seeing & hearing = learned

Posted in Uncategorized on December 15, 2010 by jamilaw

Seeing and hearing through a new technological media is a process that’s necessary. Traditional media gives you a basic format to be able to experience it. But as these media’s evolve you have to learn to shift with them. Grodal mentions that “traditional one way media like television are transmission.” Things such as video game require more interaction in its users that result in you putting in efforts in order to get a result. Sterne mentions that when it comes to the telegraph, the history of sound requires a shift in focus from the essential sensory characteristics of a particular technology to the history of its deployment. To think of hearing and sound as in new media, its all about how it moves to the current period it is in.

For human consciousness this can mean that we need to be more aware of what is happening. To see and hear are both learned experience, and if we can understand that we can gain more out of them. You have to work through these experiences in order to master the understanding of them in our consciousness.


Seeing and hearing

Posted in Uncategorized on December 15, 2010 by mariag77

In a different way, I think that the readings of this section point out the fact that seeing and hearing are intimately related to the cultural sensitivity of an epoch, which, at the same time, is intimately related to the social, political and cultural practices of a time.

Sterne, for example, connects the history of audile technique and sound-reproduction technologies with the longer history of listening in modernity. For sound technologies to become sound media, they would have to be articulated together in networks through the organization of new media industries and new middle-class practices.

Taussig, on the other hand, remarks that Benjamin believes that tasks which face the human apparatus of perception at the turning point of history cannot be solved by optical means, that is contemplation, alone. They are mastered gradually by habit, under the guidance of tactile appropriation.

When thinking of learning to hear and see through a new technological media, it comes into my mind Benjamin’s quote: “I can no longer think what I want to think. My thoughts have been replaced by moving images”. The “new” emerging sensitivity of contemporary times involves the necessity of accessing our environment by “reading” (seeing, listening) the codes of these times. As Benjamin points out, our perception is mastered gradually by habit, under the guidance of tactile appropriation.



“Repetition is the Father of Learning”

Posted in Uncategorized on December 15, 2010 by eavvon

I wanted to include this clip, as its my favorite embodiment of the powers of repetition. It relates loosely to our discussion here about users developing alongside of their technology, or more directly to the consumption of the subject by media. We have this ideal that we operate autonomously from our media,as if we had a choice, but arguably we’ve been being consumed by our work since the concept of work first existed. The conversation has always been the perspective more than the consumption.

We attach some sort of value to what media enables in its users. Which means we’re really only learning to refocus on our ideas through a different lens every time we swap one media for another–switching gears, as it were. Generations adapt, and grow with certain medias- and each time, we have a newer interpretation of our dreams facilitated by the importance we place on these aesthetic choices. But I don’t think this ever dilutes us as users- just shifts directions and possibilities.

Mediating the senses

Posted in Uncategorized on December 15, 2010 by kaseymccormick

This question of learning to hear or see is not something that people usually discuss – these are two of your basic senses after all, you’ve been using them since birth and will continue to use them well into old age until they start to fade.  But something people do often discuss (and quite a lot, depending on who you surround yourself with) is learning to use one of the other basic senses…taste.  In the past few years there has been an explosion of attention when it comes to the palate.  Sure, we all have a sense of taste, but many people who love food and wine go out of their way to cultivate a palate that is sensitive to every nuance of flavor.

I think there’s a nice parallel between that and learning how to hear through a new technological media.  Sterne discusses how through technology sound became a commodity, transforming a noise from something that simply exists to something an individual uses their own personal agency to experience.  The importance is no longer what the sound is, but what it is to you and how it fits into the space that you inhabit.  The human becomes the mediator between the noise and the world – it must be filtered through him or her to have any meaning.  And this new way of experiencing what used to be just a static entity is so similar to what’s going on when somebody devotes a lot of attention to developing their palate.  The wine isn’t just the fluid in the bottle – the person who takes a sip becomes the mediator between that wine and the world.  That one person’s experience of what they just drank will never be the same as anybody else’s because they took the time to learn to taste, and the same can be said for people who, in a joint venture with technology, learn to hear in a new way as well.

seeing is believing

Posted in Uncategorized on December 15, 2010 by cbirdy49

The discussion of the telegraph’s history provides a basis to understand the historical development of recent technology. Rarely is innovation like a  “big bang theory,” where the technological methods are suddenly adapted and adopted by societies. Stern uses the example of Morse not being the only inventor of the telegraph, just the first person to make it user friendly. Sheer promotion of self enabled Morse to hold the title of sole inventor. Morse’s patents allowed for both visual and audio telegraphs.Initially it was not enough to hear the message, but it needed to be validated through a record.  The visual form was deemed the more marketable – because the tape could be held as proof.

Stern calls the telegraph a machine for distance writing. The pictures on page 138 shows the differences of work environments with the coded scrolls versus the auditory code and promotes the superioror efficiency of listening to the” morse based electric system.” The auditory telegraph workers are presented as twice the capacity with better organization. The telegraph machine is an invention which exceeded its original methods of dots and dashes on paper to maximize efficiency. Its also an example of the hampering of the inventive spirit by the patent process. Technologies don’t often recieve the green light to develop and become a game changer until it proves profitable.

By listening rather than interpreting from tape,  proof did not need to be translated from a written record of signs. Assuming, rather than validating the accuracy of auditory transmissions, provided more efficiency. By accepting the auditory communication as transmitted by the telegraph, the public became acustomed to recieving auditory information that was not person to person. Communication transmitted through a network , created a relevance for the telephone and radio. Using a telephone and radio negates the usage of signs and reading, and unlike writing, it was not a closed or elite system of communication. However, government and business would ultimately impede upon both telephone and radio, effectively making it a profitable for a select few.

