Monday, May 07, 2007


how many people are still up...=)

Sunday, May 06, 2007


anybody knows what should be included in the final paper?

Monday, April 30, 2007

Loss of “Aura” for an Increase in Narrative is not without its Merits

In “Exposure Time, the Aura, and Telerobotics,” Marina Grzinic writes on Walter Benjamin’s “A Small History of Photography.” For Benjamin, “the longer the interval of exposure, the greater the chance that the aura of an environment—the complex temporal relations woven through its represented figures—would seep into the image, etching itself on the photographic plate…. More concretely, the temporal value of the interval determined a qualitative ratio between time and space in the photograph.” He goes on to explain that the “segmentations of time yielded qualitative changes in space: sensitivity to light, clearer focus, more extensive depth of field, and significantly, the fixing of movement.”

I think it is interesting what Benjamin points out—that as the exposure of a still reaches near instantaneous (as in a single frame of a video), there is what Grzinic calls a “complete aesthetic sterilization” of the image. From my basic knowledge of photography, it is true that the longer the exposure, the more depth of field, the clearer the focus, and the more visually “fixing” the movement. This is why landscape photographers such as Ansel Adams typically use a tripod and a prolonged exposure time. Even modern digital cameras have a “landscape” feature which uses a smaller aperture (or smaller lens opening) coupled with a longer exposure. However, I can’t help but disagree that a shorter exposure—and its resultant loss of focus (actually it produces images where objects at some depth is in focus while objects at other depths are out of focus)—produces a less quality picture. He may argue that a longer exposure presents the image in a way that is more like real life—where one can see everything clearly where one can see clearly wherever one chooses to direct one’s attention and focus. But what is this “aura” that he mentions, exactly. Is it this “life-like” quality of the image? I can not argue as to whether or not a short exposure produces an image with less “aura” as I am not quite sure what he means by it; though I will admit that there is a resultant qualitative difference, but not necessarily a loss of quality.

An image produced using short exposure times is not without its very admirable merits. Having certain areas of an image out of focus produces an instruction, a micro-narrative to the image; it tells the viewer what the producer of the image wants us to pay attention to. This allows for all sorts of interesting presentations and messages. Take for example an anti-drunk driving ad where a glamorized bottle of fine scotch is shown, in-focus, in the foreground juxtaposed in front of an out-of-focus scene of an auto accident with ambulance and stretcher in the background. It is much more interesting to me than one where all elements are sharp and in focus. It is also more effective. A picture such as this highlights the bottle of alcohol first, allows it to be mentally attended to—almost glamorized—before one perceives the background image. And because the traumatic image in the background is slightly out of focus, it forces the viewer to mentally think more about the scene, even produce a personalized narrative around it. The resultant loss of the “depth of field” in a short exposure photograph is, in some cases, well warranted by the increased potential for depth of meaning.


Two Sides to the Detaching Effect of Technology and “Indirect Light”

This is a Blog C post on Paul Virilio's "Indirect Light."

In his article, “Indirect Light,” Paul Virilio talks about how successive feats in technology move us further and further away from our experience of things. Our natural experience of reality is being replaced by technologically realized interfaces that detach us from the physics of real experience: the time of experience (as events are recorded and later broadcasted); the space in which these events occur (as we can digitally experience events that occur in places that are not in the same physical space of the viewer); the intelligence needed to perform certain experiences (as technologies replace human interaction completely—as in the advancement towards a fully automated “driving computer;” the physical constraints of our bodies (as light-intensification cameras make the limits of our eyes inconsequential). He writes with the stance of how these things seem to be bringing us into a dark future devoid of the humanity of natural, physical experience; these technologies separate us from what is natural—what is real.

I can’t necessarily say whether or not I agree with him. He makes valid points that do elicit a fearful vision of an automated, lifeless future. However, I doubt that we, as humans, will let this progression go so far. Besides, there are two sides to this; not all technologically-based detachment is essentially good or bad. For example, technology has replaced the need to spend our time doing mundane tasks such as washing clothes. Virilio mentions the recent use of the description, “washing-computer.” Sure, one can argue that there is some humanity in physically washing clothes. However, a nudist can also argue the act of wearing clothes challenges humanity.

