October 22, 2012

Bolter, Grusin, and The Blair Witch Project

This marks the fourth time I have been assigned the Bolter and Grusin piece on immediacy and hypermediacy in an EWM class. It is starting to look like this reading could be considered an important foundation for every single EWM course reading list. But I digress, seeing as how this is my fourth go-around with the text I should be an expert. I agree with some of the other bloggers that this essay is a bit outdated seeing as how it was written in 1999, but I choose to look at this as ahead of its time. While it places too much emphasis on "virtual reality", a technology that is realistically a couple decades in the future, it is nevertheless prescient in the way that it foreshadows the accelerated immediacy of the media. The rise of grassroots media, with many news organizations using amateur video to enhance their news segments, reinforces the ideas of the "you-are-there" style modern media has taken. Also, the rise of found-footage horror films since the runaway success of The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity has seen hypermediacy on the rise in popular culture. h

So what is it about this style of media that makes it so irresistible to the younger generation? Could it be that we use the media as a symbol, as outlined by McCloud's essay about comics? Do we now see the computer and smart phone as extensions of ourselves? I would agree with this statement and would go a step further and say that these devices were designed this way; to hook us in with promises of "connecting" with friends while physically remaining very much alone. Right now, for instance I am technically communicating with my fellow students but in actuality I am sitting alone on my couch an hour before class. (Cue Twilight Zone music)


George Dean said...

I thought of Bolter and Grusin's passage similarly. Technology now is basically just an extension of our lives. Its become a tool and a crutch for the modern citizen. We've become so use to it that many of us don't even think about how or why were using it in the first place. Myself for instance,I never have truly stopped and wondered why I use the technological tools I do. Who made it possible for me to call my father at the end of that day and ask him how he’s doing? Or how is it possible for me to watch a full motion picture strictly through my phone? It amazes me but at the same time puts myself in a state of shock to think of how far our culture has grown and become adapted to technology. It’s literally everywhere, from the moment we wake up to the moment we set our alarms at night to wake up in the morning. People are constantly checking their phones and computers, emails, text messages, facebook’s.

Adam Schwartz said...

I agree with you that the Bolter and Grusin's passage was way ahead of its time. They had no idea, or did they, that smart phones would be on the rise and become the norm as a way to hold what we deem as the essentials for living. I also agree with your statement about hypermediacy being on the rise within our culture. I think that the hypermediacy among the younger generation, or the generation that came about with these social media sites or found footage movies as the norm, has a hard time to tell that it is just the medium and not the way of life. We know that the technological tools we use are a medium since we saw them come about. But like George said, I never really wondered why I use technological tools the way I do. These devices are an extension of ourselves since as you said, you did write this from your couch, and I am reading and responding to it in a class.

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