[-empyre-] First Theme and Guests - the Thickness of the Screen

José Carlos Silvestre kasetaishuu at gmail.com
Thu Sep 3 20:42:25 EST 2009

Ehm, correction. Where it reads " it is the only thing that matters"
understand "is of crucial importance," or somesuch. Of course it is not "the
only thing that matters" to the viewer, but it is /necessary/.

On Thu, Sep 3, 2009 at 7:36 AM, José Carlos Silvestre <kasetaishuu at gmail.com
> wrote:

> On Thu, Sep 3, 2009 at 6:38 AM, Pall Thayer <palli at pallit.lhi.is> wrote:
>> > What kind of screen do we mean here? A computer screen is a very complex
>> > machine; the activation of a matrix of colored "pixels" on the screen
>> being
>> > only part of its physical operation. This is what is made most evident
>> to
>> > the viewer, whereas other parts of its operation are usually hidden, as
>> > pointed out before. A silver screen in a movie theater is likewise not
>> so
>> > flat as you present it there - for an analogical example, see
>> Rauschenberg's
>> > empty canvases and John Cage's explications thereof.
>> Obviously here I'm referring to a television or computer screen but that
>> doesn't really matter.
>> The function of this type of screen as medium (i.e. the means by which it
>> mediates) is colored
>> dots. The technology behind it affects our experience of it but it doesn't
>> change the fact that
>> what it delivers to us is colored dots. This is what we expect from it.
> This is *exactly* what I'm describing. From a strictly materialistic,
> technical point of view, the coloured radiation emanating from the screen is
> just a small part of the overall functioning of a complex machine (which at
> this point you can slice and blend together conceptually at will). For the
> viewer, however, it is the only thing that matters - it is what it *delivers
> to us* and what we *expect* from it. I was saying that this possibility -
> that a small part of the operation of a machine can take such a crucial role
> as to overpower everything else, to become, indeed, ontologically
> autonomous, and that this is something we *expect* to happen -
> characterize the technological objects that we associate with media. For
> this reason, for example, a computer screen is a media device and an engine
> is not.
>> I think we actually agree on many points despite defining them
>> differently. I understand your
>> use of the term "abstracting" and I don't disagree with it per se.
>> However, in the context of
>> what you're discussing, I think it would be clearer to speak of
>> abstracting distinct media
>> rather than patterns of operation. With this wording we have to ask
>> ourselves, "So, is this
>> 'operation' NOT a medium?" Is that perhaps how you see it?
> Actually, I'm trying not to take the concept of medium for granted, and
> start off the quest for materiality from the perspective of how
> technological objects we associate with media operate. All this, I
> reinforce, is dependent on a human environment which I have included under
> its "specificity." I think this abstraction of a pattern of operation
> characterizes media - if we should identify this operation with media,
> subordinate it to media, or simply associate with media, I do not know. I
> like to think that the pattern of operation exists within a space of
> possible patterns, defined by the program of the apparatus (or of the media
> ecology, or of media devices), in Flusser's sense. So I don't immediately
> equate them, no.
>> Also, I'm not sure that we agree on what the "thickness of the screen" is.
>> I get the feeling
>> that you see the screen as having a thickness because it's so packed with
>> technology
>> whereas I see it as having a thickness because it's so prominent that it
>> overshadows all of
>> the other layers of media involved. So you end up saying that an awareness
>> of the other
>> media thickens the screen whereas I say that an awareness of the other
>> media renders the
>> screen more transparent, therefore reducing the thickness of the screen.
>> Am I correct?
>> Anyway, I hope you see why I think these seemingly minor distinctions are
>> in fact important.
> Indeed they are important - I tried to summarize a little too much in that
> first message, postulating an operational model that is not quite perfectly
> applicable everywhere, and so on. Indeed, we are defining thickness in the
> opposite extremes of the same axis. This is the old transparency/opaqueness
> paradox of interfaces that pops us then and again. (Sherry Turkle makes an
> interesting reading of this paradox in Life on the Screen, have you read
> it?)
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