It should also be noted that in many circumstances, remote automation is a far better alternative when it comes to reducing the risk of injury or death. A robotic “tele-presence” machine is indisputably preferred when disarming bombs or entering other dangerous areas. In this case, no one will argue of the benefit of technology (though also note that in this case, the bomb itself is a technological, spatially-remote replacement to physically beating people to death—a much more humanistic approach). Another form of technological detachment that has helped humanity is how medicine—antibiotics, especially—has replaced our bodies’ natural process of healing. However, some may argue that this technological intervention of bio-engineering has made our bodies’ natural ability to fight germs weaker and less effective. Even further (though perhaps to an extreme), one can argue that these technologies (that help make biological deficiencies inconsequential) disrupts natural selection, which is a very bad thing to do as it perpetuates the passing of maladaptive traits into the gene pool. For example, corrective eyeglasses—which changes the way our eyes perceive visual phenomena much like Verilio’s example of the light intensification camera—allow those of us, myself included, who would have fell victim to a saber-toothed tiger (or maybe just an unseen cliff) in more primitive times a chance to live as if we did not have such a biologically damning deficiency, and also pass on our myopic genes.


Sunday, April 29, 2007

Killing the "present", one remote control at a time...

This is for Group B, on The Third Interval.

In the article The Third Interval, Paul Virillio expresses concern over increased use of and dependence on technology. He claims that human beings are becoming slaves to technology and that social interaction amongst each other has been dissipating because of it. We become immobile as we kill what Virillio calls "present time" by isolating it and no longer applying it to our "concrete presence". In other words, for example, whenever we see something or someone that is clearly on the other side of the country through, say, television or video conferencing, we are eliminating "present time" because we are watching what is happening live on the screen. We are being connected to the other side, we are here and there at the same time; we are telepresent. Virillio even makes the stunning claim that this increase in dependence leads to more single-parent families, that number of family units is decreasing because of it.

Although there may seem to be some truth in his argument, I completely disagree with it. Virillio seems to be creating these arguments without much proof, except for the fact that a human being becomes more of a couch potato whenever they pick up the remote and channel surf. At least, that was the impression I received. Indeed, there is a growing dependency on technology, especially now that people are equipped with mp3 players, cell phones, and laptops, but that does not necessarily mean that people have become less active or less social. Sure, there may be some who sit at home for a few hours and surf through the Internet, but they usually venture into the outside world and join their friends for lunch. People take walks. The world is not barren! Virillio also fails to mention the power of fast correspondence and communication through the use of the Internet, which can be highly beneficial when the need persists.

As for the breaking up of the family home, there are definitely numerous reasons as to why there are more single-parent families, which Virillio also neglects. Once again he provides no evidence for his wild claim that it has little to do with "liberation of values" and is instead due to the expansion of the urban areas.


Exposure Time, The Aura, And Telerobotics

From what I understood, Marina Grazinic, in her article, Exposure Time, The Aura, and Telerobotics, seeks to point out that media form such as photography represent the contraction of real-time into virtual time. In photography, what is important is, the temporal relation between the contents of the photograph. In other words, what's amazing about a photograph, is the feeling of holding still a moment in time. And longer the interval of exposure is, the longer will be the aura associated with it.

I think, this is true in certain respects. This is evident in new media forms as well. Grazinic points out the increasing importance being given to digitalization. She thinks of digitalization as representing an conscious desire to erase the temporal-reality and create virtual-reality. This would shorten the interval of exposure and therefore lessen the sense of aura that she speaks of.

Many new media forms such as and, that dominate the cyberspace, also seek to lessen the divide between the real and virtual. Less importance is placed on where the video was shot, who shot it, and when was it shot. More importance is being put on the content of the video, how easy is it to upload it, minimize buffering, and other technical things that seek to erase the temporal relations within the video and thereby create a virtual experience that is free from any real time constraints.

She also brings up a good point about technological usage is journalistic coverage of war. She proposes that we question the use of technology to create instantaneous new coverage because people might be hostile to the idea of having such images on their television screens. I think it is an important and interesting role that such technological innovations have played in shaping the political debate in this country. It is encouraging to see that technology has made it possible for us to know when a disastrous earthquake strikes thousands of miles away, so that we can send aid rite away.

This author seems pessimistic about the promise of technology, because for her what is more important are constraints like, place, position and time, that define the so called “natural Interface.” I think it is time to grow out of such mentality and be excited about the possible ways in which instantaneous telecommunication technology can be used to further the cause of mankind.


