MX: "the language of new media" part III

response to pp 94-103 the screen and the user, a screens' genealogy

p 94. “a computer monitor connected to a network becomes a window through which we can enter places thousands of miles away. with the help of a mouse or a video camera, a computer can be transformed into an intelligent being capable of engaging us in dialogue...coupled with the computer, the screen is rapidly becoming the main means of accessing any kind of information, be it still images, moving images, or text. we are already using it to read the daily newspaper; to watch movies; to communicate with co-wrkers, relatives, and friends; and, most important, to work. we may debate whether our society is a society of spectacle or of simulation, but, undoubtedly, it is a society of a screen.”
no matter where i look, i'm confronted with a screen. cell phones, computers, car screens, electronic billboards, televisions, mp3 players, hand-held gaming devices, in grocery store isles, menus, and air port flight screens to name a few. I don't think i've grown up without a screen ever. I remember having a dos laptop i could play wheel of fortune on. i sometimes won a boat.

p 96.“although the screen in reality is only a window of limited dimensions positioned inside the physical space of the viewer, the viewer is expected to concentrate completely on what she sees in this window, focusing her attention on the representation and disregarding the physical space outside. this viewing regime is made possible by the fact that the singular image, whether a painting, movie screen, or television screen, completely fills the screen. this is why we are so annoyed in a movie theater when the projected image does not precisely coincide with the screen's boundaries: it disrupts the illusion, making us conscious of what exists outside the representation.”
futuristic films and gui prototypes (like the microsoft sustainability video) show the content being accessed from all sorts of surfaces. i'm not exactly sure if they intend to make every surface a screen, but it's interesting to be able to move content from a monitor to a table top by motion of dragging. i believe that's why movie theaters are completely dark, to minimize the area around the screen, so the user is able to have complete focus on the film. if someone's cell phone rings, or we can see the cell phone illuminating, both our auditory and visual senses are pulled out of the ‘picture window’. so turn of your damn cell phones during a movie!

p 97. “no single window completely dominates the viewer's attention. in this sense, the possibility of simultaneously observing a few images that co-exist within one screen can be compared with the phenomenon of zapping—the quick switching of television channels that allows the viewer to follow more than one program. in both instances, the viewer no longer concentrates on a single image.”
this is evident within my studio all the time. i walk by and see students working in photoshop, have their emails open and are watching a dvd, all at the same time. other students use the ‘spaces’ function, which allows them to toggle between screens on their computer. even when i have my internet browser open, i constantly switch between tabs and screens while other pages are loading. i guess my generation sure hates to wait.

p 98. “in 1882, unmanned photo balloons were already in the air; a little later, they were joined by photo rockets both in France and in Germany.”
interesting photography was used for such tasks!

p 99. “with radar, we see for the first time the mass employment (television is founded on the same principle but its mass employment comes later) of a fundamentally new type of screen, a screen that gradually comes to dominate modern visual culture—video monitor, computer screen, instrument display. what is new about such a screen is that its image can change in real time, reflecting changes in the referent, whether the position of an object in space (radar), any alteration in visible reality (live video) or changing data in computers memory (computer screen). What this means is that the image, in a traditional sense, no longer exists!”
i found this the most interesting tid-bit in the reading. i knew computers were being developed around the 50's and 60's, but i never applied the notion that radar was the first screen based object! niiiiiice. i then ask myself the question, “Are most technologies a product of fear/war?” history of internet.

desperate times call for desperate measures.

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