Now the rise of the internet stands to displace the structure of cable, radio, and telephone. There is a shift occuring back to a network of signs for our communication. We can read, and type and instantly transmit our communication. However, this network is also a unifyer of multiple forms of communication that includes sign interpretations, and audio and video communication.  The telegraph as the first instant communication system instituted our demand for speed, and created an environment of accuracy assumption.

Sight and sound are a limited range of perception to filter knowledge. The technologies seemed to function as a pendulum, first favoring sight with written record and communication systems. Next sound with new audible transmission and recording systems.

The computer allows for learning and communicating with both perceptions, but at an instantaneous speed. Either we either become quick absorbers of information, or simply lose our attention span all together. Also the internet stands to be overcome by business and government influence, with the outcome of the current net neutrality debate. Our learning with internet technologies might be determined by speed. The delivery of certain information first might influence learning more than accuracy or assumptions.

Learning styles are often differentiated as auditory or visual. As an educator I often wrestle with balancing these techniques when working with students. However, I find that my concentrated attention on a student – and encouraging their progress facilites all styles best. Until my computers interface and internet speeds can develop my self esteem to encourage learning, then it will remain a supplementary tool.

Learning & Unlearning

Posted in Uncategorized on December 15, 2010 by Tom Tenney

There’s a really interesting story about the Indians who first encountered Columbus’ ships on the horizon in 1492. The anecdote is that the Indians literally couldn’t see his ships, because their consciousness had no context for them.  The only one who could see them was the shaman, who then had to point them out to the rest.  Whether this is true or not (I tend to think not), I think it provides an interesting metaphor for “learning” to see in new ways. We recently had a discussion in class about why certain artists’ work is only appreciated years later – and I think perhaps it’s because they, like the shaman, have access to levels of consciousness that it will take the public years to develop.  These are the ones who are teaching us to see and hear, John Cage “taught” us that there is musicality in everything, including silence and Cassavetes was  able to “see” societal relationships in a way that it took the public years to appreciate. All media and all technology comes with a learning curve attached, as Sterne points out, and a correspondent resistance which can take years to overcome.

I tend to agree with the couple of other students who commented on the importance of mastery in learning to use a medium, but I think there are also implications that extend beyond the personal sphere.  Politically, media are the only way that remains for the public to experience what is happening in their government. Before we “learned” TV and radio, candidates would travel from city to city making speeches, shaking hands and allowing the public to have a sensorial  experience of them.  Because TV and radio are used as media for both fiction (movies, sitcoms) and fact (news, talk shows) there is a tension that is created because we now have to endow the media we use to experience truth with a certain level of trust.  When the media is so easily manipulated, as we saw in Chomsky’s chapter about the five filters, it seems as though that trust can erode quite rapidly.  I don’t know if any of you remember the film ‘Wag the Dog’, but its about a president who manufactures a simulated war (on TV only) only so he can end it, in order to divert attention from a scandal.  This is obviously over-the-top satire, but it speaks to a truth about the public’s distance from government and our (sometimes naive) trust in media.  One of the historical tidbits from the Sterne article that I found most surprising was the fact that the practice of “listening” to the telegraph was more efficient, so the paper was done away with completely.  This also implies a level of trust (in a single person’s ability to hear and transcribe accurately) that I’m not sure we could get away with today.  That said, there are political implications that are positive as well. Television allowed us to “see” what was going on in Vietnam, and it’s been argued that this was a significant factor in bringing about the end of our involvement.

From an aesthetic standpoint, I think that art created with new technologies is redefining artistic expression, and opening undreamed of possibility to a new generation of artists. At the same time, we seem to be undergoing a deterioration of our ability to effectively utilize our sensory data. Our “learning” of YouTube is also contributing to “unlearning” the sensory appreciation of art.  Kids are bored by museums and live theatre and I’ve often had guests at my summer house in Maine whose children would rather sit inside and play video games than go out and explore the woods or the beach.  It’s this dulling of the senses that I find frightening, but I think there is opportunity for this new generation of artists to do both – i.e. create sensorial live works that utilize new technology.


While trying to find out if the story about the Indians is true or not, I came across this.  Not all that relevant to this discussion, but it’s so crazy I just wanted to share it.

Learning New Media

Posted in Uncategorized on December 15, 2010 by jenshattuck

The idea that people need to learn how to “see” or “hear” new media is not new.  If you think of the story of how the first audience to see the Lumiere Brother’s film of a train pulling into a station and how the audience (supposedly – maybe this story is apocryphal) ducked out of the way, it would seem that people need a little time to learn how to understand a new medium.

What is interesting to me about Jonathan Sterne’s “Audile Technique and Media,” is how it examines listening.  This is one sense people (or at least I) would think the use of which is instinctive.  However, I think Sterne makes a persuasive case that audio techniques are learned.  In a process that began with the telegraph but soon moved on to other technology such as the gram-o-phone and telephone, Sterne points out how such concepts as exterior and interior sounds developed and how the creation of the idea of a private space for sound developed. 

 The other point he makes which I find very interesting is how the idea of a private space for sound had to be developed before sound could be commodified.  Once the concept of a private space was created, then sound could be sold like private property.  The history of media is inevitably tied up with commodities and it’s interesting to think about how something goes from being seen as a public right to something that can be bought and sold.  I never thought about how this happened with sound, since music has been for sale throughout my lifetime.

This is the process that is happening now with a lot of new media, I believe.  Most young people think the internet is and should be free, but many corporations are trying to figure ways to commodify it.  The problem with a lot of big corporations is that young people instinctively understand new media better than they do, because they grew up with it and have learned how to use it before big corporations have really had a chance to try to re-shape it (though try to re-shape it they are, such as with trying to strike down net neutrality).  It will be interesting to nsee how this conflict resolves itself.