A Warning

Also from "Kinetoscope of Time"

I also was fascinated with this reading because it completely diverted from other readings that focused on man's attempt to bypass time to see the future and past. Here the man simply wanted to wait for the experience to come to him. He was not obsessed with finding out his future. He had a clear vision of what his past was and would simply wait for his future to come to him in natural time. In a way one can say that being obsessed with bypassing time can lead to one's demise. In "The Time Machine", the time traveler is obsessed with jumping over the linear path of one's time into the future. Once there, the time traveler becomes involved in a plot that is way over his head and out of his own control. Its a miracle that the Time Traveler was even able to survive his incredible trip and make it back in two pieces. The man from the Kinetoscope of Time is weary of seeing the future because he knows that precognitions of his future could severely affect him in the long run. The Kinetoscope of Time can almost be seen as a warning against obsessing over time and one's future. The author is making the statement that if one sits back and lets things happen naturally, then things will eventually turn out right. Jump ahead and your life will be turned utterly upside down. This was an interesting reading and one of the only ones in the course that appeared to downplay the role of media in bypassing linear time fragments.


Fascination of Time in Media

This blog post is for group D for "the Kinetoscope of Time."

This fictional story is about a man who looks at different types of images and scenes, yet the part I want to talk about it at the end. The man is approached by another man who offers him the chance to look into his past, and the man declines, then the other man offers him the chance to look into his future, and the man declines once again. He declares, "I shall know all in good time."

I think this concept is a good way to look at a lot of the themes we've discussed in this class, as well as a good way to look at peoples' fascination with media. Temporal manipulations, as well as just the general ability to view something that is not real life and seems a separate reality, I believe, brings up a lot of possibilities or questions for people, which is why these ideas are so prevalent in new media. Time travel is a major theme related to this. People can only know one linear reality in their lives, but with media, exploring these ideas of time travel is possible. You can relive a moment, to see how slight changes can play out in different ways, as in Run Lola Run. You can travel far into the future to see what a world you will never get to see, because you will no longer be alive, like in H.G. Wells' novel. You can also slow down and speed up time, which is also not possible in real life. Because of the fixed speed and linearity of time in our lives, people have always been fascinated with changing this fixed nature, as well as being able to manipulate time to experience something they normally could not.

I see this story as an interesting contrast to the other media works we have experienced in this class. This man is given the chance to see his future, something that is impossible in normal, linear reality. This media object gives him this possibility. Yet he declines, his reasoning being he chooses to stay in this fixed linearity, showing large amounts of patience. This idea is very foreign, and many would not choose this, because the nature of media in general has given our society not only this fascination, but an expectation of instant gratification as well, another theme running throughout this class.

Therefore, I see the end to the story as being in sharp contrast with the majority of themes in this class, yet also revealing a lot about these themes.


Tic Toc Tic Toc Tic Toc

Run Lola Run demonstrates that life is only valuable when a clock is ticking. Many of us believe that our everyday actions actions result in our future. The choices we make now; what we eat, how much we exercise, how much effort we put into our school work, who and when we will marry; all compose the future. Not many of us think about this concept when we are choosing something from McDonald's menu, are partying the day before a major final, or writing our final research paper the day it is due. Our futures do not exist in the way that Run Lola Run presents them. We do not touch a burger and then pictures flash in our minds of us 20 years later calling Jenny Craig and losing 50 pounds. Nor do we constantly think that our life is inter-dependent on the interactions and actions of others. Many believe we are responsible for ourselves only and that our actions do not affect others' futures.

We do not simply bump into a person and think that their whole life will be different or that our future will change because of this seemingly insignificant interaction. But when a time limit is set, every second suddenly counts. If we oversleep for a final, have 10 minutes to get to class, and jump out of bed bump our toe and miss the bus by a second, that toe could have ruined your academic life. The toe or all the cramming the night before, but as students we are most likely to blame the toe. If we thought of life as a longer span of time with a very real time limit, no longer 20 minutes, but time in years, then every little encounter would be magnified. Every little second would count.

Our perspective of time, of life, of each other would be much different. Life would almost be a race to achieve all the things you want to do, to do it all. Unfortunately, in real-life unlike Lola, we only get one chance. If we get shot, we reminisce, and die, we don't get back up to fix and change all the small interactions. That was it, that was the given lifetime. We don't get another one. We don't get to say "I will do it next time," because time ran out.

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Saturday, April 28, 2007


did you get the rough draft in the email? Daniella got it the first time...anyway you should have gotten it by now.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Loops have been Lost!

