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This weeks lecture and readings are about digital documentary; how contemporary shifts in visual and digital culture have changed our absorption of media.

 

Aesthetics regards the style, design and judgement and how these ultimately impact upon our ourselves, culture and politics. The way that our perceptions are structured in relation to the way the world affects us.

 

This is reflective of theory cognitivism where the mind is seen as a control program, separate from the “inputs” and “outputs” of the body/world. Ultimately, it is our decision on real life events that form a basis of opinion aside from the facts that are presented to us. When we see a form of news, (in regards to timeliness, the Budget can be assessed), although we are presented with facts and opinions from politicians, experts etc our opinions are ultimately fuelled by how it will affect us and how we respond to this information. This is furthered by Varela’s theory of embodied mind where an immersion within society, language and physical events and so on produce thoughts, feelings and perceptions.

 

Ethico-Aesthetics is the role that sensation plays in our lives, in thinking, in social worlds and so on. How do different media assemblages or ecologies shift our ecologies of feeling, sensing, affected and being affected? These ecologies are shifted by different medias, old and new (telephones, TV, film, 3D, networked art etc). These shifts change different concepts of friendships, relationships. I think that Twitter is important to note in this regard, the use of #hashtags forms communities where through both smartphones and the internet, people are able to communicate, share ideas and rebut thoughts on learning and politics.

 

New media has provided different ways in which we can be affected by information. I think that the way in which we read articles differs from watching a video. Different feelings and perceptions are formed as reading does not show a visual depiction of what is going on.

 

Massumi indicates that the concept of media is in crisis, because the digital isn’t a medium but it is now what dominates the media field. Digital technology is an expanding network of connective and fusional potentials. An input can be translated into any other form of media through media; i.e. a sound into an image. 

This week’s topic is about the nature of ‘apps’ and how media and communication have evolved with the progress of this technology. 

Multiplicity (Gilles Delueze) revolves around the idea of the “coming together of new things.” 
Applications encompass both technical and social multiplicity. This is reflective of media platforms and
applications. Take Facebook for example, Facebook as a social media platform brings together experiences, the physical world at large, human relations and computing. It is important to note that multiplicity has always existed, but now technology is making the events involved faster, more diverse and more complex (so we have to help society update some of its models for how things work to catch up). 

Another element of this week’s topic is viral videos. The more things affect each other in media and communication networks, the more they go viral (Munster). For example, we see YouTube videos go viral everyday. For example, the David After Dentist video on YouTube has 124 million views to date. The video is pretty much, a boy being very unsure of himself after he goes to the dentist (probably because of the anaesthetic). Videos go viral because they capture singular events of everyday without being too easily defined. This dentist video, is a reflection of an everyday situation with a little boy coming back from the dentist however is enhanced through humour and ‘cuteness’. This is why these videos go viral; the vitality affects are contagious and motivates sharing across the network. 

This weeks lectures and readings revolves around the keyword ~affect~; how are we affected by media (not only emotionally but technologically also).

Firstly, it must be considered, how does media communicate us to evoke an emotional response?
Communicating through media evokes emotions of happiness, sadness and discomfort. It helps us understand and engage with the full complexity of what is going on as things affect and are affected by each other.
What I thought related to this was the marketing of TV shows on Australian TV. I think that Australian media is coming to terms
with the fact that audiences are more likely to respond if we can emotionally relate to characters. Contestants on reality shows such
as Masterchef and My Kitchen Rules usually have a ‘story to tell’ whether it be positive or negative. Last week’s Masterchef audition programs were heavily influenced on how the contestants could adhere to us emotionally. For example, contestant Nick had battled Leukaemia AND had lost over 50 kgs in a year (pwoah). He also had been predominantly brought up by his grandmother (who ofcourse was the sweetest nan ever). Nick was emphasised in a lot of the episodes, showing the audience that Masterchef attempts to adhere to our emotions through the use of contestants. This is further emphasised by the ‘anecdotal videos’ that show throughout the show in relation to the characters- flashback videos are often played to show the contextual backgrounds of the contestants which both personalises their stories and affects our emotions.

