Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Perfection?

Marina Grzinic makes an interesting argument about imperfections, arguing that it is these exact imperfections that make things interesting and, in effect, “restores their aura.” She further argues that the aura of objects or people is lost in translation when they are manipulated by technology. I don’t fully agree with Grizinic on this point—it is easier to identify and appreciate certain goals when it takes one time and energy to achieve their goals. She might be underestimating the importance of this issue.

Imperfections are indeed what makes us unique. However I think Grzinic is remise to not point out that it is the allure of perfection that draws individuals to modern media and technology. Not only does technology make our lives arguably more efficient, but it allows us to escape into a world where perfection exists. Consumers and audiences alike understand realism—we experience our own lives in reality. To argue that objects can lose their “aura” simply through being processed through technology—does it give people enough credit? Is there anyone who truly looks at a computer screen and at reality and doesn’t recognize that there is a tangible difference?

In addition, I feel that there is a further hole in Grzinic’s argument. It is important to be an informed consumer of the media and I think it is fair to say that people who watch the evening news (and thus are getting five minute abbreviated and edited stories about wars or world news) understand the fact that what they are being shown has been manipulated and compiled by anonymous person. As the audience, we generally do not have the luxury of being able to discuss and talk to the editors in the newsroom or the journalists who take the footage. There are many levels of censorship and as the audience, we have to be active receivers of the news and acknowledge that choices were made along the way of producing certain stories—the cameraman had to decide what was worth filming and what was not, the anchors, writers and editors, had to decide how to talk about what footage would be shown. It is naiveté to take what we are given at face value, to trust that individual biases affect us and there is no such thing as truly unbiased and fair journalism. I’m not convinced that Grzinic gives people enough credit.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Shane_Wey said...

It's interesting to hear about media manipulated by technology. I can understand arguments from both sides. Imperfections can make images have more "aura." In film, producers use film rather than DV because film is more capable of mimicking the human eye, which is not perfect. It only keeps one object in focus at a time. When a character is talking in a movie, only he is in focus, the buildings behind him and the rocks in front of him are blurred. On the other hand, home cameras, usually DVs, capture images with almost everything in focus. I actually participated in research last semester regarding blurring images that are in focus. The researcher was planning on using this in video games and other entertainment sectors.

On the other hand, there are desktop applications that come with digital cameras now that are capable of enhancing images taken by the average person. These images can fix lighting problems and remove red-eye. This is somewhat ironic because it is using technology to fix problems created by other technology. Regardless, it is still images that are changed by technology. And the majority of people prefer red-eye and lighting problems removed even if they are filtered and manipulated.

4/18/2007 12:24 AM  

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