Sunday, February 13, 2011

Mediated - Kim's Article

"When people {or whatever they are} look back on our time, all this will appear as a single development. It will be called something like the "Information Revolution," and the lesson of that revolution will be this: what counts is the code."

I singled this quote out of the article. It pretty much summarizes what I've believed in the past five years to be a true possibility. 

But this article tells us something we all might know. We live in a day, place, and age of nearly infinite options. The line between what is real and what is representational is thinning. Media, technology, advertising, and industry demand our attentions, and we can choose whether or not, and if so how much attention we pay them in return. We either realize when something has been processed for our approval or live in a state of eternal suspect towards the mediated world, where we can simply shrug and move on to the next option on a constant basis. We've become desensitized to it all, just as much as we might be about some horrible disease often spoken of or pictures of people dying on battlefields when we've seen just about every wartime movie imaginable. So the author makes up this metaphor of a Blob to represent the media and postmodern world and describes to us how everything beyond it is eventually eaten up and crushed into mainstream proportions, like a cell digesting foreign contaminants and turning whatever it can into some useful sustenance. Then the article eventually leads to the discussion of whether or not this mediation is a good thing, using the bike/helmet scenario and a more extreme, hypothetical example involving clones for harvesting organs.

Now, I've learned to live in a mediated world, and I'd have to admit, I can be pretty bipolar about it. Sometimes, I can't imagine what it'd be like to live without all the options that I have, or in some world where it all doesn't exist. How would I manage to communicate without a phone, or a mailbox, or transportation? Yet that didn't stop some tribes from using smoke signals, now did it? We just have more convenient options available to us here and now. And how did people have fun without games, movies, and books to fuel their imaginations? I'm sure they had old stories to tell about ancestors, or anecdotes and folklore to share. But here, it's much easier to just pull up a ROM of Pokemon FireRed and go on an adventure for three hours straight without having to exert myself. 

Other times, I want it all to just go away. In fact, my thesis is practically a testament to that. I want the mediated world to burst into flames, until the ashes are burnt to ashes and nothing of it remains. The people can stay alive, but everything they created would be destroyed. The towering effigy of Mickey Mouse and Ronald McDonald crushed beyond all recognition. Every computer, television, or what-have-you just crumbling away until every speck of data is lost. And the article says we always have options. But do we really have a choice when it's all around us? If I wanted to live in a non-mediated world, how lonely would I be? Who'd leave it all behind with me? And where exactly would we go where the hand of mediation hasn't passed over? 

Having all these options in their infinite splendor is indeed stressful. We live with a multitude of options, but it just seems like some grand illusion to me. We can do whatever we'd like, just as long as we do whatever we'd like. All we have to do is know what it is. It's a lot tougher than you think. I don't know what I'd like, but I keep making my choices every day because they're there and that part is pretty easy. But it's all just material, a convenience, or a complete waste of time. 

In response to Kim's questions {to the best of my abilities}:

What is optional is all around us. We can choose whether or not we want to take advantage of our advances, or which product and brand we'll be shopping for on any given day. What is real is relative to what moves you. Playing an intensive horor-based video game in the dark and the resulting changes in your physiology as you play is just as real as freaking out in a bus when a man is holding a gun to you and demanding your money. Mediation is what you get when the world around you has been touched by the Blob and reconfigured into the airbrushed, photoshopped, 500mb file in the hard drive of life your 8bit self happens to inhabit. My constructed identity and lifestyle is that of the Ringling College attending student with a knack for Nintendo games, an addiction to her Macbook computer, a fondness for her Chevy Trailblazer, and an affinity towards Zephyrhills water by the gallon. I also happen to be a Dark Elf in D&D and I've saved the world about thirty-eight times from certain doom on various planets as various heroes with various powers. I'm sure there are people who don't realize the distinction between reality and representation is diminishing, but I don't know any in particular. I do know people who are in denial about it, but they know. They just don't want to think about it. It wasn't a new idea to me for the past four or five years, and I feel rather neutral about it, if not often frustrated or enthused depending on my overall mood. I can hardly imagine how one can get outside of the mediated environment these days. Mediation might not be in every crevasse of the world, but even if one of us managed to slip away, how long would we last? I know I wouldn't last very long. And once again, how lonely would it be? I imagine it would be quite lonely.

I wonder how a mediated America will look at my work? I mean, some average joe off the street who knows dick about art. Will they see recovered footage from the dropping of various hydrogen bomb testings? Will they see Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines? Will they see Day of the Dead, or 28 Weeks Later? I wouldn't doubt it. Because I come from a mediated society, that very same media has been my inspiration. I wonder why that is the reason artists should try to draw more experience and inspiration from art rather than entertainment? I bet it is, come to think of it...

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