All posts tagged with 'digital media'
Wendy Chun is Professor of Modern Culture and Media at Brown University. She has studied both Systems Design Engineering and English Literature, which she combines and mutates in her current work on digital media. She is author of Control and Freedom: Power and Paranoia in the Age of Fiber Optics (MIT, 2006), Programmed Visions: Software and Memory (forthcoming MIT, 2011), and she is co-editor of New Media, Old Media: A History and Theory Reader (Routledge, 2005) and of a special issue of Camera Obscura entitled Race and/as Technology. She will be a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton next year and has been a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, a Wriston Fellow at Brown and a fellow at the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women, as well as a visiting associate professor in the History of Science Department at Harvard. She is currently working on a monograph entitled Imagined Networks.
Automatic Documents: Spectacle as Auteur
If the spectacle is the autonomous (objective) development of economic life unto its own laws of expansion – a blind drive for efficiency and maximum resource exploitation – then the documentation of such can be expected to be equally automatic. Indeed, the image economy produces evidence the way a horse shits walking. Such documents provide little illusion of nourishment, only the evidence of use. Critical practice follows behind the parade. Debates about the relative reality of documentation have been rendered moot by the autonomy of the spectacle and its by-products. If earlier documentarians were applauded for entering into the substrata functioning of society, the spectacle externalizes such evidence without the distractions of interpretation. Interpretation, the critical act, must content itself with bearing witness to the dreams of late capitalism.
Spectacullum Documenta evidences “the development of productive forces (that have) been the real unconscious history which built and modified the conditions of existence.” One example of such an unconscious, automatic document is a webpage from Daily Motion featuring a re-edited clip with commentary of a documentary made on Britney Spears by MTV. This page also records (aggregates) comments, changing advertisements, and other evidence of production and consumption. Screenshots of this website over a period of months will be treated as the perfect documentarian devoid of subjective ambition – “an actuality film” of accumulation and alienation.
If the spectacle is a “perfect picture of capitalism” the image of the pop star is a perfect representation of the image as commodity. The abstraction of value onto a grid of monetary equivalences is akin to the abstraction of direct material life onto the indirect representation of existence as a string of appearances.
Digital Popular Music: Atomization and Standardization in the Experience of Contemporary Music
Musical reproduction has become increasingly digitized and new technologies and institutions for musical distribution and consumption have had profound implications for the contemporary experience of music.
Music can shed light on the social circumstances of which it is a product and the possibilities for transcending these immediate conditions. The analysis of the relationship between musical compositions and their historical contexts formed the basis of Adorno’s aesthetic and social theory, and I employ his concepts of atomization and standardization to explore social and musical tendencies which have subsequently been amplified and modified through the digitization of musical content. Using examples from different popular music genres including the music of The Black Eyed Peas and Meshuggah I will develop an analysis of the relationship between musical composition and contemporary social and technological conditions. The digitization of music and its distribution through the internet has facilitated the democratization of access to music and lowered limitations on the choices available to listeners based upon a standardization of format as radio and gramophone had done previously. At the same time, the listening experience has become ever more atomized in that audiences have become more fragmented and music is listened to using personal devices. The digitization of music has increased the tendencies toward the atomization and standardization of the listening experience and facilitated new networked forms for organizing these standardized and atomized elements.
The Super Power of Super Voice Girl: Its Political and Cultural Implications
This term paper studies the Super Voice Girl, an American Idol-style reality TV show broadcast across China in the summer of 2005, which owes unprecedented popularity nationwide to its raw authenticity, huge number of participants and the convenience of electing the winner through mobile phone SMS vote among the individual Chinese.
In this popularity contest adjudicated by viewers, the individual self emerged as a characteristic of China’s integration within the global community. Furthering on that, the right to express uniqueness, to perform, and to engage in “making the individual voice heard” triumphs over regimented conformity of the Chinese traditional culture and pushes forward the idea of democracy in the world’s most populous country. Is this democracy in the disguise of SMS vote a form of peaceful evolution applicable to the Chinese public? Has the program cast into doubt the government’s capacity to regulate self-expression? The paper aims to explore what influences the Super Voice Girl show, as a unique media form, exert on the Chinese society and the people’s mentality.
