Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Language of New Media

For me, the most interesting part of Manovich’s book thus far is the section in which he details the genealogy of the screen. I like Manovich’s idea that the screen is an aggressive medium. In the past I have not put much thought into the characteristics of screens, but now I definitely agree with Manovich’s assertion that the screen is aggressive and that it’s function is to “screen out, to take over” and to render “nonexistent whatever is outside its frame.” (96)

I was particularly intrigued by Manovich’s study of the screen in relation to the human body. Manovich believes that screens imprison their viewers. I can’t even count the number of times that I have been glued to my computer, either typing a paper, doing research or reading celebrity gossip on Often times, it is hard to pull myself away from the computer because I am so engrossed in whatever I am doing online. My Mac has imprisoned me many times. Reading Manovich’s views on the screen made me think about how often I am enslaved to my computer on a daily basis. I check my email four or five times a day. I check my Facebook once or twice a day. I usually use ichat every other day or so. These daily habits must waste hours of my life every week. Five years ago I barely even checked my email once a week and I was not a member of Facebook. I only used ichat to talk to friends who were attending different colleges than me. I must have had tons of free time back then.

Manovich’s detailed history of the evolution of the computer made me reflect on my first memorable experience with computers. In 1991, when I was eight years old my next-door neighbors bought a computer. I can remember being invited over to play with it. While I don’t remember exactly what the computer looked like I do remember that about the only fun thing to do on it was a program that allowed you to paint. My, how computers have changed.


Anonymous said...

If you use these technologies, find good use in them and enjoy them, then it is not technological enslavement.

Maybe you’re not nessesarily wasting hours of your week. What would you be doing if you got rid of all these screens in your life? Well, a million of things perhaps, but maybe an overwhelming feeling of isolation would come along because you are far and few between who have abandoned the technology.

Lance Strate said...

Excellent point here. The notion of the screen as reflective surface and as filter is quite interesting, and also as prison, although perhaps frame might be a more neutral term. Frame implies a certain measure of control, enforcing a certain arrangement or way of looking at things, but not the complete control of imprisoning, although many who are imprisoned claimed to have been framed!