The purpose of this lecture was to present all the ways, the technology and particularly the net have affected the message and the way we communicate nowadays.
The first point made was through a serie of Google Street Views. All those photographies represented different and perplexing exacts moments happening in a common world. In other words, various disconcerting realities taking place at the same time. This collection of pictures is actually a particular and painstaking research that created the “9 eyes” project by the Canadian artist and essayist Jon Rafman.
Pictures from Jon Rafman from his ‘9 eyes’ project, showing different realities going on at the same time.
This was, indeed, an example to realise the infinite possibilities that the network offers us just with a few clicks. Is about this immense and easy accessible world of what the Spanish sociologist, Manuel Castells, discusses in his book “The rise of the network society”, (1996). He stands that the 95% of the information existing about every field is digitalised and that the 2.5 billions of the entire 8 billions population has access to Internet.
The truth is that technology is drastically changing the society and the way we communicate with others as the instantaneity of the online platforms is taking the lead whereas the physical interaction seems to be more and more complicated nowadays, as it requieres both people in the same place at the same time rather than a couple of screens to type on. And, obviously as the means of communication change, so does the way we express the message. And this is exactly what he Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan stated in 1964 in his book ‘Understanding Media: The extensions of Man’:
“In a culture like ours, long accustomed to splitting and dividing all things as a means of control, it is sometimes a bit of a shock to be reminded that, in operational and practical fact, the medium is the message. This is merely to say that the personal and social consequences of any medium—that is, of any extension of ourselves—result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology.”
About technology and our response towards them, he wrote:
“Perhaps the most obvious “closure” or psychic consequence of any new technology is just the demand for it. Nobody wants a motorcar till there are motorcars, and nobody is interested in TV until there are TV programs. This power of technology to create its own world of demand is not independent of technology being first an extension of our own bodies and senses”
That’s why Internet caused such a vast effect on our daily lives, as it become another “extension of ourselves “ as the radio or the TV did at the time.
In order to understand properly the concept of the medium being the actual message, we were ask to write down a sentence that hadn’t ever been said before and to post it in different social networks. Mine one was:
‘Spoons of cereals are marrying slices of apple in a sledge of toast’
This way we could see how our nonsense message was changing according the platform -medium- we were using. For instance, in Twitter we needed to make it fit the 1400 characters, if we sent it through email to Andrew, it needed to be little bit more formal. Therefore, in all the cases the message was exactly the same but we transformed the way we conveyed it.
The other main topic of the lecture was the photographies and its importance in nowadays society and our relation with them. According to the famous photographer Susan Sontag, pictures are just used to prove reality. That is to say, that something doesn’t becoming real until there is a picture of so. Similarly she also supports the idea that “to photograph is to appropriate the thing photographed. It means putting oneself into a certain relation to the world that feels like knowledge-and, therefore, like power”. Indeed, an idea that shouldn’t come us as a surprise in our materialistic and selfish society. The Argentinean writer, Jorge Luis Borges, already stated so in his quote “The map is not the territory”. In fact, this metaphor can not only be related to photographies, but to the net: having all the information on the online sources -map-, doesn’t actually mean that we gained all that knowledge -territory-.
And to finally link both concepts, photography and net, we discussed about the ‘poor images’, something almost inherent to the new technologies and the fact that we assume that poor quality images aren’t acceptable in certain circumstances but completely inadmissible in other cases. A good example of poor image was the “emojis” or the bad connection images on Skype. In those cases, what’s important is to receive an image but it doesn’t matter if it’s not a hd one. We concluded the lecture distorting the code of an emoji by including in the code our nonsense sentence.
All in all, it was an engaging lecture that proved the influence of new technologies and the endless sources of information on the way we express ourselves and particularly in the imagery we consume.
Borges, J. L. (1946) ‘On exactitude in Science’ Los Anales de Buenos Aires.
Jon Rafman (no date) Available at: http://9-eyes.com (Accessed: 4 May 2016).
McLuhan, M. (1964) ’Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man’. New York: McGraw Hill
Slatter, A & Harnett, J.P. (2016) ‘The net’. [Lecture to GMD Year 1] T303: Contextual and Theoretical Studies. UAL
Sontag, S. (1977) ‘On photography’ New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Sontag, S. (2004) ‘Regarding the pain of others’ London: Penguin Books.