Gradually as my project progressed and expanded I realised that my initial project idea reflected several pieces of theory and literature that had been present long before the development of the internet. My piece eventually began to represent the information overload encountered with screen media and the way it can completely alter our opinions and thoughts as well as our tendencies to become obsessively attached to this technology. The audio for the piece was initially going to be a track produced by myself that connoted ideas of dread and paranoia however I used some recordings I did with contact microphones (which often sounded just like feedback) in order to represent the problems encountered with machinery in all shape and forms and also to prove that sometimes recordings that have not been touched up with digital technology can still sound effective. As I became more keen on the idea of doing an installation, I decided that the audio recording process should be exhibited live and then ran through digital delay units in order to show our transition from old to new technology (the delay unit shall be used via computer software). Also the fact that I had to adjust my video piece to fit the size of youtube on Adobe Premiere, represents the same idea.
My intentions for my piece were to represent my quite personal feelings on people who are far to attached to the virtual world and in particular new media. Initially the concept behind my video was inspired by a TEDtalk lecture with Sherry Turkle entitled Connected Not Alone. Turkle makes comments on how she had initially expected that the virtual world would help us learn more about ourselves and one another and how to deal with different types of people in humanity. However Sherry, like myself soon realised that this is in fact not the case and in real time we are in fact denying people of the real attention that they deserve and that social networking and smart phones for example are used to fill a void during times of un-interest or despair. However what is also a problem in particular with social networking is that it enables us to show the person we want to be seen as, as opposed to the person we actually are and also the fact that we have the option to edit everything we write in these spaces means it is very difficult to distinguish what is a true or false representation of a person. Perhaps with so many different identities on display now, we are constantly trying to live up to the expectations of not just our friends but the profile facebook wants us to create, in order to feel a part of something. This could also be said about applications on I-Phones which seem to have become something of a fashion and to keep up with the latest popular applications is something that keeps you in a social loop. In the short film I Forgot My Phone written by Charlene deGuzman and directed by Miles Crawford we are shown several quite familiar situations where social situations are ruined for the person who has not kept up with this technology. In one memorable scene there is a birthday party and people seem more keen to capture the moment and view it from behind a screen rather than actually have themselves fully immersed in the moment. This is something I have experienced first hand whilst filming an artist at a gig I was writing a review for, however I was not using smart phone technology, but a video camera. Whilst filming this particular artist I noticed I could not become as absorbed in her music as I had previously been able to as I felt I was more concerned with how my video capture would look. Although there was a particular reason behind me doing this filming in this case, people capturing entertainment and nights out on their phones to update to facebook in my eyes has dramatically increased and it definitely seems as though people are intent on storing a moment online as if other people knowing you are out having fun is more important than actually having fun.
Jean Baudrillards Simulacra and Simulation (written before the rise of the internet) is a book that theorises the post modern in order to lay emphasis on the concept of mass reproduction in electronic media culture. Baudrillard dissects late twentieth century consumer culture and argues that items that simulate reality are becoming more real than acts in real time themselves and that we are surrounded by representations of things as opposed to real things which becomes hyperreality. He discusses how the media bombards us with signs that produce information rather than actual meaning itself and that the “loss of meaning is directly linked to the dissolving, dissuasive action of information, the media and the mass media” (Baudrillard, J 1981 p80). He also argues that whoever is not as exposed to the media is left out of social circles, however when information from one source becomes recycled several times in various different forms of media and then spread through conversations in real time a sense of mythology is created and aspects of the real meaning tend to get lost or confused.
There have been several ways in which media, literature has criticized our growing obsession and attachment to technology even before the rise of the Internet and its rather addictive websites and throughout this text I shall be referring to the pieces I found that related the most to my project. David Cronenberg’s Videodrome explores the concept of being able to reconstruct your social perception through the means of media, however as opposed to Internet and social networking, Videodrome focuses on cable television and “the thematization of media as an ubiquitously intrusive and identity- threatening force, of the transformations enabled and threats posed by information overload” (B William 2006). The film focuses on the way in which identity can be completely transformed as a result of strong opinionated political opinions and graphic imagery constantly drilled into our subconscious via the television. After watching Videodrome I discovered the rest of Cronenberg’s back catalogue and most importantly the 1996 film Crash which was based on the 1973 book of the same name by J.G. Ballard that I decided to read before viewing the film.
In J.G Ballard’s book Crash, technology as a fetish is explored, after becoming a victim of a car crash the protagonist also named ‘Ballard’ becomes involved with a group of adolescents who have also been victims of similar accidents and share the same sexual interests in the shape and body of an automobile and also the powerful feeling gained in driving one. Although real car crashes occur a large part of the protagonists fetish is his enjoyment in watching simulated car crash videos and viewing photos of crash victims from newspapers and magazine cut outs (Fernbach, A 2002). Whenever an actual crash occurs in the book, the people who witness the disaster seem un-phased by the horror of the event, this could be seen as a critique on how the media has desensitized such graphic imagery by featuring it on news papers and news channels (Baxter, J 2008). We often encounter images or writings that should disturb or upset, the fact that these stories are being shown to us from television studios, unreal settings, articles and stories makes us feel as though the real world is separate dimension from what is behind a screen or printed on to paper. Mark J. Brosnan has commented on this saying that “ although viewing the world through a screen may not provide the same satisfaction as really being there, it also alleviates the worry that something non pleasurable will occur” (Brosnan J. M 1998 p 151). This most definitely once again can relate to social networking and the process of “viral hype” where a news article can become shared and dissected so many times by so many people that it either eventually loses all of its impact or loses its true meanings.