In addition to the political implications brought about by the reality show, this paper also studies the fans of the winner Li Yuchun by analyzing the discourse of their voices in the virtual community —the fan’s websites and personal blogs. The study also explores how fans interconnect Li Yuchun and their daily lives as well as under such interconnection how this Super Voice Girl contest mirrors diverse youth culture issues in contemporary Chinese society, such as personal aspiration, immediate gratification, individualism and the growing alienation from parents, peers and the society.
1:30 p.m., Saturday, April 16, room 701 | Faculty respondent: Dominic Pettman
The Politics of Being Political in the Digital Age
The discussion about the relationship between increasing use of new technologies and political engagement has recently shifted to a new level thanks to the uprising in Tunisia and Egypt against authoritarian governments, Wikileaks’s launch of diplomatic cables and following DDoS attacks by Anonymous. Joined by academics, journalists, and policymakers, one group argues that the Internet and other new technologies enhance citizen participation and promote being political while the other group points out that less and less people are engaged in actual politics at local and national levels. What is not clear in this discussion is the definition of ‘being political’. In the midst of Twitter revolutions, DDoS attacks or Wikileaks cables how are ‘being political’ and its online practice defined? This paper attempts to seek the definition of being political in digital age through analyzing the debate on ‘Twitter revolution’ that was initiated by one of Malcolm Gladwell’s articles, published in the NewYorker last year. The common agreement in that debate seems that being political refers to the citizens’ capacity to participate in a liberal democracy. However this participation is mostly clickable (momentary) and portrayed as it should serve dramatic purposes or promote a cause/an idea. In that respect, being political in digital age shows similarities with the dynamics of a mediated (neo)liberal democracy and its conceptualization on the media hinders the bigger challenge of creating a progressive collective political identity that should continuously engage in critical deliberation and be taken into account in political governance.
Supplementary materials: “Small Change,” Malcolm Gladwell
Censorship in the Age of WikiLeaks: Identifying a New Propaganda Model
Censorship of information is not a new or recent concept, but the means by which governments, private corporations, and institutions stifle thoughts and ideas in the general public consciousness are constantly evolving.
Prior to the transition of the internet as a primary medium for news and entertainment, print and broadcast media in the West were subjected to self-imposed commercial filters, as outlined by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky in Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. This seminal work in media studies identified the “propaganda model,” through which media coverage and interests were viewed for over a decade.
The advent of the internet has changed this model, and has circumvented many, if not all, of the filters Herman and Chomsky outlined. Yet, as other theorists have observed, new forms of internet censorship are emerging as quickly as previous ones are extinguished. State-sponsored restrictions to free speech have been modernized in countries like China, Moldova, Iran, and the United Arab Emirates, while corporate censorship of the mass media continues to flourish, as has become evident in Amazon and PayPal’s compliance in the attempts to shut down WikiLeaks. Thus, the future restrictions to free speech are looking increasingly similar to those of the past.
Toward this end, my goals in this paper are to 1) explore different cases of telecommunications censorship; 2) identify the trends underlying this censorship; and 3) outline the philosophical and political implications.
Incendiary Tweets: From Liberal Democracy to Anarchy in the U.K.
In Understanding Media theorist Marshal McLuhan, following political philosopher Alexis De Tocqueville, alleged that England has never had a revolution because, unlike the United States and France, the country had never shaken off its reliance on oral culture and tradition; print and visual media never had quite the disruptive effect it had on other nations. Has a proliferation of new media has threatened to drastically undermine traditional power structures at the start of a new decade? When the Liberal Democrats were forced by their Conservative partners in the ruling coalition into imposing Austerity measures this past Fall, the response was spectacular. A proposed tripling of tuition costs, combined with an 80% cut in funding for Universities and an elimination of benefits for high school students, brought tens of thousands into the streets of London. Social Media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook allowed vast crowds to form, spread news of university occupations and allowed, through the #UKUNCUT network, roving blockades of some of the country’s biggest retail brands. Yet this was an uprising sparked by a distinct social scenario, not new technologies. This paper will attempt to argue that social movements both define and develop new media, while sparking rapid changes in old media.