting or photograph. Trompe l'oeil, which does completely fool the viewer for a moment, has always been an exceptional practice. The film theorist Tom Gunning (1995) has argued that what we are calling the logic of transparent immediacy worked in a subtle way for filmgoers of the earliest films. The audience members knew at one level that the film of a train was not really a train, and yet they marveled at the discrepancy between what they knew and what their eyes told them (114-133). On the other hand, the marveling could not have happened unless the logic of immediacy had had a hold on the viewers. There was a sense in which they believed in the reality of the image, and theorists since the Renaissance have underwritten that belief. This "naive" view of immediacy is the expression of a historical desire, and it is one necessary half of the double logic of remediation. (pp. 30-31)
As a counterbalance [to immediacy] hypermediacy is more complicated and various. In digital technology, as often in the earlier history of Western representation, hypermediacy expresses itself as multiplicity. If the logic of immediacy leads one either to erase or to render automatic the act of representation, the logic of hypermediacy acknowledges multiple acts of representation and makes them visible. 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. The logic of hypermediacy multiplies the signs of mediation and in this way tries to reproduce the rich sensorium of human experience. (pp. 33-34)
The logic of immediacy has perhaps been dominant in Western representation, at least from the Renaissance until the coming of modernism, while hypermediacy has often had to content itself with a secondary, if nonetheless important, status. Sometimes hypermediacy has adopted a playful or subversive attitude, both acknowledging and undercutting the desire for immediacy. At other times, the two logics have coexisted, even when the prevailing readings of art history have made it hard to appreciate their coexistence. At the end of the twentieth century, we are in a position to understand hypermediacy as immediacy's opposite number, an alter ego that has never been suppressed fully or for long periods of time. (p. 34)
In all its various forms, the logic of hypermediacy expresses the tension between regarding a visual space as mediated and as a "real" space that lies beyond mediation. Lanham (1993) calls this the tension between look at and looking through, and he sees it as a feature of twentieth-century art in general and now digital representation in particular. (p. 41)
Again, we call the representation of one medium in another remediation, and we will argue that remediation is a defining characteristic of the new digital media. (p. 45)
The digital medium can be more aggressive in its remediation. It can try to refashion the older medium or media entirely, while still marking the presence of the older media and therefore maintaining a sense of multiplicity or hypermediacy. [ . . . ] This form of aggressive remediation throws into relief both the source and the target media. (p. 46)
Finally, 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. (p. 47)
[ . . . ] remediation operates in both directions: users of older media such as film and television can seek to appropriate and refashion digital graphics, just as digital graphics artists can refashion film and television. (p. 48)
What is New About New Media?
Our primary concern will be with visual technologies, such as computer graphics and the World Wide Web. We will argue that these new media are doing exactly what their predecessors have done: presenting themselves as refashioned and improved versions of other media. Digital visual media can best be understood through the ways in which they honor, rival, and revise linear-perspective painting, photography, film, television, and print. No medium today, and certainly no single media event, seems to do its cultural work in isolation from other media, any more than it works in isolation from other social and economic forces. 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. (pp. 14-15)
The Reality of Remediation
The process of remediation makes us aware that all media are at one level a "play of signs," which is a lesson that we take from poststructuralist literary theory. At the same time, this process insists on the real, effective presence of media in our culture. Media have the same claim to reality as more tangible cultural artifacts; photographs, films, and computer applications are as real as airplanes and buildings.
Furthermore, media technologies constitute networks or hybrids that can be expressed in physical, social, aesthetic, and economic terms. Introducing a new media technology does not mean simply inventing new hardware and software, but rather fashioning (or refashioning) such a network. (p. 19)
SEED QUESTIONS - Please Post Comments Here
Q1. After reading Vannevar Bush’s “As We May Think” think about Bush as being considered the “father” of hypertext (although he did not coin the term). To what extent can we see his concept implemented in the World Wide Web that for many people defines their notion of hypertext? What are the differences?
Q2. Andries van Dam encourages us to approach hypertext as a new medium and not copy “old, bad habits.” What are some news ways to think about hypertext? How might we use hypertext in publishing, in writing, in thinking?
Q3. Joe Levy, in 1993 said: “if information is available, then any (authorised) person should be able to access it from anywhere in the world.”What implications does this thinking have to our own notions of publishing and the current online environment? You can use examples from your own experience.