The ‘affect’ in media is not only caused emotionally but can also reach a technological level.
Gaming is an example of this, where the ‘atmosphere’ in which the game is set in can be understood through communication (Ash, 2012). This is furthered by Gibbs’ analysis, where emotions such as anger or happiness involves a kind of “affect contagion” because affects are “innate activators” (Gibbs, 2002). This can relate to gaming as, on gaming sites such as Dota, contenders are able to communicate on a chat-log on the game itself. If an emotion is shown on the chat, it affects as a domino affect, all the contenders on the game are affected.

 

References:

Gibbs, Anna (2002) ‘Disaffected’, Continuum: Journal of Media
& Cultural Studies, 16:3, 335-341, <http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1030431022000018690&gt;

Ash, James (2012) ‘Attention, Videogames and the Retentional
Economies of Affective Amplification’, Theory, Culture & Society, 29(6): 3-26

 

 

(Gregory J. Seigworth and Melissa Gregg (2010) “An Inventory of
Shimmers” in The Affect Theory Reader, Durham: Duke University
Press:2)

Micropolitics can be considered as the construction of new communities within new medias, notably social networks. Micropolitics, or the creation of techniques for collaboration, involve experimentation and an openness to be experimental. Micropolitics then, offers a point of departure for a new kind of politics. (Jellis, 2009).

 

Micropolitics sees co operation within networks rather than (or as well as) competition. Howard Rheingold describes this as the Collaboration theory (Rheingold, 2008). This is seen through media such as Wikipedia, where any individual has the ‘power’ to log-in and collaborate new or extra bits of information to an existing topic. Wikipedia encompasses Rheingold’s theory by enabling connections, self instructing, group forming and leveraging self interest.

 

Micropolitics is also present in social media, which can be described as new ‘designs’ for the living within new communities (Jellis, 2009). Within these new communities, co-operation is vital. Through the use of hashtags, users interested in like-terms collaborate and co-operate to learn from each other. They are between real individuals, groups (organisations are often represented by a social media account) and communities. Twitter users are adaptive to difference; through hashtags, discussions and debate are formed under a thread. People are more open to learn about a topic, no matter what the view is. Relationships are built and a community is constructed.

 

Jellis, Thomas (2009) ‘Disorientation and micropolitics: a response’, spacesof[aesthetic]experimentation, <http://www.spacesofexperimentation.net/montreal/disorientation-and-micropolitics-a-response/

Rheingold, Howard (2008) ’Way-new collaboration’, YouTube.com (TED), <http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=d5s3Z0iesRM> 

 

 

 

This week’s readings refer to 3 forms of ‘power’ within the media.

Framing, vectors and hacking.

Framing refers to the ability to ‘frame’ events. This could be in the form of manipulating people’s beliefs, thoughts, feelings and actions. 

Vectors, according to McKenzie Wark are where “word moves from host to host,” where vectors of communication move information. Vectors and hacking ‘work’ together in order to maintain a competitive advantage on new forms of production, which devalues the old means of production. When considering vectors, the storage of information is almost as valuable as its transmission. This is where archives are involved. 

Once information can move faster than people or things, it becomes the means by which people and things are to be meshed together in the interests of productive activity (Wark, 2004) This is where the use of torrents and media distribution can be involved. For example, I watch the tv show suits, and it is available almost within an hour after it has aired in the States online. This is an incredibly fast upload and therefore, these video uploading sites enables people to connect under common grounds.

When I considered framing within media, the first thing that came to mind was Kony 2012; the short film that was broadcasted on the internet (predominantly on the Invisible Inc charity’s Youtube Channel) which had a purpose to promote the charity’s ‘Stop Kony’ movement to make Joseph Kony internationally known so that he could be arrested by the end of 2012. The video was extremely well made in framing people’s beliefs about this man (who most people did not know about at all). Within minutes and hours of the video being posted, on my Facebook alone almost every 2nd post was a link to the video. From memory, people wrote messages such as “Kony must be found” and “This is so sad” etc. Although the majority of my Facebook were unaware of who Joseph Kony was, through the video alone their beliefs and thoughts were based on what was said in the video emphasising its power for framing their views.

