Monday, April 23, 2007

The True Aura

I understand what Marina Grzinic is saying in her article. With all the new technology, beaming and streaming images to us very quickly and in very good resolution, the auras of the objects being sent are lost because we then lose sight of our distance from the object. Aura are returned when transmission time is slow and the image is imperfect. She says, "in these very shortcomings-in the very 'imperfections' that annoy and frustrate us-lies our potential to appreciate the full richness of the subject in the image." This is because we are then reminded of our distance to this object and really how far away it is. I understand this, but I am not sure I agree with it one hundred percent. Nothing short of a person truly being in the room with you completely conveys presence, but some things I feel do it a little better than others, and I do not feel that losing sight of how far away you are from someone completely destroys the aura.
For example, I'll use the dance performance we all just saw. The image of the dancer in the lab in Hearst Mining was being streamed into the Berkeley Playhouse, and vice versa. I felt that a lot was lost because this image was so blurry. I felt like, while I see Grzinic's point in some aspects, the dancer's "aura" would have been better represented if the quality had been better. I feel like a lot of the communication between the two dancers was lost, due to the poor resolution. It was hard to make out all the different movements and steps the girls in the lab were performing. I feel that if the dancer in the Playhouse, as well as the audience, could have seen all the detailed movements of the dancer in the lab, more would have been conveyed. This is because the piece was based on the two interacting, not on just watching the dancer in the lab. Because it involved the two dancers interacting, I feel to truly reach the goal, it would have been better to see the individual movements of the dancer in the lab more clearly. The dancer in the Playhouse could have better worked with that and played off those detailed movements.
So, in the case of the dance performance, I disagree with the article, but I can almost see what she is saying. I'm not sure I completely agree though. In streaming an image that is so clear and so fast, it may be possible to disembody that object or person because it is so easy to focus on the present image, almost forgetting, in a way, about the object or person back in their original place. Yet, at the same time, if I were to be talking to a relative who is very far away, and I can talk to them in real time, very quickly, and with a crystal-clear image, I do not believe their aura is going to be damaged in any way. I would not forget that they are very far away, or disembody them...instead, I would feel their presence, their aura, just who they are, is reinforced in my mind because I am able to be exposed to them so realistically. In that sense, I disagree with the article.



Blogger Phoebe_A said...

The movements of the dancers in the lab would have had more of an impact on me if the resolution was better. Yet, I feel the "aura" that Grzinic is refering to does not deal with the dancers, but instead the "aura" is associated with technology itself. Better clarification of the dancers would cause us to focus more on the dance itself rather than the fact that her image is being streamed live from a remote location. Your post, the article, and the dance still reminds me of Cisco, the Human Network, and its Telepresence technology. Here is the url to one of their commercials (Sorry I don't know how to embed the videos on the blog):

4/23/2007 11:02 AM  
Blogger Caitlin Halsey said...

I agree with what you say. I understand Grzinic's argument, but I disagree with some of her assertions. In particular, I disagreed with her argument surrounding the sterilization of images. Also, I feel at times viewing crisp and perfect images on a TV screen can give an appearance of distance. A film clip could be filmed a few blocks away, but if you are not familiar with that part of town or block. It could seem to be much farther from your home.

4/29/2007 6:46 PM  

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