[-empyre-] screens

Ian Bogost ian.bogost at lcc.gatech.edu
Sun Jul 8 00:46:39 EST 2012

On Jul 7, 2012, at 5:50 AM, Simon Biggs wrote:

> I think the current debate, about types of screens, is off piste from the original theme, which was to do with agency. Yes, different types of screens will have different affects and effects. But the key point was that we have moved from the more or less passive screen (whether a blank surface and projector assembly or an all in one CRT, plasma or LCD panel) to active and pervasive screens. Screens that we interact with, that form our environment, that control other devices - screens that actively mediate agency and can, in some cases, act upon things without human involvement. 

But, as has been said already, those devices are not screens. They are, most often, computers. Many of which have screens of particular kinds. If we're ready to simply call all those things "screens" then I'm not sure why we wouldn't also call them automobiles or architecture or sandwiches.

I agree with Sean Cubitt that medium specificity is relevant—more so than ever, perhaps. I worry about media and cultural studies broader tendency (I'm speaking very generally rather than in response to this thread) to melt all materials down into tropes, figures, and cultural flows, rather than to let a thousand flowers bloom in our analyses. 

Vis-a-vis screens, the way something can be displayed, what it means to display some kind of video output, has a strong relationship to and influence on the sorts of things we fashion for use. We shouldn't forget, for example, that the CRT television was McLuhan's primary example of multi-sensory "cool" media of the electric age, largely because the resulting picture was incomplete and required active "assembly" by the viewer.

On Jul 7, 2012, at 6:58 AM, Sean Cubitt wrote:

> Tiny footnote: to the best of my knowledge CRTs were the basis for vector screens (ie non-scanned, in oscilloscopes, radar and early video games)

Right, this is correct. Both use electron beams to stimulate phosphor. 


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