Lev Manovich describes what a loop is and how it has impacted us in society. He pretty much explains how life is one big loop and really it is. You are nothing and then you are born and you are something. You live a long life and then die and you are nothing again. It just goes around in circles or loops. He states how video games and everyday life is in loops and you just rotate around and around and this somehow keeps people entertained. But he begins to argue that life these days is moving away from the loop. The loop lifestlye of living is giving way to a more in depth and complicated means of society. I believe that the increased level of technology is the reason for this dismissal of the loop. In video games alone human society has progressed from such games as Packman to interactive games such as Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero. Games are being taken away from that initial idea I started writing about where everything is to do with loops and living and dying and then doing it all over again. eg Packman is a game where you have a life and you try and live on and then die and then you can do it all over again. But how representational is this of human life? Not very because as far as I know you don't get a second chance in human life or multiple lives. These itneractive games are getting the gamers to actually play a "sport" or an "instruement" and get off their feet. There is more to the game than a human like character trying to beat the computer and then dying and doing it all over again. This dismissal of the loop is what enables us to move away from the boredom of life and its circle of repeat so unexpectedness and real life can prevail.


The Real and Truthful Characteristics of The Photograph

Camera Lucida really brings up many issues about what does it really mean to be alive or
real.....The book uses so many ideas that give suggestions about photographs and what they
really are as a medium. The book suggests that photographs are more a pose and not so much a concurrence of events. Film is shown to be a better medium than photography because photos get denied by the continuous series of images that film produces as opposed to the single one in a photo. Then there is another main issue with photography and that is that it doesn't "call up the past" (page 82). The portrait of William Casby on page 79 "Born a Slave" does not tell the reader of his journey or his past but just tells us what he is now and consequently what his bleak futrue holds...Death! Another theme brought up about the photograph is its authenticity. The thing about photographs is that if they are not altered with (new technology getting in the way of authenticity) then they are a true representation of themselves. The photograph doesn't lie and tells people where one person is if it is caught on tape. Two quotes I liked from the book to explain these two ideas were: "It does not invent; it is authentication itself" and "Every photograph is a certificate of presence". But the photograph is without a future. The photo only tells of the here and now and has little ability to tell what the future holds. Page 95 has a photo with the heading "He is dead and he is going to die......". This picture tells us little from simply viewing it but the words are what tell us about what is going to happen in the future. Photos can't tell us about the future but the combination of words and a picture can tell us so much about what will happen.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007


I didn't get your e-mail! Could you send it to me please?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Peer Review: Letter to Author

Your peer review should be in the form of comments on the draft, and a 1.5 - 2 page letter to the author. Please be sure to do the following in your review:

1) Answer the author's questions about the essay
2) Cover the essay's strengths and weaknesses:

-- Content such as thesis, arguments that extend from the thesis, evidence, research, analysis of evidence and research, and organization

-- Mechanics such introduction, conclusion, connecting each paragraph back to main argument, transitions between paragraphs, style, and grammar

In other words, cover in prose form the points addressed in the peer review form you used for the last essay.

Be sure to circle the author's thesis and make comments directly on the essay draft.



Technological advance and what it offer is simply amazing. This dance performance provides a completely different perspective looking at performing art. This performance is a mixture of physical presence and virtual presence of actors. In this performance,'reception,' it is presented in the way that physical presence interacts with virtual presence. For the audience, it is hardly distinguishable whether the actors are physically present or mere images. The idea that the actors the audience sees might be distant provokes our sense of presence. It is questionable whether virtual presence is adequate while the audience expects 'presence' of the actors in this kind of art form. Moreover, in this hybrid form of art, it is appropriate to categorize this under the previous category. I see this performance 'controversial' in the way that it asks us numerous questions to think about.
One thing connects two presences--virtual and physical--is time. It reminds of telecommunication such as cell phone or video conferencing. In this way, this mixture is easier to be understood: we do not feel dilemma considering communication through the cell phone. However, it is not the audience that interacts. It is hard to make the audience feel that two parties of actors share the same time. Since the audience is only required to watch, it is possible to question whether it is 'real.' Do we necessarily believe what we see? we are brought to watch a performance by magician for example. If we see a person talking on the phone in some kind of movie, we, the audience, are not sure whether the person's action is genuine. In other words, can the audience feel a sense of 'presence' from virtual presence? For me, it seems challenging to answer