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Fiber Optical: Sense Perception

12 Apr

In this day in age computers control everything. All the information that one absorbs is through some sort of screen. Everything we as people perceive is through a plate of glass and yet we do not acknowledge this divide. We do not acknowledge the fictitious nature of the computer screen and electronic media. In the digital age, “within the spectrum of the general data flow, television and radio, cinema and the postal service function like individual windows for one’s sense perception.” (Kittler 33) Through this window all of our information is presented to us. Kittler brings this filter to our attention: what kind of tint is being placed over the window and, consequently, over our vision?

The fiber optic world has simultaneously joined together all forms of information transmission and storage. In previous centuries, the highest form of storage was writing. One could immortalize a person or an idea through the written word. Separate from that was the gramophone and separate from that were silent films. “In computers everything becomes number: imageless, soundless, and wordless quantity. And if the optical fiber network reduces all formerly separated data flows to one standardized digital series of numbers, any medium can be translated into another.” (Kittler 32) When one medium blends into another, it is difficult to ascertain from what perspective receiving information. For example, the McGurk effect is only possible or at least only discoverable because of this synonymous digital media form. This begs the question: what exactly am I hearing, seeing, and perceiving? In such a synonymous digital world it is difficult to tell the origin or the validity of something. Acoustic sound was an actual reproduction of sound while digital recording is a recording. The nature of a recording is that it is removed from the original sound. It is open to manipulation and, I that sense, the sound is no longer the thing it imitates but something completely different altogether.

From this digital conglomerate the death of the written word as a form of “hallucinogenic” stimulation in the human mind is realized. All of a sudden, our imaginations no longer need to serve us, “the dream of a real, visible, or audible world arising from the words is over. The historical synchronicity of cinema, phonography, and typewriter separated the data flows of optics, acoustics, and writing and rendered them autonomous.” (Kittler 44) Now, the human mind must be stimulated by two or more senses for information to resonate. The attention span of human being is being pulled into many directions at once as a result of this synchronization. People must be able to multitask. The nature of our sensory memory is that we do not transfer all the information we receive into memory. Individual mediums make it easier for the human mind to organize each sense without convoluting the consciousness. At this point, our generation has its face shoved against the window of an I-pad or I-phone and peripheral vision has become obsolete. “The fact that the symbolic is called the world of the machine liquidates the megalomaniacal assumption of so-called man that he is distinguished by the “quality” of having a “consciousness” and that he is anything more than a computer.” (Kittler 46) In our world, holograms are our hallucinations, movies are our dreams, the song on the radio is our thought process – prerecorded and manipulated to a certain tune.

This is not to say that digitization is a bad thing. Fiber optics have immortalized information and have made storage and transmission more capable than in any other time, but, at what cost? What is the point of having all this information if there is too much of it to access without Google? When we as a people become reliant on search engines for knowledge we become vulnerable to an outside influence that ultimately directs the flow of information to our screens or “windows”, thus our perspective of the world is confused.



6 Apr

Medium is a word that can be interpreted in many ways. It functions not only as an agent but also as a tool to convey a certain meaning. In contrast to immediate it is interpreted as something skewed. Information is presented through a perspective that alters the original meaning to create another intent. This phenomenon is visible in the simple game of telephone. By the time the message gets to the end of the circle, the overall meaning of it is so completely different that it no longer retains the original intent. This is why the medium is so important. The medium of conveyance holds the power of the message. In order to convey the truth in something one must know and understand the instrument with which to create that message. A message can lose or retain its meaning in its composition and its conveyance. Consider the source is a rule that most people live by and in order to have any sort of credence or importance the medium of the message must coincide with the intent of the message. If all parts of an argument do not make sense together then the argument itself is lost completely. Immediate is word that describes information presented with least obscurity because it is the nature of this information to be raw and instantaneous. This is the form of authenticity that opens the argument: What is authenticity and what does it mean? In terms of immediacy authenticity can mean something that is original and created within the scope of immediate time. Outside of this definition authenticity can be adhering to the original form of the song.

This is where the borderlines of reality become blurred. How does one define authenticity? Is originality part of the equation or does simply following the rules make one authentic. This is a difficult topic to analyze because the perspective defines the meaning and this definition is an indication of how the medium of a message affects its overall meaning. Is creating something from pure scratch more authentic then pure regurgitation? The inherent definition of originality would argue to that effect. However, some argue that adhering to the original guidelines and rules of a particular action or tradition is a more solid demonstration of authenticity. Personally, I think that both must be taken into account. One must think of authenticity as maintaining the original intent of message as well as making the delivery of this message something to call personal. The medium of a message is important because people pay attention less to what they are hearing as they do to whom they hear it from. This is only a natural inclination. Information presented in a way that cannot be interpreted in a friendly an easy way is information that generally does not transfer into long-term memory. If a piece of information is too intimidating or difficult to remember, it will alienate its audience unless this information can be presented through a medium that levels the meaning of the message to the audience it intends to effect. Authenticity is a type of originality that must be adhered to and in the context of staying true to a particular sound or style, authenticity can and should be found in pure regurgitation. However, as it pertains to reality and realism, authenticity should be seen as something that is created solely from the soul. Authenticity itself should be a medium for originality as well as a medium to reproduce that originality in all of its glory.

In many ways the medium of the message is lost to the message itself. However, most people, without even realizing it, will avert their attention towards the medium without even recognizing the message. That is why the medium and the message must coincide with each other because if they don’t the original intent of the message is completely lost.