Reading: Remediation

Reading Remediation

Remediation is one of the fundamental readings for understanding digital media.It is the first few books that I have been reading since I started doing my research. I think it is valuable because it did not isolated new media from previous media forms but look at it from the perspective of  art history. More importantly, from the authors point of view, what could benefit the development of digital media is not only computers but also other previous art forms. The techniques as well as creative ideas, which has been developed over time in art history by human could be a useful source of the development of new media.

In this book, the authors who are Bolter and Grusin explore the influences of technological development on the aesthetics of visual media. It focuses on the studying of aesthetical character of representational media facilitated by digital technology. They analyze various digital media forms such as computer games, the World Wide Web and cinema with computer graphics and identify their relationship with previous media such as painting, photography and film. The authors argue that digital media borrow and mix techniques from previous media as well as repurposing and refashioning them to achieve their aesthetical or cultural values. They defined this dialogical relationship between digital media and earlier media forms as remediation.

The authors further suggest that historically remediation also happened during the development of other visual media as photography remediates perspective painting and film remediates photography and drama. Another key finding of the study is the two strategies that digital media implement to remediate other media. One of the strategies is transparent immediacy, which means that media try to erase themselves from the audience and the space it represented. In another word it describes the moment that audience highly engaged with the media content and feels like directly look at certain reality without medium. The other strategy is hypermediacy, which refers to the feeling that audience is aware of the existence of media.

This book is useful for my research because the concept of remediation and its two strategies help understand the aesthetics of digital compositing in contemporary mainstream cinema. From this point of view, on one hand digital compositing could be understood as a process that remediates many different film techniques such as cinematography, mise-en-scene and editing. So that for certain extant, the existing aesthetical theory of these film forms might still meaningful for digital compositing. But it is important to notice here that digital compositing might borrow from these film techniques but does not simply equal with any one of them. On the other hand, it allows different media such as painting, film and computer graphic to have a dialogue with each other. It might be worth to look at that what aesthetical value has been created through the dialogue.

Further more, the two strategies of remediation could be considered as a theoretical framework to critic digital compositing and visual effect. One of the purposes of photorealism digital visual effect might be achieving transparent immediacy, which persuades the audiences think they look at something real. Moreover it generates visual pleasure by letting the audience experience hypermediacy at the same time. It creates a feeling that watching something very much unlikely real but looks real.

However this research have the following limitations. First of all it denies digital media have any authentic aesthetics. The nature of the subject of this study is ever changing with the rapid development of digital technology so that it might be too earlier for the writers to draw this conclusion. The history of cinema suggests that it might borrow from painting or drama but it still forming its own aesthetical language over time. So do television and other media. So it is hard to say digital media could not have any unique aesthetics. Further more this book did not provide a clear explanation for the reason why remediation happens. It indicates technological, social and economical facts all contribute to the remediation of previous media in new media. But the authors did not illustrate any of these points clearly and specifically.

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