Can immediacy and hypermediacy ever be separate?

We discussed in class that many forms of new digital media can be argued as both immediate and hypermediate. However Bolton and Grusin’s explanation of both these concepts, as introduced in their writing of “The Double Logic of Remediation,” includes that the sense of immediacy that we demand today also demands that it be invisible. As in, the medium through which we are connected to the subject needs to seem as though it is not there, referring to examples of video streaming. In class we suggested that Skype (http://www.skype.com/intl/en-us/get-skype/) is immediate because it allows for automatic face-to-face video chat that remediates other online connecting venues such as MSN. However it’s also hypermediate because Skype reminds us of our friends’ birthdays, shows us photos of our contacts, allows us to mute conversations, chat by typing, and share our screens. All of these extra elements defer from the medium seeming invisible because they act as distractions, or rather interactive options. The immediate wants an interface that the users do not notice, but the hypermediate wants attention. So perhaps the new argument should be whether or not any medium can claim to be solely immediate or hypermediate. Would not all media potentially fall under both categories?

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4 Comments

  1. I think this is a really interesting argument. Especially when you say “perhaps the new argument should be whether or not any medium can claim to be solely immediate or hypermediate”. I thought of this quite a lot during class lectures and am also wondering if any medium can be classified as truly immediate. Isn’t there always something in the way reminding us that we are interacting with the medium?

    For example, Bolter and Grusin suggest that point-of-view television programs like the ones that accompany police officers on raids are considered immediate (47). However, I can list many factors that expose the existence of the medium, rather than hide it. Here are a few examples:
    – Commercials
    – Getting a glimpse of the camera guy
    – The physical Television itself and the act of sitting and watching someone “running around”. (You are seated, they are running etc.)
    – The social act of discussing what’s happening with those who you are experiencing the medium with.

    The example of the Webcam can also be disputed as an immediate medium. For example, some factors that remove audiences from the presence of what’s being represented are:
    – The physical computer screen distorting the image of the “other side”
    – The buttons that allow you to minimize or expand the screen (along with some programs that allow viewers to change the aesthetic aspects of the video feed. i.e. Black and white. )

    Is Bolter and Grusin’s “The Wire” the only medium, albeit its non-existance, to obtain the status of true immediacy? Or can this even be argued?

    Perhaps I am misunderstanding the length to which immediacy extends, but it is definitely a questionable theory. Any thoughts?

  2. On page 49 of “The Double Logic of Remediation” it is suggested that immediacy and hypermedicacy are coexistent and mutually dependent. I think that there is no form of media, no matter how far it goes back that does not have both aspects.

    Take the letter as an example: It has the main content of the letter, but it also has the addresses, the signatures, sometimes images and stamps– things that stand outside of what you’re supposed to take it. These things also give the letter a different level of participation because it gives you the option to respond to the letter or be drawn away from the original text.

    So, to me, there is no true immediacy. But like previously mentioned, I could be misunderstanding the extent to which immediacy is applicable.

  3. I think you bring up a really good argument when talking about how all media falls under both categories. Even the most immediate form of media I can think of, which you mentioned, being a Skype chat has all kinds of hypermediacy tied in. They key point of Skype video chatting, especially on full screen mode, is to imitate the act of being face to face with the person you’re chatting to, which is the prime example of immediacy in action. Even at that time, there is still a small picture in picture of your own camera, and buttons on the bottom of the screen showing the connection quality, and a few other options. On the other side of the argument is if hypermediacy could exist in a piece of media without immediacy. I feel like all media which is trying to convey any sort of a message must contain immediacy to actually present the message to the observer. It has to make a connection to the observer, no matter how much hypermediacy is used to distract the observers attention.

  4. You’re all hit on a key component of remediation–the presence of one type of remediation usually involves the other. And as chinyeamanda points out, Bolter and Grusin seem to believe that it couldn’t be any other way. Take the title of the essay–“The Double Logic of Remediation.” Here, logic doesn’t mean a set of propositions or logical thinking, as we usually mean it, but its more formal definition of “A system or set of principles underlying the arrangements of elements.” In other words, the dual nature of remediation is an absolutely essential part of its form.

    You’re using some good examples here, as well. I notice that in each case, though, you start with a seemingly immediate piece of technology and note how it’s hypermediated; can you think of a medium that primarily hypermedia, but involves some lesser element of immediacy?


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