References:

 Wark, McKenzie (2004) ‘Vector’ in A Hacker Manifesto, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press: sections 313-345 (13 pages)!
!
 Williams, Zoe (2014) ‘George Lakoff: “Conservatives don’t follow the polls, they want to change them … Liberals do everything wrong”’, The Guardian online, February 1, <http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/feb/01/george-lakoff-interview&gt;!

Lakoff, George and Johnson, Mark (1999) ‘The Efficacious Cognitive Unconscious’ in Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and its Challenge to Western Thought, New York: Basic Books: 115-117.!

This weeks lecture and reading encompassed ideas connecting media, minds and bodies including brief histories of the main models of these and the effects these models have on the theories.

The readings were based on theories including behaviourism, cybernetics, cognitivism, constructivism, embodied mind, enactivisim and extended mind.

A brief summary of these theories:

  • Cybernetics as described by Ray Ascott is the art of interaction in dynamic networks. This involves the social system, regulatory system, the game theory which is influenced by the systems theory which reflects behavior and decision making and feedback (involving information past and present which extends to effect the present and future), any action that generates change.
  • Cognitivism is the value of knowing something. Cognitivism also relates to the mechanics of the mind, understanding something. In order to know something, thinking must occur.
  • As an extension of ‘thinking’ this relates to constructivism which is influenced by new contextual media such as new cultures and technology.

These theories reflect the influence of new media within the 21st century.  These new internet technologies are integrating with the processes within our brain and therefore our minds. An example is the mobile phone. In the group discussion at this weeks tutorial, our table was how our mobile phones have truly integrated, as, a part of our brains (whether we like to admit it or not). This is especially so within smartphones that enables users to download applications of new media, such as social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The mobile phone has become our secondary source of memory in regards to friends’ birthdays, phone numbers and basic reminders. We don’t have to memorise dates of birthdays anymore because they are all stored within Facebook’s ‘memory’, phone numbers are stored within contact lists and basic reminders can be written on ‘note’ applications on smart phones. We have been trained and conditioned to manipulate these pieces of media to our advantage, as an extension of our brains.

 

This week’s lecture and readings both encompass the many definitions of ‘media ecologies’.  I thought what was most interesting about this week’s content was really, how many definitions that people could come up with.

Lance Strate describes media ecology as a study of media environments; the idea that technology and techniques, modes of information and codes of communication play a leading role in human affairs. Lance describes technological determinism, technological evolution, media logic, medium theory and mediology as tiers of media ecology as a whole.

Similarly, Christine Nystrom believes Lance’s description of media ecologies however adds that it extends out of media itself with human feeling, thought, value and behaviour. Although Lance argues that media ecology branches out into different theories, Christine believes that a coherent framework does not exist in which media ecologists can organise their questions or subject matters.

Media ecology’s as described by Neil Postman agrees with Nystrom’s inclusion of the human influence arguing that communication affects human perception, understanding, feeling and value and how our interaction with media facilitates or impedes our chances of survival. Unlike Nystrom’s argument that media ecologies do not have a coherent structure, Postman believes that media ecologies serve within an environment where a complex message system imposes on a human being’s feelings, thinking and behaviour. This environment assigns roles to people and insists on our playing them.

Kate Milberry agrees with all of the above, describing media ecologies as a medium, where technology within human culture grows, giving form to its politics, ideologies and social organisation. She describes media ecology as an environment that has an explicit concern for their evolution, effects and forms. She argues that media ecologies do not exist through media and technology alone but also through human influences such as borrowing resources from academic disciplines such as linguistics, semiotics and cultural studies. She argues the difference between the study of media ecologies and communication studies; media ecologies focuses on the intergration, interdependence and dynamism of media and technology within human affairs.

Therefore, media ecologies aims to explore the cultural consequences of how media changes and as an extension changes us over time.