Saturday, February 6, 2010

Window and Mirror Distinction

The definition and differences between "windows" and "mirrors" throughout the book is definitely an interesting theme and drew some conclusions that changed the way I consider media. As I type in this "window", it ceases to be a window as soon as I realize that I am in fact typing in it, which then makes it a mirror as well. It is interesting to see how objects can go back and forth between the two distinctions. However I can't help but think if it will be possible for future technology to be both a window and a mirror simultaneously. The final chapter mentions that the Excretia font can be both, as it is a reflection of author as well as a window into the text itself. You look through the text into the meaning, but its constantly changing nature mirrors the person typing through their heartrate, emotion, etc. It is interesting how that blurs the lines of the two - however, since it requires the person to be hooked up to a machine, Excretia can never be truly transparent.

One can only speculate what the technology of the future could entail. As media converges and becomes more ubiquitous, it is not unreasonable to assume that at some point there will be some media that can be both reflective and transparent simultaneously to an even greater extent. Our existing forms of media have many of these characteristics - we interact through a computer and are able to obtain meaning through its content. We know we are using a computer (which makes it reflective), but are also looking through it to see the meanings before us (making it transparent). Is it possible that we can blur these lines even further? Or must we know of the existence of the computer, television, book, etc in order for it to be reflective? At some point will there be no more mirrors at all? Or will our media always require some sort of interaction? I would like to think that we will always continue to exhibit some sort of control over what we are seeing, watching, hearing, etc., and expect our available options to only increase as technology and content continue to be created. So it is also possible that media can become even more reflective, as we must be aware of how we are receiving these messages, regardless of how transparent they may seem. Or maybe I missed the point entirely. Regardless, it was definitely interesting to see how the authors were able to apply the window/mirror distinction to our forms of media both new and old.

1 comment:

  1. You raise some excellent questions here! The point I take about windows and mirrors is that the natural tendency and easy assumption falls on the side of windows, we want and expect our media to be transparent, to provide as immediate, realistic, and lifelike an experience as possible. Paul Levinson even raised this as the main element in the natural selection and evolution of media, that it proceeds in the direction of the human experience of unmediated reality. But, what we need is to have a balance, and to become more critical and (forgive the pun) reflective about media by way of the mirror, the hypermediated and self-reflexive form, that gets us thinking about the process of mediation and communication itself.