Interrogating the In-Between

Monday, February 17th, 2014 by lasu9006

     I am interested in the concept of distance, of boundaries, of separation, of seams. Zielinski and Kittler refer to such boundaries in relation to media studies. Zielinksi, in Chapter Nine, discusses how artists have expanded traditional artistic media by “establishing unusual connections between existing means of expression and/or material” (255). In other words, these artists have traversed the boundaries between artistic modes of representation in order to change the way art is experienced. In the case of those artists, boundaries between media become aqueous or amorphous, like the walls of a bubble. Kittler expands upon this amorphous vision of media when he contends, “Any medium can be translated into any other” (2). Kittler comments on it, too: “The general digitization of channels and information erases the differences among individual media. Sound and image, voice and text are reduced to surface effects, known to consumers as interface” (1). K and Z’s formulation of boundaries in media imagines a level playing field, in which there exists a constant interplay between different modes of experience.

     Boundaries are places of activity. According to Zielinksi, “Media are spaces of action for constructed attempts to connect what is separated” (7). Media and its resultant activity, then, can be found in places of fracture—whether the fracture is between user and experience, or device and experience, or between the biological and the technical, etc. Sometimes, the boundaries become almost unperceivable. Prized technology of the twentieth century dismantled boundaries between device and reality, according to Zielinski.  In his words, “The user [of those technologies] would be immersed in a so-called virtual reality of images and sounds without noticing the transition and, what is more, without knowing that one was dealing with a precisely prestructured, calculated construction of visual surfaces and temporal sequences” (259).  

      I think it is interesting to look at how boundaries or seams function in art as well. A part of me feels strongly that great literary art should work to eliminate boundaries between text and reader. I’m just not sure how that can be done. It’s tempting to think in terms of physicality. Google Glass, as an apparatus, attempts to eliminate boundaries between the device and reality by functioning as a wearable piece of technology. Between Page and Screen, on the other hand, accentuates the boundaries between two media forms in order to complicate the relationship between them, and to provoke contemplation on what those differences between the two might entail. But Between Page and Screen also complicates the boundaries between user and text. Using Between Page and Screen involves a physical process of tactile manipulation and visual experience. Furthermore, BPAS allows the user to actually confront him/herself because (s)he can see his/her image reflected through the webcam. In those ways, boundaries between user and text become all the more prominent. But the text itself involves extended reader participation, and it highlights the role of the interpretive reader in experiencing that text. In that way, BPAS can be seen to eliminate the boundary between text and reader.

        Anyway, I am trying to get my thoughts together on how boundaries operate in contemporary art and media, and to think of ways to interrogate those boundaries to an evocative end. I have some ideas for my final project that I hope will come to fruition, and that will further complicate the notion of the “in between.” 

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One comment on “Interrogating the In-Between

  1. contromal says:

    Do you think that there could be great art that builds up the boundaries between art and the audience (or text and the reader as you said)? I am trying to imagine what this might look like and how the audience would react. I can imagine that BPAS actually falls into this category, especially if you consider how the reader interacts with the text, which is incredibly difficult to access, if someone hasn’t done the work for you (thank you Erin!). Sometimes I found myself so distracted by the process that the words hardly seemed to matter, at all. Could something that is normally seen as an aberration (glitching, perhaps) also fall into this category? You have a really fun argument developing, I’m excited to see where it goes!

    – Renee

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