Thursday, September 01, 2005

Having taken a good amount of Drawing and Art History, I am very familiar with the power of immediacy. The most breathtaking depictions of spaces are those that make viewers feel as though they are a part of the environment, diminishing their awareness of the fact that these images are media. Some of the most amazing portraits are painted with so much strategy that viewers feel awkward looking at them; as though the subjects might turn around and catch them staring.

However, since the ultimate goal of media seems to be creating the most realistic replication of experience possible, it makes sense that we have taken immediacy from the simple techniques of value and perspective to an entirely different level. In today's world, where we listen to our iPods while flipping channels, talking on the phone, and emailing, media saturation has become a standard part of life, thus, hypermediation makes a good contribution to immediacy. Even though it isn't logical, media that bombards its viewers, attacking from all sides, somehow makes them feel closer to reality. "More is better" is the philosophy that all Americans have been conditioned to accept, and thus people have grown to find this overstimulation comforting. We now hear Musak in every public space we enter, we sleep with informercials running all night, and it is impossible to exist for five minutes without hearing a cell phone ring. Young people in particular seem to enjoy the fast-paced feel of this sense-overloaded lifestyle. There is an association of hypermediation with the cutting-edge that makes it trendy.

The website is a perfect example of this kind of thing. It drove me crazy. The story seemed serious, and I was interested in hearing it, but the noises and mini-games were so damn distracting that I missed a good amount of the dialogue. Even though it was read well, the sound of a plain old human voice just couldn't compete with flashing bright colors and ADD-friendly mouse games. I tried to absorb everything, but I could not. What's interesting is, while I found it frustrating to try to juggle the different media on the site, I simultaneously felt impressed by the fact that it was beyond my focus-level. So much of contemporary art seems to rely on this media overload strategy that I think I have begun to associate the feeling of being one step behind getting everything with the experience of viewing cutting-edge art.

Perhaps it is this feeling of being involved in so many things that it is almost too much to handle that Americans crave. Always wanting production and progress, people within this culture enjoy the sensation that when they view CNN's hypermediated news report they are using as much of their perception at once as they can. They love the idea of multi-tasking.

In this same sensibililty, Americans love media for the opportunity it gives them to "experience" exciting things without actually taking any risks. They like the double-function of something that feels exhilirating, allowing them to get any thrill-seeking out of their systems, but poses no threats.

With young people, it is not only the desire for simulated experience that draws them to media, but also the associations that their peers make with hypermediation. This whole magazine-chic image keeps coming to mind where this cute young urban guy, dressed in baggy pants and a hooded sweatshirt, logos all over the place, is walking down the quintessential city street, with lights and signs and sounds everywhere. He's wearing his headphones and, of course, looking cool and completely unaffected by the business of everything around him. The same young people who are obsessed with television and video games want to develop the ability to be immune to media. Teens consider it "cool" to listen to music or watch tv while they do homework, while it is geeky to devote full attention to studying. It is commonplace in high school for kids to play games on their cell phones while they talk with each other during lunch. Seeming to be interersted in media multi-tasking is an easy way for them to look like they are above whatever else is going on.


Blogger Colleen Vesperman said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:53 PM  
Blogger alpha blondie said...

this space is a perfect illustration of the hypermediation.
i randomly surf the landscape,
we are both met by spammers (above)
and the drug company tells us to keep it up in the meantime.
there is a pill for every 'side-effect' of the sensory overload.

in passing, regards.

6:07 PM  
Blogger Zeppellina said...

Good blog. The conditioning process has been with us always, in varying forms, but there is no doubt that modern technology has perfected the art.
There are drawbacks, but advantages too.

6:09 PM  
Blogger Zeppellina said...

Oh, by the way, report spam bloggers to

Spam bloggers are ruining blogging.

6:11 PM  
Blogger Sonya said...

I like your news clips. Visit anytime, And Im always looking for new reads.


12:40 AM  
Blogger KF said...

Grrr. Comment spam is an absolute blight! Excellent post, though...

9:51 AM  

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