New Media: Is the medium the message? | Veneeta Singha 2012
'The medium is the message', wrote Marshall McLuhan.
Do new and new new media solve this equation? Irrefutably? In exploring social media content and channels, one is often struck by not only the sheer wealth of opportunities but also an incredible marketplace of ideas, almost teeming and certainly bustling with fervor. By way of a recent and potent experience, my Twitter stream is a shining yet sobering example. I delved into it, found hitherto unknown twitterades who made my social forays so much more social (quite literally!) and was taken aback by the careless 'media and thought constructions' that could consume years of analyses and, sadly, not yield a single validation. The 'power of positive thinking' is not just a self help cliche - it approaches the higher echelons of philosophy when reflected through the prism of specious cross-cultural determinism.
Correspondingly, the rise of videography and, more interestingly, independent videography shows similar engagement and participation dynamics. Film defined the convergence of sound, sight and narrative. Interpretation and uses were anticipated but not immediately available in any measurable way. Storytelling was considered, deliberate and, oftentimes, subliminal or allegorized. Drawing from theatre and early experimentations in media convergence, film became and, indeed, remains the consummate narrative experience with the visual both transposing experience and personifying it.
The human condition is centre stage and movements beyond it can be likened to the 'mystery plays' which offered hope, warning and spectacle. Morality plays were more controversial and, thus, more subjective. Does the new wave of videography, then, coalesce these elements and present a narrative form in the throes of personal rhetoric and expression? Strengthened and supported by web channels, videos of every manner and form encapsulate message and information while presenting new voices, spaces, innovations, ideas and spheres of influence and experience. The monolithic idiom of 'one to many' is now transforming into a design and and content axiom that reflects intellectual and creative diversity and, perhaps, an ordinariness which is heartening. The perpetual engineering of transnational power interests has lost the capacity to instill conformity and passivity. The power to think also prevails in the most unlikely of conversations and media interactions. Does hubris give way to humanism?
New and experimental media art pose many avenues and complexities while often simplifying age old questions about art and life. I rendered but did I engage any of the senses? I presented but did I articulate? Digital and Transmedia art, when seen in light of authenticity and artistry, can often seem manufactured and cosmetic. Without a doubt, the material world needs innovation as much as it confers opportunity. Light, color, form and abstraction must, then, hold meaning equal meaning and memory in the new media sphere too. The mythological ideals of renewal and redress create exciting possibilities - we are now exploring the digital sphere as a digital canvas or, more surprisingly, as a multimedia palette. The expression of beauty and feeling, of the extraordinary and the ordinary could be a driving force in the new media forms that we hail and, too often, hinder. McLuhan's metaphors and allusions are beams of light that could spearhead a near complete understanding of media and message, of media as message, of media extolling the virtues of message.
Message design and transformation take on new values as the intrinsic is projected onto the extrinsic. Media forms, in the present day, bring with them an immediacy that far outweigh the critiques of overload and alienation. Small wonder, then, that social media; new media installations and art as well as independent video and film have reshaped both the medium and its inherent capabilities of interaction, expression and resolution. The capacity to inform is a more didactic art than the impulse to create and design. Framing an inner world becomes important as the means to reach out and be heard become more evident. If I can find resonance and realization, I will respect the means and the processes. The medium is the message because the two are now inextricably bound.
Music as phenomena is a classical ideology that is now being revisited with and in the digital sphere. As the musician, increasingly, finds new approaches to an audience, the music also finds an amphitheater of possibilities. Obsolescence is not a reason to reinvent in this new paradigm. Instead, innovative media forms, now, continually support and augment musical performances while both established and experimental music reinvigorate the milieu itself. Consider this: Bach is now on the charts! It might be worthwhile to take a step back and read the volumes many writers and musicians have written on the future of Western classical music. If a portal attempts to teach us Haydn, step by step, and the music itself is part of the experience, we could surmise that the enduring nature and quality of many music forms (and the music makers) have, indeed, prevailed through the adamant, if necessary, innovation that is new media. Is music the message or the medium?
In summary, the digital ecosystem represents an amalgam of diverse technological, intellectual, creative and social elements which were earlier only seen and experienced in isolation. In this scenario, work ideals and creative potential can merge allowing for both result and recognition. Fusing an innate tendency to socialize with the need to assert, this ecosystem can go a long way in validating and innovating upon McLuhan's famous messages about the media.
[Original posting: Quora.com]