Thursday, February 4, 2010

Windows and Mirrors

Hi Class,

Ok, so I’m at my job and I just finished Windows and Mirrors. I was just wondering if this book unsettled anyone else as much as it has unsettled me. The first three chapters I found very interesting. I have never truly considered the issue of transparency before. Most of the time when I am looking at a medium, I am very aware of the medium itself. As an individual who wants to work in film, I can get lost inside a movie, but upon subsequent viewings I am always hyper aware of the medium and the technical aspects of how it was made. The means and method by which something is created is almost as important as the message itself, the original idea.

That being said, from the fourth chapter of the book on I began to become very unsettled. The concept of “Magic Book” and “Terminal Time” and the whole idea of the media convergence to the point of VR Television really made me nervous. Granted the thrust of all of these innovations is the “experience” via the use of the medium….but where does that leave creation and imagination. “Magic Book” creates a virtual world out of the text for the reader to experience, but at any point does the reader have to use their imagination to envision the world that the author created, a world and plot that the author imagined? “Terminal Time”, through a few answers from an audience, creates a history based on social prejudice and experience, but do the viewers take time to consider history for themselves and how it pertains to their experiences? Even the concept of VR Television serves to deaden the imagination of the audience. If it came to pass the viewer would be able to walk through the program to gather more information. Part of watching a film or television program is the knowledge that action is taking place in the story beyond what the viewer is seeing in the frame and the viewer must use their imagination and intelligence to fill the information in.

The overabundance of information being given to the audience in the guise of an “immersive experience”, to me , simply means a loss of creativity, imagination, inquisitiveness, and ability to see what is not being directly presented to us. There will always be some who think outside of the box, but where will the problem of “the idea” becoming prey to “the experience” end? Any thoughts??


  1. Angela,
    I share your thoughts when it comes to films; we have very similar understandings of the formal aspect of film. Every filmmaker’s aspiration is to make the audience “forget” that they are watching a movie and allow them to accept the world presented without letting them escape to “reality.” In other words, a great film is the one which manages to take each viewer to a journey without drawing attention to itself.

    The ideas shared in this book have certainly shaken our view of what we are truly experiencing. It appears that the science fiction novels of the 60’s/70’s and 80’s were not that far away from today’s innovations. We seek information in the most unconventional settings and through the most eccentric means.

    It is fascinating to examine all the various tools which we have come to implement over the years, however, the questions generated by the effects of the rapid and unpredictable swift to the virtual world continue to increase.

    Margaret M. Roidi

  2. Angela, you bring up a good point here, and there's a good argument that the more immediate the medium, the less imagination is required, which would suggest that the hypermediated medium is the one that really requires the mind to fill in the gaps--a cool medium in McLuhan's parlance. I like that connection.

    Margaret, I would take issue with your generalization about filmmakers. I'd agree that most are after transparency, but there are some who want to call attention to the medium.

    Also consider films like The Blair Witch Project, and Cloverfield, where a fictional form of hypermediation is used to create a sense of mediated transparency--the head spins!

  3. Excellent point! I did not make the statement clear enough. I was referring to the “traditional” mainstream films made by “classic” filmmakers such as Orson Welles, and Martin Scorsese (to name a few). For them, the key to the movie-going experience was taking the audience to a world which required full concentration, capturing one’s attention without allowing him to look at the experience. The careful and elaborate planning of the misé-en-scene managed to transfer each viewer inside the story.

  4. To produce any kind of entertainment, the idea needs to be carefully examined and rehearsed several times leading up to the final project. It is similar to writing a report. The person would do a couple of rough drafts and then hand in his submission. When a person reads a book, the reader can use his/her imagination to picture his unique vision of what is going on. When someone watches TV, the viewer's imagination is restricted.