Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ulmer's Ch. 5

In Ch. 5, Ulmer discusses the need to register an American national identity using the internet as a "prosthetic unconscious of a virtual America." Here the internet can function as a living, thinking, feeling monument. By the end of the chapter, he discusses that there are multiple instances of loss that could be commemorated but are not, and by recognizing them, we bear witness to the sacrifice. I thought about all of the multiple sacrifices that we "write-off," such as the amber alerts, which are so upsetting and impact everyone who sees them on the highway, but which often leave us hanging - was the child found? Or house fires where parents cannot save all of their children, or hurricanes, where residents are often told to leave their animals.

Electracy helps use revisit our connection to disaster. And it is interesting that some losses are recognized as sacrifices (those of war, for example) and others are not. All life should be valued to the extent that it is memorialized even outside of the family network - how much would we have to wake up if we realized that child abuse, which Ulmer acknowledges, is more heinous and incipent than we currently acknowledge. Could we then make changes?

Structure project: ?? Probably a game. Don't know any programs so need to research it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Rethinking Partial Sight

I had never considered "figurative blindness" before, or a rethinking of partial sight, but I felt like I learned something I should have known or at least considered before today. The notion of a space that is situated between vision and no vision seems murky - how does one institute a Design Research Project off of this space? And yet I now understand that without the resources to address the aspects of partial sight, including that such sight may deteriorate over time, it isolates these individuals and can bring with it depression. The need for designers to have empathy, to contribute rather than react, to create graphic and textile communication seems imperative, but the one aspect I could not find in the reading was the specific action they took to address it - what, other than books on tape and corrective devices - does the partially blind person use to bridge this gap? I kept reading for the exact specifications of what they had used to design for multiple communication devices, and didn't find it. That was the only aspect of this piece that disappointed me, because it did seem that they addressed the issue - but I am still not quite sure how....

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

In language, poetry has the quality of the punctum. In other words, the reader is rewarded for his/her savoring of language by allowing that language to intrude into one's sense of timing.  The breath and the heartbeat are invited to participate in the word structure, thus allowing language itself to penetrate the body. When that resolution moves the lingering reader into dangerous territory, poetry is all the more gripping. To really read poetry, one must commit her/himself to a luxuriant, almost decadent expenditure of attention to language.  Poetry requires a slowing down and a lingering gaze into accepting some conclusion -- of course Barbara Marie Stafford spoke of the notions of "slow looking" and the "lingering look" when she was here last week, so I also have her thoughts in mind. 

In this poem, Campo performs a stretched sonnet that forces us into the psyche of his persona narrator, or Jerry's friend. I think this is why poetry has such a unique capacity to memorialize. 

Revulsion by Raphael Campo

I think her name was Carly - no, Charlene.
So fucking beautiful, the way she laughed,
a hardness in her face that seemed so soft.
She picked up Jerry real quick - I mean,
without his knowing it - they dated three,
four months. He kissed her in the parking lot
one night in front of all our friends. We thought
she was a woman, too. Eventually,
he wanted more than just a kiss; she played
miss frightened innocent until he forced
his hand inside her dress. Her bloody face
was in the local newspapers next day,
beneath the one-inch headline MALE PROSTITUTE
FOUND DEAD. I recognized her, sure I did,
but I would say she got what she deserved -
I mean, she was a guy, a fucking fruit.
I am currently using my Digital Remix project as a demonstration of media's/images' ability to numb the mind to imagery and ideologies that--perhaps even 20 years prior--seemed repulsive. This idea is particularly interesting in instances like news media (as Ulmer points out) or even in "reality" TV (as Nicole S. points out) where the audience is supposed to see something "real" in what is presented. Most audiences recognize the concoctions (often somewhat ridiculous ones) formulated in reality TV--the human sensorium that Ulmer suggests probably plays a role in this--but many, even educated, audiences often forget to critically reflect on the news media and its relevance to "reality." Interestingly, this "reality" becomes spectaclized in order to "maximize [the audience's] desire" (83), rather than to present a Truth. This spectaclization then becomes the norm. Just as we see Hollywood expanding the boundaries of what is acceptable to view in terms of nudity, profanity, drug use, or any other preciously-deemed unacceptable behaviors and images, we also see the news media reaching further to aggrandize the dimensions of reality, perhaps stretching even further the truth in order to present a spectacle that we--society--are entertained by.

self "becoming image"

Ulmer speaks of "becoming image" and the differencce between one's self and one's image much along the same lines as Lacan and his notion of looking into the mirror as a child. Ulmer though takes this thought farther and begins a conversation about "perfect self-presence" through self "becoming image. " This chain of thought amounts to autocommunication that allows one to see one's self seeing one's self which essentially is the meta-awareness of the act of seeing oneself.

This type of autocommunication I believe has been continually exploited by those who create and produce reality shows.

Through creating the image of reality by the lack of scripts and casting people who the target audience can relate to in one way or another, reality shows work to allow people to "watch themselves" in a role of "perfect self-presence" personified by the cast. This phenomenon then becomes a type of autocommunication...a narcisistic endeavour that allows one to participate in their own self "becoming image."

Death might not make WOW a world

Death on a screen whether it be a computer or silver one works often times to represent death as consequence. Essentially, death itself is not the focus of the viewer/player. It is the effects of that death on the current situation which is the point. And so death is seen as a character of causation and not effect.

I came to this notion in thinking on the aesthetics of death as described in Klastrup's article on WOW and in thinking about how death is displayed in the various movies/tv shows that are watched. These thoughts lead me further back to thinking of plays such as "Death of a Salesman" but here I have to stop b/c in thinking on this play imparticular I am forced to look back toward "American Beauty" which deals with death in an all together different fashion. Death in "American Beauty" is the end...the effect...and even though we see briefly its affects on the other characters the emphasis lies not at that point but on all the other points or causes that lead up to it. This is important and perhaps why the movie was such a hit b/c it demonstrates death acting as it does in the "real" world. What is death but the ending point of what is here a summation of all of the causes that we experience that leads up to that point?

So why is it that death in WOW and other videogames acts as a cause? Because perhaps as Klastrup points out there has to be an incentive for a player to play better. If this is so, can we then state that death is part of what makes WOW a world? I ask this last question because death is positioned in these games as counter to its function in the real world


So I have some ideas with regards to my digital remix project and my final emonument that entails the use of my fellow class member's identities and their actions. Essentially, I'd like to have your permission to use you in my two projects that have to do with reality TV and reality. Your role in the project would be to represent reality and would be used to enact a stark contrast to those entities that comprise reality on tv. So please respond to this post with a yes or no so that I know what I'm working with. Gracias!