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Department
St. Michael's College Courses
Course
SMC219Y1
Professor
Steve Hoselton
Semester
Fall

Description
SMC219Y1 XEROX Medium - It can generate many expressions: half, middle, center, manner, remedy, common, transmitting - Medium, in fact, is the center, nucleus, and heart of something as well as that which is ambiguous, common and mediocre. - The medium is an object, of various natures, that is placed in the middle, between our senses and the external world, and functions as a tool of perception and instrument of apprehension - Anything could be a medium - Humanized objects, objects charged with individual and/or collective human creativity How, Why, What, When and Where Do Humans Perceive? - Humans perceive through the senses; Living is perceiving - Perceptions: pieces of information received through our senses, and selected, analyzed, processed and stored by our brain - Not limited to five senses, also insights into an issue, question, or problem - Experiences are rooted in perceptions; Similarities are recognized by the use of similar parts of the sensorium, or by the same senses - The Five Senses: Visual, oral, olfactory, tactile, and gustatory Two Channels of Perception: Tactile and Visual Senses - All senses could be sensibly classified to tactile senses and visual senses - Tactile: touch, hearing, smell, taste - Visual: sight - Sight tends to go solo, but touch pulls all senses together, sight included - TV combines and blends sight, hearing, and touch - External world is different for every one - All media are environmental agents Media: Makers of a New Nature - Must move on - Whether we slow down, cruise, or accelerate, both our instruments of navigation and our vessels are our own, proudly man-made media Media as Living Organism (The Life of a Medium) - Northrop Frye, the concern of concerns is something that distinguishes human beings from any other creatures; the result of this creativity is called medium (or human artifact) - Primary Concerns: principles that determine our actions at a very instinctive level (food, water, air, etc.) - Secondary Concerns: effects of the beliefs (political party, cultural association, etc.) - Most important concern is for our imagination and our senses to express themselves by inventing and making, by creating something out of nothing, by making media (imagining, rationalizing, constructing, adjusting, fixing, doing and re-doing) - Not all media can be shared and used by a number of people (mass media) - Once created, the medium exists forever; Immortal in a humanistic way - Twofold need of a medium: it could be something practical and useful; could be something is not useful but it is beautiful and idealistic - Our view of two kinds of media follows from Ciceros notion of utility and honesty - We will have media created in response to physical needs, and media that are pure expressions of human creativity The Laws of Media - Retrieval: an operation of our mind associated with the act of creation, and not to deny its absolute originality - Enhancement & Obsolescence: a medium extends the reach of one sense, and in so doing reduces the reach of another; as something went up, something else went down - Reversal: the medium reaches a point at which the enhancement is no longer sustainable and reverses into its opposite (overheated medium: complete stop of a vehicle) - Enhancement and obsolescence have the time frame already set, and therefore encourage or induce the media explorer to focus on the dynamic mechanism of transformation in its own spatial context - The medium mutates its functions; it is a living organism that changes as it grows and moves, and it is moved around The Mass of Mass Media - Language is our prime example of mass medium; it does not exist in nature, and it is used by a community constituting a mass - The bigger the mass the less specific the culture to which the mass medium refers - Geography is primary media qualifier, and so is history since mass media live in time, in a continuous, chronological state of transformation Media Attributes - Soft vs. Hard - New vs. Old - Dull vs. Sharp - Generic vs. Specialized - Cool vs. Hot - Electric vs. Mechanical - Software vs. Hardware: the soft ware is the program, the impalpable medium of pure information, while the hardware is the device that makes the program run, a tangible medium - The passing from a totally mechanical medium (the typewriter) to a hybrid one, mechanical and electronic (the compute box with printer) - The understanding of this new medium was initially conditioned by the rear-view mirror syndrome, which is a response to the anxiety that accompanies the detachment from the old medium and the acceptance of the new Old vs. New: The Rear-view Mirror Syndrome - The perception of the new with the mental attitude of the old - There is a contrast followed by a moment of uncertainty in which the old medium appears to be the more reliable. Before its capitulation - i.e. car was first called horseless carriage (speaks of the abandoned horses); however, new environment of the car such as gas stations, motels appeared - The old medium remains somewhere until it is retrieved with a different function Cool vs. Hot - One of the most controversial and debated dichotomy of media invented by McLuhan - Cool Medium: demands a high level of participation from its users (radio) - Hot Medium: demands a low level of participation from its users (phone) Generic vs. Specialized Generic Media - A variety of applications - Generates a wide environment of users - Philosophy: epistemology, gestaltic logic - Literature: Scriptural books - Generalization: a function of pre-modern and post-modern culture Specialized Media - A limited number of applications or one only - Generates a small environment of aficionados - Philosophy: Linear thinking, linear logic - Literature: Manuals of operations - Specialization: a function of modern/mechanical culture *Our perception becomes blocked, impeded by the novelty, and we only experience what our senses are accustomed to experience Electric vs. Mechanical Media - Electric media consist in devices that use electric energy - The first electric medium: telegraph - Mechanical media consist in devices that use mechanical energy History of Media: Modernity and Post-modernity - We shall call modern the mechanical culture, and post-modern the electric culture - Post-modernity has become a much used and abused expression in later times so that one might be tempted to discard the expression altogether for critical purposes History of Media: Language - Language is the establishing of a home - The most ancient and active mass-medium, the fundamental medium of exchange, primary medium of communication - The spoken word involves all of our senses dramatically --- McLuhan - Spoken language, the most ancient medium, whatever form it will take in the new future, would be the theatre of renewal and the medium of reciprocal cultural understanding in the age of electronic mass media From the Spoken to the Written Word - The content of a medium is always another medium - Radio becomes the content of television, and television the content of the computer - Two other widely used systems of writing: logographic (or pictographic) & syllabic system - Logographic: each spoken word is represented by its own unique visual sign, which denotes or depicts the word symbolically or pictorially - Syllabic system: phonetically coded with its own unique sign; somewhere between logographic and alphabetic writing systems; the most economical, with the fewest number of signs, most abstract - If an idea of cyclical phases of human history is by now, with this great return or retrieval, appearing on the horizon, we must welcome it, and learn from its pattern the movement of mutations in human history Writing Supports: From Clay Tablets to Paper Manuscripts - The medium is a translator of reality into human reality; to make explicit the human spirit - Medium are the agents of transformation of nature into art The Notion of Recording - Waxed tablets: the light fragmented form of the medium is well in tune with the scattered images and episodic nature of the lyric genre; relationship between the poet and the readers: ideally, one-to-one, passionate, personal expressions of love feelings - Carved in stone or cast in bronze: solemn, declamatory, public, official, and perennial - Parchment: portable, obtained from skillfully stretched sheepskins, for nomadic people to carry ritual formulas, genealogies, religious doctrines, codes of behavior, and other sets of rules; valuable support; some can be scraped off (palimpsests) - Papyrus Scrolls: Low cost, Roman civilization, was not used only for administrative purposes, but demotic indicates the beginning of a democratic process of cultural emancipation which will become more marked with the use of paper - Modernity of the Roman empire: the availability of papyrus and the center-to-margins communication it allowed with a modern network of roads originating from the capital, going in all directions, and returning back to Rome were vital for the administration - Paper: came from China, Marco Polo discovered it as a medium of exchange for printed money; it could store more documents and for longer periods of time; cheap, therefore promoted the democratization of knowledge - Parchment is a writing surface made out of animal skin - Vell
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